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


Stroke Improvement In Pearls
Friday, September 18, 2009

I left my mostly empty studio yesterday and I have been reflecting on how I got there. It really boils down to two women, Frances and Marlene Cohen.

It was 1975 and I was trudging at my Tilden-Rent-A-Car job. The manager was a sexist pig before they were identified with the animal. I had to listen to his jokes or such questionable comments as wanting to sniff the bicycle seats ridden by beautiful girls (in 1975 girls were girls and not women). I could not sit down and read on virtually dead winter Sunday afternoons. If the manager caught me reading, instead of looking out of the window on Alberni Street to will clients to come in and rent cars he would make me wash windows or file dead files.

In desperation I decided to take stroke improvement classes at the nearby YMCA. It was there that I met a beautiful French Canadian girl who asked me to photograph her as soon as she found out I wanted to be a photographer. I did not know she worked at Holt Renfrew. I did not know she put my colour pictures of her (alas I may have uncharacteristically thrown her pictures away) in the expensive frames of the gift department where she worked.

It seems that Marlene Cohen (of Army & Navy fortune) came in one day and saw the pictures and noticed the likeness to the clerk that was attending her. In short order Marlene called me and I photographed her( picture above). She referred me to her sister-in-law Frances Cohen and I ended up taking pictures of the whole Cohen clan. Frances gave me her card to take to Vancouver Magazine’s Fashion Editor, Gabriel Levy. Levy looked at my portraits and told me I had no fashion sense but that I had possibilities as a portrait photographer. He gave me his card to take to Vancouver Magazine art director Rick Staehling. And that was the beginning of a beautiful relationship with a very good magazine and my career as a magazine photographer.


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Posthumous Advice From Fred Schiffer

Finding Stuff

An Original

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Brother Edwin's Friendship Quotient

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