Newsmaker: Riley Sparks, student photographer covering student protests
Published Wednesday, May 23, 2012 1:17PM EDT
MONTREAL - For more than 100 days protesters have been actively demonstrating their displeasure with the Charest government over what started as a debate over tuition fees.
It's been especially tough for journalists with university and college newspapers, radio and TV stations, trying to cover the protests and riots while not always being recognized as "official" media.
Riley Sparks is one photographer who has been out, night after night, working for The Link, one of Concordia University's student newspapers.
"Back in 2010 it was a shock when police threw flashbangs into the crowd. Now it happens almost every night, when people throw rocks, it happens almost every night," said Sparks.
He's assembled a sizable portfolio of action shots, from tuition protesters, to those opposed to the Plan Nord development.
Being a student on a budget means he has been forced to get very close to what is taking place.
"You have to shoot what you can afford," said Sparks. "We can only afford pretty short lenses so we have to be right up in the action."
Being so close also means that he has ended up on the wrong side of the law.
Sparks was recently 'kettled' by police, saying "we just got swept up in a group of 15 -20 people that police wanted to arrest."
But being arrested does not necessarily mean being isolated. Sparks was able to be freed, and have officers recognize he was a journalist, thanks to social media.
"We've had a great experience dealing with the SPVM's twitter manager," said Sparks, and it was because of that person that Sparks was released and allowed to return to work.
For the full interview, click the video player to the right.