I really wish more of my little studio sessions were as laid back and effortless as my day with Ruthie. Though this was essentially two friends getting together and just chilling out on a less than busy day. It allowed me some time to play around with my lights and take my camera for a walk. As the day quickly passed, we shared stories, listened to music, drank wine and smoked cigars. There came a point where she looked so relaxed and comfortable. A blissful moment that was shortly interrupted when she raised her head and told me how much she hated having her picture taken. It was a strange moment, considering how incredibly relaxed and natural she looked. The simple truth of the matter is she trusted me. She felt comfortable enough around me to allow herself to relax and feel beautiful. I was pretty humbled, to say the very least. You know, I’ve always loved taking more personal pictures of friends I’ve made along the way. Making new friends through the pictures I’ve taken seems even more important.
We were sitting at a dive bar on the Lower East Side one night drinking vodka and whiskey when I turned to Julie and said “One day you’re going to let me photograph you.” I had been friends with Julie for years and always thought she was beautiful. Though I had hinted at wanting to do some studio work with her in the past, she always shyed away from the subject saying “A lot of guys have asked or tried. I’m just not comfortable having a camera in my face”. About an hour later she turned to me, slammed her drink on the bar and barked “Yeah, let’s do it while I’m still young.”. After a few more shots we moved to the next bar and eventually planned our session.
I always loved Julie. We met while working together and quickly became friends. We had a similar dark humor that always made us click on all cylinders. I was in love with her sense of adventure and strong sense of independence. Whenever she had some off the beat idea to try something different, she’d ask me gingerly. My response was usually an excited “Let’s Do It!”. One of the best offers was when she took me to see the Dalai Lama speak at Rutgers. It was never a dull moment with her.
The day of the shoot she showed up with a sense of confidence I had seldom seen. The more we talked and took pictures, the more confident an intuitive she became. There was a certain layer of beauty and aura that I had never gotten from her before. I had not done many nude sessions in recent years but I honestly feel she opened the door for me to shoot many more in the future. She also taught me a lot about making the model as unaware of the camera as possible.
I haven’t seen much of Julie recently. People come in and out of your life. I just know in my heart that one day the phone will ring and the person on the other end of the line will have another great adventure to share.
Believe it or not there are people out there that absolutely hate having there picture taken. The mere sight of a camera sends them into panic and hysteria. The most relaxed and chill person can fall into an anxiety ridden state with just the mere thought of the idea. I have seen this happen time and time again. Tuesday afternoon I was witness to such when Jenn came to have some headshots taken for her new business endeavor. As she rounded the corner she smiled and waved hello like a lifelong friend. As we met I couldn’t get over how beautiful and stunning her eyes and smile were. She was sweet, friendly and warm. In our initial phone conversation she told me how much she hated having her picture taken but I couldn’t possibly gauge what she meant until that time actually came. As I sat her down and began to raise my camera the cracks began to show…..and quick. Her shoulders stiffened and her eyes took on that of a dear in headlights. I tried everything under the sun to relax her but none of it came close to working. I had taken as many as five pictures when she called out “Are we done?” while reaching for her checkbook. I told her I couldn’t take her money if I didn’t actually do my job. When I suggested taking some shots outside it seemed to only make things worse. By all means she was one of the coolest people I’d come in contact with in a while. But when that camera came out, it was over. I was able to get some shots but nothing that even came close to portraying how truly beautiful this woman was. Surprisingly, Jenn contacted me later and asked if we could give it another try. I was more than happy to oblige and will have the pleasure of seeing her again on Friday. Jenn, if you’re reading this I’m just going to tell you something a friend told me a few days ago, “Chillax, it’s all good.”