A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

The Ex-Receptionist
Friday, April 09, 2010



By the end of the 70s I was a pretty well established photographer in Vancouver. I never held a job at Vancouver Magazine but I was there almost every day so that finally those there became accustomed to my presence. Many of my jobs happened simply because I was there and the art director may have felt a tad lazy about calling somebody else.

I made it a point to be pleasant with the receptionists since they could do me favors. I could call and ask to speak to Mac Parry, the editor. If he was around the receptionist would do everything possible to find him for me. In later years one of the editorial assistants was the liaison between submitted free lance invoices and the payroll/accounting department. This usually pleasant woman either liked you or she didn’t. I knew for a fact that she did not like a political columnist and she would keep his invoice I her desk for weeks and even months. I learned quickly to give Belgian chocolates to the women of the accounting department. I would then show up during the liaison woman’s lunch period and ask about my invoice. The women at accounting would then go to her desk and fish out my invoice. It was here where I often saw the political columnist’s forgotten invoice.

One of the receptionists in the very early 80s, one day pulled me aside and asked me if I would take her picture. When she asked she seemed visibly uncomfortable. I knew. She wanted me to photograph her “before gravity takes its toll on my body.”

I did. And I used normal b+w film and Kodak b+w Infrared film. In those days I thought women wanted to look as good as they could. Are receptionist was not 20 so I did my best to soften the image. Somehow (my memory is hazy about it all) she hated the pictures and she never asked for any prints.

This morning while filing I found the file called: Ex Receptionist Van Mag. This would suggest that she perhaps did not talk to me while she was working at the magazine. She must have called me after she had stopped working there. I found this particular frame shot in b+w infrared and I rather like it, even though the pearls are a cliché.



     

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