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.
I moved into the new apartment towards the end of summer 2005. I finally had an apartment big enough to have a small studio, in addition being old enough so I had some interesting features to work in. I set about making my home/studio easier to work in, sheers on the windows. I kept the living-room/studio free from clutter, like any comfortable chairs to sit in. But I had my space to grow older, to pursue my art, and I finally had my office. Life looked very good for me, I was pleased with the plans I had, looked forward to my first shoot over the winter holidays.
That October I had the stroke that laid me low. The deal I made with my self-destructive side, take your best shot at taking me. If…, if I survive, then get the hell out of my way. Little did I count on having to try to reverse the effects of stroke. All strokes are particular to the patient, mine was a blockage in the left side of my brain. Right side of my body, flaccid, absolute paralysis. Confined to a wheelchair, only left side of my body could move. Only one side of my brain was functional, I was in deep shit.
So the deal with the devil was made, I kept to the bargain, doctors, nurses were telling all my visitors not to get too excited about any progress they saw. I on the other hand, not knowing what they thought they knew, I went ahead to try and reestablish the me I knew. Took the better part of twelve (12) years, fighting for every return to body, and mind. Now the harm to my body has healed as best it can, my two sides are now out of balance. My mind…, my mind too has healed as best it can, I count on the plasticity to seek out those pathways back to me. My brain is still injured deeply, that’s where the damage still haunts.
So the new series came as a blessing, both for mind and creativity. I have worked hard at getting the creativity back in as good a shape as possible. Enter model, muse, friend, to save me, to give me hope. It demand a model who knows me, trust me, believe in my vision…, and believes in me as a man. This my first attempt at a series of found objects in nature, and very private spaces on the female body. The working title “Natural Curves”, a juxtaposition of bark, seeds, pods…, wherever I can find in nature with there wonderful curves, set next to the bodies curves. The whiteness of her body, the darkness in the object. The play of light, darkness, enticing curves of the most intimate nature.
So with this as my background, I began setting up my home studio. It was the easiest setup I ever done, called on all my years working with the professionals. I had the depth of my living room to set the muslin background complete with a sort of drop shadow, taken from endless product shoots. I fashioned a comfortable table for my model to try different poses for the areas I wanted to use. Those areas had been determined by a test we had as to feasibility. This setup for the main event, the actual shoot where she has to hold the pose, and the object in place. We shot film as well, for the lighting, and background.
I’ve had to curb my model from posting these test shots. Next comes the hard work of the actual shoot which will be so much better, but for a test these look so good . I have to curb my own enthusiasm, more as we progress.
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.
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!
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.
Welcome to the first of my flight of Whimsy. When working as a photographer, I am like hunter, seeking…., trying to let nothing escape my notice. Glittery objects catch the eye, I am lost in my own creative world. I focus attention, lost in the curls, and the stars. My eye seeking out the proper angle, let the curls lead…, no the stars. The idle part of my mind creates a story, birthplace of stars, curling down to earth…., each little sharks teeth, one following another down…, till the ribbon snaps…., star free. Curl…, rebounds give each star that little snap, and away. Curl rebounds…, re-curls, springs back…, yoyoing, till the tension catches each curl in it position.
From the King William Fair held in San Antonio, Tx each April. Used to be free, got too popular for its own good. A nice family weekend, children welcome, their strollers not so much. Gets pretty packed, people are looking for other people and not little ones at tripping height. As photographer/hunter I get freedom of movement so I can stalk my prey, get a clear shot.
A dad asks, can he buy a roll of film off me, so I give what is a fair price for me, considering what I may loose not having that roll of film. A bit of attitude at the price, I tell him that if it too much fine, I’ll keep it.
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.
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.