The Naked And The Veiled
Saturday, November 08, 2014
|Paris - 1937, 38|
As we progress into
this century in my field of photography I have found that there are few
photographers left from that old guard (as I call it) who had or have an
One of my faves was
German fashion photographer Erwin Blumenfeld, 1897 –1969. Perhaps he is not as
famous as Helmut Newton or others who shot nudes. Perhaps it is because
Blumenfeld’s photographs were more internal and any eroticism was subtle.
|Self-portrait, Zandvoort, Holland c.1930|
I have a fondness for
his book The Naked and the Veiled – The Photographic Nudes of Erwin Blumenfeld
because the author is his son Yorick Blumenfeld who writes beautifully on how
his father was motivated to take those elegant b+w (and colour) nudes that
involve veils, mirrors and distortion.
Of his veiled nudes
his son writes:
He claimed that his enduring obsession with
transparency and veils was born when at age nine, he was taken by a governess
to visit the studio of a Berlin
painter. The model surprised by their entrance, quickly threw a diaphanous
cloth over herself. But the outline of her body was still visible against the
light. Later in his teenage years, the thin suggestive veils employed by such
admired painters as Memling, Cranach and Botticelli made Blumenfeld realize
that the naked woman could become ‘even more naked by their transparent veils.’
I found this
The sleazy romanticism
of the Berlin
garment industry, in which Blumenfeld was forced to work after his father had
died of tertiary syphilis in 1913, held no appeal to him. In his autobiography,
he describes the furtive trysts of his bosses in voyeuristic detail. From his
experiences in ladies’ fashion, however, he learned to distinguish between
fabrics, and discovered the ways in which a woman’s form changed under silk,
tulle, muslin and gauze. This knowledge would reveal itself later in the
intensity of his focus on the quality of fabric in his fashion photographs, as
well as his nude studies, such as his famous Nude under Wet Silk (1938).
|Danielle c.2001 - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
|Danielle - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
|Danielle - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
|Danielle - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
The Right Equipment
Friday, November 07, 2014
|Don't forget to have your heart checked in the Conex Clinic during the January T.L.A. Convention|
In one of my trips to Buenos Aires in the late
90s I mentioned to my rugby-playing nephews that I could not understand the
huge toothpaste billboards that featured a beautiful woman in a most skimpy
bikini. I told my nephew, “What does that woman have to do with brushing your
teeth and why is she wearing a bikini?” My ordinarily gentle nephew, with a
grin on his face, raised his voice and said, “Are you a homosexual?”
I attempted to tell
him that after years of being in Vancouver I had changed my macho ways and now
accepted the idea that one should not use a near naked woman to advertize any
product except, perhaps, bathing suits.
If you happen to look
at billboards or newspaper ads in Europe (England,
France, Italy, Spain, etc) you will be amazed how
politically incorrect they are and how the female figure is used to sell
You will not see
anything “subtle” like a recent NY Times T-Magazine page advertizing wrist
watches by showing a man’s hand, in many frames, lurking close to a woman’s
miniskirted legs in a car.
It seems that
Europeans and Latin Americans don’t get this thing we have in Canada and they
celebrate the beauty of the female figure. Since Buenos Aires is one of the world’s capitals
for same-sex tourism they just might soon switch to advertising toothpaste with
a man wearing thong.
As a man from that
other century, the 20th I remember one of the worst shooting days of
my life. It happened in 1988. I had a beautiful studio in a not-yet-expensive Yale Town
on Hamilton Street.
I shared it with fashion photographer Dennis Montalbetti. I had been hired by
designer Chris Dahl to shoot a calendar for 1989 for his client Continental
Explosives. The company sold dynamite that was principally used in logging plus
drill bits and something called grader blade edges.
There was to be a truck
logger’s convention in January 1989 in which the conventioneers would go to a
special room to be photographed (for a price is my guess) with a “nurse” who
would check their hearts.
The nurse was a famous model
(in the logging community circle) with extra large breasts. She was my
subject for the calendar in which most of the poses were designed to have her
bend down to show more cleavage. She was a natural and was most pleasant to work with.
|"Get the Edge" with Conex (Boundary Sandvik Grader Blade Edges)|
I am sure my Argentine
nephews would find the calendar wonderful but as I look at it now I can
remember that in those pre digital days I had to shoot a Polaroid of every
month scene and send it to Dahl by taxi. His assistant and wife, Judy Rudin
would then tell me what was wrong with it and suggestions were given. I have no
idea as to how many Polaroids went over by taxi. All I remember was my sweat
and nerves. I can smile at it today but when I look at my single copy of the
calendar I cringe. I know that such a calendar would not see the light of day
now. Nor, I am almost sure, that no nurse holds court in an upper room of a
convention center and checks truckers’ hearts.
|"Everything for Blasting" from Conex (CIL & CXA Products)|
|"The Right Equipment"from Conex (Boart Drilling Equipment)|
Remembrance Day - One For Two
Thursday, November 06, 2014
|Photograph - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
The more this century
stretches towards a future in which not too far off, It will not include me in
it, I find myself thinking more and more as a creature of the 20th century.
This is obvious as I still look up to the sky when I hear an airplane. Flying,
a magic act, was so in the 20th. Now it means the problem of dealing
with carry-on luggage.
Today my granddaughter
was complaining that in her school the students prepared a Remembrance Day
ceremony that was “truly awful” I am amending this from what she actually said.
The principal reason had to do with the fact that one of the students read “that
red poppy thing”.
As an Argentine-born
Canadian my knowledge of Canadian history is a tad slim but I did read Pierre
Berton’s Vimy Ridge in which he argued (favourably for me) that Canada became a
country as a result of that battle. It unified Canadians.
My granddaughter was
partially right when she told me that General Sir Arthur William Curry (born in
Strathroy, Ontario, 1875, was the commander at Vimy
Ridge. She was wrong in telling me that his predecessor was a terrible British
general who used his soldiers as cannon fodder. Curry’s predecessor was the English born, Wrotham Park, 1862, Field Marshal Julian
Hedworth George Byng, 1st Viscount Byng of Vimy GCB GCMG MVO.
This ignorant Canadian
did not know the significance of the poem that my granddaughter was so tired of
listening to. I looked it up and found that it was a poem by a live Canadian
soldier John McCrea written to honour a fallen comrade from his regiment. I
found the story here.
During the early days of the Second Battle of Ypres a young Canadian artillery officer,
Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on 2nd May, 1915 in the gun positions near
Ypres. An exploding German artillery shell
landed near him. He was serving in the same Canadian artillery unit as a friend
of his, the Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae.
As the brigade doctor, John McCrae was asked to
conduct the burial service for Alexis because the chaplain had been called away
somewhere else on duty that evening. It is believed that later that evening,
after the burial, John began the draft for his now famous poem “In Flanders Fields”.
I had a short chat
with my granddaughter about the above and then gave her to peruse, my copy of
Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia with two pages marked by a blank paper. The two
pages so marked were on the page on Siegfried Sassoon and the other on Wilfred
I can only hope that curiosity
might just work the way it should.
I then told both my
wife and granddaughter the special significance of Remembrance Day’s date. Few,
particularly those born in this century or close to it in the other know of
such a thing as an Armistice on November 11, at 11am (Paris time) 1918. In fact
my granddaughter thought it to be the armistice for WWII. Few know even
understand that WWII did not end with D-Day or with Victory in Europe (V-E Day)
on May 8, 1945, but ended with the two atom bombs in Japan which signalled V-J
Day and that was celebrated on August 15 1945.
I did not end it all
there as I told them that Remembrance Day celebrates Canadian soldiers, those
that died, and those that are live veterans including soldiers who have fought in Afghanistan.
The Americans are different in that they have a day for the fallen, Memorial
Day (celebrated on the last Monday of May) and one for the living, Veteran’s
day on November 11.
Lavinia Norcross Dickinson
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
“if we had come up for the first time from
two wells where we had hitherto been bred her astonishment would not be greater
at some things I say”
|Lavinia Norcross Dickinson|
One Sister have I in our house -
And one a hedge away.
There’s only one recorded,
But both belong to me.
One came the way that I came -
And wore my past year’s gown -
The other as a bird her nest,
Builded our hearts among.
She did not sing as we did -
It was a different tune -
Herself to her a Music
As Bumble-bee of June.
Today is far from Childhood -
But up and down the hills
I held her hand the tighter -
Which shortened all the miles -
And still her hum
The years among,
Deceives the Butterfly;
Still in her Eye
The Violets lie
Mouldered this many May.
I spilt the dew -
But took the morn, -
I chose this single star
From out the wide night’s numbers -
Sue - forevermore!
But peers beyond her mesh
Surgeons must be very careful
Water is taught by thirst
I could not prove that years had feet
April played her fiddle
A violin in Baize replaced
I think the longest hour
The spirit lasts
Dana Moreno López - Self Portraits - Not Selfies
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
|Dana Moreno López - Self Portrait 2014|
el hombre que para el terror y la gloria sería Billy the Kid nació en un
conventillo subterráneo de Nueva York. Dicen que lo parió un fatigado vientre
irlandés, pero se crió entre negros. En ese caos de catinga y de motas gozó el
primado que conceden las pecas y una crencha rojiza.
El Asesino desinteresado Bill Harrigan
Jorge Luís Borges
Some of us may know
that photographer Bunny Yeager at one time was a model. She became so
frustrated in being photographed by men that had no clue that she started
taking glamorous self-portraits. She was so good that she became one of the few
female photographers of her generation to shoot pinups. She was offered a job
in Chicago by Playboy’s Hugh Hefner if she moved
Yeager turned him down and opted for making Betti Page famous.
photographer who currently may be one of the most revered art photographers,
Cindy Sherman, has only taken self–portraits.
Sometime around 2001 I
became friends with Dana Moreno López. I discovered her in a passionate essay
on how to be a model for an on line Spanish site. We have emailed each other
since and I have written about her here and here. She also wrote this for me.
Since we met on line
Dana has sent me countless photographs of herself. Many have been beautiful
nudes. We have had constant differences of opinion as she sometimes deprecates the
fact that I am a commercial photographer or a magazine photographer with an
editorial bent. I once made the mistake of openly criticizing one of her posted
images on facebook. I was crucified by a long string of Spanish photographers,
makeup artists and her friends. I had crossed the line that is most important
in facebook and that is that the world is rosy, we like everything, and to
never post anything re Palestinians/Israelis. Any advice in facebook has to be flat
design square posters in cyan telling you to love thy neighbour. I did not apologize as
I felt that the photograph that had been posted put Dana in very bad light. Since
then I have seen hundreds of pictures of her. Some, a few, feature photographs
taken underwater, by Teco Pablo Salto-Weis, that are truly very nice. The rest seem to be pseudo fashion
poses of yesteryear where Dana looks into the horizon while wearing swirly
Every once in a while
she posts self-portraits (not selfies!) that show off her best features, those
eyes of hers, those freckles and a feisty disposition that she must surely
have. I see her self portraits as pictures telling us, “I am a woman, a real
woman. I am not a clothes horse.” I also think that because she is European she has what I suspect is a healthier self-concept in relation to her body that is not so much influenced by the ironic North American political correctness which is there hand in hand with a terrible culture of pornography. There seems to be a lack on the kind of photography that Helmut Newton used to be so good at. I would like to see Dana now pointing her camera away from herself. I think she would surprise us.
|Dana Moreno López - Self Portrait 2014|
I long to see more
pictures showing hands, and using much more dramatic lighting. But I am
satisfied with this latest string of self-portraits and I can only dream that
if I pointed my camera at her I just might take a photograph that is almost as
That Damn Hedge Again Electrically
Monday, November 03, 2014
When my wife Rosemary
and our two daughters and I moved from our all-paid for
townhouse in Burnaby
to a big corner lot house in Kerrisdale in 1986 we took up gardening seriously.
Rosemary was a tad more practical but I went by the book. I decided I wanted
the perfect lawn, Plato’s lawn as Essence. So I did everything possible to
achieve that goal. This included mowing with a reel mower.
Our house has had and still haves a laurel
hedge that fronts the house and then wraps around to the boulevard. It is long
and wide. To prune it you have two do the front side, the back side and the
top. The first two years I did the pruning (in the fall rains) with a pair of
Swiss secateurs. It took me a week.
After that I decided to become more
practical and semi abandoned my expectations for the perfect lawn and pruned
the hedge with mechanical hedge clippers.
In the last three years with the advanced
of my arthritis I now use electric hedge trimmers. Only I would know the
difference and when people laud me for the great hedge job I keep my mouth
Paul St. Pierre - 1923 -2014 - This Was Not My Idea
Sunday, November 02, 2014
|Paul St. Pierre, Fort Langley 2010|
Today on a cold, gray and
ultimately rainy Sunday afternoon, I was immersed in a bittersweet experience
that included fine Mexican food, a superb mariachi and a celebration of Paul
St. Pierre’s death and life. The event held at the Fort Langley Community Hall, all
decorated with Mexican artificial flowers, skulls and candles, was an old-fashioned commemoration of el Día de los Muertos. Paul St. Pierre had a warm spot in his
heart for Mexico
and he stipulated:
“If and when you wish
to remember me…observe The Day of the Dead in the Mexican tradition. The day
the souls return is not a day of mourning, but a day of celebration with music,
beer, graveyard picnics, food, cakes, and candy for family and the entire
And so it was. The
large crowd enjoyed shredded chicken tacos served with a choice of salsa colorada, salsa
verde and guacamole, lots of wine but in my case I drank agua de Jamaica (a
deep red hibiscus tea usually served in children’s birthday parties) and a
dessert of arroz con leche, properly sprinkled with cinnamon, and some
incredibly dense and very delicious dark chocolate skulls.
Many people spoke of
anecdotes involving the 90 year old Chicago-born BC man who lived a life that
included some near misses, he was a pilot, between his Cessna and an airliner.
Like most memorials,
it seems to me, people tried to find a meaning in their own personal lives that
might have been urged to them by personal contact, or through St. Pierre’s many books and TV programs that
he inspired. The evening ended with a two-block walk in the rain led by the
mariachi (the guitar player I believe will have to buy a new instrument) and we
all stood by St. Pierre’s
grave marker. We had a toast and some lit candles, Mexican style.
Paul St. Pierre was the Member of Parliament for the riding
of Coast Chilcotin from 1968-1972. His son Paul told us that he joined the Liberal Party misreading it as the Libertarian Party. One of St. Pierre's maxims was to consciously break the law when possible. I am not sure that in memory of the man I broke the law. Going and coming from Vancouver I had Abraham Rogatnick's Mexican skeleton, Pancho riding with me shotgun. I decided that with two of us up front I could then drive on the HOV lanes. Did I break the law?
As I drove home in the
evening gloom, my partner most silent, I reflected that here was a man, larger than life of which so few
are left. I feel lucky to have met and photographed him.
Death the cure for all diseases
|Paul St. Pierre, son, left|
|Pancho, bottom left visits with Paul St. Pierre|