Inspiration by Limitation

Photographs — Alex Waterhouse-Hayward


For me the Life photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt’s claim (a well-deserved one) to fame narrows down to one photograph and two a discovery (that led to many luscious photographs).

It was Eisendstaedt’s portrait of Joseph Goebbels taken in Geneva in 1933 that can now be seen as a preview of the horrors that were to come.

The discovery is one heck of discovery. Eisenstaedt discovered Sophia Loren.

Case closed!

For me, certainly no Eisenstaedt, I have been blessed by having known two beautiful Italians and seen a third because of one of the former.

That first Italian of note was and is Maddalena. It was with her in the very late 70s that I discovered my interest in taking photographs of beautiful women. With her I began to hone my style through my hit and miss and Maddalena’s .


The second Italian (whom, alas I never photographed) was the daughter of Mr. Carlucci. Carlucci ran an Italian restaurant on East Hastings not far from the PNE. After some shoots I would go with Maddalena to the restaurant to savour their very good gnocchi. In one occasion, Carluci’s daughter was vacuuming. Watching her distracted me from my gnocchi and Maddalena. This woman and her Hoover rivalled la Loren!

The second Italian that I did get to photograph (twice) was called Lalita. She worked at the Number 5 Orange Street Pub as a waitress (the term given before PC came into effect). She was absolutely ravishing and she had an ever so slightly chubby face with lips that Angelina Jolie would have died for.

I was a younger man in those days as we all are. So I jumped in and asked her if she would pose for me. She nodded her assent and I we made a date for her to come to my studio.

The day that it all happened she put her cards on the table in a way nobody had before or since. She started pointing at parts of her body and using precise percentages I was told what I could photograph and how much of it. I was brash and I was about to tell her to go home when better judgment prevailed.

My second session with her was at Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge in Capilano, North Vancouver. There I experimented with slow shutters to get the rushing water to become a blur.

Looking back on those two sessions I can only assert that in limitation comes inspiration.

One of the pictures here is my favourite. This is how that image came about.

A few months before I had,on impulse called up a beautiful woman, Joanne Dahl, I was having a photographic affair with and asked her, “What do you find to be erotic?” Her answer was a very quick, “Yielding flesh.”

Link to: Inspiration by Limitation

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