Thursday, June 21, 2018


Summer (after Hoyningen-Huene), Parkdale, 1994

TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER. With that in mind, I'm posting this photo, which I scanned ages ago and have been waiting - and forgetting - to post when the time was right. With the end of this blog in sight, it feels like it's now or never.

I shot this for the cover of NOW magazine's annual Hot Summer Guide, the year after I'd taken over the whole of my Parkdale loft and had a dedicated, full-time studio space. This was precisely the sort of work I'd always dreamed of doing, and when Irene, NOW's photo editor, assigned me the job, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

I'd had this iconic George Hoyningen-Huene photo bookmarked for years, and I'd studied it constantly. What I did know was that it wasn't shot on the terrace of a hotel on the Riviera, but on a balustrade on the roof of Vogue magazine's Paris offices, with the photographer's protege (and lover) Horst P. Horst and a model wearing Izod bathing suits.

Divers, George Hoyningen-Huene, 1930

My challenge was shooting it in the studio, and not in the full sunlight that Hoyningen-Huene had used. I decided to take a few liberties and update the photo to somewhere in postwar North America - my favorite time and place - and shoot it with cross-processed colour slide film. I rented my favorite clouds and sky backdrop from Vistek and went shopping for old pop bottles and did a few tests until I was sure I'd nailed the light.

For models I chose the best-looking couple I knew at the time - Sloan drummer Andrew Scott and his girlfriend (later wife), actress Fiona Highet, two recent transplants to Toronto from Halifax. Fiona had a suitable vintage bathing suit, they understood exactly what I was trying to accomplish and took their places on my old weathered barn board table top perfectly. After a coupe of Polaroids and a roll of film I knew I'd nailed the shot to the best of my current ability. (In retrospect, I wish I'd taken a roll of black and white.)

Unfortunately, I decided to take a couple of extra setups just in case - prudence always being as much a vice as a virtue with me. They were much more "fun" and conventional, and I don't think anyone who's worked as a magazine photographer will be surprised that, in the end, the paper went with one of the "just in case" shots instead of my meticulously planned homage to Hoyningen-Huene.

THAT is a mistake I will never make again.

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