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




 

With a Little Help From My Friends (Editors & Art Directors)
Friday, December 02, 2016


Carla Temple

Many a writer has had a troubled relationship with an editor. There are some who say, “That if you can’t you teach.” They say that a lot of photographers. Does it apply to editors? Are they failed writers?

Perhaps the same could be said for magazine art directors/designers. Are they failed artists/illustrators/photographers?

I would disagree with anybody who would be against what an editor or an art director does although I am sure there may be exceptions of terrible editors and art directors.

As a magazine photographer I once worked with an art director who told me the first time I met, “I want you to shoot for me full-frame so I can crop the sh..out of your picture.” Not only did he say that but in later meetings he shouted at me.


Rick Staehling
Fortunately I believe I may have one of the longest streaks of very good photographs between 1977 and until just a few months ago.

I can “blame” in particular an editor and two art directors.

One of the art directors was Richard Staehling who was born in the United States and had a penchant for looking at very good American magazines like Esquire and had studied in the prestigious Art Center in LA. But the best lesson for me from Staehling is that he made me realize that photographers don’t always shoot glamorous situations. Staehling made me photograph sewing machines. It was humbling but a very good lesson for me and I became less pigeon-holed and more adaptable to take pictures of anything. It was Staehling who saw the possibility for magazine use of my new-fangled (at the time) 6x7 format Mamiya RB-67. He understood that the format almost fit perfectly with little cropping on to vertical page bleed (corner to corner) and that because of its revolving back I could be trained (and I was) to shoot every assignment both vertically (perfect for covers) and horizontally for two-page spreads.

One of my fave covers in which I worked on with Staehling was his elegant use of copy and my photograph (a story about a woman who was raped while jogging in Vancouver's Stanley Park). I used a Pentax Spotmatic-F with a 20mm wide angle and panned it as the young woman (she had been a girlfriend of Bill Evans) ran past me.




The second art director was Chris Dahl. He landed in Vancouver from Toronto’s Maclean’s so he knew all the necessary and practical stuff ( and tricks of the trade) related to publishing a weekly as opposed to a more staid monthly (Vancouver Magazine, Western Living and Equity). It was Dahl who prevented me from achieving a comfortable and dependable style. He constantly pushed me to try something different (and at the same time suggesting how to do that). One very strange but ultimately successful nod was for me to shoot very expensive houses in Vancouver’s Shaughnessy district with b+w Kodak Infrared Film. Dahl forced me to somehow work around the fact that there was no way of taking pictures with back projection as the equipment necessary was not available at the time in Vancouver. The photograph of photographer (and yes art director!) James O’Mara was the result of Dahl’s prodding.

Chris Dahl & Malcom Parry
At other time he would use key words like, “Alex I want something monumental, something heroic.” As an example here there is this picture of body-builder Carla Temple.

My third very important influence was the multi-talented editor Malcolm Parry who played a bent soprano saxophone, was a terrific photographer and surveyor.

For the Carla Temple shoot and other women in that assignment, his command to me was, “Make sure they are wearing as little possible as they can.” And I must mention here that for the Greek columns in the Carla Temple shot, both Parry and Dahl helped me manhandle them from a CBC storage warehouse in Burnaby BC on to a rented truck.

And at one time when I became complacent, Parry looked at my pictures of a real estate/developer and told me, “You were just making the motion. Go back and do it right.”  And I did.


In a recent blog I posted a picture of writer Sean Rossiter. I looked at it and I remembered the sequence of events. Dahl knew what equipment I had and always asked me of my new purchases. One day he said, “I want you to photograph Vancouver Sun investigative business reporter David Baines with your new Nikon 85mm lens. I want you to use it wide open so we can have a shallow depth-of field. Months later Dahl had moved from Vancouver Magazine to Western Living and he assigned me to photograph featured writers (Rossiter was one of them). I was instructed to do the Baines technique in colour. So for the shot I did not use flash but the modeling lights of my flash system and in my Nikon I loaded it with Tungsten (3200degree Kelvin) Ektachrome.


James O'Mara

If I am still a good photographer today it has all to do with the excellent mentor/support staff that pushed me not to feel comfortable.


David Baines


Sean Rossiter



     

Previous Posts
My Galatea

A Maserati - an Overdue Library Book - Rachel Madd...

Peace at Last

My Mondrian in Black & White

The Dagger - El Puñal

The Now of Then

Grace Kelly's Neck

Blanca Rosa de un Jardín Borrado

Sirius - that Dog Star Dog

A Pant Brush - William Blake



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3/13/16 - 3/20/16

3/20/16 - 3/27/16

3/27/16 - 4/3/16

4/3/16 - 4/10/16

4/10/16 - 4/17/16

4/17/16 - 4/24/16

4/24/16 - 5/1/16

5/1/16 - 5/8/16

5/8/16 - 5/15/16

5/15/16 - 5/22/16

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