My new position as the chief and only photographer for the Canadian Baby Photographers in the Ottawa area was going well, but it hadÃ‚Â some serious challenges. Since I worked on a commission basis of my work sold, I needed to have good images and a great salesman to sell my work. The problem was the company would send up a salesman from Toronto to getÃ‚Â orders. Then I would get paid. In between I was on my own. It was all very confusing and put a serious strain on my family life. I soldiered on trying to make ends meet. Over Christmas we decided to make a break out on our own with my wife now selling my work. The company supplying the leads for our now Ã¢â‚¬ËœOttawa Baby PhotographersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ came with us. There was now a lot more to consider with film processing and the final orders to be processed, but we dug right in and it turned the corner and began to make money. One of my neighbours was a very excitable man named Rick Conrick. Rick was a printing salesman for a Montreal printer. When he saw my work he began to envision a customer for a calendar of motor racing pictures. He came up with Imperial Tobbacco whose head office was in Montreal. He called them and got an appointment with the head of promotions. I soon found myself walking off a top floor elevator at the Imperial Tobbacco head office. The building had a strange smell.Ã‚Â It processed the cigarettes at this location.Ã‚Â We were met at the elevator by Tony Kallock, the VP of PR. All Rick said was, ‘Tony, I’ve got something thats going to blow your fucking mind!’Ã‚Â Not quite my approach, but we walked out of there with an order forÃ‚Â prints for the Imperial Tobbacco calendar to the tune of over four thousand dollars!
On the motor racing end of things I thought more about Paul Cooke and the Ã¢â‚¬ËœportraitÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ he wanted of Roger McCaig in the Can Am McLaren. I went through the images I had of Roger and picked two. One was a headshot with his helmet on. The other was a shot of the car at speed coming directlyÃ‚Â at me. The windscreen on the McLaren had a clear blue tint. I wondered if the shot of the car at speed would blend into the windscreen. RogerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s eyes were a beautiful Paul Newman blue, amost the same colour as the windscreen. I took my idea to my processor and we both wondered what it would come out like. His name was Goldie Lang. When it came to putting on paper what was on the negative he was an artist. The first print that came out of Goldie’s processor held both he and I speechless. Being Asian he tended to be very reserved. Now his smile was from ear to ear. The print was 16 x 20 inches. I decided right then and there not to do any portraits smaller. We cranked out another of Gordon Dewar. I had met Dewar in a converted grocery store in Hull just across the river from Ottawa. The old store was the home of JNO Racing and a rag-tag gang of hangers-on who loved cars, motorcycles and DewarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s approach toÃ‚Â racing anything! Several times I ventured with Dewar to the races in his motor home, but more on that in a moment. The first time I got a chance to see Paul Cooke, which I believe was the first race at Mosport, I showed Paul the unframed print of Roger. Ã‚Â He just stood there. Ã¢â‚¬ËœHow much do you want for this?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know. I just stood there. After a restless moment or two I blurted, Ã¢â‚¬ËœSeventy-five dollars.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ I waited for him to laugh me off. He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. Ã¢â‚¬ËœHow much to frame it?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ I told him it would be around $35.00. He told me to frame it and bring it to the next race. I brought the framed portrait of Roger to Tremblant two weeks later. I had double-matted the print and put a gold brushed alluminum frame around that. I located Paul and told him I had the portrait in the car. He didn’t want Roger to see it. We went to their motor home where I unwrapped the finished portrait. He asked what I wanted for it now. I told him $125.00. The frame had only cost me $32.00 so I thought I was skinning him for another eighteen bucks! He told me to sit down. He kept looking at the portrait as he wrote me a cheque. Ã¢â‚¬ËœIÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got a few words of advice for you. If you had asked me for five hundred dollars for this, I would have paid it. It is the most beautiful racing portrait I have ever seen. Never never undersell yourself. Get rid of the jeans. If you are going to be an artist and a professional, look the part. Now I want you to take this and show it to every driver you can and see what the reaction is. Make sure they know it is for Roger and that he does not know about it.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ I promptly put the price for new orders up to $390.00 for a framed portrait and took several orders that same afternoon. Paul had in less than a minute put my photography career on another level and path. My direction was now to serve the drivers and sponsors. Newsprint paid little then and still does unless you get the cover. The multiple image portrait of Roger McCaig became my signature.
IÃ‚Â delivered the portrait to Paul at Mid-Ohio where I had another great adventure. I got a ride at speed in a Can Am car! IÃ‚Â traveled from Ottawa to Mid-Ohio in DewarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s motor home with a guy they called ‘the RatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. His real name escapes me. We towed the March 707 Can Am car behind us. Dewar drove his Corvette down a day later in time for Friday’s practice. I was helping out with the car as well as shooting images.Ã‚Â Dewar had a few problems in practice and wanted to see if the changes made were effective. Of this I did not know or I might not have gotten into the car. Dewar got permission to take the 707 out for several laps to check it out and asked if he was able to take a photographer out with him. Things were mighty loose in those days.Ã‚Â I sat next to Dewar in the very tight cockpit…unbelted! I had my camera with a wide angled lens on iit.Ã‚Â We went for three totally hair-raising laps shooting images of Dewar beside me, me beside him, the two of us together and the view out the front of the car. When I put the camera down to enjoy the ride I realized just how serious the situation was. I put the camera back up into the air and began to shoot again.Ã‚Â The camera by this time was actually out of film! IÃ‚Â rolled the film back into the canister. Shooting the camera took my mind off the excitement. I did not need support after I got out of the car, but I knew my knees were weak from all the adrenalin.
After the race I rode home with Dewar now driving the motor home with the 707 in tow on a trailer. For some reason we headed towards Detroit. On the freeway running through Toledo Dewar told me to take over the wheel. He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stop. He just put the thing in cruise-control and stood up! I jumped into the driverÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s seat and took over. Dewar walked to the back of the motor home and looked out the window. Right behind us was Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe RatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ in the Corvette. Dewar started to fiddle with some wire he had strung out the side window. I heard him start to laugh and looked in the rearview mirror. I could see him half out the window. I looked in the left-side-mirror and saw him yanking on the wire. It was attached to the septic system! Everything that went into that toilet over the weekend went out on the road right in front of the Corvette! I guess Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe RatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ tried to slow the car down, but spun it instead. He spun it right down the center of the highway! He never touched a thing and took off after us when he got it straightened out. Dewar just laughed harder as he looked out the back window. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t recall much of the outcome other than Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe RatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ was some pissed off. He was being cool with the roof down, so I guess he got quite dose from the motor home’s septic tank. Looking back, I am surprised it did not cause some problems with the handling of the trailer with the 707 aboard. There are many crazy stories of the guys and girls that are in racing, but that one almost takes the cake.
By this time I had done a number of portraits of drivers. Several absolute beauties were from Tremblant that year. The extreme rise and fall of the track and the fact that you could get very close produced some exciting portraits of Hiroshi Kazato, Dewar, Bobby Brown, Peter Revson, Oscar Koveleski and Jackie Stewart in the L & M Lola. I showed Jackie his portrait in Watkins Glen. The image was different than all the rest. The other portraits had all been vertical with the car under the driver with his helmet on. With JackieÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s portrait it was horizontal with the car coming over his right shoulder, again with his helmet on. It was the eyes I was after. Jackie has very distinctive eyes.Ã‚Â The car shot IÃ‚Â got under the bridge on the run up to the last hair-pin at Tremblant.Ã‚Â It was stunning. Ã‚Â Jackie was impressed enough to want to show it to the L & M people at their motor home. It was here I met Rod Campbell who was L & MÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s PR man. Rod seemed impressed and said it would make a great poster. Jackie piped up something about the portrait was for personal viewing only, but that he expected commercial rights could be acquired. JackieÃ‚Â told me to let him do the talking. I learned a valuable lessonÃ‚Â about the commercial value of an image and that it exceeds the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœpersonal viewÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ value greatly. Racing photography was now starting to pay off for me. I enjoyed the travel, but being away from home almost every weekend took itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s toll on my family.
On my return from a racing weekend I found my home empty and my wife and son gone. My personal life took on the normal separated-and-soon-divorced route. One very funny incident during this periodÃ‚Â happened, so at least I got one good laugh out of the situation. When my soon-to-be-ex-Father-in-law appeared at the door with the marina dockboy to pick up our second car he could not find it in the townhouse parking lot.Ã‚Â He came to the door and asked where it was. I told him it was out near the front of the lot. He came back in roaring about not being able to find it. I told him that several notices had been sent about the car saying that it was improperly parked. I guess I forgot to send them on to him. I took him back out and showed him the car.Ã‚Â It was now a nice square block that along with another offender marked the entrance to the parking lot. A small sign was attached to the block-car that simply said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœPrivate Parking! This WILL happen to you!Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã‚Â I was now getting around on a 450 Ducati Desmo I had gotten through the Dewar gang.
The Formula One Championship was again won by Jackie Stewart with the Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport also his. The F1 race was shortened due to poor light conditions that were brought on by a late start to the race. The cause of this delay was a terrible accident in the first turn during the Formula Ford event. The raceÃ‚Â got off in fine form as Formula Ford races trend to do with several cars coming together in Turn One just before the tunnel. The leaders, unaware of the incident, took off. An ambulance was dispatched from itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s holding spot at the end of theÃ‚Â pit lane. It pulled to the scene of the accident on the left side of the track…the racing line. It was protecting cars thatÃ‚Â ended up there during the first lap melee. On the second lap the leaders stormed down the pit straight and down the hill into the long right-hander of Turn One. The leading cars saw the ambulance and narrowly got around it. This lead group was all nose-to-tail. Reg Scullion was directly behind Wayne Kelly in this group. Acording to Scullion, Kelly looked in his right-hand mirror checking behind him. This quick check appears to have resulted in Kelly failing to see the ambulance parked on the racing line in time. He ran into the right rear corner of the ambulance at full throttle. He was decapitated in the impact. Scullion slipped by and the race stopped. Gary Magwood at the time was inside Turn One giving an interview to the CBC on the dangers of racing. Magwood would describe Kelly as a delightful character…tough, funny and not good when it came to losing…a true competitor. Formula One would lose Jo Siffert in a non-championship race at Brand Hatch. Siffert had a coming together with Ronnie Peterson in the opening lap, but continued until his suspension failed. Siffert was unable to get out of the BRM before it exploded. He died in the car. Pedro RodrÃƒÂguez was killed in an Interserie sports car race at the Norisring in Germany at the wheel of a Ferrari 512M. Along with Siffert, Rodriguez was considered to be the bravest driver in motorsport. At the start of the 1970 1000 km of Spa, the sight of the pair in their identical Gulf Porsche 917’s, together, side-by-side in the rain and roaring through the then-very narrow and always dangerous Eau Rouge left everyone breathless and cheering.
Read the whole Shutter Speed Series.