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News & Insight

Shooting Justin Trudeau For #Canada150 | A Portrait Set-Up Fit For A World Leader

By Kishore Sawh on July 1st 2017

In the world of politics there are global leaders who concern and those who encourage, give hope, speak peace and compassion, and inspire. Arguably, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the embodiment, or at least the poster child, of the latter. There’s a reason he’s nicknamed ‘Prime Minister ‘Steal Your Girl’ and it’s not simply because of his charm and actions as a champion of women’s rights, but no doubt in part due to his rather obvious good looks. All of that combined makes photographing him both a fortune, and daunting. So what’s it like to photograph him on assignment?

Well, photographer Jessica Deeks was hired by McLean’s magazine to photograph the sitting world leader, and not just for any occasion, but for an issue that would be released today, Canada Day. Canada’s 150th birthday, to be more precise.

Photographing a world leader, regardless of occasion, tends to be a daunting task, but to do so for a staple Canadian publication and given the momentous nature of the issue and occasion, this was special. We’ve spoken to Jessica over the past few days and she’s shared what the experience was like, including some behind the scenes shots, how the shoot went down, and down to what gear she used.

Gear List

Nikon D800 (D810)
Sigma 50mm 1.4 ART
Profoto Deep Medium Umbrella
Capture One Pro
Tether Tools Cables

[REWIND: Is It Time To Switch From Lightroom to Capture One Pro? Here’s Why It Might Be]

Jessica’s approach certainly speaks to understanding the value of research and preparation. Knowing that she would have only limited time with the PM, she scoured over hundreds of images of his office, no doubt taking into consideration light sources, colour, and object placement before deciding she wanted to photograph him more casually leaning on his desk. Even though, admittedly she would’ve done a slightly different close-up shoot had time permitted. That’s not to say there isn’t any staging going on, as Jessica points out that his R2D2 pen is laying in the background – a blurred ‘easter egg’, if you will.

“We set up a Profoto Deep Medium Umbrella with no diffusion coming from the same direction as the window to give it proper motivation. I wanted a punchy but flattering quality of light, which this modifier is perfect for. We played around with the windows as well, specifically to achieve a subtle natural rim light in the close up, and for a nice background in the first shot.

As usual, we were tethered to Capture One Pro using Tether Tools cables. Josh was on focus check duty since were were shooting so shallow on my beloved Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art lens. On the large sensor of a Nikon D800 focus is even trickier, so when I locked sharpness I wouldn’t move too much until I changed framing or posing.”

I encourage you to check out more detail about the shoot on Jessica’s blog, and of course the issue of McLean’s.

Jessica would like to extend a thank you to Liz Sullivan and Maclean’s; Adam Scotti, Photographer To The Prime Minister for BTS shots; Josh Hotz, as assistant.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Vadim Podlevsky

    I would like to know more on the tools you used for the shoot: 

    -the monolight under umbrella; 

    -the case on the tripod with mac book pro in it.

    The last one looks like a handy tool for tethered shooting)

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  2. Will Pursell

    Bad title to have for Canada day. On first glance I saw “shooting of justin” lol. 

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  3. Darren Russinger

    This is a photography forum.  Take your feebleminded political opinions somewhere else.

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  4. Molon Labe

    Can’t handle truth huh Darren….

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  5. Molon Labe

    [Molon Labe has deleted this comment]

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  6. Darren Russinger

    Don’t be a twat.

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