Niño & Niña - Two Affectionate cats
Friday, December 09, 2022
|Niño & Niña 8 December 2022|
My daughter Hilary and others keep telling me to stay busy and
invite people to the house. But none of that helps when I am on my bed and a
glance on the right of the bed and I sense (notice?) the empty presence of
Rosemary. This happens all day, no matter what I do.
To take Niño on his daily walk around the block has become
the single most important activity of the day. Since I follow the same route
that Rosemary took, (“Don’t shout at him. Be patient,” she would gently tell
me), that empty presence is with me at all moments.
|4 December 2022|
My daughter tells me that I am busy taking pictures, and
good ones, too. I have quite a few enthusiastic women friends willing to
disrobe and pose for me. Only yesterday I took this nice photograph of Joe
My health is pretty good until I have that foreseeable
heart attack on Granville or while walking on Kits Broadway.
I have nothing to complain about. Still, after having lived
52 years with Rosemary, non me piace to live alone.
But just as taking Niño for a daily walk is mandatory for me
as I lie on the bed (many times during the day) and both cats get on top of me
I realize that they have an element of humanity in them.
I have been told that one has to show affection to be
affectionate and to get it in return. My Niña and Niño with their constant
attention and vocalization when I stroke them prove that to want affection is
to be affectionate. This they are. When I turn of my light in the evening their
warm presence, while not being that of my Rosemary, does help to put me to
An Elegant, Gentle, Man - Not your Average Joe
Thursday, December 08, 2022
|Joe Average - 8 December 2022|
It is a recurring theme in the portraits of Egon Schiele.
The subject's fingers are painted or drawn long in all kinds of open, twisted
and strange symbolic gestures. Schiele's hands and fingers are dislocated and
unnatural. Often they are larger than the natural ones.
Today I had the pleasant visit of Vancouver Artist Joe
Average. As predicted by my friend (and his friend) John Lekich, Average was impeccably
dressed. I did not ask Average about his pearl necklace. But Lekich informed me
it was originally owned by a friend who had died some years ago.
|Fuji Instant Film peel|
We had a complete Argentine repast which consisted of my
version of the medias lunas (croissant), dulce de membrillo y queso (quince
jelly with cheese) and best of all mate cocido, Argentine Navy style.
While I was in the Argentine Navy we were given mate cocido
in the morning with hard bread. The yerba mate leaves and twigs were boiled
overnight with lots of sugar and milk. The concoction resembled swamp water
minus the crocodiles.
Few are able to stomach mate or mate cocido. Average told me
he was adventurous to try new stuff and told me about the mate’s forest smell and taste.
We went into my studio and I shot one Fuji Instant print and
a few portraits with my Fuji X-E3. When
we were finished I asked him if there was anything he might volunteer to do in
a pose. He told me how he admired Schiele’s hand gestures (something new for me).
Notice the little finger on his right hand.
Because of technology in this century I was able to size the
picture he wanted and give him a lovely print within minutes. After scanning
the Fujiroid (my name for the now discontinued Fuji Instant Film) I gave him the original. I have still to give
him a scan of the peel. The scan has to be done right after shooting it as the
Joe Average’s visit was a pleasure for me as it was for Niño
who had an instant liking for the man.
Arthur Erickson - Rosemary Waterhouse-Hayward & God's Light
Tuesday, December 06, 2022
In reference to architect Arthur Erickson I may have the
most portraits of him taken in the many years I knew him.
I especially remember one time when he came to my studio and
he noticed the light being reflected into my room from the white wall that was
Cesar Pelli’s Eaton’s/Sears. Of the light he said, “Alex you have God’s light.”
Because of my strange circumstances I now realize that my
Rosemary and Erickson never met. Why are they here combined in one image?
This may have started
in Washington DC in 1958 when I went with my St. Edward’s High School classes
on a leased bus trip to the US Capital. At a pawn shop I spotted an Agfa Silette
camera. I bought it. At another store I asked what was the best film I could
buy. I was told Kodak Tri-X. That fixed lens camera took me to where I am now
today December 6, 2022.
Even though if I compare my former (many years ago) black
dial telephone with the situation now where if you punch 10 different numbers of people I know, I might get one human being to answer, I must assert that indeed some stuff
is better now. Printing photographs is one big improvement.
Tomorrow I am visiting a known Vancouver patron of the arts
who happens to live in an Arthur Erickson house. I decided to give him a little
gift. This is my portrait of Erickson in his garden seen here inside a plastic
sleeve and signed. When I made that decision, I can say that 25 minutes
later, after scanning, etc, I had the print in my hand.It was perfect the first time thanks to my Epson P700 printer.
A frame that Rosemary and I bought at a
really good thrift store at the end of Broadway and Dunbar has been on my kitchen island table for some months. After making the
Erickson print I chose a sad photo of Rosemary in her wedding dress (we called
it the bird dress) and a few minutes later it was inside the frame.
Years ago I would tell people that if I had to be in
charge of making a list of people to be invited for a ceremony in Vancouver for a vistit by the Queen of England, Arthur
Erickson would have been the first on my list. My Rosemary would have been my second
choice. She had class and the proper demeanour
to talk to a queen.
Sewing Machines & a Gobo
Monday, December 05, 2022
It was sometime around 1980 when Vancouver Magazine art
director Rick Staehling told me, with little apology, that he wanted me to photograph some
sewing machines. I did. This taught me to be humble about my career as a
Vancouver photographer for magazines.
It brought to mind that St. Luke account of the publican and
the Pharisee at a synagogue. The Pharisee looking up thought, “Thank you God
for making me who I am now. I give to charity and I lead a honest life. Thank you
for not making me like that publican here.”
The publican did not dare look up and apologized for being
who he was and asked for forgiveness.
We know which one of them went to Dante’s lowest circle of
In the same way I believe that a photographer in Vancouver
has to stay humble and do whatever is offered. I avoided pornography (got
close!), babies (ended up scad of photographs of my granddaughters) and
somehow avoided weddings with the exception of Joey Shithead’s and that of
Susan Musgrave marrying the bank robber in prison. I madee lots of money from
those photos for many newspapers and magazines.
It was only Argentine artist Juan Manuel Sánchez who in the
beginning of this century assured me that I was an artist. Until then I had
avoided that grand but for me troubling epithet.
The pictures here I took on 4 December 2022 of two South
American friends. They came to my house and I told them that I was going to
shoot with a digital camera, project a Venetian blind gobo on them and not tell
them what to do. I said that they could wear whatever they wanted or not wanted
to wear. They chose a red, and, a white taffeta.
I have stated many times in my blogs that a photographer
cannot rest on past laurels and like 19th century gunfighters a
photographer is as good as his last shoot.
To be on your own, with no direction home II
Sunday, December 04, 2022
|November 1988 - 4 December 2022|
To be on my own, with no direction home
My current mantra to keep my excitement in photography at my
age of 80 is Garry Winogrand. He wrote:
“I photograph to find
out what something will look like photographed.”
Illustrating this blog is an image I took for the Dec/January
1998/199 Saturday Night.
At that time we photographers had to have the latest
technology. This was the fax machine and the pager.
For most of my career as a magazine photographer in
Vancouver (1978 until magazines began to disappear a few years ago) I was
pushed, nagged, and inspired by art directors (sometimes called design directors).
In the case of Vancouver Magazine
that also included editor Malcolm Parry. Both Rick Staehling and Chris Dahl
made me take photographs that exceeded my imagination or comfort zone.
In fact it was Staehling who happily made me understand how
important it was to be humble when he assigned me to photograph sewing
With a little help from my friends
My Rosemary, was also brutal, sometimes, in her opinion when I
would show her some of my photographs which until that moment I thought were
good. Thanks to those people I never rested in my laurels and kept at it to
produce stuff that at the very least would excite me.
As evidence of that former pushing I have here the two-page
fax from Saturday Night art director Barbara Solowan. I have paired it with a photograph
I took of an Argentine friend on 4 December 2022.
While my Rosemary is not here now to give me her opinion
on that image I believe it isn’t all that bad.