Who Shaves the Barber? Why, me!Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Sometimes you find out you had something, but when you noticed, it was gone.
This has happened to me with people, too. I learned to appreciate how they had contributed to my life once they were gone. The first in that list would be my mother whom I never told I loved her until I could not.
But sometimes you can get lucky and awareness can appear as a jolt. In the early 1990s in Vancouver there was a much larger photographic community (or it seemed that way) as few then could disappear into their homes and sit at their monitors. There were all kinds of events in town including the pissups at the CAPIC meetings. Of these (the CAPIC meetings) I went not for the beer but to feast my eyes on Rick Etkin’s (the host) assistant Nicole Scriabin.
There was an active photo gallery on Beatty Street that specialized in group shows of the erotic kind. It was there that I first met photographer Patrice Bilawka. She was a hoot, a happy person who also happened to be a very good advertising photographer. With our mutual friend Ian McGuffie we embarked on a project of doing monthly one night exhibitions in my studio on Robson and Granville. For McGuffie and for me Bilawka was one of the boys, that is, until she told us she was leaving town. It was then that I realized that she was an absolutely beautiful woman that might answer to the question, “Who shaves the barber?” “Why me,” I answered. I came to understand. So I proposed to take her photographs. She said yes but insisted on having a good makeup artist, Jessica Timmins Venturi. I was to take the photographs in Bilawka’s pad.
When I arrived I set up my lights but noticed lots of beautiful light coming from the windows and casting Venetian blinds type (a cliché!). While waiting for Venturi to finish I noticed two important things. One was that Bilawka had a bandaged left hand. I did not ask. It was only much later, weeks later that I found out that it had to do with an ex-boyfriend who was a boxer.
I also noticed that witnessing the application of makeup on a woman by a woman was intensely erotic. I quickly put my Mamiya RB-67 ProSD on a tripod mounted with the longish 250mm lens so I could take photographs without intruding.
The photographs I took after are some of the best I have ever taken. But those makeup photographs are something else.
The pictures here I took in September 1996 and you can see some here.
There is something to be said about going into my files (film files) and looking at contact sheets with a loupe. The pleasure (particularly until then undiscovered gems) can never be topped by looking at digital photographs on a giant monitor.
There has been a most pleasant occurrence related to the photographs above. I have discovered that Venturi is not only the excellent makeup artist that she is but that she is an extremely good photographer. Her website is here.
So again I have asked that question, “Who shaves the barber?” My question has been answered in the affirmative.