How I Got the Photo – Ivanoh Demers

2015 NPOY GENERAL NEWS, Second Place – At his second murder trial at the palais de justice in Saint-Jérome, Quebec, Guy Turcotte (left) looks through the glass just before entering the courtroom with his lawyers. The jury did not believe he was suffering from temporary insanity. Turcotte, 43, was charged and later convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for stabbing his two children to death in 2009. (Ivanoh Demers / La Presse)

When I arrived at the courthouse in St-Jérome, Québec, the media section was already packed. In Quebec, photographers are allowed to take pictures only within designated areas. Guy Turcotte was in a small cubicle with his family and lawyers. Unfortunately, the room was about 100 feet away. I decided to switch to a longer lens by adding an 1.4X converter to my 70-200mm, giving me a focal length of around 300mm.

While I was waiting for Guy Turcotte to come out, I saw the father of the accused looking through the window. I instantly imagined the possibility of having Guy Turcotte in a similar location. I had noticed that Turcotte was always portraying the “insane look” when walking towards the courtroom. I wanted this shot badly because he had a completely different attitude when he was inside the cubicle.

A few minutes later, Turcotte came out and walked into the courtroom. I saw him looking through the window, but unfortunately I was too low. If I wanted to have his eyes perfectly framed between the frosted film of the window, I needed to be higher. I quickly convinced a cameraman to lend me his stepladder. I then chose the following settings: ISO 4000, 1/160, F4, 280mm focal length.

During lunch break, Turcotte returned to the cubicle. I knew I had another chance to make my shot in the afternoon. I called my supervisor and asked him if I could stay the whole day in the courtroom. I had my shot in mind and had to try it again. Looking through my previous images, I realized I had sharpness issues. The autofocus was going crazy through the window. I then decided to shoot in manual by prefocusing on the window.

I got back on the step ladder, put the lens on a monopod, prefocused on the window and waited. Guy Turcotte came out twice in the afternoon. After a few hundred frames and patience, 6 hours after my arrival, I finally got my shot.


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