Assisting 100 pt 0

Black and White image,full length shot of a young Caucasian woman wearing a grown.

My first gig as an assistant was gotten for me by my mother. After I had tried working with my mother, doomed from the start. Working with my mother doing collections was hell, she found a small pillow in the closet that she accused me of storing there. Again and again I told her it wasn’t mine, she thought I’d had girls up to her office. One of her girl’s finally said it was hers, I turned on my mother and told her to apologies. I told her that the word she was trying not to say was I’m sorry; no apologies I walked out.

B & W image, late 1960's, high school friend, abandon night club, golf course, female model, white pants suit.

I wanted to do theater work for the school, and since working with the AV Department junior school, now I would be working on school plays. But that wasn’t good enough for the dear, I got the word just as I was about to climb up into the catwalks on a newbie the tour. I did not know what I wanted to make my life work, but I’d know it when I found it, it sure as hell wasn’t working in a 9 to 5 environment. So to make it up to me she found a friend who had a photographer brother. So began a life long obsessions.

Young, dark haired, night gown, old house in the countryside, overgrown weeds.

I had seen the ​​​​​​​​​​​​​”Blow-Up”, the movie loosely based of the English photographer Harry Benson I believe. I learned very quickly that as a lowly assistant, I was not the one to roll around with models. But as the owner of a set of keys to the studio it had it’s benefits. I have always found a draw to the human face, female faces in particular. Throw in an old building with a window I will find a model. So my knowledge of the basics of photography and the darkroom got me hired.

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

Along with my basic knowledge, and knowing how to answer a phone got me an introduction to the duties of an assistant. Clean the toilet each morning then sweep the place, and making coffee. As for shooting that was accomplished with the aid of hot lights, so I needed to know how to change a HOT light bulb. This was seat of your pants photography, most was daylight setups. I learned how to develop film as well as prints. Many long hours spent over rolls of 35mm film both Back and White and of Transparencies. One summer he hired another guy to work there as well, that summer we cleaned the drum drier canvas belt. That included putting the damn thing back together with the weight roller to provide tension.

Latnia young womam, sitting in window, black hair, head and shoulders, Black and White images.

We both got press passes that allowed us onto the grounds to Hemisfair, the state’s attempt at a worlds fair. The extra bonus was that having a press pass allowed us into the Press Club just for journalist. They allowed all journalist to drink, though the state did not. Same thing for the main Press Club just for journalist and their guess’s. But the real draw of the press pass was access to places without paying the admission to. We used those passes for all they were worth. We practically lived at Hemifair that summer.

Black and white image, silhouette of a woman, abandon house, overgrown weeds and sky.

But all things come to an end, I soon left the photographer I worked with, went on to the local newspaper.

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 4

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


Latnia young womam, sitting in window, black  hair, head and shoulders, Black and White images.

I want to speak about my van in the manner of John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charlie”. It was a VW van that had been outfitted by the previous owner from a camper he had found. It came with a closet, pull out bed, another seat/storage area, and a water-tank/refrigerator. I had packed my foot trunk with all the things I would need for my new life. Some years before, during the Cuba Missile Crisis my father bought a camp stove, I had gotten a sleeping-bag, and a survival inflatable boat. Of course I had packed my cameras, and all my other photo gear so I was all set for my trip/new life. The van was outfitted with Wonder bread polka dots curtains.

Black and White image, young Caucasian woman, closeup of her face, sitting in a window.

My only real decisions was did I have the determination to make the move to Canada. The only thing I knew about the palace was in Montreal had a world’s fair that year. I figured that I would learn French at the very least if there is were I’d settled. Part of my cover story was I wanted to see some of my country before I was drafted into a war that I didn’t support. I had made up the cover story to cover my tracks if anyone asked about my reasons for going. I knew that if I did this there was no turning back once I cross that border, that I’d be stuck in my decision for possibly the rest of my life. At twenty-one (21) there was a lot of years left to me so I had to make an important decision.

Black and White image,full length shot of a young Caucasian woman wearing a grown.

As I prepared to leave Virginia Beach I assessed the time I had to get to my next stop. The bulk of my trip was done in the hard driving I had survived. The remaining state were compressed so that I had some time to explore site I had noticed in the area. Top of my list was a telescope array I had seen, I figured it had something to do with NASA. So down a lonely road I drove to a site that was ripe with these dishes that were point up in the air, no trespassing sign abound. I walked around the fence tried for a better view, but then it occurred to me that I was probably doing something that would bring the cops down on me. As I headed back in the direction I had come a jeep full of soldiers came driving up to give me the once over. But they didn’t stop me and soon I was back on the highway heading north.

Again this was back in 1969, the Democratic Convention riot had just happened, the city of Philadelphia was not high on my list of places to be. Neither was New York city, I was intimidated to drive there. So I figure that Trenton was okay because I knew I’d have a place to park my van at least. There were two brothers who were family friend who had a place there, they were kind enough to put me up at their motel. I stayed for about two (2) days to rest and relax, I remember getting a packet of Oreo cookies and milk. I attempted to try New York, but all I did was buy gas for my van and drove on to Rhode Island.

Black and White image, young Latina woman, sitting in window light, tight shot of face and hair.

Providence was a sleepy little seaport town then with cobbled streets and narrow roads then. I drove around to reconnoiter, drove past the church and on out of town. Found a park were I could walk around and a place to park were I wouldn’t be disturbed. Made some dinner and settled down for a good night. In the wee hours of the morning I heard tap, tap, tap on my side window, a voice call “You can’t sleep here”.

Canadian Sojourn Part 3

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


Next morning I woke to clear sky so I made a leisurely breakfast coffee. Because I was safe from the cops, I took my time getting started, had coffee and set my little home ship shape before I left the camp. I had read John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley” a couple of times to make sure I had the rule of the road down pat. In my own travels I mean to follow I-10 into Jacksonville, then highway A1A north, back then in 1969 it wasn’t much a road, but it followed the ocean right up where I mean to go as my jumping off point.

B & W image, late 1960's, high school friend, abandon night club, golf course, female model, white pants suit.

So off I drove into the future, I took a left at the junction and found the blue line roads of fame. Though small towns America I drove with a vengeance, stopping only for fuel for both the van and me. By sunset I started looking for a spot where I could grab some rest for the night. Virginia Beach has some picturesque spots on the beach, so I was hoping to hear the ocean all night. But before I could settle in a cop pull in and informed me that sleeping there would get me arrested. So off I drove in search of a place for the night and fuel for the van, seeing is how I had good luck in New Orleans. Luck held and the owner said that I could park the van for the night just off his pumps.

After I wonder at my luck with gas station owners, it wasn’t until later I found out from a mother that I reminded her of her son who was off traveling. She had the idea by helping me just maybe her son would find help from good strangers as well…, pay it forward it became to be called. I would later find in National Parks all sorts of kind people willing to help me out in all my endeavors. I became the living embodiment of the lost sons everywhere, of course I did not tell a soul of my real intentions.

Black and white image, late 1960's, female model in white dress.s

Even though the real south where I expected trouble, I found kind people. That may have been because I was not staying, just passing through. The late 60’s was a horrible time in America, sort of like the time we are going through now. In Alabama I found, you guess it, a kind gas station owner who warned me off filling my water tank that the water he offered had a bad sulfur content before I filled my tank. In Georgia and again in Florida I saw my first chain gangs with only black inmates. I knew then that I didn’t want to spend time in there, luckily I was passing through and made no contact with the local police. As I was on a mission I had places to be and people to see, I could not tarry.

My next stop was in Trenton, New Jersey, with some friends of my mother who own a small motor court where I would rest for a few days.

Black and White image, late 1960's, female model, swims suit, on a log. 

Sunlight in the studio!

Jean

Red hair, sunlight, nude, nudo, michael vasquez, michaelvasquezart.com
Sunlight in the studio with Jean Dawson.

Last December Jean Dawson came by to play with the sun.  Then my image processing program decided to freeze up on me, Jean’s friend came  over to fix it.  Now I got to get back to my sojourn, but first I  have so adjustments to work out.

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.

Global Virus

Young woman, cape, vampire before a tomb.

 

In this age of global viruses I have shut down my photography for the time being. I have decided to stay at home, now going my seventh (7) week of staying in. Time to take stock of where I am, where I’ve been, and where I am going.

First of all I want to thank the women who grace my pages, without your kind indulgences for my art I would have nothing to show. Each of the women who work with me are very special to me, and my work. That I value you individually is beyond question. I strive to capture what is the essence of womanhood though you. Sometimes I fall woefully short, sometimes right on the mark.

Now to the virus…, it’s so sad. Because I am an older gentleman I have organizations that deliver to older people. One nice sunny day, while I was waiting for them to deliver, I was listening to the birds. A car drove by with the driver wearing a face mask, the people delivering my food also wore mask and gloves. The new reality of life for those of us lucky to live in the so called civilized world. I too had glove, and asked them to leave the box on the porch. We each stayed the required length apart.

Other than that I have had only visitor who rarely come into my apartment. Last weekend for a change of scenery I went with her shopping, but stayed in the car. Who would have ever thought that sitting in a parking lot could be such fun. Seeing all the mask covered people going about their chores, a few wearing stretch pants, fewer still looked good in them. My first real glace at people in over 5 weeks, and all wearing masks.

My how the times have changed!

The above image was shot in the late 60’s, she was a girl from my high school.  Married her high school sweetheart and died early in a car accident.  She was bright and very statuesque.  The first time we shot together I was so nervous I almost dropped a lens I was trying to screw into my camera.  When she noticed I tried to cover by saying I was just deciding on which lens to use.

Ruby in the Churchyard

Female model, churchyard, wooden fence, redhead, shirt.

I saw this eloquent post the other day, and I just had to share it with you. With the permission of the author, and kindred soul The Nude Blogger, find her here. She detailed how the reality of being nude is not an invitation to act badly with another person. I always treat my models with the utmost respect and dignity in any situation.

Attraction is still normal in a non-sexual nude setting. This doesn’t just switch off because we see the words ‘non-sexual’…nor should this be expected of you!
So, just like nudity, attraction, too, is human nature. Meaning, yes, it is just as natural. To deny attraction would be defying human instinct.

It all comes down to the way in which you conduct yourself, should you find yourself in this situation. Clothed or naked, consent and respect is always a MUST! Act with sensitivity and respect your fellow nudists.
What is expected is that you approach the matter with utmost respect, integrity and dignity.

Whilst attraction is human nature…there is a difference between attraction and objectification and sexualisation. You can be attracted to people without objectifying them. You can appreciate someone’s beauty without sexualising them. You can be attracted to others whether you’re clothed or naked…BUT! Being naked does not mean you have permission to be creepy, perverted or inappropriate. Nor is it an invitation for you to project your energy in a way that would make others feel uncomfortable! Social nudity is NOT a green light for unsolicited remarks and behaviour. NUDITY IS NOT CONSENT! Nudity DOES NOT mean somebody is ‘asking for it’…let’s get that f*cking straight!
Boundaries and consent are still a must.
Nudity does not, and should never, disregard or compromise this.

Just because there is nudity involved does not mean it is of an exhibitionist nature, nor does it mean that people are asking for sex, nor to be sexualised…make the distinction!

My mixed naked yoga classes are a prime example that you can practice non-sexual nudity and have it empower and liberate you…and they are a great success because there is a mutual understanding that it is not a sexually-charged event so as to create boundaries and safety.

So, it really is in the way in which you conduct yourself and approach the matter. This makes all the difference. It is not about whether or not you’re allowed to be attracted to others in a non-sexual social nude setting. As I’ve reiterated…attraction is natural, normal and even expected.

Burr Oak and Nipple.., Oh My!

 

 

I’ve been lucky enough to have a very unique model to work out ideas with. I have known her for some 10 years now. She is a friend who comes over not nearly enough, something that gives us lots to talk about. I love having her drop by to just talk. I get the chance to talk about what I am working with, and why, and what kind on concepts that interest my creative mind now; enough that it would warrant a test shoot.

Then the real play gets started, the day I finally get to see my ideas. I have boxes and boxes of things that I’ve collected: all things connected to nature, with all their own complexities; the curves, the shapes that only nature can make, with it’s cracked seedpod. Or the simple leaf, attached or loose, picked in summer or winter. Or the ageless rock…, spied off city-trail, sitting in the dirt.

The rest is parked in this brain of mine, filed under: Imagination. That little rock sat on my desk for a long time before I understood what its purpose was. The Burr Oak cap told me very clearly what it was for. It was up to me to find, and pursuade a model to let me show her what my idea might look like. Enter friend and muse!

As I look at some of the really great work of people in my business, I feel a sense of immense pride to see such excellent work. However, the models are not getting enough credit, in most cases, no recognition at all. I tell all my models that I could not do what I do without them. Otherwise, I’d have the pretty props and gorgeous lighting that no one can see. I quickly follow with assurance that they do have the ability to stay anonymous if they so choose.

So a peek behind the curtain with the ever lovely and understanding Jean Dawson.