Mystery in the gloom, and the reality of ephemeral connections

August 20, 2017

Spring on Vancouver Island is always a game of chance.  You might get relaxing warm sunshine.  But more likely than not you will enjoy grey days with a hint of moisture and a wind that whispers of storms past, and, if you listen with an open heart, maybe of better days to come.

It was on such a grey day that Shauna and I tackled a romantic styled shoot in a local, secluded bay.  We worked with lace tops, a soft white skirt, and masses of fabric that refused to play properly in the wet wind and on the seaweed and sand covered shore.

To finish, we used a pair of antelope horns that Shauna managed to obtain – just to add another dimension of “out of the ordinary” to the overall look.

Shauna and I had previously done a low stress “test” shoot in the form of fashion editorial shots around town.  It’s a way to see how a photographer and model work together and the potential for a longer term creative relationship , without adding all the stress of theme and character development.  If you click together, then you can go onto more.  If not; well, nothing much is lost.  Shauna’s session went well enough to decide to do a more formal styled session, namely this one.  Despite the cool, the damp and the wind, this first real session went well and was an enjoyable experience for both.  No wandering dog walkers passing to break up the flow of the shoot, and a good connection leading to a set of images that, for me, capture some essence of Romantic mystery that I wanted to convey.  We set up another shoot after this one, in a forest with a lace dress she  ordered specifically for the shoot.  From that, we did get some good images, but the atmosphere felt somewhat different, with a lack of deep connection for much of the time.  However, we eagerly set up another, more involved shoot – but she cancelled at the last minute, and never responded to me again.  She did, however, go on to do some more shoots, with other photographers, including the very one we had been planning.  It was very frustrating at the time, but actually a good reminder of the transient nature of relationships, and the need to enjoy their value while they exist in this field.

It is a curious construct, this dyad of photographer and model.  Especially so when the photographer is (as has typically been the case), an older guy with money and time for hobbies, and the model is (again typically) young and relatively poor and needing to work. They need each other for this interchange of skills / looks and technology.  Mostly that is the only connection, and the link can be spider-web fragile.  A pull from work, a jealous boyfriend, a change of interest or even a degree of ennui – and for many models, the connection is now irrelevant, disposable, tranferable.  From the photographer’s viewpoint, the model’s look and skills may be too limited for a wide range of work.  And so many “photographic relationships” are transient.  Indeed, much as I love the concept of working with the same person repeatedly, to be able to stretch each other and fearlessly explore new ideas, it is a rare occurrence to grow together.  Just as in a real relationship, there need to be many levels and points of connection, and a willingness and desire to evolve and enjoy the journey, for a pair to work together well over time. I can only think of less than a handful of models with whom I have that connection.  This one was, sadly not to be.

I can, however, enjoy what we did manage to create together in that short time.  I hope you enjoy this edited selection too.

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