Bill Vander Zalm - Winner & LoserMonday, October 09, 2006
Bill Vander Zalm faced my camera many times during his ascent to power in the NPA, during his time as British Columbia Premier and after as a retired politician making good with plants. He always treated me fairly. It was difficult not to like a man who had once given me advice on how to keep a Boston fern alive. It was in Gardenworks in Burnaby and Vander Zalm was wearing Dutch wooden shoes and an elaborate headdress and costume.
But it is our date in August 1993 that I remember the best. He had resigned in 1991 and had almost disappeared from sight. Mike Campbell, de facto editor of Equity Magazine had secured an interview with him (at the Wedgewood Hotel) on the condition that the interview be not too intrusive and the photograph a pleasant one. Mr. Campbell stressed this latter point with me. The fire was crackling in the interview room and Vander Zalm, as always, was beautifully dressed. I chatted with him about our mutual interest in plants. At the time his favourite plant was Ilex crenata, a form of Japanese Holly that resembles a box hedge. I used all the rules of photography that I knew to make the man look attractive, honest, rested and comfortable. This is the picture that ran. But just to prove how photography can lie I took another in b+w. Now when I look at both photographs I wonder which is the honest one?