July 10, 2000

Zoë in the Studio (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

As I have said elsewhere, one of the biggest influence the Internet has had on my work is through the models who have worked with me because of discovering my work online. Zoë had contacted me in the spring about working with me as she was visiting the Halifax area for two weeks in July (she actually lives thousands of kilometres away), and we'd agreed to try to work together during her trip.
35mm transparency film
In the end, though Zoë was in Halifax as planned, it took us almost a week to finally meet and make some images. As the only time she had free was in the evening, we worked in the studio, as opposed to outdoors. Working with a new model is always challenging because there is no way to know what to expect, but in the case of someone who hadn't modeled nude before, there is also the element of how they'll respond to that specific element of the experience. With Zoë, the nudity wasn't an issue at all, with her totally comfortable with the process. More than that, though, I very quickly discovered that she was gifted with a wonderful body sense - as soon as I'd make one image, and tell her I was finished, she'd subtly alter the pose, slowly moving through a series of variations, often creating a totally new image without any direction from me. As my major frustration with the studio is how little it provides one to work with in the way of inspiration, having a model who spontaneously created poses was a real treat.
35mm infrared film
The session went well from the beginning, but the real gems came out of the final 1/2 hour. As Zoë was familiar with my website, she was fully aware of my experimentation with the mirror, and more than keen to end the session working with it. What amazes me about the mirror is that though it is a simple construct, every session is so different from the previous one.
35mm infrared film
Most of my mirror work to date has been done with hand-held cameras, 35mm with infrared and colour, or 120 with black and white film. In this case, however, I began by making a handful of 4"x5" images, relying upon Zoë's patience and ability to hold a pose to make the images a success. The mirror images seem to very much rely upon accurate framing, and the major reason for me opting to use smaller camera is because of their design (being single-les reflex cameras where an image can be made as soon as it is realized in the viewfinder) and because of the speed with which they can be operated. With the 4"x5", however, it is often as much as 20 seconds after I am pleased with the composition on the ground glass that the exposure is made - thus the importance of the model staying still. The final results, both from the 4"x5" and 35mm infrared, are very strong and push the mirror work even farther. At some point I shall edit this body of work down to the best images, and create a folio for them, but for the moment, they reside only in a small number of images in the 1999 and 2000 photo diaries.
4"x5" film
As much as I enjoyed working with Zoë, the session was a source of real frustration for me. Zoë and I had talked by e-mail of working several times over the two weeks she was in Halifax, but circumstances conspired against us, and we only managed the single session. To work with such a good model, and get such good results, and yet be unable to take the work further with more sessions, was a bitter pill - all I can hope is that I get the opportunity to work with Zoë again in the future, should she return to Halifax or I venture to her part of the world.

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