Kelly Tough - Not SoFriday, April 25, 2008
In the mid 80s Vancouver had a reputation for beautiful women who had been discovered and then posed for Playboy Magazine. In 1983 Vancouver Magazine decided to do a story on four of them. I was assigned to photograph them and Les Wiseman wrote the story. They editor and art director felt that if the local photographer and Playboy talent scout Ken Honey photographed them the material would be too racy for a city magazine.
I had watched Ken Honey in action at Wreck Beach. To be fair he was nude, too while he walked around with his camera. His favourite mode of operation was to approach large breasted women who owned dogs. He would pet the dog and start a conversation. While he did this he checked for droop. I talked to a few who had told me, "Ken chatted with me but then he suddenly went away. I knew it had to do with the droop of my breasts!"
Of all the Playboy Playmates I got to meet and photograph for the article (some refused to be photographed) the most interesting was Kelly Tough. She was friendly and really seemed like the girl next door until you noticed her chest. I took photographs of her at home and used her flowery wallpaper as a background. The art director, Rick Staehling sent me back for a re-shoot. It seems my pictures weren't glamorous enough. I don't recall what he said to me but it was something like, "You have some good material do work from. I am sure you can do better."
At the time I used umbrellas instead of soft boxes. I really had no clue how to shoot glamour and I made the mistake of positioning my umbrellas a bit too far so that the lighting was a bit flat. But my flat lighting made the playmates' complexion look extra smooth in that pre-Photoshop era. We didn't really have to resort to air brushing.
Looking back at those 1983 photographs I see in them an innocence of an age and my own. I remember asking Les Wiseman (certainly more worldly than this Catholic educated photographer) about pornography here. I remember looking at Kelly Tough strangely but she quickly set me straight. She was kind and easygoing and most cooperative in spite of this stumbling photographer.
She looked at my Polaroids (left) and gave me constructive criticism. She made me relax. I became a fan and felt most jealous when a legion of photographers snapped her picture at the PNE!