The Persistence of BeautyMonday, May 13, 2019
My writer friend John Lekich is an old-fashioned aesthete from that last century even though he is much younger than I am. He often comments on the photographs of beautiful women that I might include in one of my blogs. A persistent question is this one, “Which are the most beautiful women you ever photographed? “The last time he asked (not too long ago) he then added, “I don’t know if you will want to answer it.”
He has a point. When people come to my garden and ask me what my favourite rose is, my answer varies. It could be one in bloom or one that stopped blooming (“You should have seen it last week.”) So my answer will vary depending on the season.
I think the same applies to answering which of all the women I have photographed is my favourite. It varies depending on the season.
But here are two women, always on my list, whom I believe will help Lekich understand the concept of beauty and the burdens attached to it.
Both Virve Reid and Bronwen Marsden are beautiful beyond belief. They share a persistent problem that comes with women that have such beauty.
Marsden once told me that in the rest period between shoots as an extra for a film that was at a large swimming pool, she was reading the Odyssey (I would guess in some sort of Circe/attracting swimwear) she was persistently hit on by men. She then asked me to take photographs of her that would deminish her looks. I failed.
When she told me that, I was reminded of reading this advice (quite a few years ago and perhaps in that last century) in Esquire. It went as follows, “When you approach a lovely model tell them how intelligent you think she is. She will then be yours.”
Reid whose face and red hair ( and a voice that could launch ships full of blind men) compete with a voluptuous body decided to take it upon herself to apply dramatic makeup and march me to a beach that had black sands.
I had a hard time taking her photographs. She was scary. Only now I understand her motive. Like the photographs of Marsden that I shot with an ultra-sharp film that would not flatter anybody except those who are perfect (is that her case?) my only conclusion is this one: