George Alexander Waterhouse-Hayward - August 31 1942 - December 9 2020
Friday, February 03, 2023
|George Alexander Waterhouse-Hayward, Austin, Texas, 1958|
You may win your heart's desire, but in the end you're cheated of it by death. Jorge Luís Borges
It is a tough job that George Alexander Waterhouse-Hayward
has decided to undertake. He is writing a slightly premature obituary.
|Birth Spoon that reveals that subject was born at 2:50 AM|
He was a tad undecided if the obituary should be in first
person or third person. He called his friend, Canadian Parliamentary Poet
Laureate, George Bowering (the first one, 2002-2004) and told him that he was
thinking of writing something different. Bowering responded (how did he know?),
“You are writing your obituary.” Then off the cuff, immediately said, “If you
write it in the third person those who read it will be with you.”
Waterhouse-Hayward is 80. He lived with his wife Rosemary Elizabeth Healey
for 52 years. The percentage of his life with her is 65%. This is really a
lifetime, he opines.
Rosemary Waterhouse-Hayward died on December 9, 2020 around
6:30 pm. Waterhouse-Hayward believes those 52 years together (1967 to 1975 in
Mexico City and 1975 to 2020 in Vancouver) were the best years of his life. What
has followed, in spite of daily minialities to make the motion of keeping busy,
and living with two brother and sister cats, is not enough of a life. His two
daughters Hilary Stewart and Alexandra Waterhouse-Hayward tell him to keep
busy. He does keep busy, but the constant reminder of Rosemary’s absent present,
is an overwhelming grief.
While Waterhouse-Hayward is not suicidal he does believe
that he was alive until 9 December 2020 but now it is obvious that he is
waiting for a final oblivion.
Family rumours reveal that when George Alexander Waterhouse-Hayward was born at the Sanatorio Anchorena in Buenos Aires, his birth was recorded by a photographer using a flash with magnesium powder. It is perhaps then that Waterhouse-Hayward decided that one day he would become a photographer.
A Postumous Gift From Rick Staehling
Friday, January 27, 2023
A word that I often use is posthumous. Of late it has to do
with realizing that someone dead from my past was right and I was too dense to
realize it. This is the case of the utility of a photographer’s soft box.
A Posthumous Gift
A Posthumous Gift from Jane Rule
Beyond the Grave - a posthumous gift
A Posthumous Gift from my Rosemary
A Posthumous Novel
Persistent posthumous gifts from my Rosemary
It all began in 1980 when writer Les Wiseman and I traveled
to New York, thinking that we were so good at what we did ,(he at writing and me
in photography) that there would be a clamour to hire us.
We were allowed into the office of the then already
legendary Esquire editor Adam Moss. This is what he told us, “You guys have
good stuff but we are not interested in Joe Clark.”
At Rolling Stone, where most of the men there had black hair
and glasses and tried to look like Elvis Costello we were told, “You guys are
good but we are not interested in Red Ryder.”
I went to Olden Cameras and asked the man behind the counter
for a small softbox. He looked at me quizzically so I told him to consult the
catalogue. I left the store with a small Chimera softbox.
|My small Chimera softbox, (21x27inches) in my Kits studio|
Until it was invented in 1979 by Gary Regester, soft
boxes were heavy and unwieldy and made of wood. We photographers used umbrellas
to reflect studio light in portrait jobs.
When I showed the results of my initial portraits with the
Chimera, Vancouver Magazine art director Rick Staehling told me that he was
pleased and that I was to use it from then on. I explained that the light was
uniform with no drama and that I was into
dramatic lighting with focusing spotlights and grid spots. I further added that
the softbox took away from a photographer’s personal style. It was too
So now 43 years later, last week, after taking 8 portraits of
artist Joe Average I was overcome by a realization on how right Staehling was.
To begin with most of the photographers who use softboxes
never get it close to their subjects and the lighting has no shadows on faces. I
have a small softbox, a medium one and a very large one. The large one came
handy when I had to photograph groups of lawyers in law firms.
In my many years as a Vancouver photographer I have
experimented with all kinds of lighting techniques. Of late I have simplified
my shooting. When Joe Average came to my Kits home on 12 December 2022 we had a
late breakfast of Argentine mate and croissants. We had a nice chat and then
moved to my small studio where I took only 8 photographs with my Fuji X-E3.
I now understand that part of my portrait style with the
softbox (beyond getting it very close to my subject so that it resembles window
lighting) is for me to get close. The pictures of Average were at 23mm in my Fuji.
That translates to a 35mm lens in a film camera. When you look at the Joe Average
portrait, even if you have hazy photographic knowledge you understand that the
photographer is very close to subject.
In my portraits I like to include hands. Hands were important
in the Joe Average portrait. Read the blog in link below.
Once my subject was gone Rick Staehling’s words came back
and I understood in a flash that the style of my Joe Average portrait is not
the softbox, or the camera. The style (my style!) is having a connection
(breakfast helped) and now worrying about the light or the equipment.
With fewer and fewer photographers now lighting their
portraits my softbox style is my
Thank you Rick!
Not your Average Joe
With a little help from my friends II
With a little help from my friends I
A lovely Vancouver Magazine cover by Rick Staehling