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.

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.

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

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

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.

Afternoon at the Farm

 

I’ve been asked more than a few time if I worry about working with nude models alone. To tell the truth I have never given it much consideration because of the way I work my craft. I offer references, give the model a straight forward idea my style of work, now I give the access to my website so they can see what I shoot, and them what to expect. I am very welcoming to significant others check me and the studio out so that everyone is comfortable. I make it clear before any shoot happens that I expect to work with my model’s undivided attention.

For my part I am very respectful of the models rights, and my responsibility. When I work with a nude model I realize that their personal space is much more important for them. To date I have never had a model who even thought I have done anything in the least bit inappropriate. Once I had a younger model who I plan to work with at a friend’s farm. On the way over I told her that I wasn’t sure who else would be there, I assured her that she was not going to be put on any shows for anyone. That if worst came to worst we’d have the nice meal I had brought, and just call it a day. At the risk of being called paternalistic, I wanted her to feel at ease. That’s is the problem though, the same preparations I use to make my models comfortable, are the same tactics predators use to lull their victims into a false sense of security.

Then there is the matter of the release, I want my model or subject to see everything I have captured before they sign. I want for them to be comfortable with what we’ve gotten, after all we work in a collaborative manner. Many times I work without a release at all, preferring to be able to get in touch with the person, tell them what and were I want to use our image(s). Since I use real film this can get quite expensive, a few times the model decides to not sign. Those few times the whole shoot has been an expensive waste of resources. I can only use the images for display only, no sales are permitted, really that is fair. Now not everyone works as I do, my models work with the anticipation of sales to follow. My work is sold in galleries, or used in books, my website, or I donate it to various organizations that foster a positive sex culture.

Again not everyone works this way, but I feel very strongly about my images, and the way I work. I work very hard at my craft, I get some beautiful images in the pointillist manner. I am proud of my work, the people who chose to work with me…, how could I not take the steps necessary to make it a beautiful experience for all.