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


A Charming Erwitt, A Greasy Karsh & A Commercial Leibovitz
Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I hate having my photograph taken. As a little boy I would peer into my uncle Tony's box camera and squint. He is now getting his revenge through my granddaughter Lauren who squints and then blinks when I point my camera at her. She is getting a tad better at it but I don't blame her. Perhaps she might choose that liberating relief (as I did) of being behind a camera. If this is the case, I look forward to at long last finding someone I can will all my cameras to!

One photographer who did not mind being photographed some 15 years ago was Elliott Erwitt who had come to Vancouver to open a show of his photographs at the Presentation House in North Vancouver. I asked him a couple of questions to which he lost a bit of his cool detached and so polite demeanor. I asked him about Annie Leibovitz and he replied with very special emphasis on the word commercial, "She is a very commercial photographer. She is a very good commercial photographer." When I asked him about Karsh he let go of all stops and answered me very angrily, "That man made most of his subjects look greasy. He took their humanity away from them." A few years later I had the opportunity to photograph Annie Leibovitz. It was a pleasant experience, the more so since I kept Erwitt out of it.

I forgot all that when he posed for me and charmed me all over again as did Leibovitz. Unlike me they know how to pose for the camera.


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