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


Sylvie Desroches - Girl/Woman
Thursday, May 07, 2009

There are many reasons why I am posting Pictures of Sylvie Desroches today. There is even a good reason why I posting two similar pictures of Sylvie Desroches today.

I have photographed my daughters all these years with some regularity. But there was a period when I was uncertain. This was when Hilary was 12 and Ale was 15. I told Rosemary, “I think I am going to ask photographer James La Bounty to photograph our daughters.” “Why?” she asked me and continued, “He is going to be expensive and you are a photographer. What for?" I told her that as their father I would see them as little girls for some time to come, and La Bounty, not being related to the girls would be objective and see them as girls approaching womanhood. He would photograph them as such. Rosemary hated the pictures that La Bounty took. It would seem that she was not prepared, also, to see her girls grown up. After a couple of years Rosemary began to tolerate the pictures that were on our living room wall and a bit later she even told me she liked them. Since then the pictures have been put in storage. That moment of uncertainty between girl and woman is gone. Ale is 40 and Hilary is 37.

But now it is about to return as our Rebecca, Hilary's older daughter, will soon be 12. Next year she is going to Quebec on a school student exchange. And a year later a Quebec girl will stay with Rebecca.

It was when Hilary was 15 that her exchange student came to Vancouver to stay with us. Sylvie Desroches was a lively and sophisticated young girl. At the time I was crazy about classic Hollywood lighting so I asked her if she would pose for me on our living room sofa. I have never really made up my mind if exposure 7 or exposure 8is the better portrait of a 15 year-old going on 20. So I am posting both here.

I wonder if Hilary has made any effort to find Sylvie. Perhaps she will become curious when Rebecca travels next year.

And when Rebecca is around 15 how will I photograph her? I am not her father. But as her grandfather will I still see her as a little girl? Or will I see the woman she is bound to become by then? Just another big reason to want to be alive.

Addendum: Rosemary reminded me of a few facts I had forgotten. Hilary and Rebecca, when she was 3, went to Quebec City to visit Sylvie. She was divorced and had a daughter called Margarite. Sylvie had a new boyfriend that she adored. Sylvie's mother was very kind to Rebecca but they could not communicate because they had no language in common. Rebecca called to inform me that Sylvie now lives in Alberta.


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