Author Tags: Photography


111 West Coast Literary Portraits (Mother Tongue 2012) by Barry Peterson and Blaise Enright, features rare black & white portraits of emerging, mid-career and well-known writers who live (and died) in BC, along with excerpts of text by each writer.

978-1-896949-23-9, 10” x 8 ”, French flaps, 240 pages, $45

"When it comes to West Coast writing and publishing, we have gone from famine to feast in less than a lifetime. This unprecedented array of portraits celebrates the feast. Barry Peterson's approach is consistently non-pretentious, attempting to serve both the public and subject, in an honest fashion.” –Alan Twigg, publisher, BC BookWorld

[BCBW 2012]

111 West Coast Literary Portraits
Press Release (2012)

Photographers, Barry Peterson and Blaise Enright began photographing writers in the late 1990s. They spent more than two years travelling parts of B.C. to meet and capture over 60 great portraits. They met authors like Alice Munro, Max Wyman, William Deverell, Phyllis Webb, P.K. Page, Wade Compton, Brian Brett, Evelyn Lau, the late Jane Rule, Al Purdy, Eric Nicol, and Robin Blaser.

Stan Persky was photographed in front of a Leonardo di Caprio picture on his bulletin board; W.P. Kinsella didn't mind having a bandage on his finger in his portrait because he said he was feeling wounded; Susan Musgrave made faces at the camera with her daughters. These are just three of the B.C. authors represented in this extraordinary book of photographs that aren't just ordinary studio photos.

Peterson and Enright’s photographs became part of a travelling show titled ‘Lit Happens’ that was exhibited in many public spaces, including the Vancouver International Writers Festival, The Pendulum Gallery, Word on the Street, BC Book Prizes, SFU Reckoning Conference, Comox Valley Art Gallery, BC Hydro, and the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts. Eventually Peterson and Enright went their separate ways and Peterson continued to photograph BC writers.

Peterson sees himself as a documentary portrait photographer. He wants to leave an archival record of some of BC’s best writers for future generations.

In 111 West Coast Literary Portraits, all photographs have been taken with B&W film and printed on fibre-based archivally processed prints, a time-consuming process that is used very rarely in this quick and disposable digital age. Peterson says, "Film photos have a depth to them that digital can’t duplicate. Digital images are printed flat on paper and film images are printed on layers of emulsion within the paper. Film and fibre-based prints have been around for 160+ years and many of the first prints are still around--and that was before they knew how to archivally process prints."


David Watmough, Stan Persky, Greg Scofield, W.P. Kinsella, Barry Broadfoot, Joe Rosenblatt, Marilyn Dumont, Sharon Thesen, Robin Blaser, George Bowering, Larissa Lai, Meredith Quartermain, Daphne Marlatt, Susan Musgrave, Patrick Lane, Lorna Crozier, Alan Twigg, Morris Panych, Jean Barman, Edith Iglauer, Theresa Kishkan, John Pass, Peter Trower, Jack Hodgins, Bill Richardson, Jane Rule, Howard White, Jim Christy, Andreas Schroeder, Al Purdy, Max Wyman, Doug Beardsley, P.K. Page, Stephen Reid, Bud Osborne, Phinder Dulai, Rita Wong, Bill Deverell, bill bissett, Eric Nicol, Rachel Wyatt, Marilyn Bowering, Patricia Young, George Stanley, Brian Brett, Phyllis Webb, Mona Fertig, Jamie Reid, Wade Compton, Goh Poh Seng, Linda Rogers, Joy Kogawa, Anne Cameron , Evelyn Lau, Alice Munro, Vera Manuel, Marie Clements, Tim Lander, Keith Harrison, Colin Angus/Julie Angus, Sheila Munro, Caroline Woodward, Paula Wild/Rick James, Des Kennedy, Amanda Hale, Roy Miki, Maxine Gadd, Joanne Arnott, Pauline Holdstock, Taiaiake Alfred, Marion Farrant, Katherine Gordon, George Szanto, Kim Goldberg, Mairuth Sarsfield, Peter Such, Eve Joseph, Patrick Friesen, George McWhirter, Gurjinder Basran, Kate Braid, Betsy Warland, Daniela Elza, Irene Howard, Ajmer Rode, Fred Wah, George Fetherling, Norma Charles, Trevor Carolan, Hadani Ditmars, Derek Lundy, Ronald Wright, Kathy Page, Arthur Black, Chris Arnett, Peter Levitt, Shirley Graham, Pearl Luke, Robert Hilles, Evelyn White, Joanne Bealy, Diana Hayes, Sandi Johnson, Charlotte Gill, Caroline Adderson, Claudia Cornwall.

Barry Peterson started his own freelance commercial photography business in Toronto and Winnipeg and taught photography at night school. He was a social worker, and also a founding member in two artist-run galleries in Winnipeg. In 2005 Barry and Blaise went their separate ways and Barry continued to document BC writers. Barry lives with his wife, and step-son in Comox on Vancouver Island.

Blaise Enright studied Photography, Film, and Creative Writing at the Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto. Her love of combining photography and creative writing inspired her work in photographing BC Writers for the "Lit Happens" project. Blaise is currently studying Creative Writing at Kootenay School of the Arts in Nelson, BC, and is working on her first novel.

111 west Coast Literary Portraits- Exhibition Schedule & Launches/Receptions


May 25th-27, Vancouver-TWUC AGM, Holiday Inn, downtown
Oct 2-Dec 3-Burnaby-McGill Library Exhibition ( featuring 20 Vancouver writers photos x 2).
Oct 11, Vancouver, Book Launch Vancouver, Thursday, Heritage Hall, Main St 8 pm
Oct 20-27-Salt Spring Island Exhibition and Book Launch-Mahon Hall, (featuring aprox 30 Gulf Island writers). Book Launch/Exhibition Opening Sat. Oct 20th.
Nov 17 Comox, Book Launch, Saturday 3-5 pm Comox Art Gallery
Nov 24, Nanaimo- Reception, Nanaimo Museum
Nov-24-Jan 31, (2013) Nanaimo -Exhibition Nanaimo Museum ( 30 Island/Van writers)
Feb 5-19 (2013) Victoria-Exhibition CACGV Art Gallery and Gallery Cafe at the Arts Centre at Cedar Hill,
(30+ Victoria and Van Island Writers)
Feb 9th, Victoria, Opening and Book Launch, CACGV Gallery & Gallery Cafe at the Arts Centre at Cedar Hill, Sat. 7 pm
Feb 5-19 Victoria, Exhibition Artists Corner at the Greater Victoria Public Library, Central Branch ( 3 Victoria writers)

How Some Photos Were Taken
Anecdotes (2012)

from Barry Peterson
(Amanda Hale)

Darby met me at my car, with no barking and led me to meet his master, Amanda Hale. Amanda and I decided that a field with dandelions and wildflowers would be a good location for the photos. Darby showed me down a path that opened onto the field and he stopped in the perfect position, while I went to get the rest of my gear. I got the feeling that if he could have carried some of my bags he would have. Amanda sat in the flowers and Darby positioned himself prominently for the photo. With no cue Darby looked up each time for the exposure and after one roll of film I knew we had more than enough to chose from and Amanda agreed. I packed my equipment and again Darby guided me to my car and waited patiently as I backed out the driveway. The perfect dog! I wonder if he knows how to use a can opener?

(Joy Kogawa)

Joy Kogawa wanted to be photographed near or around water as several of her works involved water. Blaise and I found a fountain in the West End of Vancouver that had a waterfall with a poem inscribed next to it. We positioned Joy next to the falls right above the poem and I tried to find a good location to shoot. Nothing worked either due to the background or communication because with the noise of the falls we couldn’t hear Joy and she couldn’t hear us. Suddenly she raised her hands and looked upward and I quickly took the photo. It was only later that I found that Blaise motioned for her to stand up so we could try something else and Joy thought Blaise meant to raise her arms.

(Robert Gray)

Robert Gray thought a photograph in the style of Rene Magritte, the famous painter, might best exemplify him as a writer. On a Sunday afternoon we found ourselves at English Bay with Robert in shirt and tie and umbrella. We wanted to photograph him in the water with the umbrella with the ocean in the background. I hadn’t thought how many people sunbath at English Bay on a sunny Sunday, and there were hundreds of people. As we all walked into the water to get into position, people started yelling screaming. They thought this was performance art and we were there for their entertainment. As I started to shot, I could hear the screaming getting louder, and the splashing closer to us. I envisioned my costly equipment being destroyed in the ocean and a wave of fear went through me. Suddenly a huge man came up behind us and said
“Don’t worry I’ll take care of this”. He was a life guard and he saved me that day. I was never able to thank him and hopefully this will have to do: THANK YOU!

(Al Purdy)

After doing an poor job photographing Al Purdy the first time we met, we agreed to go back a second time to get it right. This time we came with more than just our cameras. Blaise found a number of squeggie toys, talking toy cameras and so forth to use as props. As we passed through Sydney on the way to Al’s house we also noticed a community centre that had murals of orcas and a dinosaur on the wall: “This could be a great background!” We persuaded Al to try it despite being a bitterly cold January day.
We positioned Al with his hand outstretched as if the orca was jumping on his command. We also did a series with the dinosaur behind him with his arms folded. Throughout both shots Blaise was behind me squeezing various squeegee toy and toy cameras in attempts to make him smile. Al finally said at the end, “I don’t know whether I should laugh or be offended!