Ron Basford, John Turner - ReduxSunday, July 05, 2009
I do believe that there are no new ways of doing things. One just repeats what has been done before with minor personal modifications. At least this is what I try to impart to my photography school students. In the last month I have been looking back at some of my stuff and trying to put a handle on how one of my present students would have approached the same assignment had they been around with the difference of having a present day mentality.
Every time I go to Granville Island and I enjoy my cup of tea at Granville Island Tea Company I remember the one man singly responsible for making the Island the success it is. It was a Vancouver politician, Ron Basford, who was a cabinet minister for Pierre Trudeau in the 70s and I believe in the very early 80s. The fact is that when Mr. Basford was about to pose for me in his office for a Vancouver Magazine November 1982 cover we were interrupted by a phone call from Pierre.
When I had faced Basford earlier that day I was shocked to find he had no hair anywhere on his face, no eybrows, not eye lashes. I also notice his huge glasses (the problem of reflecting my light umbrella on it) and his shiny bald head. He also had a prominent double chin. I could not give art director Rick Staehling any excuses for any failure on this cover assignment and editor Malcolm Parry, a very good photographer himself, would not have shown any sympathy if I messed this one up.
I asked the receptionist if anybody in the office might have powder to dull the sheen on Basford’s head. Her negative reply made me sink even more in my depression with the indication that I was doomed. I happen to look at the coffee machine behind the receptionist’s desk and I noticed something. I picked the jar up and took it to Basford’s office. I decided to call the spade a spade and I asked Basford, “Sir can I use this Coffee Mate to take the shine off the top of your head? “ His answer was immediate, “If it will do the job, go right ahead.”
Two years later I was working on the photographs for a Vancouver Magazine article called Top Drawer. I told Mac Parry , “If this article is about the movers and shakers of Vancouver why don’t we put our Prime Minister on the cover? After all his riding is somewhere on the Sunshine Coast. He may not be from here but he has parachuted here and should be in our list.” Mac told me, “Get him.”
That became a nightmare. John Turner was prime minister but he had called elections and was running for the job as incumbent. His campaign manager (an extremely rude man) told me that Turner did not have time to pose for a city magazine as he was too busy shaking hands with his constituents. I explained that the cover with Turner on it would appear a week before the elections and it woul help at least in Vancouver to get him more votes. The campaign manager simply hung up.
Feeling desperate I had an idea. I called Ron Basford early one morning. In 1984 he was in Ottawa again. His secretary told me to wait a bit. Basford was on the line and I explained the problem. “Alex let me take care of it he said. What is your phone number?"
That evening I received a call from Turner’s office: “Mr. Turner will pose for you at the Hotel Vancouver tomorrow morning after his tennis practice.”
My blog has a most efficient built-in search engine. I searched to see if I had already written about Ron Basford. I had! But I will try to prove my point here that there is no new way of doing things. You just keep repeating them with slight variations! The original is here. It is more elaborate as it includes Audrey Hepburn.