Thursday, September 3, 2015


NOW magazine newspaper box, Church & Wellington streets, Toronto, August 1990

I PROBABLY SHOT MORE PHOTOS FOR NOW MAGAZINE than any other client, by a very wide margin. I shot my first assignment for them in December of 1988 and handed in my last in November of 1999. I had a lot of other clients when I began working for NOW - including the Village Voice, the New York Times, Guitar World magazine (more on them later) - but by the time my decade-plus run with NOW was over, they were my only regular gig.

That was a problem. But more on that later.

My boss for the whole time I was at NOW was Irene Grainger, the paper's photo editor, and it was thanks to her that the paper had a reputation for interesting, creative photography, the sort of thing that the dailies would have considered too "arty." I was the youngest regular shooter on the masthead, and Irene's relationship with me had a maternal aspect - alternately solicitous, encouraging, concerned and disappointed.

I tested her patience by handing in work ever closer - and past - deadline, struggling in my airless, makeshift darkroom to satisfy my own (often incoherent) vision and the peculiar technical demands of a newsprint publication in the mostly pre-digital age. Thanks to NOW I had some pretty amazing access, and produced most of my best work. I also shot an awful lot of stuff that no one has any reason to look at ever again.

Since my posts on this blog have gotten more chronological, it follows that much of what I'll be putting up here in the coming months will be from my NOW years. Looking back, the wonder of my time at the paper wasn't that it basically gave me a living, but that I lasted as long as I did, as the course of my time at this very left-leaning alternative free weekly coincided with my own gradual drift politically rightward.

The scan above was shot for an in-house ad campaign, and involved the nice people in circulation dropping off a brand new newspaper box on the traffic island right across from the Gooderham Building, where I set up with a flash and a softbox at dusk, shooting westward toward the business district skyline with my Bronica SQa.

I believe the cover of the paper in the clear window on the door of the box is by me as well - Moe Berg of The Pursuit of Happiness, a band much beloved by NOW and Toronto at the time. This photo - a minor technical challenge, probably interesting today mostly for its glimpse of a cityscape that's changed quite a bit since then - pinpoints a particular time in my career, when I had a steady gig and a growing reputation and didn't need to do anything but take pictures to make my rent.

AN APPEAL: This blog is celebrating its first anniversary, and hard use has taken its toll on my old HP scanner, which now only produces clear scans on a narrow strip on the right margin of its glass. I'm on the market for a new scanner, but the only comparable replacement costs several hundred dollars beyond my budget, so I'm asking anyone who's enjoyed what I've been doing here - and wants to see more - if they can chip in and help. There's a PayPal button up near the top, and anything would be appreciated. Also, if you feel moved, please click on my links - a small percentage of anything you buy helps fund this blog. Thank you so much in advance.

1 comment:

  1. If you would like to add any of these photos to my Vintage Toronto Facebook page we can link your blog to it as well. regards, Bill