Thursday, September 16, 2010
I can't tell you how many times people have derided me for the size of my models' waistlines. Adjectives like skinny, waifish, and even Anorexic have been used, often accompanied by a not-so-subtle accusation that those are the only kind of women that I desire to take photos of. Yes, the fashion and glamour industry does lend itself to smaller, leaner looking women, that is not a secret. Sex sells and I will be the first one to admit that thin bodies are what our society currently regards as the ideal form of attractiveness. In elaborately staged imagery I've often used those kinds of models to illustrate a point, using them in an ironic context in hopes of continuing a dialog about the industry as a whole. Whether you believe that or think that dialog was successful or not is something only you as the observer can judge.
Either way, please know that I personally love women of all shapes and sizes. Being a large person myself, and coming from a long line of heftier people, I've appreciated the beauty of curves and extra skin my whole life. I have sketch books full of fleshy, folded women confidently displaying themselves, whose bodies, you may or may not know, are far more fun and interesting to draw and paint than those of taut sinew and muscle. I've often tried to convince larger women to model in a revealing manner for me, getting excited by their initial bold and fearless interest. Unfortunately, when the time finally comes, these ladies always seem to back out with one excuse or another.
Consider my excitement then when I finally got to shoot the lovely and engaging Mockingbird Girl, whose real name will be withheld to protect the innocent. She is a well known model who has worked with very talented and high profile photographers for years, and after three separate attempts we finally managed to meet up in Brooklyn last month. Though our schedule was rushed due to the complications of life, Kacie and I spent a few hours with her on a Friday evening sharing stories, drinking Bulleit Whiskey, and of course, taking a few photos.
Her eccentric and complicated personal history was intriguing, hearing of her Persian ancestry and growing up all over the globe, tales of her family and weird modeling experiences, etc. The fact that all of that was delivered with her very sultry British accent while naked and sipping whiskey made the event only that much more amazing. She is the kind of woman who exudes an aura of sexiness without trying, that sensual appeal that can never be manufactured. She was funny, honest, self-deprecating, and completely comfortable, not just with herself, but with Kacie and I, which is always half the battle when working with a virtual stranger.
The rarity of finding a voluptuous woman who is comfortable posing for photos, let alone completely nude, is like winning the lottery, though I still wasn't one hundred percent satisfied with the situation. My two main regrets from that evening were the limited schedule and my lack of proper equipment. After Mockingbird Girl had gotten stuck so long in traffic, and with Kacie and I having a party to attend immediately after we got done, I continually felt rushed, trying to make the most of the time we did have. Also, due to the lateness of the hour, natural light was clearly ruled out, and having had to travel compactly to NYC, I was lacking any artificial light other than my small flash. True, a lack of professional equipment is never a deal breaker if you know what you're doing. However, I still wished I could have had a whole bevy of complicated lighting to make the special moment that much more extraordinary. Ah well, such is life.
Once we were done, we quickly helped carry her bags to her vehicle and all went our separate ways. Only a few days later, when Kacie and I had a bit of down time in Philadelphia, did I finally get a chance to look through the images we had shot that night. For the lack of creative lighting and rushed schedule, I found the bare bones images we captured together pretty intriguing. Maybe you think I'm biased or that I find the sheer novelty of the model alluring, but I don't think that's it. We captured something simple, sweet and special that night, and I for one look forward to finding an excuse for getting back to Brooklyn to work with her again soon.