Catherine Regehr - Doug Coupland - Assistant For A DayThursday, August 16, 2007
To survive in Vancouver as a photographer one has to cast off any ideas of a beautiful nicely appointed studio, of assistants and lovely hangers on of the female kind. One has to eliminate the idea of keeping a model kitchen with lots of Champagne and beer in the fridge. And loud heavy metal and drugs, while models remove their tiny bikinis to the camera are visions of complete fiction. The reality is different. It is less exciting and far more stressful. For most of those 32 years in Vancouver I avoided fashion photography. In Vancouver it is the kiss of death. The very key to fashion photography is to be in Vogue. In Spanish we say "estar en boga" or to be in style. I have seen many fashion photographers(one or two-month wonders) pass through Vancouver and leave without trace. One in particular who was going to do a shoot for Vancouver Magazine in Italy, dissapeared as did thousands of dollars of the latest underwear.
I have rarely used an assistant. But in 1988 I did use one. I was assigned by Vancouver Magazine to photograph the then emerging fashion designer Catherine Regehr. At the time there was a young man who showed up at the magazine every day and seemed to be under editor Malcolm Parry's wing. Nobody seemed to figure his out. He was slightly geeky but quite friendly. He spoke so quickly that sometimes I discerned a stutter. He got very excited when he found out I was going to shoot Regher. "She is my good friend. Please, Alex can I assist you? I can style the photo for you." My new assistant said he had a talent for predicting trends and one of them was that people would display framed art by leaning it on their home walls. This he did for my shot.
And that is how Doug Coupland was my assistant for a day.