|David Breashears - June 1999
Because I studied for four years in a Roman Catholic high school in Austin, Texas I have an extensive vocabulary of American expressions that I use often.
One that is in my mind these days is “tying up loose ends”. Because of my advanced age I call people I have not spoken with or seen for some years to apologize if I ever offended or simply (that American expression) to touch base.
As a magazine photographer in the last century, and part of this one, I was in an environment that rewarded excellence not only with good money but with repeated work. There was lots of competition but thanks to pushy art directors in Vancouver Magazine (Rick Staehling and Chris Dahl) and a push but inspirational editor Malcolm Parry I went out of my way to take photographs that were interesting because they were elaborate. I was soon working for many magazines across Canada and eventually for the Globe & Mail in which I worked with fabulous writers like Christopher Dafoe and John Lekich.
I know that when I die (statistically soon as I am 81) I will do so with lots of intelligent information that might help anybody trying to take good photographs. The only action left for me is to “beat on my own drum”.
In the beginning of June 1999 I got a call from the Globe to photograph an IMAX cinematographer who was going to be in town. Not only had he climbed to the top of Mount Everest several times, he had finally done so with a large IMAX camera to make a documentary.
How did I prepare? I studied the availability of mountain climbing equipment at Mountain Co-op. I went to the Science World and borrowed a strip of IMAX film. I decided to photograph David Breashears in a semi profile with no eye contact, reminiscent of National Geographic photographs of heroic dreamers. I shot the photograph in black and white and made an 11x14 inch print. I went to Mountain C0-Op with a flash and softbox, a tripod and my Mamiya RB-67 loaded with Ektachrome. I borrowed the mountain climbing equipment and photographed it shooting down.
What was my reward besides the good Globe money? They ran the photograph really big on the front page of their Arts & Leisure section.
Now photographers have few publications that will hire them and if they get an assignment they will not try hard.
That is a pity.