This Was the Toronto Sun Photo Department in 1983

Want to see what it was like to work as a photographer at a major newspaper back in 1983? Check out this blast from the past: it’s a 20-minute video by photographer Hugh Wesley, who spent 28 years at the Toronto Sun before retiring as the director of photography in 2001.

Wesley shows us what his photo department is like in a lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek way, giving us glimpses into the offices, the responsibilities of photographers, and his paper’s rivalry with the photo department at the Toronto Star.


The photography industry was different back then. It was before the days of digital cameras and cell phones, and it was before photojournalists started getting laid off left and right.

“With all the equipment expense — each photographer has about $30,000 of his own equipment — the incredible amount of driving and car maintenance expenses, photographers as individual employees are one of the most expensive commodities on the payroll,” Wesley says at one point in the video.

“Competition is stiff out there,” he says. “After we’ve trained and honed photographers into the finest in the city, the Star woos them away. The turncoats are awesome and fiercely competitive.”

“We photogs have a cold, dirty, dastardly, dangerous, and sometimes lonely job,” Wesley jokes. “But you know, somebody’s gotta do it.”