One of the pleasures of working in a big city, if you are very lucky is to meet someone of the opposite sex who is from nearby. While living in NYC I was dating a woman who lived in Pennsylvanian with her then sixteen (16) year old daughter. In midwinter morning I’d leave with them for work and to school except I had my camera to keep me busy. Got this shot of trees in Valley Forge, the reverence of a sense of history combine to take one’s breath away. Taken with a high speed film probably Agfa 1000, then scanned and run through Photoshop, gives more of the impression I was feeling thinking about all those lives.
After the stroke in 2005, I found out quite quickly that I could not longer shoot the commercial grip & grins anymore. I just didn’t have the stamina to stand for two (2) hours plus. While reloading at a political shoot, I had to squat down, and if there hadn’t been a piano so I could pull myself up, I was in trouble. When it came to my art, I was very worried that I didn’t have the eye anymore, and I worried that the stamina was going to be an issues.
Late in the 2004 I met a model who was very interesting, she was marching to the beat of a different drummer only she could hear, so we became fast friend’s. She offer to pose for me, and in 2007 I took her up on her offer, to see what I could or couldn’t do. Though there were limitations to my shooting, things I should have remembered, but didn’t…, the session went really well and among others I got this lovely image.
You were another late bloomer to the modeling world, tell us a little about your beginning and the different type of photography that you were drawn to.
C: “I started in 2006 after being placed on disability from my regular daytime job. A local designer, Carlous Palmer saw me standing in front of my son’s school, and asked me if I would like to participate in a fashion show he was holding at a local club. As it turned out, we had met 10 years prior when I modeled in a hair show that he was the stylist for. After his fashion show, he asked me to participate in a TFP photo shoot that featured his designs. When I went to pick up my photos, the photographer told me about several networking sites such as Model Mayhem, One Model Place, and a few others. He recommended that I post the photos from the shoot to promote myself. And the rest is history.”
Knowing you are religious, how does that dove-tail with the nude photography. Were there any barriers you personally had to face and how did the nude work begin.
C: “I wouldn’t say that I was a religious person. I believe that there is a creator, or higher power that lives in us all, but I wouldn’t call that religious. With that being said, the only thing that really inhibited me in the beginning was my own fear due to the lack of knowledge about what art nude modeling was, me being married at the time, and the hang ups I had about my body. The first time I did any type of nude work was an implied nude, or topless shoot covered in jewelry. The first time I did an art nude shoot was with the late photographer Jerry Harke for his book called “Nu Art en Noir et Blanc”, a 408 page book of art nudes in black and white. That made 2 firsts for me , as it was the first time my work was published.”
How did/do you handle requests for more explicit poses. Have those requests ease off after all the years you have been in the business?
C: “I simply say, No. I’ve been blessed not to have had many of those encounters or requests. Most photographers view my work and through emails or phone calls, they get an idea where my head is when it comes to that sort of thing.”
Personally I think you have a lovely face and figure yet you are underutilized, what do you figure the reason is?
C: “My lack of financial resources to travel, my age, and the fact that not too many photographers are interested in shooting African American art nude models. While at a weekend workshop/retreat of models and photographers, I had a conversation with a photographer who actually told me that “There’s no money in African American art nude work. With that being the mindset, not many photographers know how to, nor are they willing to learn how to light darker skinned models.” You can imagine the look on my face; however, that statement did shed some light on why I was not hired hardly at all during that event.”
Now this may be too personal and feel free not to answer, you have health issues that have plagued you for some time, how has that affected the modeling?
C: “It has caused me to pace myself more. I no longer pose for art classes because holding poses for a considerable amount of time was becoming painful. On a good day, I would only be able to hold an interesting pose for maybe 10 minutes, which was not fair to the students.”
I have a close family member who has lupus and she suffers from a light sensitivity and breaks out in a rash if she is in the sun, how does your lupus manifest itself?
C: It varies. It can range anywhere from persistent headaches to joint pain and swelling to Fibromyalgia attacks. The cold weather makes things worse.”
As I said in the beginning, I think that you are a stunning model and if you were closer I’d love to have you as one of my muses. Do you have that kind of relationship with any photographers?
C: ” I used to in the beginning, but that has since changed as most of them have stopped shooting or have moved on to other genres that I won’t do like explicit material.”
In the grander scheme you are a young woman, where do you see yourself in the next five years.
C: ” In the next 5 years, I will be 50. With my condition, I have learned to take things one day at a time. Hopefully, by then, things would have picked up a bit. I would just be satisfied with be alive and physically capable of taking care of myself.”
Liv Sage is a wonderfully talented young artist and model who has seen a phenomenal reception in the photo world in the past year and a half. Freckled and red haired, belie the old soul that resides in this diminutive intelligent woman. Working in close relationship with several photographers she has build a very impressive body of work as well as a even closer bonds.
“Sometimes I wish there were more things I cared about, and that I cared a bit less about the things I do care about. Being spread like thin elastic over many things, and having them push and pull against me would be preferable to pooling in one place like water to be tossed about by that one thing I care about.”
Would you give us a quick peek at your background, education, how you looked at life as a child and as a young woman.
Liv: “A quick peek would be…I am relatively well-educated. I consider my background to have been a good one, and I love my family but do not discuss them publicly.
How I look at life has varied throughout different parts and pieces of it. This is dependent on age, location, and all sorts of circumstances, so it would be a bit difficult to say I have a specific outlook on life as this is so context dependent. I’m curious and observant. This is an easy thing to say, so I’ll define my outlook in those two words for now.”
Studying your Tumblr site, I notice you have made inroads into the photography community in record time. What do you feel is the draw besides your youth and that perfection of youth.
Liv: “Well, I don’t know whether ‘perfection’ is actually a characteristic I possess, in fact I’d claim exactly otherwise. But, in terms of making inroads, I try to exercise good judgment about what sort of work I do, who I work with – especially on a consistent basis – and how I conduct myself professionally.
But, I think it’s necessary to note that I’m not as young as I appear. I’m closer to 30 than to 20 at this point, which I don’t consider a bad thing. Arguably, this has also been an asset to me in choosing good work and exercising good judgment. This isn’t to say that it isn’t possible to do so at a young age, but I would say, for myself, my judgment and sense of self worth has become better as I’ve gotten older.
I’ve been told that the draw to working with me is my taste – i.e. who I’ve chosen to work with, what type of work I prioritize, and my artistic tastes.
And then, of course, there are people who hire me for my hair color alone. Which is completely fine, and I understand why that would be a draw as well.”
I am duty bound to ask about your body hair; as a young man I had a girlfriend who also decided to forgo the razor and the effects were fascinating to watch. How do people react to you?
Liv: “You are duty bound to ask? Who is the one holding you accountable for the asking?
I’ll end my sarcasm there and just say, people are almost always fascinated by it, not always in an appreciative way, but fascinated nonetheless. It doesn’t bother me either way and a criticism of something like that won’t sway my opinion on it one way or the other.
So, I mostly tend to ignore the reactions altogether unless there’s a particularly funny reaction. I think my favorites are the ones who identify me by my pubic hair alone, as if it’s more than a physical attribute but rather an indication of who I am as a person. This is a funny concept to me, and I don’t know how they came up with such an odd idea.”
One can’t help but notice you get a lot of comments about pubic hair, but not many after you asked for all comments to be made in the form of a limerick. What do you think that says about the commenters?
Liv: “Actually, I did still get many comments after I demanded limericks. But, I demanded limericks in an attempt to get the comments to stop. So, when I started to get limericks, because apparently no one took the hint, I simply ignored them.
Not as interesting as you likely thought. Though, some of the limericks were sort of clever – which was also a demand. You had to write a good limerick. Though, no one wrote one clever enough for me to post, so I did not.
In terms of what any of this says about a commenter…Well, I wouldn’t want to hazard a real guess. Perhaps they are curious? They realized I have a box on my blog that says they can ask me anything and so they did? I don’t really think it says much of anything about the commenter other than they saw they could ask whatever they’d like and so they did. Now, why they would ask about pubic hair over all else? I’m assuming because it’s one of the first things they noticed. If I had very large breasts, I think they’d ask about that. If I had long black hair, I think they’d ask about that. If my body was completely covered in freckles, I think I’d get questions about that.
I don’t think there’s some over-arching characteristic of the people who ask these questions though.”
Also you are very generous in having your pubis photograph, in my own work I pay special at
tention to the ladies who give me great latitude to work with all parts of their body. How much would you say that has open doors for you and how much trust does it take you?
Liv: “Well, I’m really not. After all, the pubis is a bone that forms the pelvis inside the body. So, I’ve never had that photographed with anything other than an x-ray machine.
But, I know what you mean – I’m very generous in having my pubic region photographed. Much of this is because I have pubic hair. I will allow this area to be photographed in certain ways. Though, I do still have restrictions, which is worth noting. I don’t allow spread shots. If my inner labia, clitoris, or vagina accidentally show in a photo, I do not want the photo shown. I will never willingly show those areas in a photo.
So, I will allow my pubic hair to be photographed and to be very visible. But
, I still have my restrictions. It is not a free for all in the least.
In terms of how much trust it takes, I’m very comfortable with my body. I think that has
opened more doors for me than the mere fact that I’ll allow my pubic hair to be in a photo. If I allowed it in the photo but looked uncomfortable, that would not be a good photograph. If I did not allow it but looked comfortable, that would be a better photograph than the former. Of course, if you are a bit more free with your body and restrictions while also being comfortable, it’s a lot easier to get a good photo.
But, I don’t let someone photograph all areas, still. I take my own comfort into consideration depending on context.”
As your modeling career has unfolded you are working with some very good photographers. One can’t help but notice your skill has improved as well as the emotion that comes out in the darker work. Comment
Liv: “I am working with very good photographers, yes. And I would consider some of these photographers to be friends. I tend to do my best work with the people I am actually friends with, and expressing emotion, from that standpoint, becomes quite a bit easier.
And, over time, it would be expected that skill has improved. I try to always eat well, get enough physical activity, understand my own body, etc. And, I’ve become more comfortable over time – with my body and with the nature of this line of work – so that has helped immensely.”
And how much is it affecting your art? How do you feel the photography has helped you to be a better artist. I see a growth in your modeling surely you’ve noticed a growth in your art as well.
Liv: “I’ve become a better artist in terms of collaboration on artistic projects. Most of my previous artistic experience was done alone, so collaboration is new to me. I’ve begun to prefer this – or to at least appreciate feedback more than I did before.
In terms of whether it has helped me to be a better artist, I don’t know. I’d let someone else be the judge of that.
Though, I think modeling for artists has helped me to become a bit more inventive more quickly, and I’m less inhibited about expressing emotion than I used to be. I’d generally consider both of those to be beneficial in terms of my own art.”
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years photographically?
Liv: “I might have brief imaginings of what I might be or do that far ahead, but I try not to let them be more than wondering about future moments. It’s not something worth dwelling on for me as I couldn’t possibly predict anything with any certainty.
I suppose that I’ll try to make it interesting. That’s as much as I can say.”
Oh, and the film I waited an hour for:
Several years ago I realized that I was getting older and I needed to start transitioning from the commercial work I was currently doing to work that spoke to my passion. I went after work shooting for a local art gallery which also might provided me with the opportunity to display my work and to generate some feedback. I interviewed with the executive director and we came to an understanding that worked for both of us. I started documenting the installations, the artists and the programs; all worked so well I was given great latitude in what I wanted to accomplish and being trusted with the gallery camera.
Then one night I was shooting an event of mine for another nonprofit. I got extremely careless and put the camera down for a moment. A group of professional thieves were working the hotel, caused a diversionary rucks, dropped a coat over the camera and in that moment of carelessness the camera was stolen. I was sick to my stomach the police came and took a statement, told me that they usually find pawned somewhere and not to worry. That night in bed I came up with a plan to make good on having lost the camera by forgoing my pay for a couple of projects that were in the works.
Well the best laid plans came to naught as the director was really pissed, so pissed in fact that I was let go without being able to tell him about my plan on restitution. There was nothing I could do to make things better, when I ran into him at different functions he wouldn’t even recognize my existence. After my stroke and the years of recovery and slowly getting back into the arts community he still wouldn’t acknowledge me.
Then one day on FaceBook I figured I had nothing to lose and I ask him to be my friend. At the next function he was there opening his own gallery and he was very cordial to me and said that he saw we were friends on FaceBook. I replied that we always were friends only he didn’t know it and gave him a relieved smile. While maybe not the best of friend’s at least he now speaks to me and one day I hope to explain how I did have a plan to pay for the camera that I so carelessly lost.
So while using and losing someone’s equipment is not recommended for helping make or keep a friendship maybe just maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have that someone speak to you again. One can only try the best that you can, acknowledge you made a mistake and hope. Just figure out a way to maybe make things right as best you can. Don’t get mad yourself and cop an attitude and be prepared for the injury to heal itself and hopefully things will work out.