In these days of incarceration and with summer coming to an end, it is easy to fall into a deep melancholy. Fortunately I live with three entities (the human one my Rosemary) and the not quite, our brother and sister cats Niño and Niña.
There are other ways of relieving melancholy. For me it is to go into my oficina and look at four extremely full drawers of my extensive 28 drawers that contain negatives, slides, contact sheets, etc. The digital photographs from my two digital cameras and our phones are now going into one terabyte exterior hard drives in themes.
The four drawers in question are called Woman and they are arranged in alphabetical order of the women that since about 1968 I have photographed.
Not too long ago I could call many of the women in the drawers and simply ask, “Want to do pictures?” No reason had to be given. These women would show up in my studio at the appointed time and they would pose. Many times I had ideas or themes. But many times this was not the case and I would (pardon the horrible expression) go with the flow.
I photographed all kinds of women. They were young, middle-aged and old. They were of all races including an exotic woman who was part Danish and part native Greenlander. Some were actresses (I am old-fashioned and I like that word), some were dancers or artists. And some were women I would notice in the street or in a café and I would go up to them and show them my card (when people had cards).
It would seem that in this century all of the above is gone.
As I go through my files I often go to the Ts and stop at Tarren.
Without any doubt she is the most beautiful in body and spirit woman I have ever photographed. My first pictures of her I took sometime around 1981. Over the years I had exactly ten sessions with her. Some of them we did not too long ago.
I can state that Tarren qualifies for my extreme aesthetic opinion of her because of a combination of body, face, personality and a presence that I cannot nail down.
When I look at her pictures I find myself smiling and listening to that sassy voice of hers, “Hi Alex,” which is what she said to me at the end of a Coal Harbour peer (wearing extremely short, shocking pink hot pants) in which the pilot of the de Havilland Beaver bringing me from a CBC job in Egmont almost crashed when he saw her standing there.
No, I cannot feel melancholy today. I can look back at my life, and in spite of all those famous men and women I have photographed, I know that what has made my life special is contained in four metal drawers of my oficina.