Toughie

 

Barely eighteen (18) years old, at risk, and a Latina. Much younger than the models I am comfortable working with, but she was at risk. We met for coffee, all attitude and bravado…, part of her camouflage meant to protect her. She was posing with a group of older men, some who even had film in their cameras. Her book was full of crotch shot, only a few of her face. As we went through my book I told her about her work, said I already have a manager! Yes says I, but he isn’t thinking about who you are, what you need to get out of this…, he’s doing a poor job.

She decided to pose for me anyway in spite of what I said. As she got ready she left to door open a crack, I could hear her humming. When she came out all attitude again…, a list of questions I was not to even think of asking. As we shot I could see her relax, lower her guard just a bit…, so I hit with my ploy, “Don’t smile”, gave her my stern look. That was all it took for the “Toughie” to turn into the giggling teenager she was. After that all I had to do was look at her, cock my head, and raise my eyebrow, the teen would just come out. A friend was posing for me one time, said I feel like an idiot…, the only thing that make me feel better is your acting the bigger idiot. I can work with that!

I treated her fairly then and now as a thirty-something year old. She is long past modeling, she a mom, trying different things and seeing what fits her best. I keep in touch, let her know what I am doing with our images. Let her know that when and if I sell, she will get her share. It’s the way I do business, the only way I do business.

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

Afternoon at the Farm

 

I’ve been asked more than a few time if I worry about working with nude models alone. To tell the truth I have never given it much consideration because of the way I work my craft. I offer references, give the model a straight forward idea my style of work, now I give the access to my website so they can see what I shoot, and them what to expect. I am very welcoming to significant others check me and the studio out so that everyone is comfortable. I make it clear before any shoot happens that I expect to work with my model’s undivided attention.

For my part I am very respectful of the models rights, and my responsibility. When I work with a nude model I realize that their personal space is much more important for them. To date I have never had a model who even thought I have done anything in the least bit inappropriate. Once I had a younger model who I plan to work with at a friend’s farm. On the way over I told her that I wasn’t sure who else would be there, I assured her that she was not going to be put on any shows for anyone. That if worst came to worst we’d have the nice meal I had brought, and just call it a day. At the risk of being called paternalistic, I wanted her to feel at ease. That’s is the problem though, the same preparations I use to make my models comfortable, are the same tactics predators use to lull their victims into a false sense of security.

Then there is the matter of the release, I want my model or subject to see everything I have captured before they sign. I want for them to be comfortable with what we’ve gotten, after all we work in a collaborative manner. Many times I work without a release at all, preferring to be able to get in touch with the person, tell them what and were I want to use our image(s). Since I use real film this can get quite expensive, a few times the model decides to not sign. Those few times the whole shoot has been an expensive waste of resources. I can only use the images for display only, no sales are permitted, really that is fair. Now not everyone works as I do, my models work with the anticipation of sales to follow. My work is sold in galleries, or used in books, my website, or I donate it to various organizations that foster a positive sex culture.

Again not everyone works this way, but I feel very strongly about my images, and the way I work. I work very hard at my craft, I get some beautiful images in the pointillist manner. I am proud of my work, the people who chose to work with me…, how could I not take the steps necessary to make it a beautiful experience for all.

Shit Does Happen

 

Another from the archive from way back when. Over the years this model and I did a lot of work, some sessions worked real well, others not at all. Bad chemistry, just an off day…, this session worked really well, we were in the zone.

She came down as I remember for a quick shoot, had to go back for work. We were having such a good shoot that she called into work, told them something had delayed her, she cover the next day. Because we were old friends we had wine, started working she wearing a string dress with black undergarments. In the middle of our shoot a guy from next door came out to use the facilities. He froze in place seeing a scantily clad young woman posing against the block glass walls, I am sure he got a good look too.

My model was nonplussed, not too much later she got into her panties for this shot. After we moved into the studio for more work, the vibes had changed somehow. She complained that I always wanted her nude, which tell the truth was right. But sensing the mood change I told her she could put something on if she preferred, she fled into the changing room. We did work some more, but the spell was broken any film I shot from that point on was a waste. So I suggested lunch, a relaxed lunch at that, then she went back home. No harm…. No foul, things just hadn’t work out as we had planed.

I’ve learn over the years from that things just happen that are beyond you control. Shooting film it can get expensive, Shooting the way I do, no release is signed before the model get to see what we got on film can really be expensive. I’ve had model change their mind’s only after the expense of the shoot we’re covered. Hard not to get annoyed at that point, but shit does happen so learn to move on.

More from Long Ago

For a time in my mid-twenty’s I worked at a hospital, blue collar all the way. But I could talk, and I’d talk to the doctors and nurses because I was creative. Most of the people knew that I worked at my art through my photography. I was interest in getting some of the cooler nurses to pose for me in their off hours.

Here then is one young woman who did pose for me.

Long Ago…,

And so far away…, years in my past there was a girl, her name doesn’t matter except to me.  I used to work at a hospital, I’d come in early get a cup of coffee, wait at the window for her to arrive.  She wore what I called the string dress, made it herself had thin little straps that went over her broad shoulders.  God she wore it well, nothing underneath but panties.  A loose limbed undulating walk…, very very fluid that only the young can pull off, completely unaffected by her beauty.  I was smitten as I watched her breast gentle movements under her clothes.  She was 19 at the time, new to life, new to how things worked, and very trusting that life would work out to her favor.

Of course the fly in the ointment was that I was living with someone already, also a very loving forgiving woman.  I was in my late 20’s, still feeling my oats, and very much torn between the two; very much feeling that I was missing something, that something was my freedom.  Like with the other summer help she was a student, I liked the “kids” and would give them my list of books I thought had meaning, and were well written.  Then at the end of summer all of them returned to school, life returned to the normal state.

My live in girlfriend and I were having problems, then things would settle down, we’d be at peace again for a time.  A long winter followed, things got worse and worse…,finally we decided that we should take a break from each other.  She moved closer to downtown, where she worked, and I stayed in the apartment because it was closer to where I worked.  I had a blast, saw what I was missing, of course the young woman stayed over a couple of nights.  When my girlfriend returned, I had had enough of living a monogamous life.  A few days later we went for a walk along the railroad tracks, I told her that things just weren’t working for me.  That I didn’t want to be in a monogamous relationship with anyone, that I was leaving not for someone, but for myself alone.  It was a very hard conversation to have, I believed that it was the more honest way to be.  We separated a few weeks later, she didn’t want any of our possessions even though I told her that I’d just have to get rid of them.

I setup a life by myself, I also made up for lost time.  The young lady and I became closer, but didn’t live together, but we did see each other on a regular basis.  She was very young, needed her space and time to grow.  Of course we had our disagreements, that’s the way life is, but we made-up and life was good for the both of us.  She was the longest relationship I had up till then, about 5 years, the closest we came to living together was 1/4 mile.

Of course there is more to the story, I’ll save that for another time.

Film Order

 

 

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.

Lessons Learned

t

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.