An Unsettling & Freckled MSunday, September 25, 2011
On October 17, 1995 I photographed a young woman with red hair and lots of freckles in my studio. It had all started a week before when my friends Patrice, Ian and I had been having coffee at a fashionable downtown café called Zubeez. I watched a very beautiful server and I suddenly had an idea. I told my two photographer friends that we would find someone to photograph and that we would do so independently and most secretly and then we would have a one evening show in my studio. I called the lovely server to our table and I told her of our idea. She indicated she was interested. We made a date for the four of us to meet at a studio where we would put all our cards on the table.
When we met at the studio (the last time all four of us would be together until the opening about a month hence) I told the lovely server, “We are going to photograph you individually and probably in more than one session. You are not to tell any of us what the other is doing. If at any time any of us ask you to undrape (take it all off) you are to accede to the request. If you have a problem with this, tell us now.”
After the little speech I took a picture of the four of us.
The first session was one of getting to know each other. I used different poses and lighting schemes I my studio and I never asked her to change her clothing or to remove it. I wanted to go at it slowly. It was only in the second and third sessions in my garden and basement bathroom that the clothes were removed. Some of the nudes I took of M are the finest I ever shot. In particular there are ones where I used my mother’s antique Mexican red rebozo.
After the show (we were all indeed surprised as to what the other had done with M that we decided to continue with the series and we photographed two other women this one and this one) I made the mistake of displaying one of M’s photographs (a lovely nude) at a rave party. A couple of days later I received a scary letter from her lawyer (“Ignore this at your own peril,” it ended) that instructed me not to use the photographs for anything and that I was strictly prohibited from even displaying them in my portfolio. I ignored the letter but I never did display the pictures in public again.
I have ambivalent thoughts on the whole affair now. Just from looking at the pictures of the first session I am pleased to see that again I had taken sort of unglamorous but quite honest pictures of M. Just by simply darkening my scans and showing in more detail her freckles the pictures seem to be edgier and grittier.
I am confident enough in my own talents to indicate here that even if other photographers have taken her pictures and some of these have been in Strattford posters, I have my honest doubts that anybody ever captured her gamut of expression (although the ones here are mostly very serious as I picked only those) as well as I did. I am also sure that my nudes of her will be the best ever taken of her and perhaps some day she just might change her mind and seek me out.
On the other hand M might see this blog and I might just have to suffer the consequences at my own peril!