December 16, 2002

Elizabeth Models in Natural Light

One of the greatest advantages of working with little in the way of pre-planning is that I can quickly respond to what happens during a session, without having to abandon ideas or images which I'd  hoped to work on. With outdoor work, this is about the only way I can work, given that I have no control over the weather, and often choose to work in places I haven't been to before. Even in an indoor session, however, the simple act of starting a photo session without any preconceived notions in mind is advantageous, because too often, a planned image or idea acts only as a distraction from what is spontaneously occurring in front of the camera lens.
6x7 cm film

When I set up this session with Elisabeth, I'd thought that it would probably an abstract body-lines session; between the work with Kim and Natasha, many of the new images I'd made of late were portrait nudes. I felt that Elisabeth would provide me with an excellent opportunity to focus upon the lines and form of the body, and not just upon the power of the gaze. How wrong I was to try to anticipate how the session would end up flowing.
Digital original
For a new model's first session, I almost invariably begin by making a series of portraits once they've disrobed. This is for several reasons; partially to explore the possibilities of the model's face, but also because it is often more familiar to have a camera pointed at their face, then at their unclothed body. With Elisabeth, as soon as I composed the first images, I knew that most of the session would focus upon nude portraits; the rich texture of her light hair, combined with her comfort in front of the camera made for a great number of successful images, all revolving around her gaze. As I said above, I had thought the session would provide me with an opportunity to move away form the specific, and focus upon the general; but once I realized how striking her portrait was, I couldn't help but focus upon it.
Digital original, 2 frame stitch
By the end of the session, I was very pleased with the flow of the session; several more abstract images came out of the afternoon, but most of what was stuck in my mind's eye were the numerous portraits. The only real frustrations from the session was that it was too dark to use the 8x10 camera effectively, thereby relegating the most striking images to medium format. With luck, I'll have more time to work with Elisabeth, and be able to explore the possibilities that an 8"x10" camera will present.

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