March 05, 2005

Working with a New Model in Montreal

My second day of working with models in Montreal was quite different from the first - because of a rescheduled gallery visit, the schedule was tighter, with less time for each model. This stress (I hate working with a strict time-table) was further exasperated by the fact that each model was working with me for the first time. This created a frustrating situation for me, both because I felt it was unfair to work with a first-time model under such specific time restrictions, and as I seldom establish set times for working, preferring to let a session last as long as the inspiration and energy permits (invariable, sessions wind to a spontaneous conclusion if you simply permit them to run their natural course).
8"x10" film
Fortunately, Marie-Eve and I had met up two days earlier (after a very convoluted driving experience in Verdun and DNG) to talk about my work, and discuss the process, so she had some idea of how I'd expected the session to go, and what I was like as a person. She also showed up to the session with a couple of pages of sketches of images she'd like to try to make, always a welcome contribution, especially when working with the studio, which is always a somewhat frustrating space to create in.
Digital original, 10 frame stitch
We began the session with a series of portraits, and then moved to the first of Marie-Eve's ideas - working in the large windows in the space; the first images of the set were drawn directly from her sketches, with her body practically silhouetted against the window, and the camera positioned parallel to the glass. In all, we made more than a handful of variations on this idea, with a variety of poses and positions. Towards the end of the process, I walked over to the side of the window, and caught a glimpse of Marie-Eve's body in the window. Instantly the space changed, and instead of having the model as a graphical element against the window, she had a reflection. To a degree, this drew on the Simulacra images from a number of years ago, but with the space being so evident (the mirror images were more stylized, where this window was very present in the images) the images are only quoting from the mirror work, as opposed to influenced by them.
Digital original

The end of the session was the only time during the Montreal visit that I actually used studio flash (though the space in which I was working was well equipped). As we worked together, I very quickly got a sense that Marie-Eve is a very physical model, with great enthusiasm for experimenting with the pose and body position. This immediately brought to mind the dramatic studio image I'd made in 2004 with Miranda and Kylie, and after checking with Jean-Francois who was working in the largest of the studio rooms, I set up the lighting in the third studio (which was heated) and we began to work on the final set of images. Unlike the first two times working with this idea, I was able to have Marie-Eve far enough from the background to keep it well out of focus. It was a little bit of a struggle to get the light right between the two sides of the model but, with a little bit of hectic running back and forth between the camera and the flashes, I was finally able to get the balance right. Once the lighting was right, the rest of the session was simply a process of variations on a theme, finding the best composition for each pose, and working with Marie-Eve to get the position of her body right for the lighting.

As the allotted (and all too short) time for the session came to a close, I wrapped up the work with the flash, and made a final set of portraits of Marie-Eve, shifting back to natural light for the final composition of the session.

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