March 22, 2004

An Indoor Session with L_

The last session of the Halifax trip was at L_'s apartment and was as good a proof for my approach of never planning ahead as I have ever had. Often when presenting on my work, I'm asked how I come up with ideas, or bring a concept; my answer is always the same, I don't. About as far as I come to planning a session's images is deciding (with the model) where and when we'll work - if it's outdoors, I usually defer to the model's preference for setting, and indoors, we just work with what presents itself, in the way of lighting and settings.
Digital original
The first time I'd worked in L_'s apartment was shortly after she moved in, and there was little in the way of furniture or clutter. This time, however, I'd expected to need the white sheets to simplify the setting, and create the kind of space I enjoy working with. All that changed when I walked into her place; as part of an art college project, L_ had been working with self-portraits in mirrors, and had a number of full-length wall mirrors in one of her rooms. We actually spent the first fifteen minutes or so just looking at her project, and discussing what she was doing with her images, before even considering what we'd spend our time together doing.

In the end, the lure of the mirrors was too much to resist exploring (I had produced an entire body of work with the Nude on mirrors between 1999 and 2001). Initially I was worried that L_ would see my asking to photograph her with the mirrors as in imposition on her already-in-progress project, but she said it would be interesting to see how I worked with the same foil she had been using for so long.
Digital original
I had an odd sense of deja-vu for the entire session, as over and over, I would catch glimpses of what initially had drawn me to working with the Nude on mirrors - the magical ability to see what was hidden from the main view, the incredible repetitions that could occur quite suddenly because of the twist of a hip or the movement of an arm. All this was layers over the very different setting of working in a room lit by daylight, and with multiple mirrors, as opposed to just one. In some ways, I think the addition of the mirror is as dynamic as the addition of a second model - all of a sudden, there is not just one pose to be considered, but two (or in this case, three). The richness of the visual plane increases with the reflections, and everything immediately becomes more complex.
Digital original
As enjoyable as the mirrors were to work with, I didn't want the session to be a totally experimental one, so after spending most of our time (and the afternoon's light) working with them, I shifted to a portrait approach, and moved with L_ into her bedroom, to make a series of images on her bed. The light had dropped quite a bit by this point, and while I did make some images with the 8"x10" camera, there just wasn't enough light to work effectively, so I very quickly just settled to working with the digital camera. Again, the loose, open composition approach that I have been experimenting with since January came into play, resulting in images about a body in a space, as opposed to my more traditional tightly-framed portraits.

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