René In 54Wednesday, December 08, 2010
My discovery of the narrative finally released me of the pressure that I felt as a photographer (a portrait photographer) of taking the ultimate portrait of a person. This ultimate portrait would, in one picture, in a photographic nutshell, reveal to those who might look at the picture the inner working’s of the person’s mind/personality.
I soon found out that five pictures told a better and more complete story of a person that one single one. Also when I had a game plan of taking five pictures, that strong central picture, more often than not, would appear like magic.
It was in June of 1997 that I received a phone call from Malcolm Parry who told me, “I have met René and you must photograph her. She will do 'anythin'”. Mac explained that Rene was a fetish enthusiast. I will admit that then, and now I have no clue as to what photographic fetish is all about.
In the mid 80s Vancouver Magazine assigned me to photograph classical guitarist Leona Boyd who had hired a new manager, no less than Bruce Allen. The art director, Chris Dahl asked me to do a sexy re-branding of the guitarist who wore long dresses and with her long blonde hair always looked like she had a unicorn parked outside. I remember going to stores in Vancouver looking for leather skirts or dresses. The only leather dresses I found were severe and conservative Austrian stuff designed for women over 50.
I went to the last remaining place in town, (at that time) which was a store called the Leather Ranch and it was next to the Granville entrance to the Orpheum. When I asked them if they had any rubber or latex wear the looked at me as if I were a pornographer and told me that I would be able to find such stuff in LA but certainly not in Vancouver. In the end I left with a leather reproduction of an outfit based on something that Tina Turner had worn to show off her legs. Vancouver in the mid and late 80s was simply not a fetish or latex kind of place.
When René entered my studio she pretty well told me she was not prepared to do “anything” and that meant she was not going to take her clothes off for me no matter my reputation or questionable photographic talent.
When she informed me I sort of lost interest and made the motion of taking pictures, 54 to be exact. I never saw René again and I filed my negatives and contact sheets. I did not look at them with any kind of detail until yesterday. I found that the negatives had not been properly fixed and they had all kinds of streaks in the gray background I had used. I will have to re-fix them to stop any further deterioration.
I also noticed that René was an excellent model and I was much too stupid to notice.
Here I will put in sequential order the pictures as I took them, from the very first one (a picture that did not bode well then for any progress) to the last one. Of course these 13 pictures only represent the ones that I liked best within that sequence.
It was also by the mid 90s that fine tuned the use of 2x3 ft soft box, no hair light and I simply worked with the relationship of my subject and the distance to my back gray studio wall. Depending on how I moved my subject (closer to the wall that background was light gray and further away it became close to black or black) I could affect the overall look of my sequences and make them look uniform. I would then lock my camera in position and the only change would be the costume/clothes used and the pose.