ABOUT HOWARD FRY
For more than half a century photography has been my love and my livelihood, my passion and my pastime. And now, well into my retirement, I have lost none of the compulsion to take photographs and to share my work and my years of experience as a professional photographer.
Let me tell you something about myself.
I'm a Yorkshireman by birth and I'm told I've never lost my accent despite my 54 years in Canada and many years travelling to the US and around the world on assignments.
My career really began in 1961 at Leeds College of Art where I studied graphic design before moving onto Manchester College of Art as a post grad, laying down the fundamentals that at the time I never imagined would become the greatest tools in my photographic career. I'd learned the essentials of the photographic process as part of my graphic design course which had culminated in a final project of a calendar of racing cars taken at circuits in Yorkshire.
And it was on the strength of those pictures that I was offered my dream job as a photographer with the highly influential Car magazine in London, at five quid a week (about 10 bucks in real money then), influential maybe, but cheap - and I quickly realized that it would have been impossible to live in London on such a pittance.
In 1967 Canada called. Actually, it was an invitation from the guy who taught me photography at college to join him and John Lister, another of his students, on a venture in Vancouver where we would set up the John Howard Wallis photography-design studio. Sheer good fortune took a hand and in less than a year after arriving in Canada, Eatons department store hired me as an in-house fashion photographer, with a brief to establish a fashion studio.
After a few years of shooting distinctly unfashionable clothing, hide-a-beds and rubber boots etc, Eatons decided to establish the company as a fashion leader, I was given the task of shooting full page newspaper ads on a daily basis, which in retrospect was the best publicity I could have hoped for.
I continued to work for Eatons on a contractual basis which gave me the time to expand my clientele. Firstly Vancouver Magazine gave me regular editorial spreads to shoot and soon after Western Living and V Magazine called on my services.
Eaton's centralized their advertising to Toronto and closed the Vancouver studio which was a blow to all the staff. Fortunately I had been approached by Nordstrom in Seattle, who offered me lots of work with this young and vibrant company. Other US companies soon joined my expanding clientele and in 1985 Woodwards awarded me with a contract to establish a new studio to produce all their fashion advertising. I recruited a receptionist, a studio manager (Chris my wonderful long-term assistant), a coordinator and a stylist. We rented a huge space in downtown Vancouver, a former Masonic Temple which I refurbished to become a superb daylight studio.
In 1995 Woodwards followed Eatons into bankruptcy, by then I was getting plenty of work, however the travel was beginning to wear thin and I decided to give rural living a go and eventually decided on Salt Spring Island which is about as rural as you can get.
I was soon back behind the camera, but with something a bit different this time - a Preserve and Protect Calendar of mostly naked and semi naked Salt Spring ladies. The intent was to raise enough funds to purchase some of the forest that was being logged at a ferocious pace, it sold like hotcakes and was well received by both the media and members of parliament. We raised around $150,000 in three months which purchased land around Maxwell Lake watershed. Soon after I contributed to The People the Place book by photographing prominent Salt Spring artisans.
A few years ago I'd come to realise that as much as I liked rural living I missed the excitement of my previous career and launched myself into shooting portraits of my very colourful fellow islanders.
Which is where I am today, still enjoying photography, grateful for the aesthetics I was exposed to at art colleges all those years ago, and grateful to my photography tutor Ralph Wallis who saw in me what I might not have seen in myself.
And I owe a deep gratitude to Denis Robert, the creative director at Eatons advertising, who hired me to shoot fashion even though I didn't have a single fashion photograph in my portfolio.
And I will be always thankful to Claudia Eddy, Creative Director at Nordstrom who persuaded me to work for her exciting young company in Seattle.
And I am forever grateful to my endlessly patient wife Judy for her support and tolerance over the past 50 or more years.