I have a lovely new model coming in a few weeks with whom I hope to take this shot again this time with pubic hair. Models do have lives of their own, it may or may not workout. Stay tuned to find out! Also on tap are some loving shots of her and her gentleman, and the baby she is carrying. Part of the joy I find in photography, that and the terror till I get film back and see what and if I got what I saw in the viewfinder. Once again I have to thank my models for working with me, and sharing my vision.
Here is a quick snap of the mugs I got from the lab. I told them after seeing the first one to think artistic. These were not mugs of the kids playing baseball or soccer that you sent to aunt Harriett. These were original work of art that I was selling. Told them to reduce the image by a quarter inch, and increase the space between the images by that same quarter inch. Much much better, except that I wanted the insides black to match the black in the image. Stay tuned.
Many genres draw my interest, I shoot my impression of a setting…, a cerebration…, an act. All my images are crafted using available light, reflectors, cards, and that most important ingredient: love of subject.
My goal is to create art of you and your body. To highlight the curves, the crevices, and to do so in a respectful manner…, all while capturing the essence of who you are at this particular moment. Explicit or not each image gives the subject some sense of privacy to her image.
Models come to me from many walks of life…, and for many different reasons. We work in collaboration, my model’s input is expected and welcome. Poses are offered, boundaries are pushed, yet respected. I do ask each model to come with an open mind, and a sense of play.
No releases are signed until each image is approve, I shoot for the art market only.
Another of the Test that Jean Dawson and I worked on. I love the feel of this and the light, soft, the body hidden by the material. Part of the new/old reality I am going for: portrait lighting. Shot on my Samsung phone/camera.
New Series Test for Materials and Light, shot on my Samsung phone. Sometimes the test turn out so well one has to share, special thanks to the ever lovely Jean Dawson.
Also from the “Not long ago, not so far away” file. My buddy Esperanza in my apartment studio, with tan-lines. A little firecracker of a woman, feisty as well as lovely.
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.
Way back in my younger days, days when I was finding who I was…, what I wanted to be when I grew-up…, there was a girl. Her name, details about her are not important except that she was a lovely young woman, very kind. Ultimately we wanted a different sort of lives and loves. When we first got together she knew that I, at heart, was a photographer/artist…, I am not sure she understood all the baggage that entails.
She was adamant, if I wanted to shoot nude models she was more than willing to pose for me. I took her at her word, she became my live-in muse. All the ideas I had, but had never found a willing model she was up for. So I tested out my ideas, then tested them again till I got what I was trying to capture. Many long hours of getting her into position, getting the light just right…, and the dark. Always the dark, dark side of me, dark side of my life, and my art.
Once after posing for hours, I told her she could get dressed, I thought I had what I wanted. She looked up at me, said that I could shoot all the nude models I wanted to. I was so surprised I almost dropped the piece of gear that I was putting away. Not wanting to look a gifted horse in the mouth, I had to ask how come. Because you weren’t looking at me as a woman was her reply. No I said, the angles, the light, the darkness…, I tried to explain how I was seeing her, but not HER. She stood, patted my arm, kissed me on the cheek and said to enjoy myself.
So I did, I got a studio, brought women to the house to pose. Even got a couple of her friends to pose. I kept my part of the bargain, I was in it for the art of what I was trying to learn. All was fine for a few years, then they weren’t. We started bickering, then all out arguing…, we were no longer the people that we had started out being. I started to miss the life I had lived, the single life, then I found someone.
My muse and I decided we needed a break from each other to clear our heads , to think about this life we had together. She booked a room downtown, I stayed at the apartment, each of us were closer to where we worked for the week. By an unspoken agreement we each did out own things with who we wanted. For me it was that taste of freedom I’d wanted, a few nights with the new woman.
This woman I’d met didn’t want a commitment, she had plans for her life. She was content that I had a live-in girlfriend. I was perfectly fine with that…, except that it wasn’t fair to the live-in girlfriend. At the end of the week she came back. Then came the hardest talk I have ever had with a woman I once loved, still did in my way. It may seem cruel, I said I wasn’t leaving her for anyone else…, that I was leaving for me. That we weren’t happy and I didn’t see how we would ever be again. I was honest in that I missed my freedom, that I just didn’t want to be in a committed relationship anymore.
I was reminded of this phase of my life while listening to Sam Smith’s Midnight Train. How do you tell someone that you still love, that you do not love them in that way anymore. Which way is less cruel, staying with someone you don’t love,or to tell them why you are leaving them so they can move on with there lives?
Anyway, this image is from better days with my muse. Days in which I did love her, still do in my own way even after all these years have passed. I hope the life that she wanted turned out well for her. She still has a special place in my heart and mind. This image of a lovely part of her anatomy I always thought was very pretty. To be shared and not sold, just a special part of her that I was allowed to capture.
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Maya Angelou
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.
I watch as you move in an elegant way…,
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)