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




 

Working Towards Irrelevancy
Saturday, January 03, 2015

Recently I brought up my VHS machine and installed it again. I had relegated it into basement oblivion. But when I wanted to see Otto Preminger’s St. Joan the only available version of the film was Limelight Video’s VHS.

In this beginning of 2015 I am obsessively thinking (so my wife says) of my past. I would argue that any path forward towards that future must in some way have a reflection with the past. I think of the word relevance. Are VHS machines relevant? Are film cameras relevant?  Is a magazine photographer of the past century (that’s me) relevant?  I like to use the British term. Am I redundant?

I have noticed the social media trend to post pictures of oneself when one was young and gravity had yet to take its toll. This is especially of women of a certain age who like opera singers use pictures taken at least 30 years ago. So as not to be redundant one has to look fresh and young, “You are still beautiful,” friends post without thinking that the use of “still” makes it an insult. Or smart phone apps are used to blur and lift (perhaps?) features in those annoying selfies.
In that past century I despised the artsy term image for what in my opinion was a photograph. This has now been replaced by, “Nice capture.”

The picture of Sean Rossiter here. by then Western Living Magazine art director Chris Dahl. The man never allowed me to stay in the comfort zone and glory of past work. He always pushed for doing it different, I remember what he told me on how to take that picture of Rossiter:

Alex, don’t use your Mamiya and don’t use flash. I want you to use your Nikon with that 85mm f-1.4 lens. I want you to used hot lights so you will have to switch to Tungsten Type Ektachrome to get a decent flesh tone. And please use some dramatic lighting and some colour gels.”
And that was that. In many other shoots Mr. Dahl made sure I did not rest on my laurels and he kept pushing me. Thanks to him I never became irrelevant or predictable. My style while always identifiable always challenged viewers who often wondered, “How did he do that?”

In this 21st century, digital wonders ads tell you that with the Mark III in your hand the world is in your hands. Nothing else is needed for you to “capture that amazing” image. And as I see these captured images I see mostly a vast wasteland of uniformity.
Halfway through 2014 I contacted a beautiful and very good local photographer and asked her if she would pose for me. I was pleasantly surprised that she said, “Yes.” These days I don’t even get a “no” . I am mostly ignored with silence.

For the pictures of the photographer I used a ring flash  and I attached to it my Mamiya RB-67 Pro-SD crooked so that the lens would “see” the edge of the ring flash. I used conventional Ilford F-P4 b+w film. I was very happy with the results. What you see here are the negatives scanned as if they were colour negatives.  The scanner artificially imposes an orange mask. I work a bit with levels, highlights and shadows with my 2002 Photoshop (good enough for me). The last photograph is a scan of the peel part of a Fuji Instant 3200 print (now discontinued). After I scan the negative peel I reverse it in Photoshop to a positive.

I believe that these pictures (I have scanned the more demure ones) show a bit of edginess and I would wish that nobody would tell me, “Alex, those are tasteful nudes.”




The world tasteful I abhor as much as image and capture. For a 72 year old photographer I hope that I am still relevant and not too redundant.



     

Previous Posts
George McWhirter's The Gift Of Women

New Year's Reflections - 2015

A Triumvirate Of Girls

Bjerre My Danish Mentor

The Changing Value Of π & A Breakdown Of Security

The Humanity Of Freckles

An Epiphany Of Light

John Ireland Never Wore A White Hat

The Grandeur Of the Big - The Charm Of The Small

Nochebuena 2014 Not So Buena



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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