|Trees, High Park, Toronto, date unknown|
There's a real "chicken or the egg" dilemma whenever I remember this part of my career. Work as an editorial portrait photographer was starting to dry up by the second half of the '90s; a lot of my clients had gone out of business, and a few of the art directors and photo editors who I relied on for work a few years previous had moved on up or out of the business. I'd come to rely on NOW magazine for most of my income, which was becoming a tenuous proposition as my own politics started to veer away from my employer's doctrinaire leftism.
I had also gradually begun to lose interest in photographing people, which is a bit of a problem if you're a portrait photographer. My files are full of still life work and landscapes during my last years in the Parkdale studio, and the only exhibitions I took part in during the '90s were strictly still life work. I didn't know how I was going to make a living doing this sort of work, and to make up the shortfall I slowly returned to writing after a decade of just taking photos for a living.
Here's the thing - did I start favouring still-lifes and landscapes because I was getting less work doing portraits, or did my growing preference for unpeopled photographs take the creative energy from my portrait work and alienate clients? To this day, I still don't know.