Because We Can
Saturday, December 01, 2018
memoria es individual.
|Nina - Dec 1 2018 - Fuji X-E3|
parte, de nuestra memoria.
memoria está hecha,
parte, de olvido”.
Borges (1979), El tiempo
Memory is individual.
We are made,
In great part , of our memory.
This memory is made,
In great part, of oblivion.
Memory is something that is always in my mind perhaps
because like my writer hero Jorge Luís Borges I am constantly shifting into my
past or roused into the present by a jarring memory that through association I
connect to the now.
The photo you see here represents that association.
My career as a magazine photographer in Vancouver which
began around 1977 is one that depended on always being ahead of the pack. It
helped that a couple of art directors, Rick Staehling and Chris Dahl (both at
and other magazines) pushed me to try the different. They
refused (and I am glad of it) to pigeonhole me into this or that. In fact
Staehling, an expert on film and film history used a process he called
. He assigned me to cover a SOCRED convention because I had never
done such a thing. I knew nothing of sport photography but Dahl assigned me to
follow and photograph a local, female rugby team.
While I was a bit late into the digital camera era I was early
with using email and finding stuff in Altavista. I believe that through my
digital guru Tim Bray I may have been one of the few in 2006 when I started my
blog to know what an RSS feed was and its usefulness at the time.
There is an off-colour statement that I will not repeat here
in its entirety that states that a dog can …. because it can.
It was around 2001 that this fact came to my attention in a
brutal way. I wanted to participate in an erotic show and I needed a woman to
pose with roses from my garden. I called a friend who ran an agency and also a
business I was completely ignorant of. He was to find me my subject.
I went to an old building in East Vancouver
that was beautifully remodelled inside with stainless steel. I was escorted to
a large room. There was a sign that said, “If you are going to use oil, when you
finish with the towels place them here." The business in question had lovely
women in different rooms that self-videoed while chatting with customers on
line who paid lots for the privilege of talking to a real and undraped female.
In another room full of computers and monitors there was a young man who was in
charge of “flaming” any customer who exceeded the basic rules of how to talk to
I brought different roses from my garden and my subject (her
name was a very rosy Victoria Lace) posed with each rose hiding what was
behind. The resulting photographs were lovely and few understood the location
or what was behind each spectacular rose.
This business of my friend happened simply because the technology
of the time permitted it. My friend was also involved on on-line offshore
About 7 years ago I was taking photographs of a woman who
was posing in front of a mirror. My image was on the mirror, too. But what made
the resulting image different was that she had a small digital point and shot
in her hands and my photograph showed her image on the back display. So this
was a double self-portrait or perhaps a triple. It was made possible simply
because of the technology that her camera provided even though I photographed
the setup with my film camera.
This brings me to the photo
illustrating this blog. Nina was one of the best of the patient models
that posed form me and also for my Argentine friends Nora Patrich and Juan
Manuel Sánchez in the beginning of this century. After three years of very
special collaboration Nine skipped town and moved to a little village in Spain.
A reversal of fortune
I pay in satin cash
Recently she contacted me to tell me that she was bored and
isolated. I informed her that was practically my case. She asked if there was
some way that we could continue with our photography sessions. Her idea was
obvious once you discounted that there was no way that the vast geographical
distance could possibly result in a face to face shoot in a studio. An added
incentive (for me!) is that Nina is now 51. Her body has changed as has her
approach to life. She is now a very good yoga teacher which makes her even more
flexible than she ever was.
In Argentina the arts that involve painting, sculpture and architecture are called “artes
plásticos”. Plastic here means flexible and moveable. Juan Manuel Sánchez had
the highest compliment for Nina. He would say that she was “muy plástica.”
We could only do what could be done. And technology today
has come through. What you see here is a preliminary step. Nina is a fine
photographer in her own right. She has a little studio in her house with hot
In my preliminary shots I have used either my iPhone3G or my
Fuji X-E3 and Nina and I are connected via Facebook Messenger. On my end I have
a cathode ray tube monitor with a separated video camera that sits on top of it
and Nina has a very good cell phone. With her phone she is able to pose for me
either vertically or horizontally.
While some may see it the scan lines on the iPhone3G as a
flaw I like them. But I am able to avoid them with my digital camera by using a
shutter speed of 1/30 or 1/15 of a second so that my Fuji will not “read” the
scan lines on the monitor (also not noticed but there on TV screens).
In future sessions Nina might pose by a window or use her
lights. I will be able to give her instructions. But the nature of the
geographic separation will mean that the results will truly be a collaboration.
I believe that our mutual boredom and isolation will disappear
like the image on a badly fixed photographic print of the past century.
|Nina, Dec 1 2018 - iPhone3G|
Journalism - A Big Fat Deal
Sunday, November 25, 2018
Journalism refers to the production and distribution of
reports on recent events. The word journalism applies to the occupation, using
methods of gathering information and utilizing literary techniques.
Journalistic media include print, television, radio, Internet, and, in the
Concepts of the appropriate role for journalism vary
between countries. In some nations, the news media is controlled by government
intervention, and is not a fully independent body. In others, the news media is
independent of the government but instead operates as private industry
The advent of the Internet and smartphones has brought
significant changes to the media landscape in recent years. This has created a
shift in the consumption of print media channels, as people increasingly
consume news through e-readers, smartphones, and other personal electronic
devices, as opposed to the more traditional formats of newspapers, magazines,
or television news channels. News organizations are challenged to fully
monetize their digital wing, as well as improvise on the context in which they
publish in print. Newspapers have seen print revenues sink at a faster pace
than the rate of growth for digital revenues.
While I am now an obsolete, redundant & retired
magazine photographer in a not too recent past I also wrote for the Vancouver
Sun, Vancouver Magazine, Books in Canada, Western Living, City & Country
Home and Macleans. Perhaps I have some of the black ink in my fingers from
reading a daily delivered NY Times also in my blood.
My father was a journalist in Buenos Aires who worked for
two dailies in English the Standard and the Buenos Aires Herald. I remember
asking my mother why it was that my father had not come home for a week (this
happened many times). The answer always was, “Your father wrote something about
Perón that he did not like so he is serving time at the Villa Devoto prison."
In my years as a magazine photographer and newspaper
photographer (the NY Times, the Globe & Mail and the Vancouver Sun) I
worked with some of the best writers who happened to be journalists. Among them
there was Ben Metcalf, Les Wiseman, John Lekich, Christopher Dafoe, Max Wyman,
Maurice Bridge, Robert Hunter, Ted Laturnus, Kerry McPhedran, Peter C. Newman,
Charlie Smith, Mati Laansoo and many more. I watched these writers in action
and I can vouch for their professionalism. And I cannot leave out that I worked all those years with a stellar editor Malcolm Parry.
There is one more writer Sean Rossiter (alas he died some years ago), who specialized in architecture and politics. His many year column
12th & Cambie for Vancouver Magazine and his pieces on
architects and architecture were written with lots of research and with a strict
effort in objectivity.
Now in this century and in this year and in this city I
don’t see much of that. And I understand why. There is no money in print advertising
in periodicals. So what is left is something that we used to call service
Sometime in the 80s I was walking with a very good writer
on Davie on our way to a lighting store on the corner with Burrard. They had a
replica of the Starship Enterprise that was a lamp. The writer was going to
write about it and I was going to take a photograph of it. I happened to make
the comment to the writer that surely track lighting was next in his agenda. The writer became angry.
These pieces were loosely seen as editorial but in fact they were advertorials that were then called service pieces.
At about this time writers who wrote about film would go
on expenses paid trips to Los Angeles. They would all meet in a room and place
their tape recorders on the centre table. Questions would be asked. The
resulting articles made it seem like the writer had a one on one with the star.
The centre table with the recorders was never divulged.
It was perhaps in the 90s when the phoner came into
existence. Famous actors, singers, directors, writers did not want to make the
trek to our city. So they granted phone interviews. When possible the
publications instead of stating that the interview was a phoner they would use
this sort of thing that many in our fair city never figured out:
“Talking to Clint Eastwood from his home I heard his
For years the Saturday real estate section (mostly about condos)
of the Vancouver Sun was seen as a blatant mode of advertising.
To many this was no different from seeing a film in which
all cars were Fords or Chryslers. It was simply legitimate product placement.
There were a couple of very good local writers who
pioneered their own version of journalism something called “creative non-fiction”. I know
for a fact of a writer who wrote a piece for a good local magazine in which the
writer cited people interviewed at UBC. The magazine published a month later
letters by people who said that they had never been interviewed. Months later
that essay was entered into a Western Magazine Award for stellar writing.
So anybody who has gotten this far might say, “What’s
What’s next is the B.C. Business
in which writers who have no idea about architecture write about
ugly houses and try to be cute and funny but to me sound like bitter ramblings
of “wouldn’t it be nice if I could afford that house and live in it.”
I understand Canada Wide the company that publishes
B.C. Business recently purchased Vancouver Magazine and Western Living for one
I have fond memories of a new city business magazine,
Equity that was started by Harvey Southam in the premises of Vancouver
Magazine. I remember working for and with Southam. I also fondly remember a
section of the magazine that had on the left page the title “On the Left” and
on the right “On the Right”. Writers from both sides of that political spectrum
would write about the same subject.
It was some years later when our city mayor’s brother
Mike Campbell became the Equity editor. I was instructed by the art director to
photograph councillor (then called alderman) Harry Ranking using a green filter
and hard lights to achieve a really gritty photo of the man. My photograph
appeared in a two-page spread with the banner “Quietly Communist”.
For a while I worked for a couple of magazines that would approach their future subjects in this way, "How would you like to be on the cover of our magazine and have a brilliant essay on your career?" And of course they paid for that privilege.
I see in social media photographs of lovely women in which the photographer states "editorial for fashion". I am not sure what they mean as the magazine where the picture might appear is never mentioned. The idea and meaning of editorial has been forgotten.
I was commissioned by a local literary tabloid to photograph and write a piece of crime writer William Deverell. He and his wife were gracious and invited me to lunch in their home. Imagine my surprise when the piece appeared which had terrible and disparaging comments about Deverell. It seems that the editor wanted to air his beefs. Not long after I wrote a piece for Western Living about front gardens. When it appeared what I had written was not there, not even one word. I called the editor and told that editor, "Thank you. You make me sound like Shakespeare.
" If I remember well the answer was, "I am glad you liked it
In many ways I felt a tad betrayed. But I was paid well.
Had I only known what was to follow and how quick the slide was to be I might not now feel so isolated in disgust.