Johnny Depp – 1988 on location filming 21 Jumpstreet

Before we get to 1992, here’s an event that foreshadowed years of incredible experiences as a photographer. When I was 15, 21 Jumpstreet was my favourite TV show and they filmed nearby in Vancouver, BC.

For 3 days in 1988 the show came to Victoria, BC to film part of an episode at Royal Roads Military College, which is on private property requiring an employee escort to get in. It just so happens that my friend Eddie’s mom taught at the college so we decided to pay her a visit.

Once on the grounds, she went back to work leaving Eddie and me free to roam the campus. There was a lot of activity at the entrance to the picturesque Hatley Castle so we walked right in. There was a couch in the foyer just feet from where they were filming a scene so Eddie and I had a seat as inconspicuously as possible.

Johnny Depp walked by and said hi and we said hi back. Every time he saw us he gave us a nod. Eventually he stopped and talked to us for a bit. This was nuts. I mean Johnny Depp wasn’t the international icon he would soon become, but he was still one of the hottest young actors in Hollywood and he was sitting on a couch with us.

We told him we were skipping school to watch them because I was interested in becoming a filmmaker like my Dad. Something that I had dreamed of as far back as I can remember. He thought that was pretty cool and he said they’d be there for another two days, so of course we skipped two more days of school.

While saying our goodbyes at the end of the third day I asked Johnny if I could take his picture and he asked me where I’d like to do it. I told him to sit in one of the director’s chairs and then said “Hang on. Get up for a sec.” I turned one of the chairs around so I could see 21 Jumpstreet on the back, asked him to sit back down and turn towards camera, and he did. Thank you, Johnny. If you’re reading this there’s a print I’ve been waiting 35 years to give you.

Almost ten years later I returned to Hatley Castle working as an assistant in the props department on Little Women starring Winona Ryder. Whoa, in all these years I didn’t make that connection until just now, writing this. Cool.

1992 - Almost Famous Since 1992

54-40 – October 12, 1992 at the Royal Theatre in my hometown, Victoria BC

Despite being underexposed and way out of focus, I think it's important for me to include this particular photo of 54-40 because it was the very first frame on the first roll of film that I shot at a concert.

At the time I had no idea that it would lead to working with Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Beastie Boys, Billy Talent, Faith No More and so many of my favourite musicians.

I was 18 years old and taking a journalism program in college that had various assignments like processing black & white film, interviewing people for the radio station, and writing for the school paper. Interviewing 54-40 on the phone and getting a photo pass for their concert covered me for three assignments.

Although I continued to interview musicians for another 5 years or so, I really wasn't great at it but it allowed me access to photograph them in concert.

At midnight that night turned 19 which is the legal drinking age in Canada, so after the show the band gave me my first (legal) beer. It was a Beck's.

The next day in the darkroom at school I loaded the film into the developing tank and poured in the chemistry. Realistically the stakes were pretty low, being for a school assignment, but I was nervous. I remember realizing that I couldn’t go back and reshoot if I screwed up. Obviously I wasn’t considering the impact it could have on my entire life, but sitting here now I’m really happy that I put so much care into developing that one roll of film.

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