Profiles of our people - Warren Gordon

By Chris Connors - Cape Breton Post

Often in the photography business the best photo opportunities are the ones you’re not supposed to shoot.

And that’s often what the customer prefers.

Warren Gordon says there have been countless weddings during his 27-years as a professional photographer when not taking a picture was just as important as snapping one. And to his credit, Gordon- who has photographed more than 300 couples on their happiest day - is more intent on making people look their best than he is on revealing what can happen when wedding day jitters really begin to shake.

I often tell people I should have kept a scrapbook of all the things that have happened at weddings I’ve photographed,” says Gordon. “I’ve seen a lot of things from the wedding cake getting knocked over to the bride spilling red wine down the front of her dress. But there have been a lot of pleasant experiences as well.

Many of those pleasant experiences can be directly attributed to Gordon’s skill behind a camera. Gordon’s skill has allowed him to travel the world, viewing Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and other exotic locales through his viewfinder and committing the memories to film. Yet the life-long Sydney resident who says his family history goes back to the cutting of the first tree didn’t set out to become a photographer.

Gordon says he never really had an interest in the art until two friends asked him to take the pictures for the college yearbook they were putting together. When I was going to ‘Little X’ here in Sydney during the early ‘70s, Max MacDonald (of Rave Entertamment) and Kenzie MacNeil (Filmscape sound stage) — two soon-to-be-famous Cape Bretoners — asked me to take the pictures,” remembers Gordon.

“I didn’t have a clue but the pictures seemed to turn out so I kept going.”

Once he finished university Gordon kept going until he’d secured a job with Sherman Hines, one of the top theme photographers in the country. The Halifax-based photographer, who also instructed Margaret Trudeau, helped show Gordon the ropes and on April Fool’s Day, 1974, the young photograph was operating his own studio, Gordon photographic Ltd. Now a Master of Photographic Arts, Gordon calls photography a full-time occupation and admits he still doesn’t take pictures for pleasure.

“The odd time I take a picture of anything that’s not business-related, it usually ends up in a drawer somewhere,” he says. Fortunately for Gordon, most of what he does shoot is well-worth holding onto. In fact Gordon has won several regional and national awards for his work and his ability to capture Cape Breton’s landscapes and culture has allowed him to self-publish eight books and a yearly calendar.

Ironically one of the happiest moments came when he was playing bridegroom rather than looking through the lens. Gordon says his marriage to trauma nurse turned pianist Katheryn Maclntyre three years ago has kept his life interesting. “Being with somebody artistically inclined and with a great variety of interests keeps things from being dull,” he says, adding that a new house and bride means he does a lot more entertaining at home than traveling.

But taking pictures isn’t all wedding bells and smiling faces. Gordon has been commissioned to take his fair share of unusual pictures. “A young fella came into the shop one day with his collection of tarantulas and scorpions to be photographed,” says Gordon. “He told me that when the large brown scorpion’s sting it hurts a lot, but if the small black ones sting you it’s six months before you feel any better.”

Gordon’s advice:

“Stand back and don’t open the cages.”

Reprinted courtesy of the Cape Breton Post - Copyright © 1999. All rights Reserved.