Influenced by his mother, Gwen Cash, who was the first woman general reporter in Canada, Jack Cash got his start in photography in the late 1930s as a staff photographer at the Vancouver Sun. In 1939, Cash went to work at Burrard Dry Dock, first as a pipefitter’s assistant and later as a photographer. As Canada stepped in to assist Britain and produce cargo ships to replace those sunk by German submarines, the industrial waterfront of Burrard Inlet became central to wartime construction. The only person who was allowed to carry a camera near the waterfront was Jack Cash.
After the war ended, Cash continued to work as a freelance photographer for the shipyards but eventually established his own photographic studio at 1629 Marine Drive. Prior to being his studio, the building had been occupied by a butcher shop with a large walk-in freezer. Cash used the freezer as his darkroom and placed the portrait shooting studio in the centre, which provided space in the front of the building for camera and equipment sales. His associate Win Davis handled much of the portraiture work, leaving Cash to focus on larger commercial clients. Derek Cash, one of Jack’s three sons, recalls helping out in his father’s photography studio by selling cameras.