Dale Barnes – CBC stills from the 1950s and 60s

Dale Barnes
by Robert Lansdale

Toronto. In March, we were favoured with two delightful and interesting speakers, both photographers; one, long retired and the other still very active. Retiree Dale Barnes offered a small sampling of his extensive work for the CBC. All his photographs are in the CBC archives and only two decades (1950s, 1960s) have been digitized so far. From those Dale and his daughter, Jessica, selected and sequenced between 100 and 200 for our presentation.

While the pictures of the famous and notable were in themselves a great walk down memory lane for many in the audience, the side stories made the evening. Dale regaled us with his personal stories about taking stills, often in environments totally hostile to such endeavours – TV in those days was always live and no way could the lighting be adjusted for the lowly still photographer, nor could shots be retaken to his advantage. And flash was verboten!

The stories Dale told beyond the staging for stills were delightful. For instance, on one occasion a follow up summer scene was needed to complement a TV show. Problem. It was January in Toronto. Solution – fly down and shoot in Florida. At night time. But. The local police chief (Captain Wainwright) suggested the park chosen was dangerous at night and would need his staff’s protection – for a fee ($300 donation). Scene was shot with no policemen ever found. Later rushing to a second location in Daytona, Florida, Dale was pulled over for speeding. He mentioned Captain Wainwright’s name and waited while the officer checked. Next thing he knew, he was given a fast police escort right to the location in Daytona. No questions asked. No ticket written. Well worth the donation (and receipt)!

After the slide show there was a very active Q&A with Dale who seemed to thoroughly enjoy the questions. Dale had brought with him his wife Joyce, daughter Jessica, and a small entourage of friends from all over. Given his age and health, Dale and his guests left shortly after his presentation.

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