New York's Finest
Saturday, January 27, 2018
|PO Smith and PO Olivares- 6th Precinct |
We are just back from a 6 day trip to New York City. When we arrived in NY I was flooded with memories about it from my past.
My first inkling of its existence was one all due to my
faulty imagination. In 1950 when I was 8 in Buenos Aires I showed a picture of a couple of
American football players (in all their pads and helmets) with the background
of the Statue of Liberty to my friend Mario Hertzberg. I told him (and I do
remember this well), “This is a country of giants called Columbia.” It was
probably a photograph from Life Magazine on Columbia University.
In that year my cousin Roby who was 11, came to our
home in Melián 2770 in
our Coghlan neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. He and his family had arrived in
Buenos Aires from Manila via New York City.
At Roby’s house he showed me pennants of the New York
Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. I had a hazy idea of what baseball was about.I had never seen any pennants except for Boca Juniors and River Plate, two Argentine football clubs.
For many years until his death in the 80s, Roby’s father,
Tío Luís Miranda y Gimenes often told us about that wonderful hotel in New York
City called the Taft where he and his family had stayed.
In 1987 I went to New York with writer Les Wiseman to
attempt to get work. It did not pan out and the only jobs we got were from a
tabloid called Trowser Press. Rosemary had put us in a hotel that had cockroaches
and blood stains in the bath tub. We were horrified. We moved to the Taft and
found out that not only was it a good hotel but that at 51st Street
and 7th Avenue it was close to everything we wanted to see.
I returned in 1995 with my friend David Morton. We did not
stay at the Taft but at a Helmsley Hotel.
This time Rosemary booked the Michelangelo Hotel (previously
known as the Taft Hotel). Coincidentally our purpose for the trip was to see
the Michelangelo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
I will probably write a few blogs about our experience, but
right off the bat I must stress my wonder at how friendly the people of that
We chatted with as
many as we could. I particularly enjoyed the museum guards in the three museums
we went to (the Met, MOMA and the Frick).
On our last day while walking out of the Hershey Store on 42nd
Avenue and 7th where it intersects with Broadway I spotted two policewomen standing by a store. They
had the friendliest grins. I asked them if I could photograph them. They
suggested that I pose between them. Rosemary had some problems with her iPhone
so a Jamaican gentleman volunteered and took the picture. We talked. PO
Olivares on my left is from Santo Domingo and Smith is from New York. Olivares
was carrying a Smith& Wesson and Smith a Glock.
I could not resist telling Olivares what my off-the-wall grandmother
used to tell me. It hinges around this:
A dominicano or dominicana is a person from the Dominican
is a Dominican priest.
My grandmother, Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena would
explain to me that the really tiny bananas are called plátanos dominicos. It
would seem that the tiny bananas reflect something about the nether parts of
A Selfie and Almost Another
Friday, January 26, 2018
|Left photograph by Rosemary Waterhouse-Hayward, January 23, 2018, right mid 1987 photograph Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
One of the special gifts of being a photographer, and in
particular that of a portrait photographer is to see how time affects and
changes a person as time inexorably marches forward.
On my first trip to New York City and the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in 1987 I was astounded that they permitted to bring in a tripod
and to shoot self-portraits. The digital concept of the selfie was years away.
I took many but my fave has been the one here in which I share space with
Rembrandt’s self-portrait. Thus it is a double selfie.
This time around (last week) I did not take a tripod (it is
still permitted at the Met) because of security provisions. They always open
your suitcase if a tripod is inside. And in some cases going into an airplane
with a tripod in one’s carry on is seen as a potential weapon.
So Rosemary took my picture with my vintage (vintage is
rapid these days) iPhone3G (it has no SIM
card it is only a camera).
The other photograph is a Courbet.
|Woman with a parrot, Gustave Courbet - 1866|
For these pictures I was using extreme fine grain Kodak
Technical Pan. My camera was Pentax Spotmatic-F with probably a 50 or 35 mm
The Grab Shot
Thursday, January 25, 2018
In photography I have memory for terms that I believe have
been lost with the democratization of photography in the digital age.
As an example in the realm of magazine photography who would
know what a gutter is? That is the vertical line between the pages of a
magazine. When I was assigned (and here is another term) to shoot a
two-page-spread it was crucial to know how the gutter would affect my
horizontally shot photograph.
full-page bleed is a term that means that the photograph (either on one page as
or in two pages as a
horizontal) goes all the way to all the edges.
I was known for using studio lights and for planning my
photographs. I was known to use a stylist. In one of the iterations of Saturday
Night Magazine I was expressly asked not to use lights or a stylist. I obeyed
on the first instruction and the light was the light of a light bulb in a
bathroom. But I took a stylist under the recommendation of my wise Rosemary. I was specifically asked to be a fly-on-the-wall. My subject was Gillian Guess.
Because there is less opportunity now to shoot in a studio
most photographers of this digital age like to shoot what they see on the
street. It has been called street photography and it is still called that. For me
after seeing 50 or 100 projected street shots in some sort of photographic
evening my interest wanes.
But, every once in a while, I see something that is indeed interesting to my eyes. I call it what it used to be called and that is a grab shot.
An example of that is the picture on the top of this blog which I shot at the
Met last week.
Another term that is perhaps now forgotten is the charm of
the snapshot. In Spanish this translates to a far more interesting word
. Several times I was asked to shoot portraits with the look of a
snapshot. The idea was to make them almost seem as if they were snapshots.
And of course the problem (as I see it) with snapshots, grab
shots and the like is that the photographer has extreme difficulty in imposing
a personal style. For me that is the shame and the tragedy of photograph right
A personal style in photography has to be the Holy Grail. These days not even Sir Galahad would have a chance of finding it.
A small excuse for the quality of the two-page spread reproduced here is that my scanner is smaller than the two pages of a magazine. So I snapped (a snap shot) with my Fuji X-E3 in my office.
Street Photography at Macy's
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
|Macy's - January 2018|
While living in Mexico City in the early 60s and 70s I had a
German friend who would call me up and we would go on local photography
safaris. They were exciting because we would go to old churches, parts of
Mexico City and in the outskirts. What we did was and is street photography. I
never did go (I kept forgetting) to the Panteón Dolores which is an exquisitely
old cemetery in Mexico City.
When you are faced with shooting street photographs in a
place like Vancouver I find it relatively boring because it is comforting (?)
in its familiar blandness. Besides a few old gravestones in the cemetery on 41st
and Fraser I find it bleak for inspiration.
This is why I have rarely ever gone out with my camera in
this city and take street photographs. I avoid cityscapes (during the day and
in the evening) fireworks and sunsets.
My interest lies in the portrait in my studio where I
control the light and decide when to take the picture. I do not wait for
something to happen.
I believe that if Henri Cartier-Bresson hopped on a time
machine from the past to Vancouver in our present he would be filing for
employment insurance within a month.
So I understand why when Vancouver photographers go to Perú,
or India or Mexico why they shoot lots of street stuff. The not-so-familiar is
In today’s blog I have two photographs, one I took in 1987
and the other a week ago. I shot both at Macy’s.
I believe that each photograph, by itself is boring. But the juxtaposition of them both and with time having passed makes them a tad more interesting.
USS Growler SSG-577
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
native Buenos Aires is a concoction made with steamed milk and dark chocolate. A
tall glass encased in a metal framework is brought to your table (in any
neighbourhood bar/café) with a large stick of dark chocolate inside and a long spoon. It melts. In winter this is glorious.
Until the events around the doomed ARA San Juan happened a
few months ago my knowledge of submarines was a bit better than average. During
my stint in the Argentine Navy (Armada República Argentina) in the mid-60s I had
to translate into Spanish some of the operating manuals for a GUPPIE (post WWII
vintage) submarine that was being purchased from the US Navy. I went on board
many times. I sort of knew what to expect this past week when Rosemary and I entered
the USS Growler docked next to the USS Intrepid in New York City.
The Growler was that in-between old technology and new (atom
powered) submarines during the cold war. A testament to this was a Regulus
cruise missile on deck.
Perhaps the one feature that hits home when you enter a
submarine like the Growler is that it has only one central corridor for aft to
stern. And it is all green.
I thought that taking pictures using my dedicated iPhone3G
(no SIM card) camera instead of my Fuji X-E3 was the logical way to go. Some of
the pictures are not quite sharp. I like that.
A man from Costa Rica snapped Rosemary’s picture with her