On the QLTWednesday, February 19, 2020
|Lee Anne Pilson|
By the time I was an established magazine photographer in Vancouver in the mid to late 80s I became ambitious and I wanted to get more work. This meant that I began to travel to Toronto almost every year to see magazine and newspaper art directors with my portfolio in tow.
One of my best clients became the Globe & Mail.
I am particularly proud of this photograph for the Globe in which I was given a one week lead time. It meant that I had to photograph the two principals in one session, get results and then go to a cemetery. This sort of thing soon died as soon as stuff had to be done very quickly.
Before the advent of in-the-minute news cycles and before the internet the magazines and newspapers planned their issues a month (magazines) or a week (newspapers) ahead. This meant that they knew that a certain film director (an example Martin Scorsese whom I shot for the Georgia Straight which is a weekly) would be in town and I was assigned to shoot my subject most of the time during or after an interview with the writer.
|Dr. Julia Levy|
I was given time to process my film (b+w) which I could do the same day or in some cases in hours in my home darkroom or if in colour (rare in the 80s) there was half-day developing in the film labs.
All that meant that I had a personal relationship with my Fedex agent. I would call them and they would know where I lived (and probably what I had had for breakfast that day).
As soon as something called a cable modem came into existence I would shoot 6x7 cm transparency and then have my guy at DISC, Grant Simmons scan the transparency with his drum scanner and then he would send the file to the Globe or other Toronto magazine by that early internet.
Those folks, the Globe and Toronto magazines paid me for my film, my shooting and for the scan and transmission fees (via that modem).
At that time when I was most happy with my situation, a local photographer went to the Globe and told them that he had a scanner and an internet modem and that he could do what I did for a lot less money.
I lost my work.
A few months later another local photographer went to the Globe and told them that he had a digital camera and that he would not charge for scanning. That was the end of that first photographer.
But in those heady days of the 80s and early 90s my forte for getting assignments was my readily identifiable personal style.
There are two pictures in this blog today. The colour one is of the head of QLT Technologies, Dr. Julia Levy. The shot was for the local Business in Vancouver weekly tabloid. Levy and her company were the high tech darlings of the time.
It seemed a good idea to photograph her (not in her office) but in the back seat of the car she normally drove.
These last weeks, I have been thinning my files. Most of the law firms are now gone from them as are many business people I photographed for Toronto publications.
This picture of Lee Anne Pilson did not ring a bell. All I had written in the file is that I shot it for the Globe. I looked around in Google and found that PIlson had been assigned by QLT Technologies as Director of Marketing on October 20 1992. My guess is that I shot this soon after.
What makes the photograph interesting is that it was shot with a then cutting technology. This was a Polaroid Instant 35mm B+W slide film.
In my efforts to stay competitive this film enabled me to process it with a little machine right after shooting it.
Four years ago when my Rosemary and I prepared to move to our smaller digs in Kitsilano I threw away that neat Polaroid processor. It was a beaut but useless. I am on my way for the same reason.