Marta Iwanek/The Canadian Press
 

View samples of Marta Iwanek's work for The Canadian Press.
View her winning submission for the Tom Hanson Photojournalism Award.


By Marta Iwanek
2015 Tom Hanson Photojournalism Award Recipient

When I first learned I had been awarded the Tom Hanson Photojournalism Award, I was so excited and grateful. I was getting the opportunity to shoot among wire photographers whose work I respected. Their ability to tell a story through single image was something that I always admired and wanted to grow in. The Tom Hanson Award is in the name of a photographer whose work possessed understanding, compassion and humour. His work had a way of capturing the human experience that was very admirable.

It didn’t take long for the nerves to set in. I had worked at papers before, but at the wire, I knew I would have to work much more quickly and independently and my work would be sent nationally or even internationally. Luckily, throughout my time at CP, I received thoughtful guidance from photographers Nathan Denette, Frank Gunn, Chris Young, Darren Calabrese and director of news photography Graeme Roy.

I learned that being prepared is key. Researching a story beforehand allows you to anticipate the meaningful images. This allows you to spend more energy being ready for the unexpected images that often complete the story.

I was encouraged to follow and photograph the news of the day. Feature hunting was a good exercise in capturing the moments that may have been missed on a busy news day.

While photographing a baseball game, I was reminded of the importance of knowing the narrative and being able to recognize the subtle pictures that tell the story of the game and the season so far. At a marathon finish line, I learned to focus on where the action will be rather than where it currently is, reinforcing the importance of anticipating the image. I also learned the value of reacting quickly when the unexpected does arrive. I was reminded to be confident and true to my own voice. I learned these lessons in specific circumstances, but it was interesting to see how one lesson from one assignment could transfer to the next.

In those six weeks, I felt like I had been taken on the rollercoaster of life experiences occurring around us. In late September, tragedy struck north of Toronto when an alleged drunk driver killed three young children and a grandfather. The outpouring of grief and support among the GTA was very moving and I tried to capture this through photos of vigils, visitations and funeral. This fall saw the Blue Jays reach the playoffs, and the end of a nine-year Conservative federal government.

My last days were spent photographing Fashion Week. The lessons of being prepared and researched came in handy when photographing four runway shows back-to-back with limited time to file in between. I managed the shooting schedule and had time to explore the sidelines of the event, where some of the most interesting images were hidden.

I am most thankful to Tom Hanson’s family, The Canadian Press and the Canadian Journalism Foundation for giving me this wonderful opportunity to give young photojournalists a chance to expand their skills. I felt so welcomed, supported and challenged at the same time, which provided a great environment to learn in. This experience will continue to strengthen my work as I grow and move for¬ward as a photographer.
 

(All photos Copyright 2015 THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marta Iwanek)

To read more about the Tom Hanson Photojournalism Award, visit the award page.

View Iwanek's portfolio and acceptance speech at the CJF Awards.
View the Behind the Shots interview with Iwanek, by the Ryerson Review of Journalism


 

The Tom Hanson Photojournalism Award is generously supported by: