A Portraitist NotSunday, March 03, 2013
When we arrived to Vancouver in 1975 with the idea that I was going to become a photographer, and a famous one, things did not happen as I thought they would.
I remember going to London Drugs to try to get a job in the camera department. I had put down in my application form that I was a portraitist. The irate manager dismissed me with a very loud, “You dare call yourself a portraitist? I went to Carleton and I don’t call myself a portraitist.” While that was a beginning and end to my would-be job as a counter clerk at London Drugs, I did work as a counter clerk for Tilden-Rent-A-Car (“In Canada that’s Tilden,” I was forced to say on the phone).
|Black Jim's Girl|
Such was my exasperation and exhaustion at working shifts on Alberni and Thurlow that I frequented Wreck Beach a lot. My wife Rosemary says I wasted many hours of my life there. I have felt rather guilty about it and yet I learned lots. As I go through my file “Wreck Beach” I found these pictures of Black Jim and his girl (he was always Black Jim and his girl was His Girl). They have many flaws like crops at wrists and undisguised armpit folds and other things that I would avoid like the plague today. I now know, perhaps because I whiled away all those sunny mornings and afternoons at Wreck Beach that it was not all in vain.
I don’t call myself a portraitist now because I don’t like the sound of it. And Black Jim's girl did get a few cuts on her back because of my awful idea of taking her picture with her back to metal shavings.