UM unsung heroes: Part 2
This creative project by campus photographer Mike Latschislaw features faces from around the U of M — some we see on a daily basis but may not know too well, others who work behind the scenes to keep the U of M functioning and vibrant.
Latschislaw, who has an artistic photography practice outside of his daily work at U of M as an photographer in Audio Visual And Classroom Technology Support, says he had fun with these portraits and finding people who clean the halls or (wo)man the cash registers at the bookstore. He also had fun with the lighting and approach to the portraits — many of them are humourous, playing off cultural motifs (a Dragons’ Den ad for the catering staff photo); others symbolically represent the work done by their subjects (such as the background in the bookstore portrait, which melds binary code with first lines of great novels).
We asked him how he got started on the ‘unsung heroes’ project:
Latschislaw: I get to meet a lot of the great academic staff through functions and events I’m booked for, which is something I really enjoy about the job. I wanted to provide examples of different ways to light people in the studio, and I thought it would be cool to feature the “unsung heroes” you see in the halls of the U of M every day. For fun, I thought I’d shoot these photos as if they were being cast in a new television series you might see ads for.
How did you get into photography?
Latschislaw: I learned lighting while attending the Vancouver Film school. I picked up my first camera while living in Chicago and starting shooting rolls of film focusing on the great architecture there. It became a hobby while working as a character animator in film and television in L.A. and Montreal. The passion for photography replaced my interest in animation and I became a full-time photographer a few years before coming to the U of M.
Ed. note: The editors of UM Today wholeheartedly celebrate this creative project by campus photographer Mike Latschislaw — and we hope readers will too. Though playful in tone, “Unsung heroes” is a sincere tribute to the people photographed — and not only to them, but also to them as representative of the many support staff here who go above and beyond for the good of the wider university community.
A “hero” is “someone admired for their intelligence, abilities, or personal qualities.” We could add the word “contributions.” I believe that this is the sense in which Mike intended the name of the project.
I also believe that there are many others in the university community who would echo Mike’s sentiment — myself included. As editor of the UM Today website and of The Bulletin before this, I (along with my co-editor, Sean Moore) hear weekly from people at the university about many such “unsung” support staff and fellow co-workers. And while their actions may not fall into a narrow definition of the word “heroic” — their actions are often selfless and their personal qualities are admirable! And in this case the expression is meant as a heartfelt “thank you.”
— Mariianne Mays Wiebe
Who are the deserving U of M “unsung heroes” you could add to his roster?
>> Above: the series set of photos
>> Scroll down to see large images and some Q + As with the subjects.
Colin J. Peckham, plaster/tilesetter, Physical Plant
What do you like best about your job? The freedom to go and do as needed on campus.
How long have you been at the U of M? I’ve been here since 1991.
If you could do any job in the world for one day, what would it be? An astronaut or a judge.
Larry Grimshire, caretaker, Russell Building
What do you like best about your job? I repair clocks and set master clocks at time change.
How long have you been at the U of M? I’ve been here 19 years.
If you could do any job in the world for one day, what would it be? U of M president.
Gary Prance, AV technician, Audio Visual And Classroom Technology Support
What do you like best about your job? Many factors have made my employment at the U of Manitoba highly enjoyable. As a Conference Technician I have the opportunity to work with a great many wonderful people here at the U of M and have met many well-known and successful people over the years, including Neil deGrasse Tyson, Fred Penner, Temple Grandin, Izzy Asper, and many others who, while not so well known to the public, are experts in their respective fields. To me learning is one of the best ways to continue growing as a person and in the performance of my duties I have been exposed to a great many fields of education that I would not have been able to experience or learn about in other job positions. I could go on about the cultural exposure or the arts I get to experience to which, I must admit, I never gave much thought too before working at this great institution. Bottom line the “Best” part of my job is helping others have success in theirs and in having a part in the further education of the upcoming generations of Scientists, Researchers, Educators, Artists and yes even Politicians.
How long have you been at the U of M? I am in my 25th year and look forward to another 25.
If you could do any job in the world for one day, what would it be? I wouldn’t mind going into the research field up North on the CCGS Amundsen, although the “Big Chair” at the U of M might be comfy, that is if Dr. Barnard wouldn’t mind loaning it to me for a day.
Carmelle Klassen, security guard
What do you like best about your job? I enjoy the unknown. Every day is different and unpredictable.
How long have you been at the U of M? April 2013, one year.
If you could do any job in the world for one day, what would it be? A taste-tester for Ben and Jerry’s!