Gina Daniels, The Vampire & My Golden Rocking ChairWednesday, May 11, 2011
In June I am receiving an honorary rocking chair award for my contribution to magazine photography in Vancouver. This is the sort of award that sometimes makes me think that after receiving it I can go home all washed up and ready to die. Against what many might think there is still life in this photographer and I am not about to fade like a poorly fixed print.
But the anticipation of the golden rocking chair has made me think of what has transpired since magazines using a system called the halftone. This was and still is (the tiny dots that from a distance disappeared and looked like a fairly sharp photograph but now if you check a Vancouver Sun photo you will note that the dots are multicoloured) a reprographic system used since the late 1870s to place photographs and illustrations on to magazines and newspapers. Newer methods aren’t quite halftone but do use ink. This is now becoming irrelevant as images are now appearing on web magazines. As we go from ink to pixels we live a transition that nobody can predict where it is headed. But I can look back to that golden era when halftone had no competition. Yesterday's blog on the Teutonic chap and his Mercedes was a look at how magazines in the late 70s in Vancouver managed to have editorial articles that still were partially ads or in the parlance of the day, service pieces.
One way to camouflage the ad aspect of what was supposed to be an article independent of advertising was to assign a photographer (in this case yours truly) to shoot pictures that looked editorial. By this we meant that the pictures did not look like glossy ads.
In 1979 I was working for a gay tabloid called Bi-Line and the advertisers of the day who dared advertise in such a publication liked to appeal to the readers. In those days the gay scene in Vancouver was out of the closet and living mostly in the West End. Many of the advertisers were high-end stereo equipment stores. The folks living in the West End spent lots of money on these elaborate stereo systems. The editor of Bi-Line, a crafty Ron Langen asked me to shoot some ads for the tabloid. One of my first ads was my favourite. For more, look here. My subject was Gina Daniels who was the hostess of local cult TV show called the the Gina Show
The folks at Vancouver Magazine by 1984 had service pieces like the one here that were about the latest stereo/video gadgets. To mask the service side of the articles I was assigned to create ever more elaborate photographs that in many ways were edgy but still glossy ads. The one for the Canon VC-30A camera with a VR-30A portable recorder involved me having to locate a theatrical coffin and to have an actor made up to look like a vampire. Because there was no Photoshop yet, an air brush artist had to create the sense of movement of the bobbing apple of my photo.
I sort of hated these jobs but I always bragged about how difficult they were and how they did not pay me enough money for their execution. But as I look back now I can see that these ads were fun and challenged my imagination. I am a better photographer for it and that is why when I get that golden rocking chair, I will store it in the basement and go out and take more pictures.
The Gina Show