Feelings of beauty faded, innocence lost, and hope left behind inspired this shoot-emotions that I’d long sought to express through my photography. I convinced myself that I lacked appropriate models and locations. In truth, I simply lacked confidence. With confidence, we surmount obstacles as a matter of fact. It was time to take control. I was determined that this shoot would succeed.
Between you and me, I was so determined that I booked everything-model, outfits, and assistance-all before the location was finalized. Still, I wasn’t completely daft. I also contacted Mount Auburn Cemetery for approval to shoot there as a contingency. Then, even when they denied my uncompensated ‘art-for-art’s sake’ shoot due to its commercial nature (say what?), I still miraculously pulled a pristine white rabbit out of my ass; I secured another private cemetery in which to shoot without a day to spare. There must be awards for this shit!
Irina Vladimirovna: I had met this Russian beauty at the 2011 New Designers’ Fetish Fashion Show. Having immigrated here only eight years prior, she embodied all the romance and grace I (naively) fancied rampant in Europe. She also expressed the same eeriness and melancholy I sought to portray. Irina arrived elegantly adorned in old-fashioned attire and brimming with excitement.
Fellow photographer and frequent assistant Tazio Yandell and faithful videographer Lady Starr Love also lent their invaluable skills.
Finding the location was my greatest challenge. I envisioned a wealthy Victorian home with a dark decor and thespian twist. Alas, often those most endowed with such luxuries are equally bestowed upon with reclusiveness. Serendipitously, my landlady overheard my requirements and introduced me to friends who had just renovated such a place.
From outside, the Victorian was unimpressive and overlooked decrepit tenements and their underprivileged tenants. A crazy bohemian gent greeted us at the entrance, hailing Tazio by name. The owners’ son was a friend of Tazio’s, and acquainted with my work through mutual friends. Nifty. Now show us inside!
Doubt died at the threshold. Moody artwork lined vintage wallpapered walls. Strange sculptures peered from pedestal and corner. Regal furnishing abound. Giant mirrors, vintage globes, crystal chandeliers… I had to wipe drool from my lips before my introduction to the master of the abode.
Tazio’s assistance was hardly required. The entire shoot, he could only watch and engage in occasional small talk. At his one opportunity to move a prop, he swooped through the air, snatched it, and twirled away like a ballistic fairy. It was that bad. Tazio’s boredom ultimately degenerated into fascinating (and completely nonfictional…) accounts of his life as a streetwalker in the slums of Providence.
When it came time, I regretted departing the Victorian, but it would have been shameful to leave our other location unshot. The cemetery, while smaller and less varied than Mount Auburn, still proved a perfect match to our waning wills. An hour of strong exposures there, and we were able to call the shoot a wrap.
Irina Vladimirovna exceeded all expectation. She knew how to flatter herself while expressing compelling emotion to my lens. It was obvious that her experience was primarily glamor modeling. While many struggle in adaptation, Irina adapted with ease. Our language gap was sometimes apparent, but the photos hardly suffered, and it helped me realize my own communicative weakness.
Irina, a photographer herself, deemed my photos amongst her favorites-and the only to share her artistic vision. She was ecstatic. When I thought that she could flatter me no more, she inquired if Starr and I might model for our own personal shoot, so she may capture our “beauty as a couple”. We agreed, and now anticipate our chance at modeling!
More of this shoot depended on me than ever before, yet it was still a success. Admittedly, the photos portrayed emotion different than I set out to achieve-but that only leaves me reason to strive. Determination paid off, and my fledgling confidence promises even better results in the future.
Also, check out this fantastic music video of our shoot by Starr Love!: