Winner: Brian Thompson, Brantford Expositor

For spot news, a photographer needs to be in the right place at the right time. But that’s not a matter of luck. That’s being prepared and, in this case, advocating for a journalist’s right to access with emergency responders. The result is Brian Thompson’s striking photo of a fire at North West Rubber, the second fire at the plant in east Brantford in roughly three years. The composition clearly shows the scope of the emergency, with the fire extending along the rubber mats stacked in a seemingly endless line to the right. With the flames illuminating the arc of the water and the smoke, Thompson skilfully captures the mood of the scene: while there’s an urgency in the action of two of the firefighters, the group huddling by the truck seems to say: “We’ve been here before, we know what we’re doing, and we’re in for a long night – again.”

Runner-up: Bob Tymczyszyn, St. Catharines Standard

Anyone with a beloved pet knows that they are family. St. Catharine’s Standard photographer Bob Tymczyszyn deftly captures the bond between animals and humans with his shot of a paramedic supervisor taking care of a frightened dog that escaped a smoke-filled house with its humans. The supervisor’s face is covered with a mask, and the dog is turned away from the camera, but it’s clear that the two are communicating in a way that could never be captured by words. Tymczyszyn tells a great story with this image, and it’s a story that instantly and deeply resonates with every pet owner or animal-lover.

Runner-up: Elliot Ferguson, Kingston Whig-Standard

News never takes a holiday. In this photo, taken on the Civic Holiday in August, Elliot Ferguson captures the determination of the single firefighter in the frame as fire crews battle a blaze that disrupted a seemingly otherwise perfect summer day. Thick black clouds of smoke part enough to reveal extensive damage, as the ball of flames and the stance of the firefighter clearly show the fire is still very much a going concern. Ferguson shows what being ready and willing to head to a scene can result in: a memorable shot that reminds all of us of fire’s terrible and swift power of destruction.

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2022 ONAs: Spot News Photography (under 25,000 circulation)