Gavin John Gavin John

I am a 28 year old freelance photojournalist based in Calgary, AB, Canada. I have covered breaking news on every level from local news to national and international assignments for a Canadian and global audience. I have been featured in many publications across Canada including daily newspapers to national weekly news magazines, such as Maclean's Magazine, The Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun. While I am based in Canada, I have the ability to be anywhere worldwide within 48 hours depending on my schedule. I plan on focusing my work towards global crisis, conflict and humanitarian issues.

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Facing ISIS: Training to Liberate Mosul
Mosul
By Gavin John
10 May 2015

Following the fall of Mosul, Iraq to ISIL, several thousand residences fled to nearby Kurdistan. A year later, they have rallied together and have formed a militia with the intention of retaking their city.

From a training camp just outside of the ISIS held city, we speak to the general in charge as well as the troops on why they are there and how they view the upcoming Siege of Mosul.

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE IN COLLECTION

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Anti Gaza War Demonstration in Calgar...
Calgary, Canada
By Gavin John
25 Jul 2014

For a second weekend in a row, hundreds of Palestinian supporters protested at Calgary's City Hall against the ongoing Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip. Approximately 100 Israeli supporters held a counter demonstration across the street and Calgary City Police were called in to keep the two opposing sides separate.

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Inside North Korea
North Korea
By Gavin John
25 Apr 2014

It’s no secret that the common narrative of the country paints a bleak and harsh picture. With allegations of concentration camp like prisons, a crushing suppression of free speech and a government that sounds the drums of war almost on a weekly basis, it’s no surprise many questioned my intentions to visit the country in April 2014. I believed that by seeing it for myself I would be in a better position to judge it’s dubious reputation. Perhaps I was a bit too naive or maybe hopeful that it would be something else, but the truth I experienced debunked and reinforced it’s notorious image.

North Korea is a country of contradictions, half-truths, revisions of history and a nationalistic zeal that meet under a totalitarian regime that reveres its leaders like gods. Yet Pyongyang bustles as any normal city would, with its citizens milling in crowds to catch the morning bus and a smoggy haze of industry that hangs over it like a blanket. North Koreans themselves are a guarded yet kind people, who were equally as likely to reciprocate my curiosity with a genuine smile and wave than with an indifferent acknowledgment and cold shoulder.

The moment my plane touched down in Pyongyang I was to begin a week long indoctrination of every aspect of North Korean life, under the North Korean narrative that is of course. All of this, while under the watchful eye of my government minders and the omnipresent gaze from the portraits of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il.

The photographer visited North Korea (DPRK) in April, 2014.

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Daily Life in Pyongyang
Pyongyang
By Gavin John
15 Apr 2014

At first glance Pyongyang seems like any ordinary city, with the bustle you would come to expect from any capital. However, the city of 3.5 million people is anything but ordinary. With a city devoid of any forms of advertising, imposing patriotic posters take their place encouraging citizens to be loyal to the party and nation. Heroic images of soldiers and DPRK flags adorn the roofs of imposing government buildings. Soviet style apartment blocks are painted shades of pastel to cover the drab concrete and create an almost out of character cheery feel to the residential districts. Bus stops feature backdrops of anti-aircraft guns and monuments to the leaders and party pierce the skyline. The streets, while busy, are almost entirely composed of transit vehicles, military trucks or government cars. Very few vehicles appeared to be independently owned and operated by normal citizens. The interior of many of the buildings are kept dim and cold, with all electricity cut off around 1 am every time. That is, besides the portraits of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Ill that adorn many buildings and are constantly illuminated throughout the night. Cut off from the world, the city seems to be stuck in many decades. With architecture of Cold War era Soviet Union, vehicles from both the 70's and 2000's, well dressed fashion from the early 90s, a nationalistic fervor from 1930's Germany, and the latest touch screen smart phones from China. Knowledge of the outside world is equally a skewed, with state run television showing clips of American military technology from the 1980s and 90s, mention of the missing Malaysia Air flight, and a lack of any knowledge of other countries beyond stereotypes from the few citizens we were able to speak with. Yet some sense of normalcy is not hard to find in the city. A skate park bustles with many trying their hand at rollerblading which appeared to be a very popular past-time. Games of volleyball are seen being played anywhere from dirt fields to sprawling squares in the city center usually associated with military parades. Stuck between a heavily militarized and oppressive ideology and a comparatively less visible softer side, Pyongyang is a city of drastic contrasts. The photographer visited North Korea (DPRK) in April, 2014

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Uniforms of North Korea
pyongyang
By Gavin John
24 Apr 2014

There are an estimated nine and a half million members in the Peoples Korean Army in both active and reserve forces inside the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK). This fact is quite evident in Pyongyang where buses full of soldiers and officers walking the streets are a common sight. While highly advised against photographing any members of the military, it is a fact of life in the DPRK that is hard to avoid. The DPRK reveres it's military and it's proud to boast of it's "successes" in the 1950-1953 Korean War and it's "victory" over the United States and Republic of Korea armies. The Victorious Fatherland Liberation Museum in Pyongyang is a sprawling testament to this version of history, with entire floors dedicated to events such as the "Liberation of Seoul". As well they proudly display destroyed and captured American planes, tanks and even a patrol vessel docked in the nearby river as trophies. All of which are technology not used by the United States for over 40 years. The KPA is most known for it's activities near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) with South Korea at the village of Panmunjom. Contrary to popular belief, soldiers from both sides do not face each other on a daily basis. Both the North and the South alternate days standing guard at the border as well as alternate days where visitors can tour the site. This "Tourism Diplomacy" is one of the few co-operative initiatives that the North and South regularly adhere to. The distinctive blue negotiation buildings are no longer used for actual negotiations and is the only place where the photographing of soldiers is tolerated to a certain degree. The photographer visited North Korea (DPRK) in April, 2014

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Celebrations of North Korea
pyongyang
By Gavin John
25 Apr 2014

April 15th in North Korea marks the national holiday of "The Day of the Sun" which commemorates the birth of the countries founder Kim Il-Sung. Across Pyongyang celebrations and performances were held to mark the occasion. Children preformed with almost prodigal talent at the Pyongyang Childrens Palace; a place where grade school children come after school to practice artistic skills. Foreign performers from countries like Russia and Mongolia held a "Spring Friendship Art Festival" in the Pyongyang Grand Theatre to a crowd that included North Korean members of parliament. The finale of "The Day of the Sun" was marked by a grand 20 minute firework display over the Taedong River. When I asked one of my government minders why no military parades are held on that date anymore, he replied with a laugh. "We don't want the world thinking that's all we do here" The photographer visited North Korea (DPRK) in April, 2014.

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The Mosul Militia 15
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
09 May 2015

A masked militiaman poses under an Iraqi flag at a secret camp outside of the ISIS held city of Mosul, Iraq on May 11, 2015. The soldiers are all former residences that fled their home and are now preparing to retake their city. (Crystal Schick)

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The Mosul Militia 14
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
09 May 2015

A masked militiaman poses under an Iraqi flag at a secret camp outside of the ISIS held city of Mosul, Iraq on May 11, 2015. The soldiers are all former residences that fled their home and are now preparing to retake their city. (Crystal Schick)

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The Mosul Militia 13
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
09 May 2015

General Mohammed Tariq poses under an Iraqi flag at a secret camp outside of the ISIS held city of Mosul, Iraq on May 11, 2015. The soldiers are all former residences that fled their home and are now preparing to retake their city. (Crystal Schick)

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The Mosul Militia 11
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
09 May 2015

General Mohammed Tariq poses under an Iraqi flag at a secret camp outside of the ISIS held city of Mosul, Iraq on May 11, 2015. The soldiers are all former residences that fled their home and are now preparing to retake their city. (Crystal Schick)

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Facing ISIS: Training to Liberate Mosul
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
10 May 2015

Following the fall of Mosul to ISIS militants in June 2014, many residence fled to nearby Kurdistan where they are now forming a militia with the intention to retake their city.

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The Mosul Militia 12
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
09 May 2015

General Mohammed Tariq poses for a photo at a secret camp outside of the ISIS held city of Mosul, Iraq on May 11, 2015. The soldiers are all former residences that fled their home and are now preparing to retake their city. (Crystal Schick)

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The Mosul Militia 10
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
10 May 2015

An Iraqi militia flashes the "victory" sign at a secret camp outside of the ISIS held city of Mosul on May 11, 2015. The soldiers are all former residences that fled their home and are now preparing to retake their city. (Gavin John)

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The Mosul Militia 09
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
10 May 2015

An Iraqi militia flashes the "victory" sign at a secret camp outside of the ISIS held city of Mosul on May 11, 2015. The soldiers are all former residences that fled their home and are now preparing to retake their city. Many of the soldiers have said they are ready to take the fight to ISIS and are prepared to die for their city. (Gavin John)

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The Mosul Militia 07
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
10 May 2015

An Iraqi militia trains at a secret camp outside of the ISIS held city of Mosul on May 11, 2015. The soldiers are all former residences that fled their home and are now preparing to retake their city. (Gavin John)

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The Mosul Militia 08
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
10 May 2015

An Iraqi militia trains at a secret camp outside of the ISIS held city of Mosul on May 11, 2015. The soldiers are all former residences that fled their home and are now preparing to retake their city. (Gavin John)

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The Mosul Militia 03
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
10 May 2015

An Iraqi militia stands at attention at a secret camp outside of the ISIS held city of Mosul on May 11, 2015. The soldiers are all former residences that fled their home and are now preparing to retake their city. (Gavin John)

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The Mosul Militia 06
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
10 May 2015

An Iraqi militia trains at a secret camp outside of the ISIS held city of Mosul on May 11, 2015. The soldiers are all former residences that fled their home and are now preparing to retake their city. (Gavin John)

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The Mosul Militia 04
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
09 May 2015

An Iraqi militia poses for a photo at a secret camp outside of the ISIS held city of Mosul on May 11, 2015. The soldiers are all former residences that fled their home and are now preparing to retake their city. Many of the soldiers did not want their faces shown as they still have families trapped in Mosul. (Gavin John)

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The Mosul Militia 05
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
10 May 2015

An Iraqi militia trains at a secret camp outside of the ISIS held city of Mosul on May 11, 2015. The soldiers are all former residences that fled their home and are now preparing to retake their city. (Gavin John)

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The Mosul Militia 02
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
09 May 2015

An Iraqi militia man holds up a Kurdish patch at a secret camp outside of the ISIS held city of Mosul, Iraq on May 11, 2015. The soldiers are all former residences that fled their home and are now preparing to retake their city. (Gavin John)

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The Mosul Militia 01
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
10 May 2015

A traffic sign lies on the ground on the road to the ISIS occupied city of Mosul on May 11, 2015. (Gavin John)

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Facing ISIS: Training to Liberate Mosul
Mosul, Iraq
By Gavin John
10 May 2015

Following the fall of Mosul, Iraq to ISIL, several thousand residences fled to nearby Kurdistan. A year later, they have rallied together and have formed a militia with the intention of retaking their city.

From a training camp just outside of the ISIS held city, we speak to the general in charge as well as the troops on why they are there and how they view the upcoming Siege of Mosul

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 039
By Gavin John
14 Apr 2014

A group of men and children walk around the grounds of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun where the bodies of former leaders Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong Ill lay preserved in Pyongyang on April 14th, 2014. Around the April 15th birthday of Kim Il-Sung the mausoleum is a very popular location for North Koreans to visit and honour the former leader where thousands of citizens gather on the grounds.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 024
By Gavin John
12 Apr 2014

The "Arch of Triumph" stands in central Pyongyang on April 13, 2014. Clearly modelled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the North Korean version is boasted to be 5 feet taller and depicts their armies victories over Japan and the US.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 004
By Gavin John
12 Apr 2014

North Koreans bow in-front of statues of the former leaders Kim Il-Sung (left) and Kim Jong-Il (right) at the Mansudae Grand Monuments in Pyongyang on April 14, 2014. Thousands of North Koreans pay their respects by bowing and placing flowers at the base of the giant bronze statues.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 005
By Gavin John
12 Apr 2014

A Korean War veteran from the Korean Peoples Army and a young boy visits the monuments to the former North Korean leaders at the Mansudae Grand Monuments in Pyongyang, North Korea on April 12, 2014. It is common for North Koreans to pay their respects to the previous leaders on a regular basis by bowing and presenting flowers.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 012
By Gavin John
12 Apr 2014

Two young members of the Korean Peoples Army pose for a photo near the site of former North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung's house in Pyongyang, on April 12, 2014. Near the day of Kim Il-Sung's birthday of April 15th it is common for North Koreans to visit historical locations associated with the founder.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 009
By Gavin John
12 Apr 2014

Two women dressed in traditional Korean outfits prepare to lay flowers at the monuments to the former North Korean leaders at the Mansudae Grand Monuments in Pyongyang, North Korea on April 12, 2014. It is common for North Koreans to pay their respects to the previous leaders on a regular basis by bowing and presenting flowers.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 006
By Gavin John
12 Apr 2014

A Korean War veteran from the Korean Peoples Army and a young boy visits the monuments to the former North Korean leaders at the Mansudae Grand Monuments in Pyongyang, North Korea on April 12, 2014. It is common for North Koreans to pay their respects to the previous leaders on a regular basis by bowing and presenting flowers.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 008
By Gavin John
14 Apr 2014

A young girl smiles as she gets out of a bumper car ride in Pyongyang on April 15, 2014.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 007
By Gavin John
14 Apr 2014

North Koreans smile and watch as they wait in line for an amusement park ride in Pyongyang on April 15, 2014.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 013
By Gavin John
12 Apr 2014

A woman and child in traditional Korean outfits prepare to lay flowers at the monuments to the former North Korean leaders at the Mansudae Grand Monuments in Pyongyang, North Korea on April 12, 2014. It is common for North Koreans to pay their respects to the previous leaders on a regular basis by bowing and presenting flowers.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 011
By Gavin John
15 Apr 2014

A child rides under a patriotic poster in the North Korean city of Kaesong on April 16, 2014.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 014
By Gavin John
12 Apr 2014

A man squints to read a communal newspaper in the Pyongyang metro line on April 12, 2014. Individual newspapers appeared to be rare in the metro and the common use papers were often a large gathering point for commuters waiting for the train.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 016
By Gavin John
12 Apr 2014

A metro attendant signals to the train drive that all doors are closed in the Pyongyang Metro on April 12, 2014. The dimly lit station is part of a network over approximately 12 stops and two lines that service Pyongyang.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 031
By Gavin John
13 Apr 2014

A man rides his bike past a Pyongyang traffic man on April 13, 2014.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 034
By Gavin John
13 Apr 2014

A stern faced member of the Pyongyang traffic police directs traffic in Pyongyang on April 13, 2014. The highly visible police are newly graduated officers who first work as traffic officers until they qualify for other roles inside the force. The officers each direct traffic in approximately 30 minutes rotations with another officer throughout the day to combat the monotony of standing in one spot for so long.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 022
By Gavin John
12 Apr 2014

Pyongyang commuters line up for the bus on April 13, 2014. With many citizens in the capital not owning their own vehicles, public transit such as bus and train appeared very popular.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 032
By Gavin John
13 Apr 2014

Traffic moves through a typical long stretching boulevard in Pyongyang, North Korea on April 13, 2014. While the city appeared to have much less traffic by western standards, normal events such as rush hour and traffic jams do occur here.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 017
By Gavin John
12 Apr 2014

Transit riders read a communal newspaper while they wait for the next train in the Pyongyang Metro on April 12, 2014. The dimly lit station is part of a network over approximately 12 stops and two lines that service Pyongyang.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 020
By Gavin John
12 Apr 2014

The courtyard of the massive Victorious Fatherland Liberation Museum in sits empty in Pyongyang on April 14, 2014. The museum is dedicated not only to the Korean War but to the resistance to the Japanese in the 1930s and 40s.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 021
By Gavin John
12 Apr 2014

A Korean Peoples Army tour guide walks through the monuments of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation Museum in Pyongyang on April 14, 2014. The massive museum is dedicated not only to the Korean War but to the resistance to the Japanese in the 1930s and 40s.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 036
By Gavin John
14 Apr 2014

North Koreans play a game of volleyball in Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang, on April 14, 2014. Volleyball is an extremely popular sport in the city with many buildings having a net of some sorts nearby and is played by all age groups.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 035
By Gavin John
13 Apr 2014

A woman rests on the window sill of a department store in Pyongyang on April 13, 2014. While there were many such stores across Pyongyang, access to them for foreigners is usually not allowed.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media

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Daily Life in Pyongyang 033
By Gavin John
13 Apr 2014

The Monument to the Korean Workers Party stands in Pyongyang on April 13, 2014. The symbols of the hammer, brush and sickle represent the foundations of the Juche ideology of the worker, artist and farmer.

Gavin John/Freelance/Transterra Media