«Photographers must be prepared for anything to happen»: Interview with Adam Scotti, Justin Trudeau’s photographer

Adam Scotti is the current photographer to Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. In his student years, Scotti worked as a video editor, production manager and photographer, before moving into politics in 2011, when he volunteered on Trudeau’s campaign. It was not until 2014 that Scotti returned to the future prime minister’s team, following him in his election campaign to become the world leader he is today. (@AdamScotti)

Interview by Carlos Magariño

Which photos are the most complex to take? Those that express joy, sadness, emotion?

One of the joys of the job is never knowing what is going to happen and it is also one of the harder aspects of day to day work – speaking with other staff to see what may be happening on a given day, hanging around meetings for those decisive moments, being ready when we are travelling for just about anything to happen.

When taking a photograph of a politician, is it not possible to fall into a kind of overacting that does not convince the public?

Our primary role is to document the day-to-day operations of the Prime Minister and his office, anything that happens is seen and documented with the archives in mind. How the photos are used or shared by the office is up to the communications team. On my own social media, I choose to share behind the scenes moments that let the Canadian public understand the inner workings of life in Parliament, around Canada and international diplomacy.

What is the method to be in the same space as the prime minister but without being intrusive, which could reduce the quality and expressiveness of the photograph?

In the last year we have made the switch to a mirrorless camera systems. The ability to have cameras that are completely silent has really improved our capacity to blend into our surroundings and go unnoticed.

What is the relationship between the photographer and the photographed? How important is trust in obtaining a good photograph?

I have worked with PM Trudeau for more than ten years and am one of the longest serving members of his team at this point. Before COVID, and maybe now as we start to travel more, I think we spend more time at the office or on the road than we do with our own families. Having been here for a while, he is used to forgetting that I am around and that is very valuable in being able to do what I do. PM Justin Trudeau having grown up the son of a Prime Minister also means that he understands the purpose of my job which has gone a long way to give me the access I need to tell a more complete story.

Does the communication office give you indications or orders for the type of photos you have to take or is the process much more natural and intuition has more space?

I maintain that everything I do is for the archive and as such, do not stage photos or get specific direction from the office.

What is the photograph you are most proud of from your time with Prime Minister Trudeau?

This is always a tough question – most days I can barely remember what I did the day before, let alone a week ago. Some of my favourite photos are ones that I have not shared yet, but I am not sure if they are my favourites because they are still just mine, or if they are that much better than anything else I have done. At the end first year of the COVID world I put together a medium.com article summarizing the year and that is probably my favourite collection of work so far. It was one of the most difficult years any of us have had, and it was a challenge both personally and professionally.

It is also hard to think of a favourite photo because most photographers will be happy with their photos every so often, but then are driven to get the next best image, and it is that goal that keeps me going every day.



Entrevista realizada por Carlos Magariño, estudiante de Ciencias Políticas en la Universidad Pompeu Fabra. Miembro del espacio La Cúpula (@cmagfer)

Traducción en español

Photos from Adam Scotti’s medium.com