March 31, 2002

A Session with Fern & L_ (Bridgewater, Nova Scotia)

Most of the time, photo sessions begin at my initiative, with me contacting models and arranging
for transportation etc, but for this session, it was a request from L_ that put things into motion. After
the session with R_ and Miranda, she'd asked me if I'd be interested in photographing her and her
sister together. I immediately said I'd love to and a week later a date was set.
6x7 cm film
I had never worked with sisters modeling together before, so I had no idea how the session would unfold. While most of my indoor images of multiple models have been of lovers, I have worked with pairs of models who are friends as well, which leads to a very different tone in the results (as shown in the Amicus folio), so I worked from the assumption this session would have a similar tone.
6x7 cm film
As with many of my indoor sessions, I began with both models lying down; this cast light across their bodies, and provided a beautiful rim light. Unfortunately, this approach didn't provide much in the way of lighting for portraits and, while this was a figure session, it was also focusing on the relationship between the sisters, so almost all the images were to be portraits. So, after making a few images of the models lying down, we shifted to working with sitting poses, and things just got better from there.
6x7 cm film
As I had hoped, what drove the session was the relationship between L_ and Fern; there was none of the hesitance or uncertainty that can mark the beginning of a session between friends, and yet a different tone to that of models who are also partners. A comfort and closeness between the sisters was evident, and easy to work off of. The similarity between their faces and bodies made it easy to work off one model to the other, and several times I made compositions that showed one sister in profile, and the other more directly, while other images used an overlapping or mirror effect to produce the final photograph.
8"x10" film
The session came to an end as the light dropped below usable levels. The last images of the
day were a series of 8"x10" portraits made right by the windows, and even these required a
two second exposure to get enough light onto the film. All in all, even with the low light, I
was very pleased with the session, and more importantly, after showing the work to Fern and
L_, know they are too!

March 24, 2002

Victoria by Natural Light (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

The more I work with Victoria, the more I appreciate all her support for my work. More then any other model, she has helped me push my work forward, and been patient enough to work with me through various experiments and tests.
6x7 cm film
In this case, it was less of an experiment then a continuation of an on-going test; working with the Mamiya RB camera indoors where I'd previously have worked with a 35mm camera. While much of my work from last fall and the early winter was made on 35mm film, I became more and more frustrated with the lower image quality the Nikon was giving me. While working indoors with the 8"x10" is possible, I didn't want to give up all the spontaneity that the smaller format presented me with; thus the experimentation with Mamiya RB's.
6x7 cm film
For this session, all I wanted to do was work as I usually do without worrying about camera format. Usually I use two cameras, one for colour and one for black and white, but with the RB, I could change the film-backs when I wished to chance film types. This made the flow of the session smoother then usual, with less changing of lenses and cameras, and more focus upon the image-making. More then anything else, this simplification of the image making process lead to less distraction on my part; when I saw a composition I wanted to capture, all I needed to do was ensure the correct lens and film were in use, and the image was made.
6x7 cm film
Where I've grown very used to an 85mm lens on my Nikon, the lens I was using on the RB was a 127mm, equal to about a 70mm lens on a 35mm camera. This concerned me a little, as I have become so comfortable with the longer portrait lens, but this session with Victoria proved that the lens was more then appropriate; for the most part, I composed tight images that took full advantage of the slightly long lens, and all of them were every bit as successful as I'd hoped.

While I actually prefer portrait sessions with Victoria, almost all the images I made were

March 12, 2002

Three Muses (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Back in the fall of 2001, a friend of mine (Jeff Amos) gifted me with a partial box of 4"x5" Kodak infrared film; this about three months after I sold my 4"x5" camera. Not wanting to pass up such an opportunity (as Kodak 4"x5" infrared film was discontinued recently), I decided to save the film for a special occasion - specifically a studio session, as I knew I could access a 4"x5" there, if the situation warranted.
6x7 cm film

The more I thought about what to do with the film, the more I decided it had to be something unusual. In the end, I don't remember what gave me the idea, but I settled on a "Three Graces" session, with three female models, and inspired by the ancient Greek sculpture of the same name. The idea sat in the back of my mind until R_ asked me if it'd be possible to do another studio session with a second model- a couple of quick phone calls, and some major good karma, and the session was arranged, with three models - R_ , L_ and Miranda all more then intrigued by the idea I described.
6x7 cm film
In the studio, we began in the most formal way, copying the ancient pose, and exposing both 4"x5" and medium format film in the process. Very quickly, I grew frustrated by this process, and we shifted to more spontaneous poses, with the models and I working together to create poses true to the idea, but diverging from the inspiration. A number of the standing poses worked well, but it wasn't until the models began working with horizontal poses that the images really began to come together.
35mm infrared film
When the models were standing, it was hard to create poses that had the mirroring and repetition I was seeking, but once the models were lying down, it all changed. I quickly set the lighting to above the models, and the compositions leapt out. The results of these explorations are very pleasing, ranging from bodyscapes to almost abstract compositions.
4"x5" infrared fukn
In the end, the infrared film what was the motivation for the session turned out to be a
technical frustration - all the 4"x5" images were all underexposed because of how out of date
the film is. This is something that I can compensate for next time, assuming there is one.

J_ & Miles by Natural Light (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

My last indoor available light session with Miles and J_ , in the fall of 2001, took place during the dying light of the day, and the entire session was a fight against the failing light. In January, we worked for the first time in the studio, but J_ didn't enjoy the strobe, finding its bright burst of light disconcerting. This session was the total contrast to those sessions, with a bright afternoon providing all the light we needed, and both Miles and J_ enjoying the session's relaxed tone and slow pace.
6x7 cm film
The best thing about working with available light in my house is that it is natural; where most of my studio work revolves around standing poses, almost all of my indoor work, either with solo or multiple models, is of relaxed poses, lying on a bed or pull-out couch. This gives a more natural flow to the images, which in turn builds on the comfort and delicacy contained in the image. All of this
lends itself to creating the feeling I am after with my images (while the standing images I have made in the studio in the past work well at times, there is no denying how natural two lovers lying beside each other feels and looks).
6x7 cm film
Because most of my indoor sessions take place with the models on the pull-out bed in my living room, the vast majority of the poses I work with tend to be horizontal, with the models lying down. This can make it difficult to dynamically compose within the camera, given that my preferred camera formats. 8"x10" and 6x7 cm, have a closer-to-square aspect ratio (as opposed to 35mm, which is narrower, and closer to a narrow rectangle then a square). With couples on the other hand, the format works well, as images of multiple models take up more space on the ground glass. Add to this my recent penchant for angular images (which emphasize the flow of an image) and it becomes much easier to compose to the shape of the formats I work with.
6x7 cm film
The pleasure of working for a full afternoon with a couple of models can't be understated; the freedom to take the time needed to perfect the poses I came across and make the exposures I was seeking was wonderful. The couples I have worked with in the past have all been more then comfortable with the process, but given that both Miles and J_ are good friends, this session was even more enjoyable, as the experience of making new images was combined with time spent with good friends.

March 11, 2002

The First Session with R_ in 2002 (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Because R_ began working with me last winter, the two of us have actually worked together indoors far more then we have outdoors. This is a small source of frustration for me, as she's such a good model and I by far prefer working outdoors, but as I'd rather photograph then not, I take whatever time R_ can provide me with. To date, this had turned out to me predominantly indoor sessions.
6x7 cm film
For this session, I decided to change my approach to the work I've been doing with the white sheets indoors; rather then suspend it over the window to diffuse the light, I opted to hang the sheet as a backdrop half-way into the room, and set R_ against it, as opposed to below it. This permitted me to photograph her with the window behind me.
6x7 cm film
The altered design of my make-shift studio created a setting where the lighting for the image came from directly behind me. Edward Weston, one of the world's greatest photographers, made a number of Nudes using a similar setting to this, and the results from this session are an homage of sorts. The new set-up worked well, being both a challenge for R_ in terms of posing, and myself in terms of composition. The room we worked in is not very large, and for a number of images, I had the camera right against the deck doors, in order to achieve the framing I was seeking.

6x7 cm film
Taking a risk during a session, such as working with a new studio set-up, or testing a new kind of film, is something that an extended relationship with a model such as R_ can provide. With first-time models, the emphasis of the session is on gaining their confidence, and producing images which will build on my work as a whole, as opposed to pushing the envelope. One of the luxuries of extended relationships is that they provide room for experimentation and the taking of risks.
6x7 cm film
After working with the white sheet as a backdrop for the better part of an hour, both R_ and I had exhausted our ideas for the set-up, and quickly shifted the room around to the old approach, with the sheet diffusing the window light. Because so many strong images had passed before my eyes with the last hour, I was feeling a little burned out, but between R_ and I, we still managed to produce a number of striking images, most of the revolving around sitting and kneeling poses, trying to break out of the prone, lying poses I usually work with on the bed.