Paul Couvrette

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Photographer Paul Couvrette

Paul Couvrette (born June 22, 1951) is a Canadian commercial photographer based in Ottawa, Ontario.

Early life and career[edit]

Couvrette earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Carleton University in 1974.[1] He was the photography editor of The Charlatan, the university's newspaper. After graduation, he traveled in Europe and worked at the camera shop Wallace Heaton in London.[2]

Upon returning to Ottawa in 1975, Couvrette worked as a photographer shooting weddings, bar mitzvahs and portraits.[3] In 1994, Couvrette bought a building on Gladstone Avenue in Centretown Ottawa to house his studio, and hired a full-time assistant and an office manager.[4]


Couvrette’s work has appeared on over 500 magazine covers[5] including Time,[1] Macleans[6] and Ottawa Life.[7] His portrait clients have included Antonio Lamer, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court [8] Judge William Stevenson[9] numerous Chief Judges of the Tax Court of Canada,[10] Cognos founder Michael Potter, author and head of the National Library Roch Carrier,[11] Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire,[12] Corel founder Michael Cowpland, CBC personality Rick Mercer, former US Ambassador Paul Celluci,[13] the Speaker of the House of Commons,Peter Milliken [14] and author John Ralston Saul[15] He was commissioned by the Public Archives to create a portrait that shows every Canadian prime minister since Pierre Trudeau.[16] and has photographed the Prime Ministers for Magna International and CBC to promote the Next Great Canadian Prime Minister television show.[17] Couvrette was included in the list of Top 50 Citizens by Ottawa Life magazine. Couvrette's editorial clients include Time, whose Canadian edition used his photograph of Maher Arar (as "Canadian Newsmaker of the Year") for its cover,[18] and Architectural Digest.[1] Couvrette has worked with Member of Parliament Paul Dewar to create a portrait of supporters of establishing the Canadian National Portrait Gallery in Ottawa.[19][20]

Couvrette has lectured throughout North America for professional Associations such as the Professional Photographers of Canada. His expertise was recognized early in his career by Kodak who featured him in the Kodak Lecture Series at Ryerson in 1979 [6][21]

Couvrette was a pioneer in digital imaging and one of the first professional photographers to utilize the technology in Ottawa. After buying a film scanner in 1991, Couvrette embraced digital technology and eventually became the Canadian spokesperson for Agfa.[22][23] An article in PhotoImaging magazine described his digital work as characterized by "images of dreamlike distortions and unexpected arrangement of matter."[2]

He was awarded Ontario Photographer of the Year utilizing solely digitally created images in 1999.[24]

In 2011 Couvrette became the center of a controversy in which Mayor Watson of Ottawa called his services as City of Ottawa portraitist "a frivolous expense". Photographers across North America rallied to his cause and the local media supported Couvrette by uncovering the fact that most of the fees were due to failures by the City and Councillors regarding responsibility for the costs.[25] [26][27] [28] Couvrette has launched a number of actions regarding the theft of his work, both online and in print.[29]

Paul Couvrette Photography is actively involved in photographic associations and has won over 100 awards in its history. [30]

The Karsh brothers[edit]

Couvrette was a friend and colleague of Malak and Yousuf Karsh, and cites Yousuf Karsh as a primary influence on his portrait photography. Both photographers referred him clients upon retirement, and Malak Karsh passed on the legacy of creating imagery for Canadian currency.[5][23] In December 2008, the Ottawa Citizen chose Couvrette as one of three photographers to make self-portraits in Karsh's style and to discuss the influence of Karsh on their work.[31]


Paul Couvrette is accredited as Master Photographer by the Professional Photographers of Canada,[32] which in 1994 named him as one of three Canadian Photographers of the Year (Commercial Award)[32][33] Couvrette was awarded Ontario Photographer of the Year by the Professional Photographers of Ontario for three consecutive years.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Paul Couvrette, BJ / 74: Photographer: Biography", Carleton University Alumni Association.
  2. ^ a b PhotoImaging, Volume 1, No.3, May/June 1999[dubious ]
  3. ^ Limited Edition magazine, 1996[vague]
  4. ^ Professional Photographers of Canada, Volume 26, Number 4, 1996[vague]
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b
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  18. ^ "Time mag names Maher Arar top newsmaker of 2004",, 20 December 2004.
  19. ^
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  22. ^ "Photo Life Canadians: Paul Couvrette", Photo Life Newsletter volume 2, number 6 (June 2007).
  23. ^ a b [1]
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ Haley Ritchie, "A picture may be worth $25,000 if Ottawa photographer wins lawsuit", Metro News Ottawa, April 08, 2016
  30. ^
  31. ^ Laura Payton, "Contemporary photographers still see the flash of Karsh's brilliance", The Ottawa Citizen, December 20, 2008
  32. ^ a b Listing of past awards
  33. ^ "Paul Couvrette", Carleton University website.

Printed sources[edit]

External links[edit]