Aaron Vincent Elkaim – 2011 Tom Hanson Award Recipient


When I found out that I had received the Tom Hanson Award I was immediately elated, but also intimidated. I wasn’t nervous about working for The Canadian Press, it was that I was about to work in honour of a great man and outstanding photographer and I knew that I didn’t want to let him down. I also didn’t want to disappoint his wife Catherine Hanson, an amazing person I had the pleasure of meeting at the Canadian Journalism Foundation Awards, who told me she would be looking out for my pictures.

My first week on the job I was shooting the Rogers Cup. I have always been a tennis fan, so to actually be courtside for Serena Williams was incredible. It didn’t take me long to realize that if you’re watching the match you’re missing the pictures. Tennis is a challenging sport with huge potential, but you need to be totally focused and read each player independently, they each have their own unique angle and moment. CP staff photographer Nathan Denette gave me the confidence to try something different out there; he pushed me to take risks, use my eye and find the images that spoke to me.

After that initial high things slowed down a bit. This was a lesson in working for the Wire, the beast was hungry and needed to be fed. The Stock Market had tumbled, for an entire day all I shot were TSX images. I had the challenge of making multiple images of a visually uninteresting subject while trying to keep it fresh.

Then Jack Layton died. The city was in grief and I was on duty to capture the remorse in the streets. It was quite inspiring to see how the city came together to mourn Jack. I felt honoured to be part of that process. During the funeral I was assigned to the Blue Jays game. I wished I was photographing the funeral, but I realized that this was a team and that each job needed to get done. I was glad to contribute any way I could.

The six weeks went by lightning fast and my internship came to a close with TIFF. I loved the challenge of the portraits, trying to get the best shot you can while some PR person is tapping on your shoulder saying your time is up.

After the internship, CP kept me freelancing during the Ontario elections. I got the front page of The Globe and Mail two days in a row. It was just the affirmation of my efforts that I needed. You learn quickly in this business that you usually only get feedback when you’ve screwed up!

I am now working on a grant project in the Oilsands for a month or so and look forward to again being part of the Toronto CP team as a freelancer when I return.

Thanks to Frank Gunn, Nathan Denette, Chris Young and Graeme Roy, and all those involved with the Tom Hanson Award. Working at The Canadian Press truly felt like being part of a team, it was an honour.

(All photos Copyright 2011 THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim)