Here’s a life hack: dont ever tell me an interesting tidbit about yourself and expect that I won’t want to photograph it.
I have an obsession with photographing interesting.
So that’s what happened when my friend Dave told me he used to pose nude at the college for art students.
Not a lot of men are comfortable in front of the camera, and even less are comfortable nude. Praise Jesus For such an opportunity!
I needed him for my portfolio (which is 99.9999% women).
Of course he said yes. Who wouldn’t want to work with me? Who wouldn’t want to strip down (with the possibility of being drenched in fake blood), be yelled at and asked to do awkward things? Nobody! Because as hard as my photo shoots are to get through, the end results speak for themselves.
When Dave came over for the shoot he brought his confidence and his friend Jim Beam. Perfect.
The great thing about my job is that I’m able to see past the fake smiles and what people try to hide. I make it my objective to shoot the expressions in-between the posed shots. Those tiny moments when real emotion seeps out.
Posed is nice, but pensive is better.
It’s taken me years to develop the skills to be able to bring these expressions out of people. The right questions need to be asked, the right tone, the right words. It’s a unique formula that I am still developing. The result…..
…breathtaking. (Lets all take a moment to pat me on the back. Come on. Don’t be shy)
Dave has a beautiful soul and I wanted to capture that.
I have these moments during a shoot where I completely leave the world around me. My brain automatically takes control over the technical jargon that I’ve spent years and years jamming into my head (Don’t forget the rule of thirds, ISO, depth of focus, shutter speeds, apertures, angles, lighting etc etc). I’m glad my brain doesn’t need much focus for that stuff, because it leaves space for the artist in me to come alive. For me to become the character I want to portray.
And while I was shooting Dave, my brain ran absolutely wild with ideas. The mood shifted. And suddenly I had a story I wanted to tell.
“Don’t freak out” I told him. “I have an idea”.
I am so grateful to him for not ruining my vision with awkwardness, and for not questioning my professionalism. Bless him for following my directions so perfectly (even when I was slightly manic).
Pretend you hate me. Pull my hair. Put your hands on my throat. Pretend you love me. Don’t worry about the pain. Squeeze my arm. Perfecto!
I become quite bossy when I have a vision.
But Dave didn’t actually need too many instructions. As though being naked hieghtened all vulnerability and he was standing there with such raw emotions only inches under his skin.
This shoot could have gone south a bajillion times over (I mean, come on), but Dave’s natural theatrics came through and we were able to tell a beautiful story. These photos leave so many questions unanswered. They leave you feeling split open, melancholy (Hi Ali!), self righteous, angry. All the good feelings. All the bad feelings. All of them. And if I can do that, then I did my job. People say art needs to SPEAK. I say NAY!! ART NEEDS TO SCREAM. ART NEEDS TO SLAP YOU IN THE FACE. ART NEEDS TO LEAVE YOU BLEEDING. Because how else can you confront those emotions? Art, baby, art.
My Aunt Zoila tried hard to get me into modeling when I was younger. That was until I found my calling behind the camera, and a style that might have looked a tiny bit out of place in a Sears ad. But I suppose I could be called both. I enjoy taking self portraits, I love conveying emotions in my pictures. Lately I’ve been trying to find models other than myself (I’m sure my readers are getting tired of seeing my face over and over again). But its nice to jump into a photoshoot every once in a while knowing I can put into it exactly what I need. Nicer still is to find people who can throw me such raw emotions, especially knowing what I usually put my models through.
P.s. I need to learn how to hide my shutter release remote better. You can see it in almost every picture! *face palm*