Lessons Learned

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This image was shot in 2003, the model and I had worked together for sometime, getting to this image. She was by no means a professional model, fresh off the farm literally. When we first met I remember a very determined young woman weaving her way over to where I was sitting. As I watched her approach I was thinking like a photographer, very tall (good), a little awkward, part of the fresh face appeal (good/bad), wanting her dream…, so very apparent. For me the training, investment in time, and not if, but how soon would she be able to do nude work.

We agreed to meet for coffee, she had an unfortunate incident that morning, and was stuck at home, could I meet her apartment? My book has my look, and the models are in various state of undress, I never hide who I am. She asked, “how do you get them nude)? I ask, is the simple answer. So we set our first shoot, what I wanted as a photographer was clear in her mind. We worked very well, any misgiving she might of had, vanished in the face of my professionalism. We became fast friends, I showed her every piece of film I shot, I treated her with respect, and her trust level grew. The odd misinformation about what I shot for me, and what I was doing for her. Had a newspaper piece in her hometown press about a parade that she had a part in as a Bird of Paradise. All novice miscommunication, and the trust grew.

 

Then came the shoot that changed everything. She was getting bored with what we were shooting, any fear of being nude had passed…, and she was ready for something more challenging. I suggested a far more intimate and personal pose. Her first answer was an emphatic no, but I could see the wheels turning in her head. This was the ultimate challenge fear/fact of life she was facing. That she had consider this type of image in her thinking both worried me, and pleased me that she was considering my suggestion. To my delight she said if she was going to do this, she had to be comfortable.

So I was privileged to photograph this special moment in this woman life, freely, and without question. Oh the questions she had, that flitted through her mind, overwhelmed by wave of pleasure, and alarm. Afterwards, small ripples of pleasure came across her, and I was thinking how special this moment was for me too. I had been privileged to photograph her doing something so intimate and special. That she was a “nice” girl, a “good” girl who could be so harmed if I was not to do the right thing by her. Say what you will, it was my responsibility to hold this lady, this girl from harm by exposing her.Now years after the fact we are great friends. She never posed for anyone this way after, we’ve had the time and distance to be able to put this shoot in perspective.  I have managed to assure her of confidentiality, and my respect for what she decided to share with me.

My work really is about a partnership, a working relationship that puts the model more in touch with what is happening to their images.  Each model works with me in a collaborative manner, and no one is paid for their time until I sell.  If they choose not to give me an email address, or choose to just ignore me, they have that right to privacy; all the rights and responsibility remain in place. I will do everything I promised getting them to pose for me in the first place.  I believe that it is the only way to work. Because of the special nature of the images I take of these women we have developed a special bond that endures to this day, as do the friendship we have developed.

Vulnerable

 

This model and I shot at a friend’s farm near Austin.  It was out in the middle of nowhere, off a dirt road of sorts, around the fields.  Just in her twenty’s, and full of herself as we all are at that age.  We had a nice time of it, good strong poses, self-aware with attitude.  A true red head, fiery in the way she could attack her poses…, me if I was un-wary!  Wore her mother’s outfit from her days as a hot young chick.

No disrespect, young and carefree we all were, made it to this age, and you learn certain things.  But at twenty you haven’t formed those connections yet, you can use someone with ethics in the profession.  The term “My Girls”, has caused a great deal of consternation in the circles I run in, and getting advice from friends on building this site.  “My Girls”, I have a protective arm around them spiritually, I lay out before the shoot all the details.  “You will always know where your images are posted, as long as I have an active email address” I tell them, and I do follow through with that promise.

Every one of these young ladies knows about my site, and have full access to every image.  Those who’s images I plan on marketing, know about my strategy, and how each image was carefully selected.   We still have in place that partnership promised so many years ago, with time-off for my stroke and recovery.  Now that I am back on my feet, getting back to parts of the life I knew before my stroke…., and the long, long road back.

My thanks to these young women who trusted me to do right by them.  To protect their names, and reputations now that they have a life established.   Each and everyone is still My Girl!

Welcome to Michael Vasquez Art

 

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.

Profile: Ruby

 

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.

 

Latina Angel

She was one of those “kids” that are at risk, newly eighteen, already trying out the sex trade.  I saw her portfolio which featured tight shot of her pubic region.  I knew I could do a much better job, and maybe show her photographs as art.  She came to the studio, and changed into a really cute short bathrobe.  She sat there, smoking a mile a minute, a haze of blue surrounded her head.  For what seemed like 5 minutes, she when on about what questions she would answer, and never ask personal questions.  She sat there, tight as a spring, and asked, “any questions?”  Yeah, I asked “do you get “nekked”?  She threw off the bathrobe, preening, she turn to me like “feast your eyes on this”!  I studied her saying, “naw, let’s get you in a dress”!

She burst out laughing, and we were friends.  That is an important skill I have, knowing what to say in the moment.  Respecting my models, and having fun at the same time.  And not backing down when they test the limits.

 

 

Summer’s Light

Not too bad considering my studio is in an old house, built on the patch of land that used to be a dairy.  I trust that the magic will find our shoot anywhere, just use your imagination  Also people ask me if I don’t get tired using the same backgrounds, and props?  No, each woman makes it her own outfit, location, pose.  It’s magical what two people can do for and by art.

I’d like to mention that I may have a lovely model with a very enticing look so stay tuned.

Churchyard Fence

church-yard-fence

Cross Processed film all the way!  I had to talk really well to capture this young lady.  Shot at Onion Creek, Texas on a family plot in the woods.  Started of well, got good images, but I gave her some advice that didn’t sit too well.  She said, ” I already have a dad!”…, ouch!

Michael Retro

Welcome to a retro look at my work, you are invited to stop, look around and see what you like. Polite comments are welcome, but remember your manners please. A few words about how I work, I use traditional film, where possible available light. I come from a photo-journalist background so my work is only retouched the way I would process in the darkroom; darken here, hold back the light there, spot the prints. With real film what is on the negative is what you get, so NO special effects are being used in the manipulation of my negatives or prints. In the end my product is really just a matter of time and light.

This, more personal side of my work as well as some of the model’s who have worked with me. I have been shooting intimate photographs of women for what feels like all my life. I am very motivated by the sensuality of the body and mind. I truly value each of the model’s I’ve had the good fortune to share a collaboration to produce the work that you see. These young women trust me to do right by them, and I am very protective of their rights. My model’s each get a percentage of the sale price for each and every piece of art sold of our work. Each of my model’s privacy is respected, anonymity or the use of a stage name is entirely at the model’s discretion.

Good model’s work hard, sometimes under trying situations , nekked to boot. It’s an investment of time, both hers and mine, and that indescribable chemistry that may coax the magic to strike. One can never tell, sometimes the most promising of model’s: no spark. The fact that they are unclothed should matter as an afterthought and not the primary focus. A final word on the term “my girls”, its not meant in a paternalist fashion nor does it imply ownership any sort. A very fragile and very special bond is formed when a man and a woman work together so intimate a manner, and that trust should never be violated.

So once again welcome, get to know my girls. What it is that makes them tick, to carve out a space for them to be them. I invite you into their lives and minds at a particular time and place.

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