Finding StuffMonday, September 14, 2009
I started shooting as a magazine photographer around 1976 and until the late 90s when magazines began a decline in quantity, quality and editorial space I guarded my sources for finding stuff jealously. Before the advent of Google (have we forgotten about Altavista?) finding stuff in Vancouver was not so easy. Yet I remember that in the early 80s a band called Popular Front (they labeled themselves to be mercenary punks of the avant-garde ) hired me to take their photographs and they asked me if I could find a military halftrack. It took me less than an hour to find one (it was in the pre Granville Island, Granville Island) that had a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on the roof. Alas I have misfiled Popular Front so I cannot show the neat picture here. But I can show one of a man that is still in business since I first met him at the end of the 70s. He had then, as now, a business called Lever Arms Service. Alan Lever was a buddy of the then editor of Vancouver Magazine, Mac Parry. Every now and then I needed a gun for a prop so I went to Lever to borrow it. As soon as gun laws got stickier I had to take the pictures at Lever Arms since transporting guns without a license was against the law.
That was the case in 1982 during the Falklands War. Mac had asked me to write about my experience in the Argentine Navy during the mid 60s. He insisted in taking my photograph for the cover dressed in an Argentine Navy uniform. All I had kept was the band that went around my navy cap, but not the cap. I had to find everything else. The blue uniform came from a collector who had British Navy uniforms. The navy collar and the cap came from a collector of German U-boat uniforms. The Mauser rifle and the Israeli bayonet, that fit just right, came courtesy of Alan Lever. Mac took the picture (with my camera) at Lever Arms.
The tommy gun with Alan Lever had been fixed to be legal. In the picture you can see that is has a different cartridge holder. The usual round one can be seen in the picture, left. I took it for a gay tabloid of the 80s called Bi-Line. I shot a series of pictures that made a narrative. This is the safest one that I can show. The location was an antique railroad parlour car that was owned by Harry Atterton. On paper he was the owner of the Sooke Railway Company. I believe the parlour car was the only rolling stock he owned. Atterton is now retired and lives in his restored castle in France.
Harry Atterton's Castle in France
Addendum: Popular Front found!