Off The Cuff And No Worse For ItSaturday, December 04, 2010
Burnaby basement studio I moved to better and bigger studios and my studio lighting got ever more complicated. For a long while I became obsessed with 30s and 40s Hollywood lighting and I would brag how I had managed to use 7 or 8 lights in one setup.
A local magazine is planning to do a spread of my pictures from my past. Of course I am flattered but I received, at the same time. a sobering shock which will, I believe provide me with a respite on what I thought was shaping up as my definitive fading into the photographic sunset.
An designer told me, “I like all your photographs but my favorite one is the one of Elizabeth Smart.”
The negative does not look quite like what you see here. I have done some digital vignetting. This digital vignetting is almost the same as the darkroom manipulation I performed on the original print that ran in Vancouver Magazine in 1983.
What the designer really means in telling me that he likes this image over the others is that the picture has the raw and edgy ( a couple of terms that are in vogue now) look. The beautifully lit studio photos for which I am more likely known have a patina of slickness that in this 21st century might only be tolerated in such magazines as Vanity Fair.
Gillian Guess (a second time as I had photographed Guess for an earlier incarnation of the venerable magazine). The art director told me they wanted a fly-on-the-wall shot with little production value and not studio lighting. In the end I used the light of one naked bulb of Guess’ bathroom. The photograph was well liked and I received kudos for it.
There is a pattern here that I have observed that comes and goes in what I do. Some years it is the edgy look. In other years it is the well lit Vanity Fair photo spread that art directors want. These trends come and go serving to keep me on my toes and warning me to not rest on the laurels of this or that.
If I am to believe the art director in question there might be new work coming my way in 2011 that will involve me fishing for my Nikon FM-2s or (I still have it) that Pentax MX with that perfectly corrected 20mm wide angle.
Today I looked at the file of young lady whose boyfriend was a PA at the CBC. She was a nurse and I have forgotten her name. She had a face, such a face that I took her to the cliffs of West Vancouver and to Parthenon Place (alas that Parthenon in miniature is now gone) and snapped pictures of her using my Pentax, Kodak Technical Pan Film. I never used the pictures for anything but I enjoyed taking them. Even then I knew I was lucky to photograph such a face. I chose to have her close her eyes for most of my snaps, she was much too dangerous when she looked straight at you.