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




 

Shoes, Spats, Timpani & Handel's Israel In Egypt
Saturday, August 10, 2013



José Verstappen
Our 8 and 9 seats on row AA at the Chan this past Wednesday had us front and centre at G.F. Handel’s Israel in Egypt in three parts and based on Exodus.

It was and Early Music Festival 2013 production with a much enlarged and reinforced Pacific Baroque Orchestra and the Early Music Vancouver Vocal Ensemble, an unusual 25-member chorus filled with stars in all registers.

My companion, designer Graham Walker and I wanted to be close so we could enjoy the subtleties of the voices of the star-studded cast of singers like Suzie LeBlanc, Shannon Mercer, sopranos, Reginald L. Mobley and Laura Pudwell altos, Colin Blazer, Charles Daniels, tenors, Tyler Duncan, Sumner Thompson, baritones, and Robert Macdonald, bass. 

We also wanted to see the furious ballet performance that is the style of Musical director Alexander Weimann. We were not disappointed!

Our seats gave us a bit more simply because my nose was at the same height as the stage floor. The singers were looming over us and each voice came loud, clear and separate.

I also noticed their shoes. One player, Nate Helgeson on bassoon was the only person in the whole ensemble with brown shoes. Viola player Elly Winer was wearing beautiful black dessert boots. The exquisitely gowned Suzy LeBlanc sang better than ever perhaps because she felt most comfortable being barefoot.

The most unusual combination of talent, panache and style was alto Reginald L. Mobley who happened to be of the opposite sex of the other and well known alto, Laura Pudwell (who once played the male Emperor Nero in a previous Early Music Vancouver production of Claudio Monteverdi’s L'Incoronazione di Poppea). For those who know there is no conflict above. Reginald L. Mobley is a baritone who sings in falsetto. He is a countertenor. You can never really taste your Handel at his authentic best unless there is a countertenor in the mix. I can only surmise that Mobley’s presence on Wednesday evening was the fact that Early Music Vancouver has changed from the very able hands of “I always wear Birkenstocks” retiring (Sept.1, 2013) José Verstappen to that of Matthew White who just happens to be one of those baritones that sings in a falsetto. 


Matthew White
 Mobley’s countertenor voice is one of the most natural and sweet I have heard in a long time. I had to keep myself from going beyond smiling as Mobley was dressed in a black suit and his shoes were covered by white spats. The last time I ever saw spats they were being worn by Scrooge McDuck.

While all the other singers were content to face us with their librettos in neat black notebooks, Mobley had a black Asus tablet. I am a fan of the man as of right now.

It was funny and yet he sang so well seeing the man in spats with his Asus tablet singing:

Their land brought forth frogs, year, even in their king's chambers.

I could rant and rave of the new, just-purchased baroque timpani, ably played by blonde faux-Mohawked Ed Reifel. I could tell you that they resembled the instruments that Taras Bulba’s soldiers played before killing and piling up the skulls of their vanquished enemies, but then I have. There were three trombones, a big one, a middle sized one and a tiny one played by Catherine Motuz, Peter Christensen and Trevor Dix and two natural trumpets (no valves, very difficult to master) played by Kris Kwapis and Alexis Basque. I could go on and on. It was a superb concert, with lots of ballistic thanks to the timpani, but the best moment of the night was in Part III, Moses Song when in a duet, baritones, Sumner Thompson and Tyler Duncan sang:


Alexander Weimann
 The Lord is a man of war: Lord is His name. Pharoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea; his chosen captains also drowned in the Red Sea.

Those lyrics, Handel’s music and those two voices with beautiful diction (tenor Colin Balzer is another with perfect diction, especially in German) never got any better. I must point out that I am warming up, even thrilled, to listen to the recitatives performed (a good word as he acts them with gusto) by tenor Charles Daniels.

I can only point out that I had one big disappointment, I never heard the line:

“Let my people go.” 

José Verstappen is retiring after 34 years of working hard and doing almost everything (designing, building harpsichords, obtaining much needed funding, helping get a new baroque organ, all which left him with no budget to buy real shoes). Imagine when he started, the Connaught  Bridge, with its centre span of wooden planks linked downtown Vancouver across False Creek!  He now leaves us with the knowledge that at least we in Vancouver can be lucky to boast and revel at the fact that very few ever get to see Israel In Egypt performed live. Thank you.


My friend Graham Walker is mine of information on all things baroque. It seems that Israel in Egypt was the first ever recorded performance.

On Friday 29th June 1888, from 2pm, a performance of Handel's oratorio Israel in Egypt was captured on a number of wax cylinder recordings. This performance was part of the trienniel Handel Festivals mounted in the UK. They were recorded from the press gallery in Crystal Palace by Edison-representative Colonel Gouraud, as a way to test and show off Edison's phonograph. Three of these cylinders still survive. The conductor was Sir August Manns, conducting an orchestra of some 500 musicians and a choir of over 4,000 voices, in front of an audience of 23,722 people. These are the earliest deliberate recordings of music known to exist (earlier recordings from the 1870s are considered lost). Fortunately these can be played back at a quite definite pitch, as we know the pitch of the Crystal Palace organ at this time. Unfortunately, the recordings are in very poor shape, audibly speaking. You are going to have a very hard time grappling with the sound, and trying to make out anything. Each cylinder contains a number of tracks. This is what you are hearing: Edison's 1888 phonograph recordings





The Photo Trailer In Lillooet
Friday, August 09, 2013




 
July 31, 2013, Lillooet British Columbia

 As a photographer I am infrequently in my own pictures. I often express this lapse with the question, “Who shaves the barber?”

This last week when Rosemary and I visited Alexandra (Ale) in Lillooet where she teaches in the elementary school (I believe there is more than one) I happened to look out of our bedroom window and I spotted the old trailer that she has in the side of her house. I thought that the trailer’s paint job went well with Ale’s dress so I told her I would photograph her there and perhaps even take some self portraits, too. Upon seeing these pictures my Rosemary said, “Why would you use that trailer?” Even though I have been married to her for 45 years I am constantly being surprised!

I took this picture on July 31. On the 27th of this month Ale will be 45 and on the 31st I will be 71. It seems right that somehow I took these pictures. There is calmness in my daughter’s expression that makes me think that Rosemary and I did something right and we should be justly proud of her. Which we are.





The Malibu Dom
Thursday, August 08, 2013






The seal of approval can be attached to the above photograph. I showed it to Rosemary who said, “That’s nice even though I don’t know exactly what I am looking at."  I explained to her that in her job as a professional dominatrix, Yuliya must sometimes attach a strap-on. I wasn’t too sure how to spell the word so I asked Yuliya who told me that I needed to separate the two parts with a hyphen.

Those reading this must wait for me to process my small camera colour and b+w before you can have a look at Yuliya’s beautiful Ukrainian underwear and her most feminine dress.

While I would have insisted she wear he full black leather or latex regalia Yuliya thought that the strap-on in combination with her nice summer dress would suffice for an understated dollop of shock. As I was taking her pictures it came to my thoughts that this dominatrix is one very classy and sophisticated one. I must add that my observation is only the opinion of an amateur. I have no previous experience.

For this picture I used a Mamiya RB-67 Pro-SD with a 50mm wide angle. My film was 3200 ISO Fuji FP-3000B Instant Film.

The dominatrix and others in the red shawl project



Edward Weston's Azotea Revisited
Wednesday, August 07, 2013


Sometime before September ends I will be having pizza and a moscato at El Cuartito with my artist friend Juan Manuel Sánchez in Buenos Aires. I long for the long conversation we will have about art, literature, music and life and their association with Sánchez’s favourite subject, women. At age 84 he told me recently via Skype that if he didn’t have the young artist girlfriend that he has he would go to any of his ex girlfriends (in their 70s or 60s) and that they would not deny him.

Should any man say such a thing here in Vancouver we would condemn him for being a sexist.

Before Juan Manuel Sánchez left Vancouver for his Buenos Aires after telling me that here he felt like a penguin in the arctic, we had a joint shoot (he sketched) in my studio with Carmen Aguirre a beautiful Chilean playwright, actor and author. I checked my watch when Aguirre entered and it was not five minutes had passed before Sánchez had persuaded her to take all her clothes off.

I always thought I was good at this but Sánchez is so much better. While slightly pudgy he does look like Picasso. Maybe that’s it.

In our latest and most frequent conversations via Skype he is becoming most enthused at the fact that I have found two Argentine women via the internet who will pose for us in his studio. One of them, a very smart 25-year-old has even suggested that she would like pose evoking a most famous Argentine poet, Alfonsina Storni who drowned herself on the beautiful beach at Mar del Plata in the 30s. When I told her that there was a similarity here with Hamlet’s Ophelia she immediately began to read Hamlet all over again.


Carmen Aguirre & Juan Manuel Sánchez
 Sánchez says we will interrupt our sessions by walking around the corner on Talcahuano Street and feed our model Roxana.

I itch for all this because it brings to mind the bohemian life that he and his former wife, artist, Nora Patrich used to have in Vancouver. We talked every day, we drank mate at all hours of the day and night and we worked on many joint projects. Nora Patrich had all kinds of props like swords, hats, dresses for our ideas. When they left they created a vacuum in my artistic life. I will regain some of this if only briefly in Buenos Aires in September and a few more days in October. I too will feel like a bohemian artist.  

One of my favourite personal blogs is the one that I will repeat below. There is some contemporary reason for my bringing that blog from the past. When I told Nora Patrich (currently visiting her daughter in Spain) via Skype that I had seen a beautiful book on Tina Modotti in the new Vancouver used books store,  The Paper Hound she told me, “Please buy it and bring it as your gift to me. I am obsessed with Modotti.” 



La Azotea de Edward Weston
Friday, March 21, 2008


 I have such a vivid memory about reading this article on Mexican photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo on December 16, 1993 that I even remember it was a Thursday!

The idea that the 91 year-old man (he died when he was 100) would wake up every day and have a coffee, pan dulce and then go to his studio and photograph a female nude was astounding. What a routine he had! That he did it in a city without snow or cold, a city (as well as the mountains of the dry season) that is ochre (although Bravo's house was called the Blue House) brown, and red, colours that are inviting and not distancing like the greens, blues, cyans and grays of Vancouver gave me nostalgia for my youth in Mexico City. Reading Tim Golden's interview with Bravo I could imagine the smells of earth, water on sidewalks after a winter drought aguacero and the advent of the rainy season. I could imagine and remember the murals of Diego Rivera and paintings by Rufino Tamayo. But most of all I was grabbed by the last two paragraphs of the interview:



For many years, Mr. Alvarez Bravo used to summarize the philosophy of his method on a piece of paper tacked above the developing pans in his darkroom. "Hay tiempo," it read, "There is time."

When asked, he can't remember exactly what happened to the manifesto. He thinks it is back in the house, just up the crooked street from the blue wall of his studio. he isn't sure. But he smiles as he says this, and his meaning is obvious: there is no longer any need for such reminders.




It was around 1993 that I first read the Daybooks of Edward Weston with special emphasis on the first volume. 1 Mexico.  But I skimmed through them without giving Weston's words much thought.



Of late I have given those words much thought and I have read them over and over. It was only a few years ago that I realized, that between 1962 and 1964, when I lived in an apartment on Avenida Tamaulipas in Mexico City, that I was but three blocks from Avenida Veracruz 42, corner with Durango. It was in this house that Edward Weston lived for a while in 1924 with some of his sons and his mistress the Italian photographer Tina Modotti. When Modotti was later expelled from Mexico for her communist views she sold one of Weston's 4x5 cameras to a young Manuel Alvarez Bravo. Weston had noticed Bravo's photographs and commented on his talent.



Ona Grauer in my studio, (right)

On a March 12, 1924 entry Weston writes:

From the negatives made of Tina lying nude on the azotea, (Weston's photograph from his azotea, above left)[a Mexican roof, complete with laundry hanging to dry next to large water tanks] one very excellent result which I have printed: it is among the best nudes I have done...



Or his entry for March 16. 5:30 [Morning or afternoon?] ...Some criticized my latest nude of Tina reclining on the azotea because of "incorrect drawing," but [Jean] Charlot did not mind it: he tells me that Picasso got his "inspiration" to use false perspective from amateur photographs. Diego [Diego Rivera] had another interesting note on Picasso, that he was never influenced or went to nature for inspiration, always to other "schools" of art.



And there is this torrid one, March 23, Sunday Evening:

After a day of loafing and napping, it is well to let the world slip by occasionally in indolent indifference. The twilight was spent in Tina's room and in her arms, for she had sent me a note by Elisa, "Eduardo: Por qué no viene aquí arriba? Es tan bella la luz a esta hora y yo estoy un poco triste. "Why not come up here? The light is beautiful at this hour and I am a little sad.

There is a certain inevitable sadness in the life of a much-sought-for, beautiful woman, one like Tina especially, who, not caring sufficiently for associates among her own sex, craves camaraderie and friendship from men as well as sex love. 




Yuliya in my studio
 There is one entry that mentions a very young and beautiful "starlet" called Dolores del Río. But my favourite is one that sunk in with all its loveliness of a father's affection for his sons, in this case Neil:

March 3. It so happened, Neil, that last night I dreamed of you. I held you on my lap, kissed your broad forehead, and you cuddled close, and asked for stories. We talked long together, of fierce fanged Aztec Gods, of white rabbits in clover fields - and we recalled days of long ago. How it used to be at bed time you would climb upon my back for a good night ride out under the tall black trees, waving farewell to Lady Moon, listening to the little pines whisper, or maybe, picking loquat blossoms fragrant in the night fog. Now you are there[California] and I am here, and perhaps you are so big a boy I could no longer ride you so. Well it came to pass that in my dream your dreamed too...All quiet now, only a distant mocking. I watched your sleeping face, as I looked down upon you, you became not only Neil, but the symbol for all in life of tender hopefulness. They will flout you, insult you, lynch you, but I will protect you, for I have masks that you shall wear, a horned and grinning devil, a sharp beaked bird, a ram in solemn mummery. I have them, I shall keep them for that hour when it must be you shall need them to hide behind and keep inviolate, untouched, the spark within which is yourself. They shall be my only legacy to you, carboard, painted masks, thicker than your thin skin...

As I read and re read Weston's diary and look at the icy cyan sky of the North Shore mountains I remember that I have a warm studio on Robson Street. It is either cold or very hot. There is no in between with that steam radiator. And I have my photographic assignations with some beautiful women who consent to my photography with no fixed purpose except to take pictures, to explore what they are and or what I think they are. I happily send them (after all this is the 21st century) digital contact sheets (of negatives scanned) and print up photographs that smell of fixer which almost smells of Mexico City earth.

I sometimes question my obsession with the undraped female form. Since I am unable to explain it all in brief here I decided to look for an answer in my copy of The Photographic Nudes of Erwin Blumenfeld. The book has Berlin-born Blumenfeld's exquisite and classy (tame by today's standards) and it is nicely written by his son Yorick. Of his father he writes:



Women were the truest of his many obsessions and photography was one way of capturing them, of possessing them. The art historian Joachim Gasquet has described how Cézanne symbolically seduced his nudes in his great canvases, stroking them with 'great coloured caresses'. Gasquet wrote: "Nude flesh made him giddy, he wanted to leap at his models; as soon as they came in he wanted to throw them, half undressed, onto a matress...He had found another wasy to adore those nudes...he bedded them in his paintings, tussled with them." To Gasquet's conjectures about Cézzane, I can only add my own about my father. I don't think that his sublimations were all that different, except that he used the intermediary of the lens instead of the brush. Certainly he placed all kinds of separating elements between himself and his models: veils, grids, glass plates, silks muslin sheets...all used effectively to increase distance, to introduce the element of mystery, to heighten the allure of eroticism.



Yorick Blumenfeld has something interesting to say about Edward Weston:

Whatever desires may have been aroused by taking nude pictures were according to Blummenfeld 'sublimated by the lens.' Unlike other contemporary photographers, such as Edward Weston, he rarely focused his camera on the women he loved. He never used his wife, for example, as a nude model.

Of late I have been processing Agfa 400 ISO film after having exposed it to my studio's window lighting and getting blotchy negatives. I have been using the "wrong" developer to get results (the pictures look like they were taken in the 1920s) that Weston would have gone crazy to eliminate or correct. I have revelled in the use of this window lighting that I have so ignored in my years with my American-made, efficient and ever consistent Dynalites. Above you see pictures of two of my former studio muses, both photographed with window lighting. The first is Ona Grauer and the second is Yuliya Kam'yanska who really has the presence of the passionate Latin even though she is from Ukraine.







I have a new subject, Jo-Ann (left) who has indicated she will brave the outdoor metal stairs that hug the wall to my studio roof. It is not a Mexican azotea. But come the warm days of summer, it just might do!



¡Hay tiempo! There is time!



St. Isidore's Bed & Art Bergmann
Tuesday, August 06, 2013




Saint Isidore of Seville (570-636) was a bishop and a Doctor of the Church. He wrote just about everything from medicine to a book about the classifications of heaven’s angels. He attempted to catalogue what was then known to man in 20 books called De Los Orígenes (Of Origins) and he wrote the first encyclopedic dictionary. He divided his Of Origins into 20 books each on one category:

1. Grammar 2. Rhetoric and Dialectic 3. Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy 4. Medicine 5. Laws and time 6. the books and laws of the church 7. God, angels and men 8. the church and sects 9. languages, races, kingdoms and the armies 10. words in alphabetical order 11. man and monsters 12. animals 13. the universe and its parts, or cosmology 14. the earth and its divisions or geography 15. cities, fields and roads 16. minerals and metals 17. farmers and gardening 18. war and games 19. ships, buildings and clothing 20. Food and its tools.

For our purposes St. Isidore figures here for two very good reasons. He was the first to coin the word in Spanish cama (bed) from the Latin camba for a narrow bed used for sleeping or, as the Romans so much enjoyed, for eating.

Because it was St. Isidoro (Spanish for Isidore) who was really the first human to attempt to compile all human knowledge, Spanish scholars have declared him to be the patron saint of the internet. I would offer no objection seeing that this man knew about everything and beds, too. Thanks to him I can justify placing here these delightful pictures of Art Bergmann in bed with his wife Sherri Decembrini.
 






Sherri's Video with Art in Bed



Harold That German Robot & Johnny Tomorrow
Monday, August 05, 2013



Guest Blog
Michael Unger

Harold & friend

In October of 1968 a German robot that went by the name of “Zeiss Jena Universal Planetarium Star Projector” was born in the top of the brand new dome theatre in a building that also housed the Vancouver Centennial Museum located in Vanier Park, Kitsilano, Vancouver, BC. In October of 1977, just over the bridge on Burrard Street in St. Paul’s Hospital, I was brought into this world. The similarities of our beginnings only mirror the relationship that over the years that has seen me grow closer and closer to the robot that would affectionately become known as “Harold”.

Harold was given his name after a technician thought his tall, skinny, and odd appearance had a resemblance to “Weird Harold”, one of the characters from the Fat Albert cartoon. That description could very well have described me when I walked into the planetarium for the first time on a field trip in 1985. I don’t remember much of Harold at the time, but what I do remember was the journey through space that he took us on that day. It sparked a curiosity about the universe that would build each time I watched reruns of Star Trek, or pulled out my Star Wars toys to recreate dramas on distant alien worlds. The second time I saw Harold was a moment of déjà-vu when I sat down in almost the exact same seat to watch a Pink Floyd laser show ten years later in 1995. The memories came flooding back of this special theatre of time and space, and this robot that would take me on a journey, albeit a different one with a psychedelic soundtrack. When I got the opportunity to start working at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre I realized that when I walked into the theatre that it literally was the third time I would come into Harold’s presence, and my memories of him now became momentous moments of foreshadowing that planted the seeds that eventually brought us together. The planetarium would quickly become my second home, and Harold soon became not only a co-worker, but a friend. Every time I stepped into the theatre my brain would come alive with thoughts of the past and future, an effect that would happen every night that I would look up at the real stars and now has set me firmly on a journey of astronomy education.

Over the course of July 2013, Harold was basically on a retirement tour as the theatre underwent renovations to make way for the new digital-dome that would take us into the millennium with a system comparably with some of the other major planetarium of the world. We live in an incredibly exciting time in which we’re not only landing rovers on Mars, exploring the rings of Saturn, finding planets in other Solar Systems, but learning about the true nature of our place in the Universe. This new system will allow us to not only see the stars from what they would look like from Vanier Park, but leave our planet to visit other worlds like the Moon, Saturn, or the Andromeda Galaxy. Harold will not be leaving the building, but will get a well deserved vacation. He’s been doing shows pretty much every day since 1968, and he’ll come out occasionally for special events perhaps, but he’ll no longer be relied upon to guide us through the universe.

Like any friend, saying goodbye is never easy, especially for one like Harold. At times he was my therapist, my teacher, and my dream maker. You never really can say goodbye to someone like that, because he has integrated himself into my DNA. I am by far not the only that has impacted Harold, many people have come through the building to work with him like David A. Rodger who was the planetariums first director, Craig McCaw who would be the architect of the Pink Floyd laser shows, and John Tanner who presented the first planetarium show in 1968, as well as the last official Harold show in 2013. I’ve only spent a short time with Harold, relatively, but as was proven when I first met him in 1985, all it took was one meeting for me to be hooked on the Universe. When a star explodes in a supernova, the expelled materials form a nebula where new stars take their form. It’s this grand cosmic recycling that has shaped our Universe and proves that everything on this planet was once forged in an exploding star. Harold’s DNA then will forever be in the planetarium, and my job now, is to pass on what he’s taught me, to a new generation of stargazers with a brand new system that is sure to spark that love of space as it did me.

Michael John Unger

Michael Unger is an interpreter at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. He’s also the creator of “The Johnny Tomorrow Chronicles”, a one-man astronomy story-telling show which will be presented at the Carousel Theatre as part of the Vancouver Fringe Festival in September 2013.
 Johnny Tomorrow



Persuasion With Sensibility
Sunday, August 04, 2013







 Alex,

 Just a short note to say hello. It has been a while but I have been following your travels and travails off and on via your blog and I hope your health issues are but a speed bump on a long and winding road in a Malibu.

It is hard to believe that you are 70, although it's harder for me to believe that I will turn 50 later this year. Maybe I just won't.

When we met in 1986 -- Swervin' Mervyn Fernandez and the Concorde! Al Davidson, the crushed football and the green filter! Jim Nelford and the balancing tee! Primo and Secondo playing bestia with my dad! -- I was not yet 23.

Now, I have a son who's not yet 23 and has moved to NYC to work as a designer (plus a 20-year-old who's doing school and working here).
  
Speaking of kids and family and your blog, I have a question for you to answer -- not for me but for your blog readers (in other words, it's blog fodder for you): Do your family and many friends ever resist you taking their photographs and, if so, how do you persuade them to participate in your art one more time? I'm sure your many readers would be interested in the answer(s).

Take care, Alex, and here's hoping for a good summer in the garden.

Rich




I received the above communication from Richard Dal Monte who is the Editor of the Tri-City News. As you might guess he and I worked on a few stories (he the writer and me the photographer) for Vancouver Magazine in the mid 80s.

Unbeknownst to Rich his suggestion on my writing this blog has much more relevance than he might have surmised.

Sometime in the mid 80s I called a very beautiful exotic dancer called Sandi H and asked her, “Sandi will you pose for me?” It was understood that I meant that she would have to undrape. Her answer is one that I had never ever received before or since, “Alex I would be honoured.” 


Except for people I have photographed for magazines in the few fashion shoots I have been involved in, where the magazine paid the models for their time, I have never ever paid any model to pose for me.

 In the case of my 11-year-old granddaughter Lauren, of late I have had to resort to culinary bribery. She will pose if I satisfy and abide to her choice of the menu for our family Saturday afternoon dinners.

For Vancouver Magazine in the 80s I was dispatched to photograph four people involved in the fashion and fitness world who would reveal next to their pictures their special diet to keep their body looking as beautiful as it was. Editor Mac Parry indicated, “Try to have the least clothing possible.” I took that as a dare and decided my subjects would not wear anything and I would use lights to hide what had to be hidden. I got the then fitness queen Dana Zalko to remove all her clothes by telling her that her rival at the Olympic Gym Carla Temple had agreed to remove all of hers. I told Temple the same story.

Getting people to shed all their clothing is easy if you use the right language when you ask. I first found this out when teaching a class at Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design as it was called then. My class assistant asked me thusly, “Do you want a draped or undraped model?”

The key then is to ask your subjects with that word that does not sound offensive or aggressive, “Will you pose for me undraped?” 

 I shot a series of women in tubs and this became a very good gallery show. I called the 18 women I photographed and told them I was doing women in tubs. Of the 18 only two wore a bathing suit which at the last moment they would push away but not revealing anything. Nobody assuming they were going to pose inside a tub of water would ever think of wearing clothes. So I was asking them to pose for me in the nude without asking them to pose in the nude! They simply took all their clothes off and immersed themselves as most do in tubs, with nothing on. While shooting these my Rosemary asked me one Friday, “What floozy is posing for you this weekend?” I did get a bit of pleasure when I answered, “A floozy you know, our eldest daughter who asked me point blank to be part of this.” The story of my daughter in that does not end there. At Emily Carr a week before I had been having lunch with a fellow teacher who was designer when I spotted a beautiful red haired woman lining up at the food counter. I pointed out how beautiful her hair was and how nice it would be to get her into my tub series. My friend told me that she was his student, gave me her name and simply told me (those times were so much more innocent it would seem), “Why don’t you ask her?” I went up to the young woman and did just that. I photographed her at the same hour as I did my daughter to make it easier for me; after all I was my daughter’s father. The redhead was a great help.

 Another story with a quick resolution was of the beautiful peroxide blonde who would mysteriously eat alone by our table at the Railway Club on Thursdays where for many years we had a group of writers, artists, photographers and poets who met to converse. The woman was extraordinarily beautiful but an enigma. I went up to her one Thursday and said, “My name is Alex Waterhouse-Hayward. I am a photographer and I would like to photograph you undraped.” She answered, “Sure, where and when?”

What does not work and I have told countless photography class students is the indirect and sleazy method used by photographers who have given the industry a bad name.

The model might show up for a head shot and the photographer will little by little push the session into fewer and fewer articles of clothing while playing ever louder heavy metal rock while offering his (they are mostly males these sleazy ones) subjects wine and or drugs.

For portrait shoots at Focal Point I always made the school bring in models as nude models (the were paid more) so if at any moment you wanted the model to lower his boxer shorts a bit you did not feel you were asking for something that was unwarranted.

When asked to photograph Prime Minister Turner for the cover of Vancouver Magazine, Turner’s campaign manager told me that Turner had no time to pose for a city magazine out west. He further told me that Turner in his visit to this city would be busy shaking hands with potential voters. I had photographed Ron Basford a few years before. He had been a powerful minister in Trudeau’s cabinet. I called Basford in Ottawa and he told me he would handle it. I got my shot.


I used the same method to photograph Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. I called Senator Larry Campbell who arranged for the studio session for me.

Key to all this is to always leave a good impression with those you photograph so that later if your need their help they will give it to you. And most important is an easy going and polite phone voice and style. If you ask right you get it.

In the small world that Vancouver really is if you want to photograph someone you don’t know it is always possible to find someone you know who knows the person of interest to serve as your intermediary.

 Negative psychology can work very well, too. Here is an example not exactly about getting someone to pose for me but to get someone to review a photography show I was part of. I had been invited to participate in a fund raising show at Presentation House Gallery (to have a straight show there, not just in a group fund raising show you have to be either very famous abroad or dead. I don’t qualify for either category). It was a show of  pinhole photographs. I called the Georgia Straight’s art critic Robin Laurence and told her, “There is this show at the Presentation House that you must not cover because I am in it. Since I often work for the Straight this might be seen as a conflict of interest.” Laurence indignantly retorted, “You are not going to tell me what to review or not review. I will review it if I want.”  And she did.

The above is I think mostly self-evident and I think that it satisfies most of Rich Dal Monte’s suggestions for the blog. But now I want to go to the part that most interests me at age 70, my present age. The world has definitely changed from the magazine world I worked for in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

In those days there was such a thing as a real professional photographer who did not “work out of his home” (photo speak for he/she does not work). In fact photographers could be sports photographers, magazine photographers, photographers for newspapers, table top photographers and photographers that worked in advertising. There were fashion photographers, yacht photographers and forensic photographers. There were industrial photographers and photographers who specialized in cars. There were portrait studios and studios that specialized in school pictures and in sports team pictures. These classifications, if they exist, they do so in a much reduced world where a photographer with a name that is recognizable is as rare as rock group that lasts more than a year.

 Who, now under 30 years of age would recognize these names, Bert Stern, Philippe Halsman, Annie Leibovitz or even Helmut Newton?  One of the last ones might be the Brazilian Sebastiao Salgado. Fewer would ever suspect that Dennis Hopper considered himself to be a better photographer than an actor, and that Oscar Peterson (who’s that?) was a very good photographer.

The Colt Peacemaker made everybody a potential gunfighter. The digital camera has leveled the field. A photographer with a name is an anachronism of a past age.

In the age of magazines of which Vancouver was part of until the late 90s I was, in this small pond a relatively big fish with a name. If I called and wanted to photograph somebody they would instantly say yes.

That has changed. I am a face, an aging face in a world of people with cameras. The idea of a professional photographer has as much credential than that of a politician.

And there is Photoshop. My 15 year-old granddaughter called me one day to ask me if I had a program to narrow a person’s face. I have always used lighting to achieve this. Photoshop has in the same way as the digital camera, leveled that playing field. Portraits are now resplendent in their Photoshop Diffuse Glow.

While Sandi H was honoured when I called her my prospective subjects now more often think I am a creep and to use the new coinage think I am Weinering them. 



The paradox is that at age 30 or 40 I wanted to photograph women in the nude because I was a healthy, sexist, male heterosexual. I used to haunt the best Vancouver strip parlous and within minutes I would have two or three of the best of them sitting with me. Now I cannot abide in entering one of those places. I have changed and my concept of taking pictures of the undraped woman has changed, too. I opt for more clothing. Age has brought with it subtlety and understatement. In an era of pornography, subtlety and understatement are far more erotic. I don’t think I have ever photographed a woman of any age or persuasion with some element of eroticism in my mind.

While not resorting to heavy metal and booze my intentions then where no different from those other photographers I castigate. I now have more respect and restraint and I am aware of the ramifications of what I do and of the symbols I might draw on.

And yet if I were 35 now would I be perceived as a creep?But the most troubling conundrum I am facing now is that only recently have I finally accepted that I am an artist. An artist does not choose. An artist is compelled.

The photographs here are of a young woman, Aja, who had many freckles and an ease for posing undraped. From her I learned a lot and her pictures in the tub (the tub of my friend Mark Budgen) are the prototypes that led to my women in the tub series. I asked her to pose and her affirmative answer felt as natural as my asking.



     

Previous Posts
A Rose in Decline & Memories Past

The Last Rose of Summer Revisited

The Last Rose of Summer

The Messiah - A Roasted Chestnut to Perfection

Bowering, Baseball & Burlesque

L'Orfeo & Two 6ft 2in Theorbos

Resonance

Stylus Fantasticus & The Gambist

The White House Novels

Zorro Sent Me



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5/22/16 - 5/29/16

5/29/16 - 6/5/16

6/5/16 - 6/12/16

6/12/16 - 6/19/16

6/19/16 - 6/26/16

6/26/16 - 7/3/16

7/3/16 - 7/10/16

7/10/16 - 7/17/16

7/17/16 - 7/24/16

7/24/16 - 7/31/16

7/31/16 - 8/7/16

8/7/16 - 8/14/16

8/14/16 - 8/21/16

8/21/16 - 8/28/16

8/28/16 - 9/4/16

9/4/16 - 9/11/16

9/11/16 - 9/18/16

9/18/16 - 9/25/16

9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17

1/22/17 - 1/29/17

1/29/17 - 2/5/17

2/5/17 - 2/12/17

2/12/17 - 2/19/17

2/19/17 - 2/26/17

2/26/17 - 3/5/17

3/5/17 - 3/12/17

3/12/17 - 3/19/17

3/19/17 - 3/26/17

3/26/17 - 4/2/17

4/2/17 - 4/9/17

4/9/17 - 4/16/17

4/16/17 - 4/23/17

4/23/17 - 4/30/17

4/30/17 - 5/7/17

5/7/17 - 5/14/17

5/14/17 - 5/21/17

5/21/17 - 5/28/17

5/28/17 - 6/4/17

6/4/17 - 6/11/17

6/11/17 - 6/18/17

6/18/17 - 6/25/17

6/25/17 - 7/2/17

7/2/17 - 7/9/17

7/9/17 - 7/16/17

7/16/17 - 7/23/17

7/23/17 - 7/30/17

7/30/17 - 8/6/17

8/6/17 - 8/13/17

8/13/17 - 8/20/17

8/20/17 - 8/27/17

8/27/17 - 9/3/17

9/3/17 - 9/10/17

9/10/17 - 9/17/17

9/17/17 - 9/24/17

9/24/17 - 10/1/17

10/1/17 - 10/8/17

10/8/17 - 10/15/17

10/15/17 - 10/22/17

10/22/17 - 10/29/17

10/29/17 - 11/5/17

11/5/17 - 11/12/17

11/12/17 - 11/19/17