Long Ago and Far Far Away

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

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)

Holiday Season

 

File under long ago and far away, my friend before she was Jean.  From our 2nd shoot, much more relaxed and poised just a nice nude young woman enjoying being photographed.  We’ve know each other for some 7 years now, and I still enjoy working with her.  As the old cliche goes, “like a fine wine she has aged very very well”.   Thank you Jean.

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

“Moonlight over Atlanta”

 

From the files of long ago, Willow “Moonlight over Atlanta”.  One of those darkroom magic to an otherwise vanilla image.  My friend whose darkroom I was printing in saw the original print at near the end of a long day of printing, suggested it might make a better print darker.  Did a test print…, hours later in the wash I had this.

Latina Angel “Girl”

 

A freshly minted 18 year old, so full of herself (as we all are at that age). Her shell was tough, but after we made friend’s she was just the kid she was. She had other photographers she worked with, some even put film in they’re cameras. Her online model site was filled with images of mainly her pubis, just a very few showed the person who owned that pubis.  I showed her that there was an art to photography, and that some men would treat her with respect.  I asked for permission to shoot any sensitive areas, she agreed, but not for publication she said.  I agreed, I had no real plans for the images at that time.  Years later when I discovered the images, and how I could manipulate them I sent her finished pieces so she could see what I’d done.  Again I asked for permission to use them, to donate them to organizations I support.

In this day and age, new age of harassment and outright rape in the industry, I have kept to my belief to treat people fairly, with respect.  I have been granted the privilege to explore my art, and freely create images both my models and I can be proud of.  I feel that this is an honorable way to create the images I do, it’s the cleaner way, if not always the easier way to operate.