Jean Stilwell - Mezzo-SopranoMonday, March 14, 2016
We all know that at one time magazines and newspapers in Vancouver paid for original photography. This meant that for quite a few years I had many luminaries pass through my Robson and Granville studio.
Only recently during our move from Kerrisdale to Kitsilano did I find a file I had forgotten with the Ss. It is of Jean Stilwell a stellar Canadian mezzo-soprano that I photographed for the Georgia Straight in March 2006/ The best part of it all was that the writer was Vancouver Sun music critic LloydDykk. He was a gentle and erudite man who died a few years ago and left a vacuum (never filled) in serious musical criticism in our city.
Stilwell was a very good subject who did not care that my lighting and ultra sharp Mamiya 6x7cm lens would render her skin in detail. She did not seem to mind.
The picture that I submitted to the Straight was really one of my first computer manipulated images. The initial photograph (I am not sure if I used the b+w version or a colour slide version) I took with a very big ring flash in which I mounted my camera crooked so that the lens would note the edge of the flash.
When we were almost through, Stilwell asked me to photograph her with one exposed breast. I seem to recall it had something to do with a friend who had breast cancer. The image is in my files and perhaps some day Stillwell will request I send it to her.
Meanwhile I wish Vancouver were Toronto so we might see and listen to her wonderful voice again.
Jean Stilwell weighed in when I sent her the link to this blog:
I was thrilled with your work and loved our session. You were very kind to me. I very much remember that you took me into the mall and bought me a little frame to put the photo of me revealing one breast. The photo was for the actor Babz Chulla who died few years back now.