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


Twins, Sisters, Puka Shells & A Yellow Fiat X-1/9
Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Around 1977 I decided that my career as a photographer would soar if I started taking pictures of beautiful women and became a fashion photographer. It was not to be. I had already seen Gabriel Levy, the fashion editor for Vancouver Magazine. He had unequivocally told me I had not talent for fashion but that I might do well with portraits. I didn’t pay too much attention to him and I went around the modeling agencies in town. One of the better ones (one that did not rip off their models by telling them they had talent when they didn’t) was Morton Talent which was run by a down-to-earth and gracious Marie Morton. She looked at my photos and told me, “I think you will do for head shots of some of my models and actors. I have one piece of advice, never, I repeat never, photograph a young man wearing a puka shell necklace or earrings.”

Morton then would call me quite often to take preliminary photographs of some of her newly hired talent. Of all the pictures I ever took for her the ones that are the most memorable are photos I took of four sisters, the Samuda sisters. Two of them, Carmen and Anita Samuda were twins. One of the others (right in both pictures) was called Rita but I do not remember the name of the fourth.

In 1977 I had no concept of lighting except what was available. It was then, obviously, called available lighting! Flash of any kind was out of the question. I was into the "authentic" look. With the Samudas we went to parks, took pictures in their homes or in one case I took them in my yellow Fiat X-1/9 to Simon Fraser University. I had no studio. There are pictures here that I will not show. They would embarrass me. There is a set of photos of the sisters of the twins wearing bikinis and sitting on top of a dining room cabinet. There are pictures of the twins holding red apples (what if Eve had been a twin set?), etc. I may have unknowingly, and, in spite of everything, taken some good shots because I like the ones here.

About 10 years later, in March of 1987 I proposed to Vancouver Magazine editor Mac Parry a photo story on twins. “Mac I would like to hire my family doctor, Elliot Mintz to write an essay on twins that will contain no hocus-pocus on a set of twins owning Pink Cadillacs living thousands of miles apart and separated at birth. It will be a no-nonsense article defining what twins are and how often they occur.” He gave me his blessing and I found four sets of interesting twins. The Samudas were one set.

I went to the home of Carmen (I believe) who lived in Ioco. I was most surprised to find out that Carmen (then called Carmen Samuda-Lehman) had identical male twins. Carmen had always been the more outgoing one and she had these lovely buck teeth that helped to make her mouth that more sensuous and arresting. But I had a soft spot in my quickening heart for the more reserved Anita Samuda-Houlihan. There was a look in her face of sadness and tragedy that made me feel I wanted to protect her. It was a feeling I was to experience again, years later, when I met Evelyn Hart.

In 1997 I found out the four sets of twins were still in Vancouver and I suggested an encore to the editor of Vancouver Magazine. I don’t remember who he was but I thought he was an idiot (I use idiot because the word that comes to mind is not one I would write here). He told me, “We’ll pass on it.”

As I looked at the pictures today I fell in love with the Samuda sisters (all 4) all over again. I wonder where they are and what they are doing? The twin brothers would be 27 now.

I never did photograph any young men with puka shells and wearing earings.

The curious (attractive to me) colour photograph of the two sisters is the way it is because the Kodak Kodacolour negative (I shot colour negative in the late 70s) had deteriorated and shows a green/magenta shift. To make it less green it will become more magenta and vice versa. It is impossible except for those who might be Photoshop experts to "correct" the shift. Ditto with the twins and the Fiat. If I attempt to make the gray concrete less yellow/green the faces of the twins will go blue/magenta.Now that I don't have a studio I may not only take pictures on locations, but I just might opt to leave my studio lights at home.


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