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


Seriously - Jay Leno
Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sometime in 1987 writer Les Wiseman and I went to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre to interview and photograph Jay Leno. While until then Les had done his best to Americanize me, as a Latin American I have never been able to understand the concept of a stand-up comedian. The idea of going to a place and paying to get in to listen to someone tell jokes is alien to me. Almost as alien is that concept of the suave midnight host like Johnny Carson. I don't think I ever saw more than one complete Johny Carson.

It was for this reason that I did not know what do to do with this serious large-jawed man when he faced my camera. I asked him, "Can you do something funny with your face?" He looked at me and then at Les Wiseman and said, " Is this guy for real?" He then looked at me (I wanted to shrink and disappear) and he did this.

My failure with Jay Leno was further compounded by having not set my lens to the correct apperture. It should have been f-11 but I left it at f-16. The results were badly underexposed negatives. In those years Kodak made a product called Chromium Intensifier (released heavy metals into our drain water?). It did the job. I remember this because when I was about to scan Leno's negative I noticed an overall yellow cast. Could it have been a badly fixed negative doing its thing with time? Then I remembered. Those of us who shoot film (me) have to be a tad more careful these days with underexposure as Chromium Intensifier was retired some time ago.

Curiously on the second page of the New York Times's Week In Review they have the pick of that week's best jokes by Jay Leno. I go there with relish first thing when the thick Sunday bundle comes crashing to my front door around 9 on Saturday night.


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