August 05, 2002

Fern Models on a Beach (Carter's Beach, Nova Scotia)

The end of what had become a marathon day of photography was spent using the dying evening light to work with Fern on the beautiful white sand beach that surrounded the abandoned boat.
6x7 cm film

Much of this work referred back to 2000, when I worked with Yvette in Long Island, New York, though the timing was the exact opposite of the day - dusk instead of dawn. Working on beaches is not easy; the flat sand leaves little to work with but the pose of the model, and while the texture and flow of the sand can be very beautiful, it isn't necessarily enough to carry an image along.
6x7 cm film
As it turned out, the beach was only one of the elements I worked with in the space; the first was a concrete breakwater that protected the beach from erosion. The day was a foggy one at the coast and that, combined with the evening light, provided a wonderfully soft quality to the light, perfect for a reflective image of Fern looking out to sea. In some ways, this mirrors the image of L_ from earlier in the month, but the injection of the concrete changes it from a wholly natural image to one with the infused with the hand of man. Even with that addition, I think some of the wistful romantic qualities of the earlier image are carried through for this one, focusing on the longing and mystery associated with the sea.
6x7 cm film
After we finished working on the breakwater, we moved down onto the beach proper, working with the texture of the sand. The first images explored the lines of grass interrupting the flow of the body - they begin to look like the marks of Japanese brushes set against the smooth tones of Fern's body and the sand.

The final images on the beach were some of the most challenging to make, exploring the possibilities of the texture of the sand left on Fern's skin as she rolled around on the sand. Because the images were made up of just the sand and Fern, the composition had to be carried on strength of line alone; the two of us worked hard to find poses that were both comfortable for her and dynamic enough to make up an engaging image.
6x7 cm film
Overall, this was one of the most successful days of photography this year. Three distinct spaces to work with and an enthusiastic, hard-working model lead to a broad variety of well-seen images which will hopefully serve as the foundation of even stronger photos to come. As I have said many times before, it is impossible to say what will come out of a first session with a model, and in this case, the interplay between Fern and myself was just as influential as the rapport between myself and a long-time model. This is not to say that, after more session together, the work Fern and I produce will not grow in strength but rather that the spontaneous dynamic that can arise between a model and myself can feed the work as much as any deliberate direction I try to impose upon the session.

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