Canadian Sojourn

Old San Antino                      Old San Antonio. old building, Late 68, girl black hair, period dress, staircase.
Late 60’s high school girl in a staircase in old building.

                                                                      “To continue doing something with determination or resolve despite difficulties or an unlikely chance of succeeding.”


I want to address my timeline here before I get to the assisting  proper. I’m starting just after high school because that when my assistanting story begins. I was also a shooter for my local newspaper for about a year after being an apprentice for a local shooter. When I was twenty my world change for me, some would say for the better, some the worst. My life has been one of being addicted to the news. I started as a very young man and of course as the war in Vietnam was played on most television sets in American, I became an avid watcher. I watched as Walter Cronkite slowly turned against the war, and was willing to say so. I listened to friend’s who I knew who had a firsthand knowledge, told the truth about the war that no one on television seemed to acknowledge. I knew that I could not in good conscience would not and could not participate. My country was willing to send me to kill…, send me a half the world away as long as l killed people who had never done wrong to me.

Black haired beauty with a piece of her hair in her mouth.
High school friend, black hair very cool girl and a beauty.

So it was clear to me that I needed an excuse to cover my fleeing to Canada to save myself. The popular sentiment with people in support of the war was, “America, love it or leave it”. So my decision was made, I would flee to the wilds of a country I did not know, but who supported my stance on the war. My cover became that I was taking a trip to see the country, and by happenstance I was going to the Newport Folk Festival. One last chance to see some of the country before I went off to war. I was going to go by bike, a 10 gear bicycle on a trip of over 1000 miles. My first hurtle, one of many, was to convince my mother!

Some 50 years later I can still see the events of that day clearly. I met her in the cafeteria in the basement of her office. She telling all the reasons that I wasn’t going, she had a list full of reasonable reasons I was not to go. I said not a word, safe in my resolve that come hell or high water I had no choice, but to save myself and my conscience. I could see in her eyes that she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt she knew I was leaving. So while she plotted ways to stop me I begin to train for the trip.

Late 60's black haired beauty on a golf bridge over creek.
High school friend, black hair in late 60’s dress.

I rode everywhere that bike would take me, I learned to take racers turns leaning far into my turns. My friend and another Michael trained with me, we rode day and night. My friend was fond of taking risks, riding down a hilly twisty street at full speed trusting fate that there was no car on the road. I made the mistake of showing him the bike of my dreams that I could not afford. He bought the damn thing because he could. Then one night ride he got a cramp in his neck that made him drive right into a curb and wrecking the front tire…, much to my delight. He also decided not to come on the trip with me for reasons I am unsure of. Unfazed I kept to my training riding far and wide.

As the day for my departure approached my mother offed to get a van for me. A VW micro-bus with poke a dots curtains like a wonder bread truck. It had a refrigerator/water tank, a small closet, and a pull out bed; a home on wheels for my trip, and a safe haven for her so she wouldn’t worry so much. Now if she had been less supportive I would have realize the limitation I faced. I hadn’t face really long distances before, I was just getting to those trials.

My preparations included buy a packing trunk, all my so call winter gear when in there. I stored everything I could possible need including all my darkroom gear. If anyone had bothered to check there was no way I was packed for just a summer trip.

Fired!

Black and White, Blond girl, an old speak-easy.
In my learning years I use the girls from my high school. Not necessarily prettiest, but the coolest.

Now I have to discuss a topic that many people find hard to comprehend, the idea of firing someone who should be in charge. I have always worked with people for as long as it pleased me. If someone disappointed me in some way, the first time I worked with them, it was the last time I worked with them. Top of my list is a guy I worked with who happened to work for the National Enquirer. I have strict rules for my working with entities. I was hired under false pretenses, he never told me who he was working with. We were already far from our home base when he told me, so I had to resort to my professionalism finish the job.

We were on a back-road when he told me to stop the car, I checked the mirror to see who was behind us before I hit the brakes. Again he yelled to stop, I put on my signal and pulled to the side of the road. Again I wasn’t fast enough for him and he yelled to stop the fucking car! Listen I told him it’s not my gear in the back of this car, I don’t give a shit if we are hit, but I figure you might. A line of three cars zoomed past us as I shifted in to reverse. Backup he growled, I want to see something. The shoot went downhill from that point on, and ended with not getting paid on time.

I mentioned it to a photographer I was working with in the context of not working with people I had problems with. He looked shocked by the idea, he said to me YOU fire people? Yeah I said I do…, I only work with people that I am compatible with. I told him that I had to fire his main competitor just that week for trying to get me to work with another assistants who I knew was racist. I had the perfect backup who I was training and worked with several times before, I knew the guy would do a fine job for him.

Black and White image, old house overgrown with vegetation, shot in the late 60's.
As a photographer I found it easy to get girls to pose for me. I learned from them how to speak to them which was the hardest part.

In my line of work I find it was to my benefit to have people who could fill in for me and I for them when the need arose. I trained many fine women and men on how to get were I was in the business. I never scrimped on the knowledge I taught them because that would work against me in the long run. I followed a few rules on the hiring of a backup, first and foremost was did the photographer work with them before. Next was how comparable was the assistant with the job to be done. And lastly but not the least of things how hard was the photographer to work with, did he have any problems I knew of that would make for a bad fit.

As I have said it was a good situation for me to run my business with the least of problems. Those who failed in some way to work in my guidelines I let go. To me life was too short to fill it with people who didn’t work with me, or tried to break the rules. Those that know me know I adhere to as few rules as possible in my life. Work was a horse of a different color indeed.

Danish Summer: Girl ll

Danish Model, Black & White image, three quarters limage with a cute wrap around her bust, wearing jean.

This girl was harsh, harsh, and harsh in her look, patterned herself off the Germanic look. In reality she was a sweet girl hopping to make it in the big city. I tried my best to get her to relax her look, this was the best I could manage. The owner of the studio, Jim said it was the best look he had seen in her book, which was quite a complement coming from him, he had a great eye.

Color image of Danish model, in a Black PJ top, stern look

She had come over just in time for the madhouse of getting Jim ready for a shoot of his own. I sat her down in the alcove to the studio with a glass of champagne so she could relax while I made sure he had everything he would need. When I could finally turn my attention to her, I called her into the change room for makeup and to change. Then we set about the business we were there for, I made her change clothes fairly often to work off any nerves. And I tried to work on her look.

Danish model, color image three quarters, red top and jeans..

I also got her topless even though she said I don’t have anything to show, and I left it at that. I never force a model to try something she is not comfortable with. Their discomfort shows up in the eyes first, just like too much to drink. My job is to read how the model feels, and to react accordingly. An unhappy model doesn’t look good, there is something off about the photos. Now on the other hand a playful model will look so good in the photos, but when she has to explain to an unhappy significant other…, well things can change.

Danish model, color image, topless with jean shorts.

Anyway the model was very happy with the way she came across in my photos. And there was no significant other in the City to worry about. The only problem with that the afternoon that she came to look over her work Jim had locked his keys in the office. I didn’t get the chance to have a relaxing time with her, maybe buy her dinner, I had to make a mad dash to Grand Central to give Jim his keys back so he could go home.

A second shoot was in order, but in a boom or bust economy we never had the chance. We had a good time working that night, both of us got something out of out shoot as it should be.

Rest with Peace at Last

Young red haired model, white top, against a old wooden barn.

It was with great sadness and shock I learned of the passing of one of my model. I will always remember her as a very talented, and bright person, I thought she had a great future. When I met her I really had to sell myself as a photographer for her. Over coffee I showed her my book, told her in general term what I wanted to shoot with her. I was amazed what a difficult sell she was, though I knew she was worth any trouble.

We agreed to shoot at a friend’s farm, the old milk barn. On the drive over I told her that I didn’t know if anyone would be there visiting. I told her that we might just end up having dinner that I cooked because I did not want to put on a show for anybody’s benefit. We took our time to warm up, for her to be comfortable with what I was shooting. Went the sun was the right position for the light that I wanted we started at the barn. I got her in the transparent dress that I had just bought for this shoot. At one point I had moved in for a tight shot, asked her to lean back against the barn. She just let herself drop back against those rough boards. Without thinking I reached to grab her, she was so tall I grabbed her lower back and buttocks. She shot me a dirty look for having touched her without asking, I told her quickly “it’s the dress…, I’m saving the dress! We both started laughing over that, and all was forgiven.

 

Black and white image, wooden fence , young model, leather belt, boots, wooden fence, other worldly, looking into camera.

 

Then over a vegetarian dinner I had made just for her we met the boy’s that lived there. They were on their best behavior, and drunk on moonshine. It was so funny to watching them both so impaired, yet so formal with her. But Taz the dog just wanted a taste of what I was serving.

About a month later we had a second shoot out there in the family graveyard with the lovely old wooden fence. The setting really appealed to her, we worked really hard to get the shots I wanted. We worked with a man’s shirt for the most part, I got her down to boots and a belt at one point. Dressed or not she carried herself very well, and with a fluid motion. Not shy in the least she carried herself with a grace and pose that belied her few years.

We had a falling out over some advice I gave her, she told me that she already had a father. I figured that after she had put on a few more years we’d manage to become friend’s again. But she never communicated with me again, over time I tried less and less. Then last weekend I was just curious to see what she was up to now. I expected great things from her in business and beyond. It was great sorrow I learned that she had taken her own life, then it all made a kind of sense. While very open about parts of her life she was very guarded about other parts. Those parts that caused her hurt and pain that I couldn’t comprehend.

Big City Model’s

 

My shooting life in Manhattan was split between commercial work, and shooting my own personal work. I love working with women models, my fondest day at the studio was have “go see” days. I would call the agency’s and ask for them to sent over there models to have a look at their books. Then all the up and coming models would show up our door. The photographer I work with had the pull and the studio to get them there. I’d lead these young kids back to were the interviews happened. We’d talk and tease with them, and have a great time of it.

I was able to get some of the women to pose with me too. Nudity wasn’t a big deal back then, after all this was New York, the big city. The willingness to get nude was sort of a prerequisite to shoot if asked. Many of these models had a willingness to get nude as long as they were treated with respect, and their personal bounds were met, not so much different than today. I for one did my part in meeting these bounds, I treated them with dignity, and respect…, I had wine and treats to eat.

So one evening I was working with a really excellent model, young and lithe. We shot some clothes stuff firsts, she was very fit and had movement to her body…, naturally I asked to show her figure off. She had brought a wonderful necklaces that served her body well. I remember her saying that she had decided no more nudes, and here she was nude. At the time I didn’t give it much thought, just showed her the Polaroids I had shot, told her how marvelous she looked. Quite like an Amazonian warrior I said about the necklace one.

Later after the film was processed and the contacts made I invited her over to see our work. I was so proud of the shots, and how she came across. She refused, said again how she had promised herself that no more nudes. No matter how I begged and pleaded she would not come over, and just see the work.

So these works are not for sale, they are meant to show what we got, I am very proud of this work. I have some hope, however vain it maybe, that she will see these finally. How she come across with dignity, and respect that I could put into these shots. To me her beauty, the way she carry herself with dignity make these images what they are.

Contemplating Future, Past

Nude woman, Black Material, Past, Future, Contemplating.

Pulling out of the darkness, and
into the light is what me must learn as
as we grow older.
The light represent one’s future,
the dark the past…,
more than less successful attempts.

We should learn as we grow,
the attempt is the key…,
if we do not attempt we fail as a person.
The darkness has it strength,
it’s weight.
It has the capacity to draw us back in its grip,
its hold over us.

Breaking that tug…, to live in the light,
to succeed,
to flourish,
and attempt again not matter the hurt.

That is the goal we all should struggle to attend.

New Year, New Model

Looking back with hope.

Starting off the new year with a new model at last. Getting a model when you can’t afford to pay anything till you sell is a real pain, it really cut down on your options. I had to wait for this lady for months while her life played out. However the wait was more than worth it as I think you will agree.

We had our first shoot some weeks ago, and she surpassed all my expectations. After some initial jitters she warmed up, we got some great stuff. I can’t imagine what it must feel like for a young woman to go to some man’s apartment, and get completely naked. How vulnerable you must feel, we had only talked about the shoot, and now here she was no matter that I knew a good friend of hers that had posed for me.

Of course one of the selling points is that I shoot film. As she has an interest in photography I explained what I was doing, how the meter worked. What information the meter was telling me, and how I was interpreting it to get what I wanted from that information. We then started with her poses, what I wanted to accomplish with them. We started off with her completely nude, so we’d get that out of her system.

I love working with older models, they are much more relaxed, and being nude gives them no place to hide. It’s a jolt to the system, facing any fears they may have, and overcoming them. Explaining what I am doing, how I am working on a particular look or feel, and why. That takes their minds off being nude for no reason. Treating their bodies with respect, and at the same time working with them to make them look their best. They are here to do a job, not for entertainment…, soon as they realize that we are both on the same page they can relax any fear that they may have.

So some of the poses we had worked, and some did not. Some we can revisit another time, we have already done another session to test some ideas. I expect the next shoot to be even better as we know each other better now. We have formed a creative unit to collaborate on ideas I have with the reality of what is possible. We can now work on the creativity of our projects with none of the fears. We are now a team working on the same goals…, creating art.

In the Family Plot

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.

Toughie

 

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.

Long Ago, Far Far Away

 

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.