My life has been full with people who have influenced and pushed me in directions I was not aware of. In some cases I was not pushed. I was dragged.
I believe that one of them did both (push and drag). This was my wife Rosemary who had a vision for the future while I lived at best for tomorrow, Friday.
|My Rosemary an inspiration even now|
But there are two men, and one more,who made me the photographer that I am today. They refused to accept the ordinary. These were former Vancouver Magazine Editor, Malcolm Parry and Vancouver Magazine art directors Chris Dahl and Rick Staehling.
|Chris Dahl & Malcolm Parry|
With a little help from my friends (note the lovely cover with copy surrounding my photograph designed by that elegant Vancouver Magazine art director Rick Staehling. I remember in the late 70s going into his office and showing him my new medium format Mamiya RB-67. A week later he called me and asked me to use it in an assignment. I did not know then (and perhaps Staehling already did) that the revolving back that took rectangular photographs fit full page vertical bleeds and two-page spreads on horizontal. I ended up getting more work than photographer using the more expensive square-format Hasselblads of the day.
I will never forget going into Mac’s office on returning from a photo assignment involving a real estate honcho. He looked at my pictures, picked up a wide-angle lens I had lent him and he threw it at me saying, “You are making the motions. Go back and do it right.”
Chris Dahl was and is a man of many talents and he will even admit to having been a drummer. But he is a fine photographer, painter, ceramic artist and musician with a penchant for owning Roll Royces.
|with Chris Dahl|
He was the man who pushed me to do anything in a new way and certainly not to make the motions. One day I showed him some Kodak B+W Infrared portraits. He told me to shoot the most expensive houses in Shaughnessy with that weird film. He made me do back projection and front projection. In one memorable shoot where he and Mac conspired to make my well-known subjects pose without any clothes, Chrisl told me, “Make them heroic.”
If anything I have never rested in any of my laurels thanks to these two while remembering the now gone Staehling.
Anybody, at my approaching age of 80, would not be a photographer getting an extremely well-paying job to photograph a law firm as I did this last Monday. I may feel that I am obsolete, redundant, retired and inconsequential but I am not. My scanner keeps me scanning the plants in my garden and now I am busy with my scanner negative sandwiches. If Mac and Chris were running a magazine (an unlikely possibility in this day and age) I am sure that they would instantly look at my negative sandwiches and cook up some way of using the method for an assignment.
And their photographic expertise sometimes entered
my darkroom. In the late 80s it was Chris who taught me to use yellow and magenta
filters with my enlarger head so that my b+w prints had contrast and nice highlights
without losing shadow detail. This was important in the pre Photoshop/scanner age.
They were mentors that made me the photographer that I am today.
Was I a lucky man? Yes!