When I first began model photography, it was a means to better acquaint with my nightlife friends. They wanted photos, I wanted friends, and my fledgling photography connected us. It is difficult for those outside of the club scene to understand how deeply you can connect with another’s social façade, yet how shallowly you can know the actual person. A particularly flighty socialite myself, I’ve long struggled with forming deep connections during my patented twenty-second conversations. So, we would schedule photo shoots.
There are few better ways to your know friends—or your camera—than by living with them for weeks at a time. Our week-long visits brimmed with exploration, mischief, and thousands of incriminating photos. Many model-friends from that era, including Morgan Fey and Kitty BANG, remain close friends, and years later we still reminisce about those times. Amdustrial would be the first model to even stay overnight in more than a year. While not a week-long epic, I looked forward to reliving those “good-old-days” and seeing where the weekend would take us.
Amdustrial arrived Friday evening, luggage in tow. Lady Starr Love and I helped her unpack. She dyed her hair (as models are always compelled to do here), then joined us for chatting, munchie munching, and passing out.
Morning broke. My good friend Fuzzy arrived. He was our assistant for the day. He was punctual as always. We were definitely not. We also failed to factor in the common practice of eating. By the time we made ourselves fabulous, terrorized the local food court, and were ready to shoot, it was already mid-afternoon. We ditched our original plan to explore an underbelly of highway overpasses and treacherous riverfront, and settled upon the safer bet of a previous location (where I shot Veronica Cross). Of course that would guarantee a great shoot.
Sure, the light was phenomenal—overcast with the bleak foreboding of an approaching storm—but it was also bitterly cold and ferociously windy (goddamn it wind!!). Faces reddened and limbs went numb. These conditions were lethal to our creativity.
I am convinced that only Fuzzy’s witty dialogue kept our brains from freezing to the tops of our skulls.
In our search for relief, we stumbled upon a squatter location. Behind piles of discarded blankets and insulation was a lone cardboard box, nestled protectively into corner. A framed photograph of a happy family lay atop spiteful scrawls and hate-filled notes. Melancholy fell over me. I felt the pain of a life gone wrong. It would only take a heavy rain or a nary-do-well to destroy the memories contained within. This box was somebody’s life, yet its owner was absent. Material is so fragile, but we expect it to support us when we cannot support ourselves. Such silly creatures we are.
We departed the hideaway to explore elsewhere. We captured a few more photos, then departed, thawing our bones during the ride home.
Speaking of bones, Lady Starr Love, Amdustrial, and I later cuddled up to enjoy The Lovely Bones. What an astonishingly beautiful film! If you are a connoisseur of artistic vision (one reason why you are here), watch it. Seriously. Its imagery is to be reckoned with. Few films inspire such photographer’s envy.
Between the film’s beauty, the alcohol consumed, and the natural result of three very flirty people in close quarters, things got funky—in a violent teeth and ropes kind of way. This brings me to an interesting question:
Should a photographer sleep with his/her models?
Firstly, let me stifle any rumors—sex didn’t happen. Nor did sex come close to happening. What did happen was still hardly plutonic. In situations like this where the model and photographer are friends prior to the shoot, the ethics are simple, but what of when the temperature rises during the shoot itself? Searching the internet for “model sex with photographer” yields a plethora of articles about inappropriate photographers or creepy GWC (Guy With Camera)’s, but few pertaining to mutual attraction. Articles regarding how photographers handle models hitting on them are seemingly nonexistent. What would you do?
Ethically, I see nothing wrong with it. It’s natural to connect with those you interact with most. My reservations lie in relation to professionalism. How would my relationships with models affect others’ interpretation of me, my art, and my business—and do I care? Should I care? Share your convictions with me and help me temper mine!
Now, perhaps it was the rapport of late-night frolicking, or maybe it was frustration from the prior day’s (lack of) shooting, but Sunday morning, Amdustrial and I tried something different. It was naked, it was violent, and it was fun as hell!
The resulting photos were unique to my collection—but they shouldn’t have been. They were where my photography had been edging for a long time. Before, the barrier between my vision and my ability felt too great. These photos proved that the gap could be bridged. It was time to take my photography to the next level. What that would mean, precisely, is still too early to tell.
Amdustrial only stayed for two days and two nights, but it hailed back to old times. Nothing followed plan, which was perfect. The greatest photos often result from overcoming the most adverse conditions. Also, such sticky situations guarantee awkward and amusing photos (sorry, Amdustrial)! Lady Starr Love and I unquestioningly know our friend better—and the resulting shoot has led Darkwell Studios in new directions. Stay tuned. Future shoots with Amdustrial are already in the works!
Watch Starr Love’s funny video of part one of our shoot!
And, enjoy these photos from both parts one and two of Amdustrial’s shoot!