Edit (07 Feb 2015 17;30): Added a comment from anther model I’ve worked with.

Edit (06 Feb 2015 13:42): Anther model I worked with wrote me. Her comment, minus her name, follows this article.

Edit (06 Feb 2015 11:20): A model I worked with wrote me. Her comment, minus her name, follows this article.

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I have an old photograph of myself taken around 1974 and in it I’m holding a Kodak Brownie and standing in front of a car that was vandalized in our Edmonton neighbourhood. I was 11 years old and it seemed to predict a future in photography for me.

I spent years shooting as a hobby and the only professional work I did was as a photojournalist for the Halifax Daily News. I picked up the odd job here and there but never really made much of it. For me, it was a fun thing to do and I look back at it fondly. I’ve since moved on to other things and I regret that.

As many photographers can tell you, if you spend any time in the craft you’ll eventually move into portraiture. Being able to shoot people is a handy skill to have, especially as a photojournalist. To learn the hows I took a couple classes with professional photographers and models, both male and female. I look back at it as a great learning experience and haven’t really thought much about it. It seems like a life time ago.

In a way I guess I should have seen this coming. I have an old account still set up on a modelling web site and another on an artist site. I set them up in case someone wanted to reach out and work with me but also to get feedback on the images I produced and see what others are doing in the field. It’s how you learn lighting, composition, framing, set up, etc. Three of the models I worked with remain good friends – although mainly through Facebook. One of them, Ali Knorr, died in a car accident a few years ago. ALL of them were adults save one whose mom wanted some photos of her daughter at Peggy’s Cove.

It’s sad how sometimes you can look back at your life with a sense of fondness, yet when someone else does it they see only what’s in their hearts and pound away judgement on their keyboards as if they know you and everything you’ve ever done.

No one said much about my photographs until my daughter died. And only than they spoke words that said volumes about themselves but very little about me. It started with a troll who confessed to harassing Amanda Todd. He now harasses Amanda’s mom Carol and our family. He claims Carol killed Amanda and he writes the same about me – that I killed Rehtaeh to shut her up because I was abusing her. He constantly says he’s sending detailed files to the police and they’ll be arresting me soon. Same for Carol. Nothing has happened of course because the man is sick in the head. It’s horrible to think what some people find pleasure in.

So, this asshole found my portfolios and claimed it’s pornography and abusive to women. Of course he did. That’s how he views the world so what else would he see? He sees something someone enjoys and he turns it into something sick – just for the torment and thrill.

No one paid much attention to him other than the odd men’s right activist (MRA) who hate anyone that speaks up about violence against women. They loved using this against me as if it meant something but to me it didn’t. I could honestly care less what they think of me. I know who I am and I don’t answer to them or base my feelings around their twisted view of the world. No one pays any attention to them anyway.

Things changed this past week. The troll has a web page with my images published and he shares it as much as possible with anyone and everyone who writes about Rehtaeh. His commentary goes along the lines you’d think – Glen Canning is a sick pervert who gets off taking photos of young women. And, much to his pleasure I’m sure, someone took the bait.

I’m not going to mention names. I like to think the people on your team deserve better and when it comes to violence against women and sexual assault, infighting only hurts those we need to help. I’m not going to post the web site either, although I’m sure it won’t be hard to find.

It’s not lost on me that I deleted my photography account (I don’t think the people I worked with would appreciate the labels) yet my images, as disgusting as this certain someone claims they are, remain published on her anti-porngraphy web site and on the site of a really sick man. There’s social justice for you.

That’s politics and that’s what happens when agendas get in the way of working for change.

The article in question includes these comments:

[su_quote cite=”WTF?”]I do not know if he is actually involved in the BDSM community, but I have heard that is very hard to escape from.[/su_quote]
[su_quote cite=”omg! OMG!”]I don’t doubt Glen Canning feels anguish over the death of his daughter. I hope that I goodly chunk of that anguish is down to him trying to reckon with the fact that he helped to pave the way for both her rape, her public humiliation…[/su_quote]
[su_quote cite=”classic victim blaming”]So that’s her dad? Explains a lot. She grows up in a toxic soup of sex “positivity.” … And then, when she lives the nightmare, she finds out they lied.[/su_quote]
[su_quote cite=”just wow”]Rehtaeh Parson’s certainly spent the last two years of her short life in terrible mental torment, but what about before the rape? What sort of emotional poison is it for a female child whose father obviously sees her (or at least girls exactly like her) as disposable jack-off implements – to the degree that he actually creates more of this hate literature and puts it out into the world? [/su_quote]

Some people saw things differently:

[su_quote cite=”via Facebook”]How easy it is for people who call themselves “allies” or “activists” to snipe and criticize and sit in judgment of those who don’t do social justice their way. To snipe at front line workers is especially galling — I’ve seen it too often. And no one seems to see the irony.[/su_quote]
[su_quote cite=”via email”]I don’t know if you remember me, but I was the ___ student who wrote her thesis on ___ ___ ___ ______ and Rehtaeh’s story. I read that piece _______ ______ wrote on her blog. She went to ___ journalism too, in my year. I just wanted to tell you she’s completely out of line. She conflates a lot of things in her writing, that is to say I consider myself a feminist and I completely disagree with a lot of what she writes. You can’t conflate pictures of women with pictures of women posted without their consent. She makes me feel crazy. Just wanted to tell you that.[/su_quote]

It’s not lost on me that the Amanda Todd pedophile commented on the article as well and his comment is still there, even after I identified him.

Some people like to do, some like to watch, some like to judge. We all have our strengths and we all have our vices.

She wrote me saying she only wanted me to see the connections. I know there are connects between objectifying women and rape. Believe me, I know. I have a butterfly urn in my living room to remind me. I don’t need someone judging my life from ten years ago just so they can act like a hero for pointing it out to me and use Rehtaeh’s name for the attention.

If there’s one thing I know about speaking out against rape as a man it’s that other men will hate you for it. The MRA’s have been comical in their rage. But as much as I have to deal with from them I will say they are at least honest about how they feel. They’re not going to write me an email saying their “hope here is not to attack or shame you or ruin your reputation” while still holding the knife stuck in my back.

So… photography.

Photography was something I enjoyed for a very long time and all this talk has reawakened that spirit. On Monday I went out and bought a new camera – a Fuji X100T. My hope is to get back into the craft as a way to find some enjoyment and peace in my life. My wish would be that when I look through the viewfinder I see the world through better eyes than those who seek only to judge and condemn based on standards they can’t even meet themselves.

Am I going to keep speaking out? After this I honestly had doubts but what else can I do for my daughter but speak out?

Comment from KC:

[su_quote cite=”KC”]Hi Glen. I’ve seen the media attention and the attacks and I’m so sorry that is happening to you. Where should I comment? My comments are simply that my experiences with you as a photographer have always been 100% professional and that the type of photography and shots we’ve collaborated on are simply those that we are both happy and comfortable with. There is / was nothing pornographic about the work you’ve done.[/su_quote]

Comment from TS:

[su_quote cite=”TS”]My feedback. Oh goodness this opens a can of worms big time.
I have had the discussion on modeling nude-topless-implied in comparison to pornography with multiple men in my life. I am very much 100% against porn. It is a very hard thing to be with a man who watches porn and pretty much every man who has a functioning sex drive watches it….
Almost evey man i have dated in the past 9 years (since i began modeling), when i mention how much it hurts me that they watch porn, begins to accuse me of modeling porn. They say that my impled and or topless work is just as bad as porn. They become very defensive and use that as their escape.
They LOVE my photos up to this point. Consider them art, beautiful, creative etc. But the minute i bring up how porn hurts me, they tell me i am a porn model. I have never once modeled porn….i do not model for the use of other peoples self pleasure… it is a ridiculous concept.
I guess what i am saying is, most people use what they can as ammo. If someone were to sit down with these people and logically explain to them what pornography is (a sexual act- photography;video;live performace) that is created for the sole purpose of sexual pleasure… maybe then they could understand that using a female or male form without clothing in an artistic manner is NOT pornography and they should find something a little more stable to use as a fallback

Also- how in the heck does pornography link with you speaking out against rape??

Some people just dig for any way of attacking.

I hope my feedback has helped at least a little. I fully support you as do many others.[/su_quote]

Comment from HL:

[su_quote cite=”HL”]Yes since I was part of that shoot I can confirm in fact it was not pornography. There were no sexual acts committed.
The way we were dressed was our choices. We were young and thought dressing that way was sexy. It was also just out of the 90’s so the style was to the year of course. It was a learning experience for us all. This is not a reflection of the work you do now you weren’t in creative control either you were a second camera testing angles. As a model I found you almost non existent. You were using what was given.
People like to talk glen we all know this. And your daughter felt the edge of it. But let’s not get psychiatric or psychological on them. I will however say that you are very professional and you need to brush these people off.
And if anyone try’s to put you down tell them to pound salt. It’s YOUR life.
Judge away small minded people! I can see right through people like this.
Forget them. You know better.
I also have artistic nudes for public viewing. I have a unique body and I am proud to share it. People can talk but they will talk more when they are jealous or can’t look at themselves in the mirror [/su_quote]
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I have some other posts coming up. Clearing my head – Rehtaeh, Christie Blatchford, methane gas in Nova Scotia, calling rapists victims, ….

Please comment. Let me know what you think. I can’t grow unless I’m challenged. I can’t heal without help.

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If you have experienced sexual assault or abuse, the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres provides a list of rape crisis centres, transition houses and women’s centres that may be able to offer assistance. Click here for the full list >>