Canadian Sojourn Part 10

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


But there was a deeper life there in the confines of the park. So too I had deeper questions than school coming up. That I was headed north to Canada, that I would be taken a step that I could not take back. On one check-up with my mom I arraigned to have the show of my work at the bank sent to me. In another I learned officially that I was to be drafted. I told my mom to tell them at the draft office that I would wait till after Labor Day traffic to head back. Even then it would take me a week to get back to San Antonio.

For myself I was buying time to figure out were to go in Canada. All that I knew of the place that it was cold in the winter. That the world fair was held in Montreal, Quebec were they spoke French. I also had heard that they had welcome Americans fleeing the war in Vietnam, called the anti-draft league. This was the undercurrent to my life, played close to the chest. I didn’t want to kill someone who had done nothing to me personally…, the government had an entirely different view of things.

A/B

Meanwhile life unfolded each day, with the two older girls gone for the week, the little sister became the center of life back at their camp. She reveled to her task, she was queen of the ball now that her sisters were gone, when they returned a week later she was crushed. Like I said I had my own affairs to deal with. My portfolio of prints arrived via general delivery toward the last part of my stay. So it seemed have been settled, I would head north after Labor Day. Now was a day, a time of ending.

After my jaunt back to Boston I stopped at a diner that had just opened for the day. The poor waitress explained that the cook had overslept, the grill needed time to heat. I asked is there coffee? So I had time over my paper and never ending coffee to enjoy both. The drive back to the woods of Maine was very lighthearted. I even had a chance to think back to the hitchhiker’s I picked up on the way down. Got them at the hostel where we showered on the Appalachian Trial. Two nice Boston Babes who were so taken by my poems that they took to copying them by hand. Man was I ever pleased with myself and my quick mind, my way with words you can bet.

Back at camp the youngest daughter was shooting murderous looks at her sisters. I put a protective arm around her, told her to just wait a few years. There was the end of year feel to the party. The coming Monday was drive day, everyone would leave for another year, the park would be empty of all people.

We had a sing-a-long, I was even given a second beer by the dad as an alls forgiven, then it was time to pack up the cars. I was back at camp getting a second load when I heard a gut wrenching scream of pain from the cars. One of the dad’s had tripped over a post in the dark and twisted his back badly. So bad his family had to pack up that night and get him back to a doctor in the city.

 

The next morning I woke with a start, overnight people had left me with half empty coolers. All the treats and goodies that people take to camp outs. Plus all there left over beers, all sorts of beer. One by one my friends would stop and say goodbye and leave there goodies. I stayed on for a few days, during that time a nice Canadian family said that anytime I got out their way to be sure to stop by. That was the first I had heard of Nova Scotia.

 

 

Canadian Sojourn Part 8

Nude female model, white shirts, old wooden fence, color image, county side.

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


I really liked the people I met at the park, the kids, the families, and the older people who came too, but in a more sedate way. It was a good mix for a lonely traveler; people accepted me with few, if any questions asked. So I settled in, made friends if only for the short term. I met the whole families though their kids, often I was invited to dinner as well. One father invited me on a hike with this family, up Cadillac Mountain.

 

It was a nice climb though it took hours to hike. Little did I know the only reason I was invited was because the dad want me there if anything when wrong with him. I only found out on the way back down the mountain. The family staid at the mountain top while dad and I made the hike back down. The hike was nice both ways, dad opened up to me while I enjoyed the weather and the views. Wildflowers I’d never seen before, plus the mountain view were breathtaking. I was good and tired from the hike so I stayed in camp while he went back in car to get them.

 

 

Black and white image, red haired female model nude with a white shirt

It was a nice climb though it took hours to hike. Little did I know the only reason I was invited was because the dad want me there if anything when wrong with him. I only found out on the way back down the mountain. The family staid at the mountain top while dad and I made the hike back down. The hike was nice both ways, dad opened up to me while I enjoyed the weather and the views. Wildflowers I’d never seen before, plus the mountain view were breathtaking. I was good and tired from the hike so I stayed in camp while he went back in car to get them.

Black and white image, red haired female model transparent dress, front of an milk barn.

That was the lovely thing about the park, there were a whole range of people to meet and of course girls. By the right of owning a V-W bus, I became the natural go to guy for ride to the beach, or the mountain streams. One day I had a bus load of kids I was ferrying to the mountain so we could swim in stream of ice fed runoff; the sun never felt so good as after. Another day I was tasked with taking some guy to buy beer for that night’s party. As the only person to have a driver license that said I was 21 they told me that the beer would be free. The only fly in the ointment was that I had to carry each case out to the trunk by the owner of the store. That night at the party I heard a noise under me. I looked down and there was a girl crawling on the ground pickup beer caps; let me guess your a Virgo I said, yes she beamed.

Black and white image, red haired female model, old milk shed, spider top, headshot.
Michael Vasquez Art ©

*I recently learned that this model took her own life, she was in her mid-thirty, when she died. When I met her I felt that she was one of those people who would become very successful in her adult life. In the short life that she had she had made her mark on the world and brought great joy to those her knew her. Ruby I truly hope you have found peace at last.

Canadian Sojourn Part 5

Black and White image, profile of a girl, head to knee, in shadow and light.

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


I asked the cop if there was anyplace, like a state park that I could grab some sleep. He told about a state park that wasn’t far that I could try. I found the park without too much trouble and settled in for the night. Next morning the caretaker of the park came around to tell me no sleeping was allowed. I beat him to the punch and told him my coffee was almost ready and he was welcome to a cup, but I didn’t have cream or doughnuts. He smiled and said he’d bring some the next morning, then we sat and talked about his life. He said in the summers he worked there in New Port, winter he went to live in Florida. He got around to telling me about the state trooper who made his rounds at night, he would tell him that I was alright. Then the village was calling me to go explore the sites, so off I went.

Black and White image, young woman buttocks with shadows and light.

I drove back to that park I had tried to sleep in, walked out to the point to have a look around. I found a young blonde hippy chick was there at the point. I nodded a hello and kept walking. Next I drove out to the press site for the festival and presented the letter of introduction I had from the radio station. It said that the radio station was doing a report on the festival, to give me any consideration they could. Even thought I was a member of the press in good standing back in San Antonio, I could see that this was big time, with big coverage. They turned me down flat because they didn’t have time for small town press.

I just gave up for now, when back to the beach to look and to think. Now I had the time to think, to mull my options. Did I want to push them, was I going to Canada or not. The little blonde hippy chick was no where around by then. I did have a place to stay for the week, and a state trooper to check on me.., I was safe as possible. The caretaker and I began a morning ritual, coffee and a long talk. Next morning I went back to the point, there was the girl so I said hello. We stuck up a conversation, explored the beach at low tide. Her father lived there, she was visiting for the summer. Slowly she began to tell me more about herself, how her father would lock her out of the house for coming in too late.

Black and White image, young woman's torso , neck to knees in shadow and light

I got to drop her off at home, then went down to the church were all the kids gathered. I found the billboard where all the acts for the festival were posted. Most of the kid were sleeping on the grounds, but I had a very quiet hilltop view of the ocean to wake up to. That night I attended my first night of the festival. It was a lot of fun as you can guess, with plenty of pot going around to partake. I drove back to my hilltop, music filled my dreams and any thought of my responsibility to the radio station were soon forgotten.

To this day I still have reservations about not doing what I had agreed to, I reasoned that I was not getting paid anything, the letter hadn’t worked, and I was probably not going back for a long time, if not forever. Therefor I’d put out of mind till I was trying to get to sleep. My mind was on the festival and the hippy chick, although not necessarily in that order. I was slowly deciding that I was not going back to be drafted, this was my last chance to see the states.

Canadian Sojourn Part ll

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

Young, dark haired, night gown, old house in the countryside, overgrown weeds.
In the college l met a young woman who wanted to work on her modeling. Slim and hard working.

A sense of elation…, freedom greeted my passage through Houston as I saw the last sign announcing at I was leaving the city. As I opened a cold brew I was already drunk on my sense of freedom. I was entering the unknown, the furthest I had ever been from home. Now without a doubt I had entered an adventure. That adventure lead me to New Orleans late at night, I pulled into a gas station. I asked the station attendant who turned out to be the owner if there was a safe place to pull into to get some sleep. He very kindly told me that I could sleep there, but to be gone by morning. July was hot and muggy, filled with mosquitoes for a sweat drenched fit-filled sleep.

Next morning I found a lovely park where it was cool from the night air. My plan was to make coffee and hit the road, but a big burly cop pulled up and told me the park was closed. My water was just starting to steam so I told him real nice if I could make my coffee first and he would be welcome to the first cup. He sort of smiled and said I’d better not be there on his next round and left. Thus started my relationship with road cops all there to enforce the local rules, I would ask politely for their help then move off. All done in a self-serving spirit of not wanting to provoke a search, or other encounters. My greatest fears of the road was cops and bigots. Here I was a Mexican driving on their turf far from home. I was also twenty one (21) with a van that had some pot and a wad of hashes I had been given as a going away present. So I was always very pleasant and easy to deal with in all my encounters.

Black and white image, young dark haired model, wearing a shirt, overgrown weeds.
She was very open to my ideas and we work hard on our collaboration.

As I was on a short time fame to get to Rode Island for the folks festival and driving through the south, I knew that I would be in for some hard days. My next stopping point was in the panhandle of Florida at a state park I saw on a sign. I pulled in from a hard rain late in the evening, there I had the luxury of a place to sleep undisturbed, and bathrooms. I remember going to the washroom in my poncho, seeing myself in the mirror. Like a young medieval monk I looked back at myself in the bathroom mirror. Dripping water I could hear the thunder and see the lighting as I washed up for the night. My first real wash in two (2) days and nights. I fell into a deep sleep with the thunder as my background.

A word on the gear I had taken from home for my journey, I had a camp stove to make my coffee and hot meals. It was a two burner with flaps to keep out any wind, it served my purpose very well on my trip and beyond. Coffee became my peace maker, I’d offer fresh hot coffee to any official trying to run me off, or to buy a little time. Even served as a measure of common humanity to make it apparent to all that I was just like them in this regard. Just leave me in peace until I make and get coffee poured.

Black and white image, silhouette of a woman, abandon house, overgrown weeds and sky.
Sadly my escape to Canada cut short our work.


Esperanza

Black & white image, glass block wall, topless,black panties, blond leaning against wall.

Esperanza came into my photographic life when she was 22 years of age. She was a little firecracker of a young woman just entering her prime. So full of herself, willing to play, had that confidence only youth can bring. After that first shoot she came back to my apartment to have a bite to eat, and to talk more. She was the wife of a friend of a friend of mine, trying to find what she wanted out of life. Later as we did more shoots we went out for lunch after. She’d take my arm going into which ever restaurant we had decided to go to. All male eyes, and not a few female eyes were riveted on her, I felt so special to be the man who had her on his arm.

Color image, cute blond, winter wear, standing in front of a silo, last of winter greenery.

She was among the first women to tell me that shooting gave her all the benefits of an affair without all the compilations. She’d try different personalities to see what they looked like to others. It was fascinating to watch her as she changed from one personality to another. Like most of my models, she came without eating anything so she’d keep that slim profile. But when that alarm sounded, we had to get her fed ASP.

Black & White image, topless, long haired blond, in front of bedroom window, staring out window, wearing a white sarong.

Even after I moved to New York City, I’d let her know when I was coming into town, we’d setup a shoot. I’d try new lighting setups I’d seen in my work with other photographers on commercial shoots. Because she loved to play, we’d try different things…, but she was hesitant to shoot completely nude. I did get a few shots of her in the all together, but her heart wasn’t into it. To this day I don’t understand her reasoning as she always had a terrific figure made for photography. But I accepted her wishes, warned her when she was showing more than she want seen.

Color image, black panties, tight shot of black panties.

I feel that it is important to work with the models limits, not to cop those shots the model is unaware of. In return she has the confidence in our works to give me carte blanche in using the images we have shot. I also feel that its the right way to go, to have that trust that you honor in all my dealing with my models.

Lessons Learned

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This image was shot in 2003, the model and I had worked together for sometime, getting to this image. She was by no means a professional model, fresh off the farm literally. When we first met I remember a very determined young woman weaving her way over to where I was sitting. As I watched her approach I was thinking like a photographer, very tall (good), a little awkward, part of the fresh face appeal (good/bad), wanting her dream…, so very apparent. For me the training, investment in time, and not if, but how soon would she be able to do nude work.

We agreed to meet for coffee, she had an unfortunate incident that morning, and was stuck at home, could I meet her apartment? My book has my look, and the models are in various state of undress, I never hide who I am. She asked, “how do you get them nude)? I ask, is the simple answer. So we set our first shoot, what I wanted as a photographer was clear in her mind. We worked very well, any misgiving she might of had, vanished in the face of my professionalism. We became fast friends, I showed her every piece of film I shot, I treated her with respect, and her trust level grew. The odd misinformation about what I shot for me, and what I was doing for her. Had a newspaper piece in her hometown press about a parade that she had a part in as a Bird of Paradise. All novice miscommunication, and the trust grew.

 

Then came the shoot that changed everything. She was getting bored with what we were shooting, any fear of being nude had passed…, and she was ready for something more challenging. I suggested a far more intimate and personal pose. Her first answer was an emphatic no, but I could see the wheels turning in her head. This was the ultimate challenge fear/fact of life she was facing. That she had consider this type of image in her thinking both worried me, and pleased me that she was considering my suggestion. To my delight she said if she was going to do this, she had to be comfortable.

So I was privileged to photograph this special moment in this woman life, freely, and without question. Oh the questions she had, that flitted through her mind, overwhelmed by wave of pleasure, and alarm. Afterwards, small ripples of pleasure came across her, and I was thinking how special this moment was for me too. I had been privileged to photograph her doing something so intimate and special. That she was a “nice” girl, a “good” girl who could be so harmed if I was not to do the right thing by her. Say what you will, it was my responsibility to hold this lady, this girl from harm by exposing her.Now years after the fact we are great friends. She never posed for anyone this way after, we’ve had the time and distance to be able to put this shoot in perspective.  I have managed to assure her of confidentiality, and my respect for what she decided to share with me.

My work really is about a partnership, a working relationship that puts the model more in touch with what is happening to their images.  Each model works with me in a collaborative manner, and no one is paid for their time until I sell.  If they choose not to give me an email address, or choose to just ignore me, they have that right to privacy; all the rights and responsibility remain in place. I will do everything I promised getting them to pose for me in the first place.  I believe that it is the only way to work. Because of the special nature of the images I take of these women we have developed a special bond that endures to this day, as do the friendship we have developed.