Dario Ayala, Photojournalist & Instructor

Dario Ayala

Past Clients

• The Globe and Mail
• Maclean's Magazine
• Reuters
• Agence de Presse QMI
• National Post
• Montreal Gazette
• Postmedia News
• Canadian Football League
• Canadian Press
• Chicago Tribune
• FlightGlobal Airline Business
• Las Vegas Review-Journal
• Wondereur.com
• Invision Agency
• The St. Catharines Standard
• Brock University
A bit about me: I have always aimed to marry the fields of art and photojournalism. I believe that the best work-the work that rises above others-takes into consideration the elements of both of these fields.

I'm currently a full-time multimedia and photojournalism instructor at Concordia University's Department of Journalism.

Past Clients

• The Globe and Mail
• Maclean's Magazine
• Reuters
• Agence de Presse QMI
• National Post
• Montreal Gazette
• Postmedia News
• Canadian Football League
• Canadian Press
• Chicago Tribune
• FlightGlobal Airline Business
• Las Vegas Review-Journal
• Wondereur.com
• Invision Agency
• The St. Catharines Standard
• Brock University

Education

• Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Visual Arts, Brock University (2006)

• Fluent in English, Spanish, French


Experience

• Full time instructor (LTA) for the Department of Journalism at Concordia University (2018-Current)

• Staff photographer at the Montreal Gazette (2012 – 2017)

• Freelance photographer (2008 - 2020)

• Chief photographer at Brock University's Brock Press, St. Catharines, Ontario. (October 2007 – May 2009)



Recognitions

2017: Nomination for National Newspaper Awards (NNA) in the Feature Photo category.

2015: Finalist for Antoine-Desilets Award for news photography by the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec

2014: Antoine-Desilets Award for news photography by the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec

2012: Montreal Gazette George Bird prize for visual journalism

2006: Brock University: Dean's Honor List for outstanding academic performance

2005: Brock University: Experience Plus Certi cate of Achievement for the International Plus volunteer program

2004: Brock University: Dean's Honour List for outstanding academic performance


Interests


IT

Understanding technology has a lot of upside. A few years ago, I tethered a Canon 1D III to a mini computer (a Raspberry Pi 3b) to automatically run the camera as a time-lapse device to capture the changing weather seasons over a period of months. With this project, using the company VPN, I could SSH into the Pi at the Montreal Gazette offices to check if the camera was operational and even adjust its settings. I could also download the camera’s photographs remotely so I could add them to the library of photos for the time lapse.


Computer networking also helped me build tools for my photojournalism classes at Concordia University’s Journalism Department. For these classes, I set up a web server to run a PHP application that resembles the types of interfaces that photographers and editors use in the field (e.g., Merlin). With this web application, students could see the class photographs as they were uploaded by other students; they could also check photo captions, IPTC, and the file metadata. To upload to this server, I set up FTP accounts for my classes so that students could have an experience that closely resembles working in the field as a photojournalist. I even set-up another Pi to run a CRON job that would back up the photographs on the server every few hours.

I also like playing around with web design. I hand-wrote the CSS, HTML, and some of the PHP for this website using Atom.

Data Security

Data privacy was always an issue that I saw as important. The more we move into a digital space, the more literacy we need regarding data privacy. Personal data and communications should be encrypted, and users need to be able to protect themselves from data loss or theft.  As a society, we should value companies that do not harvest our data for profit. I even pay for ProtonMail email out of principle!

Because of this, I was always on the fence about social media. From very early on, I was very much aware of how the deeply curated look into people’s lives affected our perception of the world. I began abandoning social media platforms over the years and stepped off the last major platform, Twitter, early in 2020. It’s my opinion that the risks outweigh benefits. We need only look at the rise of mental health issues and the degradation of social cohesion to see that the risks are very real.

I’m just glad that Netflix released a documentary about all of this last year. Now, I seem less like an old man yelling at a cloud.


Crypto

I always found the intersection of finance and cryptography fascinating. I’ve been interested in cryptocurrencies since 2017 and have enjoyed learning some of the technical aspects of a few projects. The technology is fascinating and has a lot of potential (as we can see with the NFT craze). I’ve even considered switching to work in this space full time.    I’m currently interested in Polkadot (and in particular, their parachains solution to scaling) and I’m considering Monero as a long term store of value.


Health

I realized that investing in our own physical health is invaluable the day when I met a 90 year-old curling player a few years ago. He was in excellent shape and had great balance, strength, and coordination. I realized at that moment that there was no way that he reached age 85 and thought to himself, “I think I should start working out to improve my health.” No, this was something that was part of his being for all of his life. And it had led him there.

It’s amazing what training with high-intensity can do. It’s also amazing that I became that person that goes to the gym every day. If you add it up, it’s barely 6 hours of actual exercise per week. That’s still nothing.

The quote that most radically changed my perception of my own mental health was this: “You do not have to believe your thoughts.” This was a revelation to me. Here we are, so fused with our flawed perception of the self, that we cannot escape the happenings of our mind. Such an idea led me down a path exploring meditation, neuroscience and psychology. The tools are available for us, but having them resonate is the hard part.

Send me a message if you’re interested in chatting about this!