Now on Instagram: @ michaelvasquezart.
Esperanza came into my photographic life when she was 22 years of age. She was a little firecracker of a young woman just entering her prime. So full of herself, willing to play, had that confidence only youth can bring. After that first shoot she came back to my apartment to have a bite to eat, and to talk more. She was the wife of a friend of a friend of mine, trying to find what she wanted out of life. Later as we did more shoots we went out for lunch after. She’d take my arm going into which ever restaurant we had decided to go to. All male eyes, and not a few female eyes were riveted on her, I felt so special to be the man who had her on his arm.
She was among the first women to tell me that shooting gave her all the benefits of an affair without all the compilations. She’d try different personalities to see what they looked like to others. It was fascinating to watch her as she changed from one personality to another. Like most of my models, she came without eating anything so she’d keep that slim profile. But when that alarm sounded, we had to get her fed ASP.
Even after I moved to New York City, I’d let her know when I was coming into town, we’d setup a shoot. I’d try new lighting setups I’d seen in my work with other photographers on commercial shoots. Because she loved to play, we’d try different things…, but she was hesitant to shoot completely nude. I did get a few shots of her in the all together, but her heart wasn’t into it. To this day I don’t understand her reasoning as she always had a terrific figure made for photography. But I accepted her wishes, warned her when she was showing more than she want seen.
I feel that it is important to work with the models limits, not to cop those shots the model is unaware of. In return she has the confidence in our works to give me carte blanche in using the images we have shot. I also feel that its the right way to go, to have that trust that you honor in all my dealing with my models.
Most all of you know the story of my stroke, and the slow recovery…. I want to talk about my personal work, I started this series in early 2000, with my love and respect for women of all ages. These studies are of women who had modeling sites, the majority age 20 to 24. I wanted them because they were willing, but none were professional model by any stretch of the imagination. Presented here are the girl’s from down the street. Just nice normal young women growing up, a phase they call it.
On blog I talk about what drives this site and my work. I follow my own instincts when it comes to my models. I offer each of my models, the chance to be involved in the use of their image. If the model chooses to not be involved, I respect their wishes. All the rights that I told each woman are still in place, and I am very protective of those rights.
It is such adventure, and to have people along for the ride. I made a deal with my self-destructive side, if I survived the stroke, then all doubts about myself must vanish. They did ease a bit, but I don’t fear being out their trying to get my work in a magazine. Submitted my first work in a long time…, this new personal side of my work. I am very proud of what I have accomplished, what I have captured in that moment in time. So too am I proud to be shooting the type of work that I do, to have that level of trust. A number of these women are retuning for an update who they have become in the intervening years. I am so proud of these women, the trust we have in each other.
Now to some of the reason for my site; no one here is paid a dime till something sell. The models approve of what I am doing, each wants me to succeed with their image first. So my work comes to you clean, free of any taint. Several of my models have taken an interest in posing for me again after all this time. So that is something I look forward to having these women, at another stage of life. I still remember a wilder side, a past side of who they are now with all the responsibility of this age. But I remember them, we have a history to share, we have a level of trust. Built each time I was in contact about what I was doing with their image now. Just an email, or a FB message. I have kept my word to these young women because they are not professional models.
Yes I do have a release, but something about fairness comes into play. I do not work like most photographers, I like working in collaboration with my models. This site too is a work of collaboration with loving attention to detail. From the Dutch side of the family my cousin Hans Hav donated his time in building this site. Countless others provide proofing, suggestions, support and just letting talk. I love all you that have believed in me, and helped get me to this point.
In this blog portion I share what I am working on currently, and what I hope to do in the future. I of course hope that people who support me and my work would make a donation. Even a supportive line or two would mean a lot. I will be talking about the work, what I think makes it art worthy. What I want to get across, and not just a pretty naked lady. What they as young women thought.
What a wonderful feeling after so long a wait, to be able to buy film. Not that the things holding me back have eased, not so much, but I have enough to work on. One of my first model’s to begin working with me on what has developed into the new series. I’ve know this woman for thirteen (13) years now, (seen on FaceBook) the boyfriends come and go. Never ever thought the both of us would still be involved with each other lives this long. Like so much of my art it has evolved over time, organic, the friendship has deepened. I’ve invited the model to my shows, or tell them when a magazine has picked our work to publish. I love educating new model to the world of art, how our work fits into the show.
So too has my relationship with my other models has grown over time, the nature of our work, what to submit to magazines, websites that handle art. Those models who wish to be involved are welcome, those that do not want to be bother, I let them be. With this new series I have someone who I work with, not everyone is so open to the type of images I want to make. I keep my options open, always welcome back models who have worked with me in the past. I welcome new models, they work with what they are comfortable with, I never require models to pose in ways they are not fully behind. Trust is key to my work, something that can only be built by getting to know each other, how we think. It’s the only way I work.
I find myself in a wonderful position, two (2) models, two different ways to pose. Each with a rhythm of their own, different set of values: its exciting. So return to the subject of film I need to buy, how my choice of film, model…, each bringing their personality, moves, and desires. Then I get to the real artsy stuff, expired film, those unpredictable colour shifts. Maybe a cross-processed roll of slow film for the movement, mystery, the flying by the seat of the pants feeling. The wait for real film to return from the lab. Part and parcel of the magic of film, exposing it for results hoped for, not for the faint of heart, or of imagination.
A return to the old days, the old ways, waiting to see if the magic has stuck, or a near miss. I love the suspense, the anticipation. I’ve spent decades work with these films, I know how they work, how they are supposed to work, then with the broken rules what you should expect. Now long out of date, the unknown…, what will I get, how will my model react if nothing shows up, least not model portfolio wise. That is the magic, the curse of my art, the great unknown is the way I work, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Checked the film vault, an old Tupper-ware container I have kept for many years now. Oh want delights! Film I had purchased in my N.Y. days, slower ISO that’s why it survived so long. All color film, all way out of date, oh the colour-shifts.
I was talking with a friend the other morning over breakfast, I told her how much I enjoys treading the needle. I want to produce a new piece from the current series, that is FaceBook pure. I do not support censorship, I will not show my work with a black bar, defused area because some white male is uncomfortable with the human body. So jerking a few chains does not bother me, I push boundary.
Welcome to my work. You are encouraged to stop, have a look around. Here you will be able to read my words, about my work, and what makes me tick (work). You will also get to meet my models, please treat them with respect. They are the core group of young women I was lucky to shoot with in the years before my stroke. It has taken me twelve (12) long years to get back to almost the way I felt before.., but not quite. Post stroke I still have my problems, and limitations…, but I feel more alive than ever. The background (Mattes) I crafted with the help of PhotoShop, and I have a selection to choose from. The image were created using real film, available light, and then were scanned. Please join my reinvention of a life, and the art I create.
My latest background, and model Ruby, from the Farm Shoot. First time working together, took her to an old farm some friends rented. I warned my model that I didn’t know what we would find when we got to the location. First time I had used the farm as well, not sure as to how much privacy we would have; so we might end-up having a nice lunch with cold wine to wash it down. Let them know when I was on property, that we’d say hello after.
Ruby and I set to work, getting comfortable with each other, and the way we worked. I was very pleased, relived to find she had very good poses, and looked terrific in motion. Funny how this was a “still” shoot, yet her movements were wonderful. That’s something I work hard to capture, that playful exuberance only the young have. We played with each other, or rather she played for the camera, I was just attached. I will upload them as I find the time to give each one the attention it deserves.
A word or two about the backgrounds, in a break from traditional plain white matts for each print. I craft a unique background matting for each print, or you can have that plain white border if you rather. The image was created using real film that was scanned to PhotoShop, with the traditional techniques in the handling. The backgrounds are a product of PhotoShop, and are crafted to compliment my images.
I try for a certain balance, a zen like feel; Ma the Japaneses words for, “it is the thing that takes place in the imagination of the human who experiences these elements”. Like an old friend, seen in the mind-eye wearing their favorite outfit. Get to know my works for who they represent, the creative mind behind the images.
I’ve been scanning for the new site, starting the B & W work at last. I feel my strongest pull from producing a lovely B & W, all the shades of grey. How far Jean Dawson and I have come, thank you Jean.
My lovely friend who came down after my stroke, we did a shoot so I could see if I still had what it takes to shoot. A little rust, but I was able to take hope for my future after seeing how the shoot went.
So lovely I think I’ll let her stand alone.