A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.
The Progression of an Idea.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
In my small world of personal photography I work with
clichés over and over. Why? Because clichés work and that is why they are
clichés. When I put up this blog I noticed that a few were struck by it. I took
that photograph around1979. Here is one that I shot in 2001 that shows the
progression of the idea. There is also something about the expression in my
thought when I shoot that the erotic is all about yielding flesh.
One of the loveliest of the books I read in 2015 was Mark
Vanhoenacker’s slim Skyfaring – a Journey
With a Pilot. I wrote about it here. Vanhoenacker responded to my thank you
email by warning me that in a couple of years Boeing 747s would no longer be
coming to Vancouver. I received this recent communication from him which I
would like to place here. Anything this man writes soars it is so good. In his article for the NY Times (link is below) Vanhoenacker writes about the soon loss of that wonderful ariplane that the 747 was. Perhaps that airplane is why all of us should be jealous of President Trump.
My apologies for this group e-mail to readers of Skyfaring and How to Land a Plane who’ve contacted me.
Many of you were kind enough to send in your window seat pictures (posted at the skyfaring.com gallery)
and stories about flying, and many of you also told me how much one
particular aircraft—the Boeing 747—has meant to you or your families
over its long years of service.
particularly keen to share my article because I asked several of you
for permission to quote your e-mails about the 747 in it—so the article
is a way for me to thank at least a few of you for having written to me.
If you are a fan of this legendary aircraft, I hope the article will bring back some happy memories of it.
My apologies again for the group e-mail, and all the best,
Eve Gordon & Edward Clendon - The Goblin Market - York Theatre - Vancouver - October 11, 2017
The blonde performer in some of the photographs that follow is the third member of the Goblin Market Troupe. She is Rochelle Mangan.
Swedish actress (I am old fashioned so I like that term)
Viveca Lindfors told journalistJohn
Lekich in my presence, “Actors act, writers write and photographers photograph.”
By this she meant that you do what you know how to do well until you cannot. I
believe she may have meant death. Lindfors worked until she died in in 1995 when
she was 75.
That age is scary as I am 75 now.
My mentor, Catholic Brother of Holy Cross, Brother Edwin Reggio,
C.S.C. drummed into me that our goal in life was to find out what we knew how
to do well and to do it.He did not
couch this with stuff like finding God or anything else. In some way Lindfors
and Reggio were on the same page and I have never forgotten either of them.
I have not forgotten them as I pursue relevance in my life
after saying, “no” to a request by the Georgia Straight to shoot this year’s
Fall Arts Preview. That refusal firmly puts me into this territory that I write
about a lot these days in that I am obsolete-redundant & retired.
But I am not resting my laurels to live a life of rosy past
memories and hoping that some day Rosemary will pay good money to install a
bench at the UBC Botanical Garden with a plaque that reads, “In memory of my
So how do I pursue relevance without a real job?
The trick is to do something that I learned very well from
two magazine art directors (both worked at Vancouver Magazine) who would look
at aphotograph of mine, or a piece of
new equipment and say to me,”Can you do this job with that approach?” The
former Rich Staehling taught me humility by assigning me to photograph (and me
a portrait photographer) sewing machines. Because Staehling (and American by
birth and a graduate of the stellar Art Center in Los Angeles) had unique good
taste and read the best of the American magazines like Esquire, the New
Yorker and Vanity Fair, he would direct me to taking my photographs in the styles of those
magazines. Staehling also believed (damn him!) in cross casting. This is a
movie film term in which someone you would not think of doing a part for a film
is chosen just because he is not one anybody else would pick. So when I wrote a
profile on William Gibson, Staehling assigned someone else to photograph the
author (one I had photographed many times in the past). It was a terrible
Chris Dahl, the latter art director who came from a magazine
in Toronto, Maclean’s that had lots of money, attempted to (successful he was) make
me shoot assignments with elaborate equipment that sometimes could be rented
but in most cases I had to find other ways of following his instructions. The
most unlikely request was when he saw my Kodak b+w Infrared portraits and told
me to shoot the beautiful homes in Shaughnessy for an article on real estate
with that film.
Thanks to both Staehling and Dahl my style of photography
really could not pinned down to one style. That served me well and gave me a
very good career until journalism and magazines (that pay) succumbed in this 21st
To stay releveant meant that four years ago my wife forced
me (not too nicely) to purchase a digital camera. The folks at Leo’s Camera on
Granville Street advised me to buy a Fuji X-E1and Geff Gin has been especially
patient in giving me technical backup on a piece of equipment that felt alien
in my hands.
But again both Staehling and Dahl taught me to apply a
technique for one thing and to somehow adapt it to another.
It was in that way that I this week shot a “dream assignment”
for no pay as I no longer need the money where I applied the slow shutter (1/15th
second to ¼ second) technique that I learned shooting the dancers (for fun,
too) of the Arts Umbrella Dance Company to photography of the three performers
of the Cultch Presentation of The Dust Palace (New Zealand) of their fab
circus/theatre The Goblin Market.
After seeing the show on opening night I returned this past
Wednesday and sat in the middle of row F (I warned my neighbours that I would
be using a camera that makes little noise and has no lights that are on as the
back display can be shut off while one uses the electronic viewfinder with the
Because my camera is not a professional lever Fuji or one
of those big Canon or Nikon clunkers there is a bit of a lag between pressing
on the shutter button and getting the camera to react to my choice. But I took enough
that meet my standards and would certainly satisfy those of Staehling and Dahl.
I took all the pictures below with my Fuji X-E1 set at 800 ISO.