My maternal grandmother and my mother were teachers. Until 1975 I was a high school teacher and taught Spanish at the Universidad Iberoamericana, a Jesuit university. My Rosemary was a teacher when I met her. And now our oldest daughter, Alexandra has been a teacher for many years in Lillooet, BC.
In Vancouver I also taught at the now closed Focal Point photography school.
Teaching is in my blood. Even at my advanced age of 78 I find that I want to impart some of the stuff that is stuck in my head.
For years I told would-be photographers wanting to hang a shingle on a studio that one almost sure procedure built for failure was the layering of a backdrop, then a subject, then a camera on a tripod and some lights on the side. And finally the photographer would stand behind the camera. Unless you have a plan this will result in a boring failure. Worst of all the photographer would then tell subject, “Move, do something.”
There is another way in which the photographer goes around and around and looks.
Sometime in July 1993 I spotted a peroxide blonde sitting alone at a table of the Railway Club. We of the group who met there for lunch at noon on Thursdays wondered who she was. She was beautiful. So on that particular day in July I went up to her and told her (imagine doing that in this century!), “My name is Alex Waterhouse-Hayward. I am a photographer. I would like to photography you undraped. Here is my card.” Her reply was short and to the point, “When do you want to do this? This is my phone number.”
And so Andrea posed for me. I placed her lounging on my studio psychiatric couch and chose not to use a light or, if I did. used a light I put in softbox on a light stand that I could move around as I moved my medium format Mamiya RB-67 around. The key to the photographs seen here is that by moving around I escaped that terrible by the wall layering that can be so off-putting for any kind of creativity.
Most important is to have your subject not wearing anything.
Telling your subject to remove this or that or to pull up or pull down can
break the flow of the session. It is important that you set these parameters before you start the session.
And the session did produce an exposure that is one of my favourites ever.