Sasha Minx - A Presence In GrainWednesday, January 02, 2013
Sailors, who are away on land, after a time, lose their sea legs. To regain them they must ship out and after a few hours they get them back and their sense of balance is restored. Their feet adjust to a constantly shifting deck.
The same applies to photographers. They have and lose “sea legs” except that I would call them “camera legs”. To keep your camera legs you must be constantly taking pictures.
Some months ago I told my wife I was going to go backstage at a Neverland Burlesque performance to shoot pictures. She said nothing. By the time I told her I was going to my third performance (Neverland Burlesque has a show on the third Saturday of every month) she grew alarmed and I had a hart time explaining my justification. Imagine her face when I told her that I was going to the fourth one back on December 15 and that I was taking along our 15 year old granddaughter and the former Canadian Poet Laureate, George Bowering.
I had a hard time justifying the four times in plain language except to say that it meant I would be clicking the shutter of my camera back stage to keep my camera legs.
Each time I used a different camera scenario and varied the kind of lighting I used. The first time I only relied on my 3G iPhone but resorted to a good compact studio light for the other occasions.
The second time I was privy to the first burlesque performance (and simultaneously singing with the Blood Alley Quartet) of a young Russian girl by the stage name of Sasha Minx. I caught her again in the third outing but she was not around for the fourth.
I have photographed many people in Vancouver since I first arrived here in 1975. I have photographed pretty girls, lovely girls, beautiful girls, ugly girls, attractive girls, striking girls, thin girls, fat girls, curvy girls, flat-chested girls, tall girls, short girls and girls of all nationalities and sexual preferences. I can assert here that I can note when a subject of mine, in this case the Russian girl of this blog, has a particular kind of presence that makes her special and different.
I remember some years ago when I was present at a beauty pageant at a strip bar (the Drake Hotel) and the girl I thought would win did not. She was in tears. I went up to her and tried to console her by saying, “The girl that won was very pretty. You lost because you are beautiful.” And that was indeed the case. The judges (idiots in my opinion) had voted safe and pretty.
When I first saw Sasha Minx she was all nervous. I enquired why this was the case. She bluntly answered, “ I have to sing with a live band while I am taking most of my clothes off and I don’t want to trip over the microphone.” The impresario was worried that Sasha Minx, at age 21, looked a lot younger. Neither should have worried as Sasha Minx was a success even though as a newbie she really did not have a proper outfit or the “correct” pasties. In fact she used a criss-cross of black electrical tape. I believe this is to become a trademark, a part of her show, as she always dresses in black. She has a strong voice in the lower register.
This presence is in evidence in a long suit of spades in the few photographs I have taken of her back stage, before she does her act, and right after when most of the clothes are off.
Part of the reason could be the use of film and lighting which is my particular technique. Two of the pictures here were the result of a roll of Kodak T-Max 400 which I shot at 1600 ISO but inadvertently processed at 800 ISO. The negatives are under exposed (they needed one more minute in the developer). The underexposure amplifies the grittiness of the film grain and makes Sasha Minx look like perhaps a cross between the regal Anastasia and a down-and-out former courtesan of the Czar’s court. In a film she could play the daughter of the Czar or a lowly prostitute.
The look of the pictures here comes from over-manipulation of the scanned negatives with Photoshop’s shadow/highlight setting. When abused the green tone seeps in. The fake 35mm film edges (even though my shots are indeed genuine 35mm film shot with a Nikon FM-2 and a 50mm lens) come courtesy of Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 frames.
My iPhone 3g at the Neverland Burlesque
The Mason and Hamlin Organ at the Russian Hall
A Newbie and a Seasoned Performer
Neverland Burlesque at the Russian Hall
Cute, dainty and sexy