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


VLM, Crystal Pite & Her Hugo Boss Shoes
Friday, August 29, 2008

The two pictures that you see here happened because of the perseverance of stylist Maureen Willick. I was given the assignment by VLM Editor/Publisher/Art Director (take that all you local Editors-in-Chief!) to pick about 9 people in Vancouver related to the arts. The article was to be called Who's running the show? To justify 8 pages of editorial the article was also to be a fashion spread. So that's where Maureen Willick came in. Mercer knows I call her "my secret weapon" so he indicated she be brought on board for the project.

Willick insisted I photograph modern dancer Crystal Pite, Director of the local dance company Kidd Pivot with a pair of Hugo Boss shoes and to take the picture from head to toe. I am loathe to this sort of thing. I am a portrait photographer. A head to toe photograph makes the face smaller. It is simply not my style. But she insisted and insisted until I gave up. The temperature in my studio was around 28. I had a couple of small fans going to circulate the air. But I noticed that Pite's silk Obaki dress was fluttering and in some cases the dress was sticking to her extremely fit and shapely body. Something which was later observed by Mercer.

By some sort of coincidence Pite had commented on the wonderful light coming in through the windows of my Robson Street studio. The light is reflected from Cesar Pelli's. Eaton's turned Sears. I have made it a rule to ignore that wonderful light when I can control my own artificial light. But I listened to Pite and tried to please her as much as I finally tried to please Willick.

Because I was using existing light and an inherently slow film (Kodak Plus-X ISO 100) I calculated that my exposure was f-11 at 1/2 second. That meant that the slow shutter was sure to blur the dress. I placed my medium format Mamiya RB-67ProSD on a very low tripod so that there would be no camera shake. I knew that Pite, the professional dancer that she is could stand without moving a limb while her dress fluttered. The result was a pair of photographs that Mercer so loved that he used both for the opening spread of this month's VLM.

I must not take any credit for this. Mercer saw the photos for what they were, extremely appealing and elegant images of a multi talented Vancouver prodigy. A real person, she is, too. He should be thankful to Maureen Willick (my secret weapon) for insisting on the shoes and to Pite for recognizing the quality of my studio's window light.

I will not take any credit except to point out that at the very least I was smart enough to ask her in the end why she liked the shoes. She said it and I recorded it. I forgot it. Then I transcribed the conversation. This was her answer. I think it is as perfect a sentence as a sentence can be.

I love wearing these shoes because they are impossible and I have to find stillness in order to remain upright."

VLM gainfully employs me and provides me with space to pretty well photograph whom I want and to write what I want. I would like this to continue against all odds. You can help by following the step below:

Have you subscribed yet? For a FREE
subscription to VLM log onto vlmag.ca

Bob Mercer,
Publisher / Editor / Art Director
VLM: Vancouver’s Lifestyle Magazine
[email protected] / 604-630-1121
400-73 Water St., Vancouver, B.C. V6B 1A1

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That Linhof & Sipping Fanta On A Mexican Beach

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