|Hilary and Alexandra - the Royal Hudson 1979|
The above photograph I took with my Rosemary's Pentax ME. As we were walking to get our own seats on the train I saw our two daughters. There was something wonderful in what I saw. I borrowed her Pentax and snapped the shutter. For me this is not a snap. It is a portrait and I believe I was lucky. My luck was improved since I did not ask my two daughters to smile. Since then I treat children as adults and I try to respect who they are and do my best to draw out a bit of their internal essence that makes them the individuals they are.
In 1974 my Rosemary informed me that Mexico City was not a place to raise our two daughters and that we were going to move to Vancouver.
We quit our jobs and put our house for sale. We could not sell it so I started a business of taking photographs of wealthy Mexican families. I had to primitive SLR cameras, no lights and a darkroom that was in a bathroom. With that system I was making lots of money. It was here that I learned to photograph children. Because this was way before the Steve Jobs era my portraits of the children were not snaps.
Once in Vancouver I kept taking photographs of children which happened to be our own Alexandra and Hilary. When Hilary had two daughters, Rebecca and Lauren I continued in my quest of shooting portraits of children.
My style was inspired by the 19th century Julia Margaret Cameron. My portraits never featured my daughter and granddaughters smiling. When possible I used lights (studio lights even in the garden).
My eldest granddaughter Rebecca is going to be 24 and I have given up attempting to take her portrait. Lauren volunteered for a portrait of her wearing her prom dress a few months ago. When she graduated from high school a couple of weeks back I called her up and asked her if she would come over with her cap and gown so that I could take her portrait.
She refused telling me that “gazillions” of pictures had already been taken and that a professional camera was used. By professional I found out that her boyfriend had used a digital camera and not his Steve Jobs special.
I might have told Lauren (at one time but not this time) upon showing her my 1958 purchased Pentacon-F (with which I photographed those Mexican children in the early 70s) that it was a professional camera because I had made money using it.
But I realized that it was futile for me to insist and remembering the many times my grandmother would quote St. Luke 4:24 “Nobody is a prophet in their own land,” I acknowledge that this old man (obsolete, redundant, retired & inconsequential) has lived a fine life taking portraits of children that do not fit the norm. I believe that I could fill a huge space with these portraits and just by them I might have a legacy and a modicum of fame when I am long gone.