April 16, 2002

A First Session (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Prior to this winter, when I'd worked indoors with models, I'd hung white bed sheets over one wall to
diffuse the light; this worked well enough, but it wasn't until early in the new year that I finally
acquired some material specifically to create the white spaces I so enjoy working within; where before I had a single bed-sheet, I now have two large pieces of white cloth, giving me over ten meters of white to work with. This means that where before a single wall was covered in white, I can now drape an entire room.
6x7 cm film
Sylvana had never modeled Nude before, though this was not for lack of interest but rather for lack of opportunity. Originally from the Mediterranean, her Sylvana has a very European attitude to the body (that is to say, positive), but apparently until coming across my work, she had never had the opportunity to model for artistic nudes. Fortunately, fate brought Sylvana to my work (through my partner Joy's poetry), and after meeting late in the afternoon on a Sunday, we arranged a time to start working together, and two days later, we began.

It can't be overstated how important the first session is with a new model - even beyond setting the stage for future work, the session will be the groundwork from which all other possibilities shall spring. In some ways, the first session with a model is my favourite; with people whom I've worked with before, I usually have general ideas in my mind about what the session will generate, but with a first-time model, there is no way to anticipate how things will turn out. 
6x7 cm film
With Sylvana, I had expected her comfort with the process, because of how comfortable and confident she was when we'd met and talked, but what was unexpected was how animated she was during the session.

There most models are more then happy to relax upon the white cloth and have me make compositions based upon languid poses, Sylvana seldom worked on the bed for long, often popping up from poses as soon as I said I was done. This changed how I work; usually I make a first image, trusting to instinct and intuition, and then, once that is complete, I take some time to experiment
with framing, to see if a stronger image might be generated by some subtle change. Fortunately, I was working with the smaller Mamiya RB camera for most of the session; had I been using the 8"x10", I suspect several of the stronger photos would have passed by before I could have captured them.
6x7 cm film
The session with Sylvana resulted in some very strong images; because of her captivating face, the majority of the images ended up being portraits. It also served as a strong reminder of how much a model can influence a sessions outcome; Sylvana's animated nature influenced the images greatly, leading to some unusual compositions, and a greater variety of poses then I usually have from an indoor session.

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