A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Ray Smith & Adam Zimmerman - Two Gentlemen Forestry Barons
Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A couple of years before my Vancouver photographer friend Fred Schiffer died in 1999 we had a project going. It had all started when we were looking at picture books of Vancouver architecture. One of them was the book Bridges of Light, Cyril E. Leonoff's book on Vancouver architecture photographer Otto Landauer.When he looked at all the famous Vancouver landmark buildings he said to me in his perfect Argentine Spanish, "Otto photographed the buildings and I photographed the architects and the men that put the money to build them." We started comparing notes and we realized that both of us had photographed the same architects and CEOs but at different times. He did most in the 60s and 70s and I began in the 89s. Fred Schiffer had pictures of architect Arthur Erickson where he looked like a dashing matinee idol. With Fred's death our show never happened.

With the advent of the digital camera and the postage stam sized web page photos of executives, the "executive" portrait has gone in decline as quickly as the fortunes of the photographers whose mainstay were annual reports. I did my share in my time and a company I remember fondly is Macmillan Bloedel. It was their advertising and marketing chief T. J. McDowell who gave me my first commercial job in 1977. With more recent revelations on how this company did indiscriminate clear cutting of BC forests all I can say is that my rosy memory has all to do with two men who ran the company for almost 10 years. One of them was the urbane CEO of Noranda, Adam Zimmerman and the other was the tall and large handed Ray Smith who never seemed to know what to do with them.

I genuinely liked them both as I got to photograph them every year for almost 10 years. In one occasion they entered the board room (which had a prominent painting of the founder of the company, H.R. Macmillan). Both had cigars. I looked at them and I said, "Gentleman, you both have very good taste as those are Montecristo Claros."

They looked at me in surprise and smiled. I had Ray sit on the boardroom table and I placed an ashtray behind him so that both could use it. They were so happy that they did not have to abandon their cigars, that they gave me full cooperation. I would take a couple of photographs. Then they would puff on their cigars. We did this for some time as I took 20 exposures.


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