ARNOLD LIM: Every moment is a photo waiting to happen

Gazette reporter reflects on his gratifying career choice

Every day I work, I see it on the corner of my desk.

Pierre Trudeau’s two arms splayed out into the air in black and white, sliding down the bannister of Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier Hotel in 1968. The father of Canadian photojournalism, Ted Grant, has his name etched in pencil on the bottom right corner. This print is perhaps one of my most valued possessions.

I remember seeing the photograph growing up as a budding photojournalist, learning about Grant as a student of his works. He even came to my school one day and was gracious enough to spend time with eager-eyed photographers who would hang on his every word.

Eight years later, walking down the hallway greeting my colleagues one by one, that photograph is the first thing I look to before settling into the stories or shoots every day.

Before I turn on my computer to check email, or even take off my jacket, I see a reminder of the power of an image and what I am setting out to do every day. I remember why I went into debt to purchase my first digital camera, why I left a steady income and a solid business to drop everything at the age of almost 30, rolling the dice to train myself as a photojournalist.

Many politely explained that the industry I was trying to break into as a 30-year-old out of school wouldn’t have a job for me when I was ready to take it. Like a stubborn teenager, perhaps the word “no” is exactly why I said “yes” then and continue to do so now.

I hold on to it, much like I hold onto the camera my father bought the year I was born to photograph me as a child. Sometimes I wonder if it is a souvenir or a reminder.

As 2015 prepares to turn, I gather my thoughts on eight years as a photographer, the past year and what I hope 2016 brings. It’s an annual tradition, setting goals for the new year and leaving the past year’s challenges behind.

But this time, as I look onto that image to start another day, I don’t know that I would want anything in particular or to start my days any differently than I do.

Like Trudeau in the photograph, who appears perfectly content living in the moment, my needs are quieted.

Right now I am content to look back at 2015, and be thankful for where I am and who I am. The photo on my wall sees a man making the most of his moments, no matter how benign they might have been.

Perhaps that’s a sentiment could be said for both the man in the black and white photograph, and the man who photographed him that day.

Arnold Lim is a photojournalist with the Goldstream News Gazette.

alim@goldstreamgazette.com