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


No Attitude
Wednesday, October 03, 2007

It was here where I wrote of my short-lived career in fashion photography. Back then (1987) I kept telling those who asked me why I didn't shoot fashion that it had all to do with the fact that I was perceived as being uncool. I didn't have the proper "attitude". I could not take photographs of people and show "attitude". I never did learn what that word meant. It was a word that described those who passed muster as fashion photographers and those who didn't. Those of us who asked what the word meant were much like those who asked what jazz was. And if you have to ask.....But by 1987 Vancouver Magazine's fashion editor, Linda Guthrie, for reasons I never understood, had alienated every fashion photographer in Vancouver. She came to me and said, "Alex I know you can shoot fashion. I want you to shoot a spread for me." At the time I had the lofty title of Director of Photography at Vancouver Magazine. Mac Parry had created this position being ahead of his time (a talent he has in spades) in foreseeing the eventual power of photo editors in magazines. So I was reluctant to take this job on and suggested I look for another photographer. Guthrie insisted so I was on. We shot for a whole day at that year's Artropolis. Just to make my shoot that much more difficult I decided I needed to use a boom to hold my optical spotlight.

The Manfrotto Super Boom was a big thing to carry. I was determined to use some of
George Hurrell's lighting techniques. I could not work on my own with all the stuff so I hired the legendary Torontonian photographer Bruce Simpson to assist me.

Our model was 6 ft tall. She explained to me that she was ballet dancer who had been fired by the National Ballet of Canada because she had grown to be too tall for the leading men. Our makeup artist (in the parlance of cool fashionistas, a word I despise, she would be a MUA)told our model that since her mouth makeup was so complicated she was not to drink, eat or smoke.

I looked at the model and told her, "If you don't drink, eat or smoke, I won't drink, eat or smoke." She looked at me without saying anything. We worked for a whole long day and she never complained. I might have known. We were in it together and she was all mine.


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