BACK-LIT: MS RUBY

 

 

A twenty year old college student, so full of herself and her sexuality, she had dabbled in the porn industry a bit. When we met to discuss a possible shoot she came off as a world weary pro. But the quality of my work and the ideas I present intrigued her.

By the second shoot she was comfortable with me, the way I worked, and the way I respected her space. I’d told her that we would again be working out at the farm, but way off in a very rustic area.  Took her to the family graveyard, three old graves, a wooden fence surrounding the plot. This was to be a completely nude shoot. She worked very well, good poses, good movement. These are among my favorites, back-lit, motion, and soft focus. Arty shots.

I Love what I Do!

 

In this piece I wish to convey the absolutely respect, admiration, and love that I hold for these women who trust me with their image and reputation. Because I shoot film it is difficult to show them before hand what I am after in my work. Because I shoot film I have a much greater resolution at my disposal, I can choose to use that resolution for good or harm. These women, some of them quite young in the span of what we know of adulthood choose to trust me. For me to return that trust with anything less than is unfathomable.

In the matter of a Seurat, I begin with a high-speed film, in the darkroom or Photoshop I manipulate the image. I base those manipulation off the brightest point in the piece, just as I exposed the film. Then I craft the image, lighten here, darken there…, just a touch! I love the gestalt, where “the sum is greater than the whole”. The seeming magic I call upon in “seeing” the final piece in mind-eye, of exposing and finally crafting the piece to come as close as I can to what I envisioned.

It is all magical to me, from that first moment I meet the woman for the first time, opening my book and my mind so she can judge in intent of my work. That moment when she agrees to pose…., then the time I get to see her in the eyepiece of my camera. All is magical, the way it happens, the actual shoot, all that goes into to making it a magical experience.

I love what I do, I love and respect the model’s…, most of all I love the trust. These women trust me to do right by them at that moment, and for those moments to come. Film last forever, reputation does not. I choose to do the right thing, the magical thing. I choose to let me my work stand for an idea, and not a graphic representation of womanhood.

Ms Traci James

 

I watch as you move in an elegant way…,

unplanned, spontaneous…,

uncontrived movements

of you.

Unconsciously you move, hands just so

arms just so,

and your legs held…, just so, elegant.

Putting on makeup, unconcerned with the way you look,

but the way you are perceived, the way you relate to the world.

The footing for the foundation of you…,

who you are, and who you wish

to become in this moment in time.

Unconvinced of the gift of you, the treasure

of you…, the worth of you.

Taught, tortured from youth…,

the child inside of you disbelieving…,

basic value that I see shiny in your eyes.

The basics of your life, uncomplicated, easy in your skin,

mind and body; held just so…,

elegant in the beauty of you…,

Elegant in the you of you.

21 December 2010

Traci James (The You)

Mamma Lena and Grace

 

My friend Lena, fetus in tow was to come back for another shoot in the next month or so. Baby Grace had other ideas, how could she project her best side when I couldn’t even see her sides? Mom and Grace, who came into this world at 1:30 Friday morning are both doing well, I wish them only the best. Both will be down for that shoot when she feels like traveling. Welcome to this world Grace.

Trust

 

Latina Angel a new treatment of a softer variety.  She was having fun and being treated right so she could relax with me, be the kid she really was.  Now about the piece, my work is meant to appeal to everyone, specially women.  So a softer approach was suggested, hints offered…, I’d have been a fool not to listen.  I value the women who choose to be in my life, both professionally and as a more personal nature.  Women are my friend, always have been, always will be.  Thanks to you all!  Ciao

Ruby at the 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

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.

Ruby at the Farm

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Esparanza

 

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.