That Multi-faceted Emma Slipp
Saturday, April 16, 2016
In photography many wonderful effects have been discovered
through unintended mistakes. The important factor to remember is consistency.
If one is consistent one can go back to determine where and how the wonderful
effect came into the picture.
My Mamiya RB-67 Pro-SD is designed to prevent double
exposures. But there are several ways to instigate the camera not to do that.
In the case of the multi-talented and multi-faceted actress (I am old fashioned
and I don’t like that neutral actor) Emma Slipp the double exposure happened
because I had moved the double exposure device forward (without knowing).
I was going to throw it away but thought twice. I scanned
it and added cyan and blue to the mixture and played with levels and contrast.
I like this!
I cannot dance upon my Toes
Friday, April 15, 2016
I can almost repeat word for word General Douglas MacArthur
although in my case I am just a badly fixed b+w print that started to fade some
years ago but much more of late.
I am closing my 52 years of military service. When I joined
the Army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all of
my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over many times since I took
the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since
vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barrack
ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that "old soldiers never
die; they just fade away."
And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my
military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as
God gave him the light to see that duty.
General Douglas MacArthur -19 April 1951
But while I never experienced any military campaigns I have
had access to interesting situations through the astounding access that
photography used to bring to a magazine photographer before film went out the
window and photographs no longer fade they just corrupt.
The pictures in this blog I took in April 1999 before M went
back to her Montreal. I took the pictures and filed them. Only now have I come
to realize that M had besides the skill of a dancer she had that difficult to
define but easy to notice quality that I call presence.
This is not the first time that I have combined my
photographs of a dancer with Emily Dickinson’s famous poem. I did that here
I cannot dance upon my Toes—
No Man instructed me—
But oftentimes, among my mind,
A Glee possesseth me,
That had I Ballet knowledge—
Would put itself abroad
In Pirouette to blanch a Troupe—
Or lay a Prima, mad,
And though I had no Gown of Gauze—
No Ringlet, to my Hair,
Nor hopped to Audiences—like Birds,
One Claw upon the Air,
Nor tossed my shape in Eider Balls,
Nor rolled on wheels of snow
Till I was out of sight, in sound,
The House encore me so—
Nor any know I know the Art
Nor any Placard boast me—
It's full as Opera—
A Tourist In My Own Land
Thursday, April 14, 2016
We (my Rosemary and two daughters) moved from Mexico City to Vancouver in 1975. On contract
I have worked for the CBC, Canadian Pacific Limited, Air Canada and for
Vancouver Magazine. I have photographed politicians, mayors, hoods, cops,
stars, directors, dancers and more.
And yet I look at the mountains (with snow or without) with
the eyes of a tourist. In fact I have felt like a tourist all these years. I
feel I don’t belong.
My trip to Buenos Aires this Thursday will bring a
temporary relief of being with relatives and friends and all in a city that
will be recognizable. There is something to be said for the routine of the
That is not the case in Vancouver. It was only today
(Wednesday) that the City of Vancouver Twitter page posted a question about did
we know that there were two previous incarnations of the Cambie Street Bridge.
My guess is that nobody at City Hall has the memory for the fact that (at least
the second one) it was previously called the Connaught Bridge.
We live in a city with an escaping memory. As the carpet
is rolled out the other end is being rolled in.
When I am in Buenos Aires I will tell everybody about the
charms of the city where I now live but it will be difficult to explain my
sense of detachment (alienation, even) for a city where everything works, there
is a steady 110 volts at the outlets (at an unwavering 60 cycles). It will be difficult to explain, too them to understand that the polarization the plagues my former country of birth does not
exist in Vancouver...yet.
The two pictures here I took of Jo-Ann (my former routine
monthly subject on a Thursday) on the roof of my studio on Granville and
Robson. The Farmer Building is gone and when I walk by I feel like a carrier
Phone Sex With My Wife
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
I have yet to board my Air Canada airplane to Buenos Aires
and I already miss my Rosemary.
It was at her urging (and nagging) that I am going for two
weeks to the city of my birth. I am looking forward to the warmth (lots of the
outward kind) from my relatives and friends. Men, after you have been introduced
to them will kiss you on the cheek with no compunction when you say goodbye. I miss that
sort of thing here with those cold-as-their-tap-water Vancouverians.
Perhaps this coldness is not only of this city but a
Canadian trademark and a result of the serious Scottish background of
As a Latin American I show passion for stuff
and don’t keep it inside.I have been known to throw, dishes, phones and toasters. I get angry. And I have cried.
My Rosemary is not like that. She is shy, reserved and
not known for hugging me in public (and rarely in private). And yet…
Here I am missing the warmth that is in her that after 48
years of marriage I know she has. My mother was similar to Rosemary. She used
to say, “Love is not kissing and hugging. Love is doing.”
Rosemary worries about me. She may place a chocolate bar
on my bedroom table or buy me some special juice I like. She is checking that I
have clean clothes to pack and she urged me to buy new jeans now that my waist
size has gone from 38 inches to 34. She has made sure I am taking all necessary
pills. And best of all she inherited from my grandmother (on a roundabout
way?) her ability to pack a suitcase.
Rosemary has made sure I have spare storage cards for my
Fuji X-E1 and reminded me to buy a second battery.
In short I am all set.
But I want to almost (but not that bashfully) reveal that
on the phone, abroad or at home, my Rosemary oozes with warmth. Had someone
invented something beyond virtual phone sex, by now we would have at least a
I have not yet left but I am ready to come home and to
hug my Rosemary and tell her how sorry I am that I will not be here for April
19th which happens to be her birthday.
Sensual & Erotic
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Living in the twilight of a former photographic career I
find myself, ever more, thinking about the meaning of words. This is natural as
I have more time to reflect and fewer worries with no deadlines to meet.
Long ago I determined that pornography (my personal take)
was photography or any other art done in bad taste. In the past I attempted to
shoot pornography but every time something inside of me would restrain me from
going any further.
Of late I have been giving lots of reflection to the
meanings of three words that somehow are related but still convey nuances of
difference. These are erotic, sensual and sexy. I would immediately state that
sexy has to be applied to living person while the other two, in particular
sensual can go both ways. Sensual can describe a piece of art, music, dance but
also a person. The word erotic is a two-way word in which that which we may be
exposed to will trigger a response in our head and we might think, “That’s
It seems that of the three words the most elegant (safe,
too?) is the word sensual.
The word had me thinking all night after I scanned the two
colour negatives I took of Bronwen Marsden a couple of years ago applying
makeup. Also of one of Patrice Bilawka.
I was thinking why it is that I find a woman making herself up (particularly
in front of a mirror) to be most sensual.
As a young boy, when my father left our house (I was 8) I
spent most of it with women, my mother and my grandmother. Once we moved to
Mexico in 1954 it was the same. During all that time I lived (I like the
Spanish word convivir) with women and
was privy to many of the things that women do in privacy.
Since I have memory I remember my mother sitting in front
of a mirror struggling with her hair (she complained it was too straight) and
wrapping it around a fake hair do-nut for a hairdo that was most fashionable in
the late 40s. It resembled the one that Eva Perón made famous. In front of that
mirror I watched my mother apply makeup.
This was so because our Melián house in Buenos Aires was
much too small for me to have a separate room. But by the time I was almost 8
my father spruced up the cuarto de
and I ended up with my private room.
In Mexico City my mother and grandmother would doll
themselves up for parties. They would take out the little strongbox and decide
which jewellery (purchased by my grandfather Tirso in Paris) they would wear. I
have a clear memory of my mother using Chanel Number 5 (in later years it was
Joy). She would moisten the back of her ear lobes. Then both women would stand
in front of a mirror. I seemed to have always been there.
And so, watching a woman apply makeup in front of a
mirror is both a memory of my mother and grandmother and I will not consult
Freud to decide why it is erotic (yes erotic!). And more so if I am in back (it
provides a degree of protection, a removal from the scene) of my camera.