During location scouting at Canadian Pacific offices on the day before this shoot, you could sense the tension surrounding the timing of our portraits during such a contentious time for Canadian Pacific Railways.


Of the 4 shots I was assigned, 2 of them where to be with President and CEO Hunter Harrison.  In preparation I did as much research on Mr. Harrison as possible, my agenda; to both respect and engage my subject in authentic conversation, however brief that might be, towards getting best possible visual results.

All that week the Canadian government had been making threats about potential fines etc., for the railways due to a backlog in grain shipment from Western Canada to the east and I knew that this had the potential to impact on our portraits, perhaps even cancelling them altogether.  Or… it could create a fantastic opportunity to get rare, emotive portraits!


Early on shoot day I received a call from Breanne Feigel from Canadian Pacific asking about the possibility of myself and my team arriving earlier than scheduled because the portrait session was in some jeopardy due to the emergency board meeting of which Mr. Harrison needed to lead, and was hours late getting started – he is known to hold marathon sessions, this could get interesting.

Predictably, our session was pushed around, shrunk due to an emergency board meeting which was held on the day of the shoot. It’s notable, impressive to have seen him leave an intense meeting and in the time it took to take a quick bathroom break quickly shift into a charming raconteur.

We talked about his love of horses, learning to ride later in life, boxing, his home town of Memphis, Warren Buffett, and of course trains.

I don’t think I’ve ever photographed a leader who had so much expression, it was fantastic, and a rare, refreshing experience for me.

Dermot Cleary Harrison Combined

Our time window with the CP leader was a mere minutes to get the cover shot and another few minutes later in the afternoon to get the opener double page spread for the feature inside the magazine.  The original story appears here

And are some of the covers that were considered but not used, they make for fun viewing here.




  1. I am very surprised these photos came out so well given the few short minutes you had with your subject. Every photo evokes an emotion that is unique, and at the same time saturated with Mr. Harrison’s personality.
    Well done.

    • Dermot

      Good insight on your part, a (big) part of the challenge in these types of situations has nothing to do with photography technique, the technique is a given. It’s about soft skills, something discerning art directors understand is something you simply can’t put in an estimate. Price driven clients are another matter.

  2. PhotoAD

    Pure gold. The background story truly adds another layer to these already stellar portraits. Quite the character!