Michelle Renee — Renee Michelle & My Dyslexia

3 min readNov 22, 2020

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Photographs — Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Dyslexia can be a problem when one of my subjects that I photographed in my studio sometime in the 90s was named Michelle Renee or was it Renee Michelle?

She came to one of our Thursday lunches (writers, illustrators, photographers, journalists, editors) and somehow I asked her to pose for me.

With the advent of digital photography, where a photographer might take scads of pictures, can one tell the progression of a session? Here you can.

I shot 28 photographs of Michelle Renee. And here is the explanation for the scanned contact sheets. At the time one could buy 120 film (10 shots) or twice as long 220 (20 shots). Because only 9 shots would fit on an 8x10 sheet of b+w paper sometimes I would not take that tenth shot and sometimes I did. With 220 film you could fit 18 shots in two contacts and perhaps sometimes I was disposed to put the other two by themselves on a separate sheet. The progression is in this order. The first picture above right on the contact is always the first. The last at the bottom left is the last. But in contact number four it is reversed. The last two pictures show Renee (Michelle?) weating a hat.

Here you can see the progression from the first photograph (perhaps she had done some preliminary makeup but it seems that by the second exposure I asked her to look in my direction. I snapped the shutter (a slow one as I was using available light (the light coming from the windows of my large studio and in the other shots I used one flash inside a medium sized softbox.) and you can see that either she moved or my camera did. I still like this exposure to illustrate this blog as it does represent the first portrait I took of this unusually beautiful woman. The photograph is hard, almost brutal. I like it.

In those days I was careful about putting my cards on the table before shooting. Surely I must have asked her to pose undraped. But was I too shy? Or did I ask and she turned me down? I am glad that I can show here the whole range of the session without having to censor any of them.

And note that well before then I had learned to crop with my 6x7cm format camera in the camera and not in the darkroom. The great advantage of the Mamiya (I own three) is that the back revolves for vertical and horizontal shots. The backs came in two types. There were the ones that accepted 120 film and the ones for the longer 220. I have retired the 220 backs as I believe that 220 film will not return.

Link to: Michelle Renee — Renee Michelle & My Dyslexia




Into Bunny Watson. I am a Vancouver-based magazine photographer/writer. I have a popular daily blog which can be found at:http://t.co/yf6BbOIQ alexwh@telus.net