Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Somehow, There I Was...

I recently had the chance to shoot two very well established artists and models in my little studio. Mariah Carle has been an art model for many years and for several years has been making her own wonderful photographs as well. She lives here. V Nixie has been traveling the country for a few years, supporting herself with modeling for commercial and artistic endeavors.

Studio shooting is so weird. On the street, I am a wanderer in the world as it is, among the people as they are, waiting for the moment and then flicking the shutter. It is passive, in that I do not try to rearrange the elements, but the process of observing and maneuvering is very active.

In the studio, the first question is always, "So what would you like me to do?"

Both of these shoots presented emotional challenges for me. Each of these models has stood before countless photographers and presented whatever face was required for the shoot, but my quest has always been for authentic connection, for a photograph that feels like a moment alone with its subject. I honestly don't think I have the skills to shoot models the way they are shot by those other photographers. If I am going to come up with anything remotely meaningful, it will have to be coming out of my odd skill set, which has nothing to do with reflectors and strobes and soft boxes but everything to do with engagement and honesty. I like models because they are physically uninhibited, but the challenge of establishing a feeling of emotional openness and authenticity is real.

I wonder, when an experienced model turns on her "engaged" persona will I have close engagement, or just a photo of what close engagement would look like if it was there? 

I was very touched by my friend Ken Mierzwa, also a close friend of Mariah's, who wrote of my set, "The thing that amazes me.... she's been photographed by about a zillion photographers....  And yet you found a way of photographing her that's just a little bit different than anything else I've seen."

Well, here's what I got.

Mariah Carle

V Nixie