A Photographer & His SubjectFriday, April 01, 2016
Much has been written about the high fashion model’s dependency on being told that they are beautiful and the best. They watch their weight and are in a constant stretch of uncertainty and self-deprecation.
Not much has been written about a similar situation with a photographer. When I am told I am good I do not know how to respond and I try to avoid seeming like I want more praise. It is not false modesty. It is just a simple fact that one is as good as one’s last good photograph.
Of late I have felt very much like one of those models. Like Snow White’s evil queen I might go into the guest bathroom of our little Kitsilano home and stare at my face in the mirror and think, “Am I through? Was I ever any good?”
As a photographer I have never really been sure of myself. On the night before and important photographic session I think of the equipment that might fail and what I must bring along to prevent failure. Some have told me that if I don’t worry the day before then I am simply cruising on past accomplishments.
Of late I sit in our sunny deck (when it is sunny) stare at my leafing roses and emerging hostas and I wonder what’s next for me. I go into my oficina and sit at the computer. I will stand up and go through my files. Are there any pictures that I may have missed?
The answer is a resounding, “Yes.” It has all to do with the folly of a photographic youth.
I will leave it to others to attempt to explain why it is that photographers and painters have an obsession with the undraped form. As an old-fashioned heterosexual male this means the undraped female form. In a not too distant past I took the pictures for a gay male calendar and I was told I was very good. I guess I took it as a challenge even if my heart (and lower countries) wasn’t into it.
In that folly of youth I can remember my first nude. I photographed my Rosemary with our eight-month-old daughter on her lap. They were both stark naked and Ale, that daughter of ours did the obvious thing on Rosemary’s lap. I must assert with pride that I was never tempted to photograph my pregnant wife in the shower, in the tub or anywhere!
From that first nude where I revealed nothing (no bits or parts) I went into a steep decline where my goal was to show everything as soon as possible. Since I have always been shy this has been a challenge. I was saved many times by women who would call me up and ask me if I were willing to take pictures of them that were “different”. I soon realized what they meant.
The technique that I have used (I am not so shy anymore) is Number 1 or Number 2. Number 1 is to slowly remove clothing in a slow strip. Number 2 is to start with nothing on. I tell my subjects that there are two ways to get into a very cold swimming pool. One is to do it slowly and painfully and the other is to jump in and attempt to ignore that initial cold shock.
As I look at the negatives of that folly past I can see that in some cases there are no photographs that I have taken of some subject of mine that could be posted on this blog without offending someone from the nipple police or the Inspector of the Lower Countries.
I remember that the photographs were taken in her home by a park on a very sunny day and I mixed my softbox with existing light. I remember that she had just finished an affair with a man who was a boxer. That explains (she did not tell me at the time) the white bandages on her hands. I forget the name of her dog. But I fondly remember that in the sunlight streaming in through the windows her face was like a madonna which oozed grace and femininity.
Best of all I managed to take a few pictures that I can place here without offense and which at the same time tell me that I ain’t bad. They tell me that these photographs were not a one-time occurrence and that I may have a few more in me.
If I can only find someone like Patrice, that is.