Tuesday’s Grace was shot in a family burial plot on an old farm. One of my best subjects, lithe, and young.
I am trying out different background mat to see which I like best. These are for eventual prints, although the image will be on a coffee cup soon. Stay tuned!
New treatment for an older work: Black Beauty. With the lovely Latina Angel just turned 18 when I met her…, now a mom in the northern wildness!
Many long years ago I was told that my erotic images were not explicit enough for the times. My answer, no matter how explicit I get…, I allow my models some bit of privacy. My images are not a gynecological tour de force, rather some imagination is not only needed, but wanted. Though the use of shadows, movement I want the viewer eye to wander, to search for those hidden gems.
Many of my models dabble in the trade, yet when they see the images I produce they are very impressed. I shoot for the art of my subject, I consider that less is more, to create an alluring image my subjects do not have to be exposed. The imagination has a crucial role, a crucial function for our greatest sex organ we possess…, our mind’s.
I treat the women who pose for me with respect, my work conveys that respect. I ask my models to trust in my skills as a photographer. I ask my model to trust me as a man.
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.
From the series, “Long Ago, Far Far Away, this image is from out adventure a little north of Toronto. A cement blockhouse way out in the middle of nowhere. One of my favorite spot to work, a small complex of building that in its heyday made cement products. I took a number of models out there, I say models, usually nurses I’d met at the hospital we work at. So remote that privacy was assured, bonding was sure to happen.
Some of the “models” work out, some did not, hard to tell how someone will work. Still we had a great time out in the wilderness.
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.
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)