At the farm, in the old family Churchyard.
At the farm, in the old family Churchyard.
With the Harvey Weinstein and Terry Richardson cases making headlines I fee the need to say something about how I work. The problem is that young women and men are not prepared to understand or handle a situation like this. An older man with power and influence carrying on, saying this is the way its done in the business. That is the concern I have about expecting young models to think through all the ramification of posing nude. The problem I have is thinking these “kids” as fully grown adults. That they should be treated with all respects at any age is a given. Early twenties they are still kids in so many ways. I haven’t wanted to take advantage of them, I do run the risk of being seen as patriarchal, I feel that is well worth the risk. Yes I will shoot women who have reached the age of eighteen if they are willing, However my preference is twenty-four, I feel that by this time they can make a more informed decisions. Yes I do get a release, but that does not give me the right to ruin anyone’s life because they agreed to shoot with me. It doesn’t mean I can use the images indiscriminately, I ask the women who are in contact with me if I can use their images for whatever I am trying to accomplish. Those that decide to not keep in contact are still deserving of privacy, and should be kept from their lives harmed. Noting the developed my own brain has given me an appreciation of the not yet fully developed brains. I know a lot of photographers who say “well I have a release!” To my way of thinking, yeah you do, but you should ask first…, maybe she has a reasons (like kids) not to want to be exposed like that, or to use identifying information with an image.
I had a model who was twenty-four at the time, but a young very naive twenty-four. She came from a farming background, wanting to make up for lost time. I could see that she was testing herself, testing her limits. We’d been shooting nudes for quite sometime
, she was bored with that, not a challenge any more So I said, partly in jest why not masturbate? NO she said, but I could see she was thinking about it, was she brave enough. Now don’t go jumping to conclusions, I knew she was ripe for someone to take advantage of her. I also knew the way I worked, knew that I would be willing to protect her and her images. She said yeah but I have to get comfortable. So I got some really lovely images mainly because she didn’t know any better than to fake it, when she left she was happy as a clam. Only after she had second thoughts, asked her friends, they told her she was nuts, that her job was in jeopardy. I told her not to worry, I wasn’t going to do anything without asking first. I kept my word, but still her concern was what did I think of her.., what kind of girl did I think she was. Finally a few summers ago we had the chance to really talk. Told her that I didn’t think that she was that kind of girl either, that I respected her, that I was still protecting her and her images. She was relived that I didn’t think poorly of her. We went though the images again, told her how proud of was of her, that she needed an outlet at the time that wouldn’t harm her. That I had thought of all the ramifications before we actually shot, that I was willing to protect her, while someone else might not. I still have hopes she will come for another shoot, but she has other priorities now.
Not everyone works the way I do, with my past mistakes of my own, made when my brain wasn’t fully developed. I have learned a hard lesson, and would really hate to be held accountable for mistakes in judgement I made in my twenties. I think of a shoot as having the features of the Stockholm syndrome; a model gets so comfortable with a photographer so she wants to please him or her. Then has second thought, but by that point, the damage has been done if she has signed that release. I don’t want to be that photographer…, ever! I want to do the right thing by my models then and now. I think that’s the reason I haven’t had problems. I do the right thing, even if it cost me money. I have found that the rewards far outweigh any monetary harm.
Mamma Lena with the background matts that I do. A low-res scan, have to be seen at full resolution to be appreciated. The matts I started playing around with the idea a few months ago, like the look and feel of the matts. I think it adds a touch of class to the image, so far no one else has them, I hope that is a good deal. About the image, she is a model of mine I first shot many years ago, now she is carrying her first child. So very nice to work with an old friend, the natural rhythm of shooting comes back.
The second time Ruby worked with me out the friends farm, we worked in and around the family graveyard. Way off
in the woods, small trials led into the area protected by its remoteness. I found it very peaceful, we worked with a respectful quiet. The mosquitoes, however were out for blood; she sprayed her front, I her back to help repel the little beasts.
In early spring the day was mild, the clouds…, like a giant scrim floating in the sky. As this was our second shoot, Rudy had no inhibitions about nudity, she worked very well…, creatively. Very playful as the camera loved her, she in turn had different looks she tried for effect.
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.