A Fo­cus on Life

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Coat­i­cook

Af­ter chat­ting for a few hours over cof­fee with Coat­i­cook’s Ber­trand Thibeault, an award­win­ning pho­tog­ra­phery who has pho­tographed the likes of Queen El­iz­a­beth, Lady Diana, Mikhail Gor­bachev and many Cana­dian Heads-of-State, my pho­to­graphic skills, which have

been a lit­tle in­con­sis­tent, are bound to im­prove.

Mr. Thibeault earned sev­eral de­grees in var­i­ous types of pho­tog­ra­phy from in­sti­tu­tions such as the Na­tional De­fence Pho­tog­ra­phy Academy, Toronto’s Hum­ber Col­lege, Grant Mac Ewan Col­lege, in Ed­mon­ton, and Chicago’s Wi­nona School of Pho­tog­ra­phy, prac­tic­ing his pro­fes­sion in sev­eral coun­tries while a mem­ber of the Cana­dian Armed Forces. His talent be­hind the lens led him to the post of of­fi­cial pho­tog­ra­pher of Gover­nor Gen­eral Ray Hnatyshyn.

“I worked with Gover­nor Gen­eral Hnatyshyn for five years. In that time, I took 32,000 reg­is­tered pho­to­graphs which are in the Ot­tawa Ar­chives, and many more than that,” said Mr. Thibeault. “As the Gover­nor Gen­eral’s pho­tog­ra­pher, I was be­side him all the time, not dur­ing his meet­ings, but al­ways be­fore them to take the of­fi­cial, his­toric pho­to­graph; I had ac­cess to many priv­i­leged mo­ments.”

Al­though he seemed to pre­fer talk­ing about pho­tog­ra­phy and what’s go­ing on now in his life, Mr. Thibeault did talk a lit­tle about his brushes with the ‘rich and fa­mous’. “I re­ally liked Lady Diana; she was much taller and pret­tier than I had ex­pected. And Mikhail Gor­bachev was very im­pres­sive. So was Brian Mul­roney, not as a politi­cian but as a man. As soon as he walks into a room, he takes con­trol, a mas­ter of pub­lic re­la­tions. Mila Mul­roney was a les­son in per­fec­tion,” he com­mented.

“But what I was re­ally im­pressed by were the people who re­ceived the Gover­nor Gen­eral’s Medal of Brav­ery. They could be some­one very young or an old vet­eran in a wheel­chair. Those oc­ca­sions were very mov­ing.”

An­other very fa­mous per­son who Mr. Thibeault crossed paths with dur­ing his time in Ot­tawa was world- renowned por­trait pho­tog­ra­pher, Yousef Karsh. “I had the op­por­tu­nity to as­sist him, tak­ing pho­tos of Mr. Karsh and Mr. Gor­bachev to­gether. I learnt the story about how Mr. Karsh took that fa­mous photo of Win­ston Churchill, by tak­ing away his cigar for the photo,” said Mr. Thibeault who en­joys the art of por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy him­self.

“My phi­los­o­phy for por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy is that you must know the per­son, what their ob­jec­tives are in life. The pho­tos must re­flect who they are and what they do,” said this artist who has a por­trait pho­to­graphic ex­hibit com­ing up on June 27th, which will run un­til Septem­ber 30th. The ex­hibit, en­ti­tled “Vis­ages de chez nous”, will take place at the Marché de la allee de oat­i­cook, in col­labo-

ra­tion with the town of Coat­i­cook’s 150th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion.

Since Mr. Thibeault re­tired from the Armed Forces and moved to Coat­i­cook, his wife’s home­town, about ten years ago, his agenda has re­mained full. Be­sides be­ing the pres­i­dent of

the roubadours de la ie, the Vice-pres­i­dent of the en­tre Funeraire oop­er­atif de oat­i­cook, and a mem­ber of the Royal Cana­dian Legion and the Lions Club, he co­founded the artist’s group Coatic’Art, in 2007, and has been its pres­i­dent ever since, re-elected just a few weeks ago. He spoke about the group’s His­toir’Art project: planned ac­tiv­i­ties that bring to­gether art, lo­cal his­tory and the pub­lic. “We now have six­tytwo paint­ings of fa­mous build­ings and people, all painted ‘pop art’ style at spe­cial events with people of all ages. They hang all around town, with ex­pla­na­tions with them in both English and French.”

Artists from Coatic’Art will hold some out­door ac­tiv­i­ties at next Sun­day’s Open House at the Beaulne Mu­seum, in­clud­ing a fun one with Mr. Thibeault. “I’ll bring lots of cos­tumes and take pho­tos of chil­dren in what­ever cos­tume they want. As long as they have an email ad­dress, I can send them the photo af­ter for free,” he men­tioned. Other pub­lic events or­ga­nized by Coatic’Art can be found on their web­site or on the web­site of Coat­i­cook’s 150th Cel­e­bra­tion.

Mr. Thibeault, also a three-time “Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year” win­ner who later served as head judge of the an­nual Na­tional De­fence pho­to­graphic con­test, had some great ad­vice for am­a­teur pho­tog­ra­phers such as set­ting dig­i­tal cam­eras to the man­ual mode. “It’s im­por­tant to know how the ISO works and use it; you can cap­ture mood with the right light­ing so you don’t want the cam­era to de­cide that for you,” said Mr. Thibeault who him­self likes to ex­per­i­ment with light­ing, tak­ing ‘long’ pic­tures, ones that can take up to thirty min­utes to shoot.

“You should go to the level of the per­son or an­i­mal that you want to pho­to­graph, es­pe­cially a baby or a child, a cat or a dog. An­gles are also im­por­tant.”

“What’s most im­por­tant is to think be­fore press­ing. Ask yourself, what is it that you want to show? You should waste less time be­hind the cam­era and just look with your eyes, and then de­cide what mes­sage you want to keep in your file. You’ll spend less time man­ag­ing and main­tain­ing pho­to­graphs later that aren’t good.”

“I’m happy to give away all my se­crets. I love pho­tog­ra­phy and I want oth­ers who love pho­tog­ra­phy to get the most out of it!”

Pho­tos cour­tesy

Mai­son fa­mil­iale: ing.

Ber­trand Thibeault over­sees sev­eral se­niors work­ing on a His­toir’Art paint-

Young and old

alike help to paint the town’s

150th logo dur­ing a Coatic’Art


Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Ber­trand Thibeault, armed with the small dig­i­tal cam­era on his belt that ev­ery­one mis­takes for a cell­phone, poses in the mid­dle of traf­fic in down­town Coat­i­cook be­cause he’s a ‘gars de sa ville’!

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