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


Penguins In The Sahara & David Hughes
Thursday, October 25, 2007

David Hughes was born and educated in England, graduating from Cambridge University with an honours degree in 1957. He entered the emerging commercial computing industry with ICL as a programmer and system analyst. Prior to this he served in the army and reserve army under National Service leaving with the rank of Captain. He emigrated to Vancouver in 1966 and served in management capacities for Canadian General Electric, BC Tel, MIS, the Computer Communications Group, CUE Datawest, and Sierra Systems Group.

He has wide experience in serving on industry boards as well as advisory boards to government and academia, where he provided a private sector perspective. Mr. Hughes is an avid boater who sailed for many years and now owns a small power boat.

I never quite understood exactly what David Hughes or his company Sierra Systems did at the time that I photographed him for a business magazine. I don't even remember for what magazine it was. I have dates in all the filed envelopes with negatives but this one had no date. I have no tear sheet that includes this photo but I do remember that I took this photos when my knowledge of computers was close to zero. I logged on to the internet in January 1995 but I believe that this photograph is at least 15 years old.

I tell my students at Focalpoint in my perennial class, The Contemporary Nude Portrait, that it is important to photograph the nude to understand what the body does in different positions. With experience and knowledge on how the nude body moves and how limbs flex one can then properly photograph clothed people. It is no different from the training that artists get at art colleges when it is mandatory that they do live drawing.

I went with a straight portrait of David Hughes to my designer friend Ian Bateson and told him what I wanted. Because Bateson, of Baseline Type & Graphics is also an artist and had gone to art college in London, his knowledge on how flesh falls and moves helped him manipulate realistically(Bateson was an early pioneer in the use of Photoshop) my print to make Hughes gaze on himself. I gave the magazine two choices but in the end they used the simpler one seen here, top left.

My friend Grant Simmons (below) at Disc Imaging Group is also very good at Photoshop. I go to him for the printing of my slides as beautiful giclées or for the scanning of slides and negatives to make large prints. He has a light touch and firmly believes, as I do, that just because we can put penguins on a Sahara Desert dune, does not mean we should do it.

More so than ever photographers have to justify special effects and first satisfy their own personal standards and ethics. My photojournalist friend Nick Didlick once told me, "The only way you can believe the truth of a photograph is not to trust the reputation of the newspaper or magazine. You must know the photographer."

Photographic Misconception Twice
Winner & Loser


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