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Celebrated Toronto-based photographer John Reeves, who turns 74 this year, has shot pretty much everyone of note, from musicians such as Gordon Lightfoot and Dizzy Gillespie to authors and artists such as Roberson Davies, Margaret Atwood and Michael Snow. Here are a few examples of his work with his thoughts on each.

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MARGARET ATWOOD. On assignment for Chatelaine in early 1972, Reeves photographed a 32-year-old Atwood at her home in Toronto to mark the publication of her second novel, Surfacing. “Very easy to deal with,” he recalls. “She was stunningly beautiful at that time, flawless skin, wonderful hair. She was into a sort of retro style of clothing – except for the skirt length; it was definitely mini.”

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ED BICKERT. Reeves photographed the legendary jazz guitarist in 1991 at his studio off Queen Street East for inclusion in the book Jazz Lives, a collaboration with writer-critic Gene Lees. Reeves isn’t a smoker but he let Bickert fire up because “I go with the subject: if my subject wants a drink, we give him a drink; if he wants a cigarette, he can smoke it.” Reeves describes Bickert, whom he first encountered in the mid-1950s, as “a reticent character, famously withdrawn . . . but for some reason, he got quite comfortable in my quarters and I think it shows in the picture.”

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ROBERTSON DAVIES. Perhaps the iconic photograph of the supremely photogenic novelist, playwright and essayist, shot by Reeves in 1978 at Davies’s office in Massey College, Toronto. The only time Reeves ever photographed Davies, the picture was used to accompany an article about the author in the now-defunct Quest magazine. Reeves says he was inspired by the magical and Gothic elements in Davies’s Deptford Trilogy novels. “I thought, ‘Well, maybe this is the time when we make a bit of theatre out of it.’ Of course, he was that way anyhow.”

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SUSANNA HOOD. “I photographed her parents’ wedding and I photographed hers some 40 years later,” Reeves recalls. The Montreal-born Hood has been a major player in Canada’s modern dance scene since the early 1990s, as dancer, composer and choreographer. Reeves shot her in his studio in 2002, then “I did this digital move, flip-flop, left and right, up and down.”

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MICHAEL SNOW (Picture 1 of 2). The 1964 picture was taken at Snow’s studio/loft in Greenwich Village where the Toronto-born painter/musician/sculptor/filmmaker was living with his then-wife and fellow artist, Joyce Wieland. It was included in an article in Canadian Art magazine on Canadian expatriates living in New York.

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(Picture 2 of 2) Michael Snow in this shot was taken at his Toronto home in late 2010, is an outtake from a session to illustrate a profile of the artist for The Walrus in March, 2011. The 1964 image also was included in The Walrus feature.

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LOUISE TANDY MURCH was photographed at her Toronto home in 1975, “right around her 100th birthday,” Reeves recalls, for a story on active centenarians in Homemaker’s magazine. In fact, Murch, a piano teacher, was chosen as the issue’s cover girl while serving as the subject of Deepa Mehta’s directorial debut, a short documentary titled At 99: A Portrait of Louise Tandy Murch. She’s also the grandmother of the noted American film editor/sound designer, Walter Murch (The English Patient, Apocalypse Now).

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GORDON LIGHTFOOT. Reeves has shot three, maybe four album covers for the legendary Canadian troubadour. Originally in colour, this image, from 1973, was used for the cover of Gord’s Gold, Vol. 1, a greatest-hits compilation issued in 1975. “It’s very ‘minstrel of the dawn,’ yes?” The original shot has been lost. When Canada Post asked to use the portrait for a stamp in 2007, Reeves digitally scanned a tear-sheet. “What you have here is me manipulating my own imagery.”

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LATCHOLASSIE AKESUK. Reeves has made four trips to Canada’s Arctic, the last in 1998 to Baffin Island at the behest of Terry Ryan, at the time the general manager of the West Baffin Island Eskimo Co-operative in Cape Dorset. “He told me: ‘There’s a whole lot of people here getting old and I’d like you to photograph them.’” Reeves spent a month in the North that year, photographing Inuit artists, their studios and their lives. Stone carver Latcholassie Akesuk was one of his subjects.

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