Thursday, June 06, 2013

A Vampire Visits My Robson Street Studio Revisited

The guardians hastened to protect Miss Aubrey; but when they arrived, it was too late. Lord Ruthven had disappeared, and Aubrey's sister had glutted the thirst of a vampyre!
The Vampyre - John Polidori

Polidori had his mouth full of paper and the corner of a page poked through his inky lips; on his lap was what was left of the book: the limp cover and a few remaining pages. He finished chewing and swallowed noisily, trying to hide what could not be hidden. Before turning on his heel and leaving the room, Byron whispered: 'Bon appetit!'

Polidori's only answer was a helpless little burp, dry, bitter and much too quiet to constitute a literary opinion.
The Merciful Sisters by Federico Andahazi
Translated by Alberto Manguel

Of late I have seen many pictures in just about every media of vampires. The bulk of them are gory and in some cases I look at them in distaste even though they do not scare me. The makeup is skin deep and the people who impersonate these undead are much too convincingly alive to pass the test. In films the special effects trump any internal characterization that might help me forget that it is a movie that I am watching.

But I recall when the closest I ever got to meet a true vampire happened to me at my Robson Street studio. I wrote about it here but it is worth bringing in the copy. Here it is:

A few days back in  Intimacy on the Net - Not there was quite a reaction to the image of the young lady posing with my Smith Corona PWP-40. Quite a few sent me queries on who she was. I first photographed Katheryn Petersen around 1990 and the first pictures were for Vancouver Magazine. After that she was frequent subject of mine in my studio and in outdoor shoots in Lighthouse Park. The best pictures I ever took of her came from her own ideas.

She would come into the studio and pretty well ask me, "Are you ready?" I always had that distinct impression I was not to ask questions and just shoot. And this I did. This is the other side of the coin of the idea that you cannot take pictures of someone unless you have some idea of what you are going to do. I tell my students that the worse thing a photographer can do is hire a model and then tell her/him to do something. This will guarantee failure in the session. But Katheryn is one of those rare persons who has a rich imagination and is not afraid to draw from it.

She arrived and we took some pictures with flowers that were happy - not in the least memorable. Then she put on the white camisole, opened a jar of theatrical blood and put some on her neck. I began to take pictures and she was oblivious to my camera, her eyes got glassy eyed as she drifted away into the role of the vampire, first sad, then ecstatic and finally she looked she turned into my camera and scared me almost to death.

I have brought back my original pictures and I have no memory how I manipulated them for effect. I have re-interpreted them.