Sunday, December 19, 2010

Portrait of a photographer at the end of an era

Portrait of an artist at the end of an era
Behind The Lens; Mayor's criticism of cost for council photosstings
By Kelly Egan, Ottawa Citizen December 17, 2010


The mayor may have been motivated by frugality when he criticized a $13,000 bill the photographer submitted to the city, but it sure came out wrong.

An "aghast" Watson told reporters: "These kinds of expenses are the kinds that get my blood boiling and we'll just have to do a better job."

Media being what it is, before long the yammering hordes were yelling "ripoff" and "Walmart, anyone?," the story turning into an attack on Couvrette's professional abilities.

Well, if you know anything about Couvrette, 59, who has photographed more of "official Ottawa" than anybody in 35 years, he's not one to suffer in silence.

In the waiting room of his studio on Gladstone Avenue, Couvrette is firing back. "We had people, literally, saying I was a crook."

First of all, Couvrette has photographed every city council reaching back to Marion Dewar. So, there is some history, not to mention, presumably, satisfaction with his work. And the city signed a contract, which spells out how and how much, before this council was elected. (He also notes his rates to the city haven't gone up in 10 years.)

Secondly, he says he offered the city a price of $2,725 if the councillors and mayor came to his studio on a given day. No go with this busy bunch.

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