Photographers call it the money shot — that one striking picture that captures the moment.
When scrolling through Scott Timmons’s Twitter feed, the money shots seem endless.
Timmons, a 50-year-old roofer, works on Parliament’s West Block construction site, where he takes photos of Parliament Hill and Ottawa’s skyline. Once Timmons takes a snapshot, he posts it online through Twitter.
“That's the only reason I do it, to share with everybody else,” said Timmons, who tweets as @Ottawaroofer. “A lot of my pictures are taken from places that nobody else gets to be.”
The building has been under construction since 2011 and is strictly off limits to the public. Timmons replaces copper roofing for the multimillion-dollar restoration project.
He often captures panoramic vistas while perched on the top of the historic West Block Mackenzie Tower, which is 87 metres tall. The lookout offers a direct view of the Peace Tower, a prime object of Timmons’s affection.
“It's the seat of power in Canada. It's intimidating … so that's why I like it,” Timmons said.
Timmons started taking photos on the job site a couple of years ago after getting a smartphone. His wife introduced him to Twitter, at which point he began tweeting photos daily.
An unexpected friendship
Moe Lepage works on the West Block construction site, but he didn’t meet Timmons until the roofer posted a picture on Twitter of Lepage’s massive crane.
“I guess my first comment to Scott was, 'Hey, that's my crane!'” Lepage said.
Lepage also tweets photos from spectacular vantage points on the job site, and his pictures often feature Timmons on top of the West Block.
The two construction workers didn’t meet in person for about a year, but they developed a friendship through their photos and online banter.
"Hey Scotty is this where [you're] hiding?:-)," Lepage tweeted after posting a photo of Timmons shrouded by scaffolding.
"Good morning @moelepage! Out for a bit of stroll this morning??"
Although Timmons and Lepage work directly across from each other, their photos provide two distinct visual perspectives of Parliament Hill.
“Birds-eye view, we see things before anybody else does,” Lepage said. ‘We have the best seat in the house."
Timmons and Lepage also follow other construction workers on Twitter from around the world. Many post their own photos from soaring buildings.
“It's interesting to little kids and big kids, kids of all ages,” Lepage said. “[We’re all] kids at heart,” Timmons added.
'Working on the most prestigious roofs'
Timmons’s tag line on Twitter reads, “Working on the most prestigious roofs in our nation’s capital region.”
Ottawa’s skyline looks like a visual resumé for Timmons, who has replaced roofing on the Royal Canadian Mint, the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica and the Château Laurier.
Timmons says it’s been a privilege to get to know his country through his work.
But the West Block project has been a distinct honour, because it’s given the roofer a new appreciation for Parliament, according to Timmons.
“It's quite interesting, especially around the dinner table at night,” Timmons said. “I know what kind of protest was happening here today, I know when there's people from other countries coming.”
The roofer started working on the West Block two years ago. Timmons plans to continue working on the Parliament building’s restoration until the project’s completion, which is set for 2017.
The project will renovate both the exterior and interior of the building, including a new copper roof, new windows and restoration of the building’s stone walls.
The West Block’s courtyard will also be enclosed with a glass roof, which will become home to the new House of Commons chamber.
The government’s website calls the construction project “undoubtedly the most complex endeavour to date.”