It’s not often when I ask a friend to model for me. Let alone, strip down to her bare essentials to help me tests ideas, such as boudoir set ups I’d like to do in the future. So when it came to asking one particular girl to help me out. At the very least, I was fully expecting a flat out rejection. When she surprisingly agreed. I did everything I could to make her and myself feel as comfortable and pressure free as possible. My goal for this particular session was to project a sense of warmth and intimacy. A mix of subtle lighting, varied backgrounds and a great rapport with my model friend. I think we did a great job. And while my setup will need some adjusting. I’m grateful for getting the opportunity to work with someone I enjoy spending time with.
Last week I took some time to work on the website to make it a little more professional and user friendly. I changed to Portfolio section, instead featuring separate pages for my Studio, Location and Boudoir work. I’ve also added a testimonial section and improved the contact page. In the coming weeks I’ll be adding a kids/family section while adding additional testimonials. I’ve linked the page below. Your thoughts and critiques are welcome here and privately. I’d love to hear from you.
Last week I did the kind of shoot that has become too few and far between for my liking. The truth is, with all the shooting I’ve been doing lately, not nearly enough moves me as much as that intimate one on one studio session. Recently I forced myself to sit down and write a list of all the things that make me happy and make me feel fulfilled in life. Things like family, friends and bulldogs were pretty high on the list. (Yeah, Bull Dogs) When it comes to things of the creative nature, I’d have to say studio photography is number one, two and three on my list. There is nothing that makes me more alive or feel as if I am at my very best. With all my faults, shortcomings and anxieties, when I am shooting I am at my very, very best.
This particular shoot was to test a new muslin I had picked up the week before at Calumet Photo. If you’re a follower of the blog you might know that I often find myself switching from seemless to muslin backgrounds with varied results. Though I had grown used to using seemless almost exclusively over the last year. (Black in particular) I wanted to look into working with the muslin. So with new studio gear in tow and no one to shoot I contacted a girl who I had worked with in a duo shoot the year before. Lucky for me she had some spare time and was ready to return for here solo.
When originally shooting with Jenn a little under a year ago I was able to steal away a few solo shots when the other girl was changing and managed to get some of my absolute favorite shots of the day. As beautiful as they were I knew they were only a very small sampling of what we could accomplish.
Jenn has three of the attributes I look most for in a model. Expressive eyes, lips and an awesome sense of humor. I was a little nervous about working with her again prior to that day due to the fact it had been such a long lapse in time since we last shot. However her sense of humor and nerdy qualities (That’s a compliment kids.) had us both cracking up from the get go. She even took the shoot to another level when she asked to revisit some shots she had seen of mine. The shoot instilled with me the fact that when I am a very, very lucky man. Thanks to Jenn for helping me to realize it.
I had all but given up on an idea that had started just months ago with a somewhat anonymous email from someone on Model Mayhem asking me if I could photograph her with another, yet to be picked woman. At the time I was intrigued by the idea. Yet, time passed and after a few close calls nothing ever materialized with her.
Weeks later I brought up the story while photographing Steph. I wasn’t eluding to anything. It was just small talk. Something worth bringing up in conversation. The idea seemed to intrigue her. Later she noticed a picture of Iya and said “She’s beautiful. Can you ask her if she’d shoot with me?” Her question was like that of a kid in a toy store eyeballing the biggest and most expensive toy. I thought “what the hell” and asked. Iya seemed curious and within a few days the three of us were in the planning stage of it. The day of the shoot I had everything ready. Chock full of ideas, energy and that James Damion angst. Then, less than an hour before the shoot Iya canceled. I don’t remember the reason but it was pretty serious. As big of a let down as it was the girls scrambled to reschedule for next week and my hopes were again high. The next week it happened again. This time it was Steph whose son came down with a fever. It was as if someone was playing a cruel joke on my emotions. In the weeks that followed it seemed Steph was more focused on making it happen then ever. While Iya seemed to be losing interest quickly. Me, I had all but given up. Different women were approached. Each one falling to the side like casualties on a battle field. Cancellations are a big let down. You’d be amazed at how hard it can be at times to get two naked women in the same room at the same time.
That’s when it happened. Steph calls and tells me they set a date. It would all take place the following weekend. “Sure, Sure.” I thought. “Don’t expect me to get excited.” I’d been there before. I’d been down cancellation road one too many times before. A few days before I confirmed with Iya and set a meeting place to pick her up. The day before I sent a message to confirm again. Last minute cancellations happen time and time again. Steph got back to me right away but Iya was nowhere to be found. To make things worse I had misplaced her number. Expectations were low but I’d go and wait at the time and place we set to meet. This time of course with a back up plan. I sat and waited with zero expectations for Iya to arrive. Already set for a day in Brooklyn. Suddenly, out of the mist of Avenue of the Americas I see a familiar face walking towards me. It’s Iya and she’s right on time. Shit was about to happen.
I give the word “GO!” to Steph and head back to meet up with her at my place. Within minutes Steph arrives and with child like glee asks “Are you guys excited or what?” Now, up until now I’ve been uncharacteristically calm and “Steady Spaghetti”. But as I realize this is about to happen I start to feel those nerves. Steph and Iya spill into the bedroom and begin the task of picking out what they’ll be wearing. Like the scene in ‘A Bronx Tale’ my mind wanders “Stay calm James” “Don’t lose it James” “Don’t Blow it.” “They’ll think you’ve got no heart” I take a breath and all is well. Within a few minutes Iya pops her head out of the bathroom. “James, you’re out of toilet paper!” I reply “Oh My God.” “You don’t have to take a shit now. Do you?” My true geek self revealed. Things are going to be just perfect.
Here were two women who had never met in person before. Two women from opposite sides of the world chirping and laughing it up like old friends. They immediately meshed and I reminded them. “Don’t worry about me.” “I’m just going to observe.” “I’m just the voyeur.” I wanted their exchanges to be natural and honest. I didn’t want them to be playing for the camera. Now, you might think getting two beautiful, sexy women together for a photo shoot is dirty. Something for dirty old men to take with them to the bathroom. Or a priest to gaze upon in between taking confessions. That’s your deal. What I was witnessing was two complete strangers in a very loving and tender exchange. They were laughing, joking and being intimate. You could tell they were very much in the moment. My favorite shots were those where they were just laughing and talking or sharing the pictures I had just taken.