Saturday, February 15, 2020
There are many ways to define togetherness. My Rosemary,
today Wednesday as I write this, is at UBC. I miss her presence. I am with her
because she is not here. That almost seems a paradox. I may be in bed. She has
been up, done her hair and left. Her presence is a warm spot on the bed. Is she
no longer there, or the idea of her, lacking when the spot goes cold?
Then there is the togetherness of my files. In alphabetica
order in my authors files Timothy Findley is between Mona Fertig and Richard
How about random togetherness? What is that? I have found these negatives on one archival plastic sleeve that
somehow connects the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History
(all in NY), Malcolm Parry and the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
Icons & Didymus
Friday, February 14, 2020
I have always had an admiration for Didymus (twin), the
apostle Thomas who had those doubts.
He wanted to know for sure that he was seeing the real
thing. He had to touch to be certain.
These days I have been giving some thought to this touch of
real things. I have two beautifully printed (by Grant Simmons of DISC) inkjets
of the picture you see here that I took of Rebecca some years ago. On the
yellow envelope you can read that I consider it to be an icon. In its Greek
origin the meaning is resemblance. For me this slide of Rebecca is more than a
resemblance. In some way when I gaze at it is my eldest granddaughter. Holding
the slide between my thumb and forefinger makes it seem even more direct. Are
there shades of that old idea that a photograph took away a bit of a person’s
In this century, this digital century, the hard copy
photograph like journalism is on life support. Photographers get car loans to
buy cameras with extensive megapixels and then view their efforts on a monitor
screen or on their telephone.
In my past and even now I was careful to use cotton gloves
to touch my negatives. They are tactile but finger grease can lessen their
I have behind me and to my side as I write this seven
four-drawer filing cabinets with tons of pictures, negatives and slides. I am
doing my best to thin them out. They occupy precious space in a small oficina. On the other hand my digital friends have many
pictures, digital files stored in all kinds of backup procedures. And yet can
they hold in their hand any of these images?
I have a friend who when I show him some wonderful
photographic accident (be it digital or on film) he tells me that he can
imitate it with Photoshop. I believe him. But at the same time I think that
imitation implies seeing an original.
My argument that it would be close to impossible to imitate
the Mona Lisa if one had never known of its existence is lost on those I try to explain my idea of the tactile original. Perhaps I am
delving into philosophy. It was not only God who died (according to Time
Magazine) in the 20th century but also philosophy. That kind of
critical thinking that the ancient Greeks perhaps invented why lying under a
shady tree on a Sunny day is a lost art in a century of Netflix and Apple
And yet I could be completely wrong on the above as Plato
determined that the idea of a tree was more real than the physical tree. A practitioner
of this startling idea may have been American photographer Minor White who
enlarged on Ansel Adams’s concept of previsualization of an image. White would
look at a landscape. He would see it in his mind’s eye and then would shoot it
with his camera and process the film with the goal of seeing a physical
representation (resemblance?) of what he first saw with his mind.
All the above makes it just more difficult for me to throw
La Luz de ceniza y olivo
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Una de mis fórmulas para opinar de la vigencia y excelencia de una novela, antes de comprarla, es la de leer el primer párrafo. Aquí el primero de Rayuela por Julio Cortázar.
a la Maga? Tantas veces me había bastado asomarme, viniendo por la rue de Seine,
el arco que da al Quai de Conti y apenas la luz ceniza y olivo que flota sobre
el río me dejaba distinguir las formas, ya su silueta delgada se inscribía en
el Pont des Arts, a veces andando de un lado a otro, a veces detenida en el
pretil de hierro, inclinada sobre el agua. Y era tan natural cruzar la calle,
subir los peldaños del puente, entrar en su delgada cintura y acercarme a la
Maga que sonreía sin sorpresa, convencida como yo de que un encuentro casual
era lo menos casual en nuestras vidas, y que la gente que se da citas precisas
es la misma que necesita papel rayado para escribirse o que aprieta desde abajo el tubo de dentífrico.
|Nora Patrich y La Rayuela de Cortázar en la Biblioteca Nacional Mariano Moreno en Buenos Aires|
Cecilia Walters in Jades, Emeralds & Diamonds
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
In the height of the Vancouver magazine quality boom of the 80s I
was a happy camper as I worked with magazine art directors who did not
pigeon-hole me into this or that. One of them, Rick Staehling
(who for many
years was our local Man at the Movies
for CBC Radio
) believed in cross casting.
This meant assigning me to something that I was either not comfortable with or
the job was out of my league.
For that wonderful Vancouver Magazine
specialty that was the
one page profile accompanied by a one, vertical page bleed photograph I was
told to shoot CBC announcer on the rise in 1985 in two ways. One was at home. I
was comfortable with that. The other was really the domain of the fashion
photographer. I was not one. I remember that we rented Denis Montalbetti’s
studio (he was a fashion photographer). I had yet to master the perfect white
background (you need three lights). I hired a makeup artist and famous local jeweller,Toni Cavelti
sent some jades, emeralds and diamonds with a police escort.
After all these years I have had to work extensively with my
17 year-old Photoshop to get the colour almost to satisfy me. Those who don’t
know should be aware that colour negative film (including the for many years
standard of movie film) is highly unstable. The colour shift and the negatives
eventually crumble. We know that the Vancouver Sun, and Province when they
switched to colour (before the digital era) used colour negative. I would not
want to see what those negatives look like now.
For me in spite of my nerves I was delighted to photograph
Cecilia Walters. The CBC gave me my first job (around 1978) when my Rosemary ,
two daughters and I arrived to Vancouver. I have always had a sweet spot for
the corporation which began with my renting station wagons to CBC film crews
when I was working at Tilden-Rent-A-Car on Alberni Street.
A Young Girl & Her Horse
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
As I attempt to thin out my files I always end up with a few
that I feel unable to throw away. These two photographs are from a file labeled
“Young Girl with Horse”. I have no memory of who she is or for what publication
I photographed her.
There is something about the innocence (only my personal
perception of that) of this girl with her horse that affects me and brings me a
smile in tough times like the ones we are all living in. I don’t feel guilty
about having taken this photograph and that I approached the assignment from
the point of view of that cliché that it is of a girl and her horse.
Those who live in Vancouver would instantly comment (if only
they could) that she was from a wealthy and privileged family as the photograph
was obviously taken in that refined but country neighbourhood called
Can there be a difference with the simple innocence of a
girl who is privileged from that of one that is not?
These two photographs take me back to Nueva Rosita,
Coahuila, Mexico when I was 15. In that privileged American mining town run by
American Smelting and Refining Company my mother (who taught at the school for
the children of the company’s engineers and administrators) and I lived up on a
hill that had security that prevented the masses from the town below from
infringing on our way of life.
I owned a horse. It was almost exhilarating to ride him into
the desert brush with my friends who also had horses. I was not concerned about
politics or crime and I admired girls my age from afar. I was much too shy to talk
All that comes into my head in a rush, as I stare at the
pictures of this young girl and her horse. I can never go back to my own
personal innocence of an age like hers.
I can only hope that she too remembers when she posed for
this old man with her lovely horse and keeps that memory of innocence to
protect her from the travails of our present day.
He Writes Equally Well
Monday, February 10, 2020
|Photograph - Malcolm Parry|
Many years ago I read in Esquire Magazine
that the way to a
beautiful model’s heart was to tell her how intelligent she is.
In this 21st century age of narcissism, people put
"fixed" photographs in social media, and especially those women of a certain age,
are barraged by “you still look good” comments. If someone told me, “Alex you are still
a good photographer,” I would punch them in the nose for lack of an automatic.
But in that other century I felt very much like a model and
I wanted to be praised and told what a great photographer I was. There was a
lot of competition in Vancouver so my doubts were constant. Luckily I was not a fashion
photographer who in a mere few months would be old hat to be replaced by the
next Vogue wonder.
All this changed, the idea that I did one thing
(photography) well, when the Malvinas War began in April 1982. I was told
(ordered) by Vancouver Magazine
Editor Mac (Malcolm) Parry to write something.
I chose to write about my involvement in a coup during my stint in the
as a conscript in 1965/66. At the time I was helped by a couple
of writer friends, then freelancer John Lekich and associate Vancouver Magazine
Editor Les Wiseman. The story became a cover and I appeared on it courtesy of a
snap (a good snap) by Mac Parry. Parry, of course is a good editor, writer,
saxophone player and photographer.
Having my first written piece become a cover story gave my
photography a distraction. In later years I wrote for the Vancouver Sun, a
garden column for Western Living, the Georgia Straight and the odd magazine
In January 2006 I had my web page designed by the local firm
Skunkworks. They attached to it a custom designed Blogger blog. Since that
January I have written until today and including this one, 4971 blogs.
that beautiful model from Esquire, I don’t want to be told how beautiful I am.
I want to be told that I write well. That has not been the case. My now
departed friend Mark Budgen told me I was badly in need of an editor. I am a
bit careless so I do have typos.
Except for a a very few writer friends I am never praised for my writing. That changed today!
But today I can look at myself in a mirror and smile. Why?
Looking for previous blogs I may have written about the forthcoming Valentine’s
Day I found a in Google a Town Talk
column by Malcolm Parry who writes for the Vancouver
Sun dated February 02, 2015 this citation:
THE SKINNY: With the downtown Sears store redevelopment
raising area rents, the Robson-at-Howe Chapters bookstore will relocate. So
might Argentina-born photographer Alex Waterhouse Hayward had he not vamoosed
already. Large, blind-free windows once flooded his neighbouring second-floor
studio with light reflected from Sears’ blank wall across Robson Street. Thus
lit and shielded from prying eyes, it was perfect for photographing nudes. Now,
though, hundreds of windows punctuating the revamping department store will let
Nordstrom shoppers and Microsoft staffers see everything below. The
photographer’s blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com contains some reminders of his
work there. More importantly, it is a terrific record of the many cultural,
corporate, entertainment and institutional characters he has portrayed and of
whom he writes equally well.