Graduation Day

04-30-17 Montoya7729AMAfter Sunday’s nude session I was both eager and anxious about sharing the results with my friend and mentor down the hall. He’s been a great teacher who has made it a habit to share his positive thoughts before sprinkling in any much appreciated criticism. I say “appreciated” because if it were not for those much feared critiques. I would have never grown or learned to improve on the things that have been holding me back. Imagine the combination of relief and glee I felt when he remarked how good the pictures from that session were and why. Going as far as saying that this was the best work I’ve done to date. Declaring that, as I move forward. This should be my portfolio. That school was out and I had graduated. The End.

What if it Really Did Happen?

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.