Thursday, July 25, 2013

Of Muses & Magic

“The woman who appeals to a man's vanity may stimulate him, the woman who appeals to his heart may attract him, but it is the woman who appeals to his imagination who gets him”

~ Helen Rowland

Time and time again, we've received variations on the ultimate compliment for an artist :  "Your photos tell a story ... it's not just the beauty, it's the feelings!"  Every time it gives me shivers to know that through some magic, the emotions and concepts in the creative process have leaped from the page or screen into the minds and libidos of our viewers, resonated there, and very likely stimulated their own passions!  

I believe deeply that over-analyzing and dissecting anything organic, natural, and magical is a surefire way to destroy it.  When people ask me HOW, I usually take the question as rhetorical.  I'm downright superstitious about poisoning the mojo with conscious thought ... so my best answer is "PFM"  {pure fucking magic!} .   What I will speak on though, is some of the work that goes into attracting, inspiring, and capturing that magic as photographs.

Julie - 072513 - Miz B

Obviously the first step is understanding that like attracts like.   You won't find boring models on my sets.   It's not that I don't hire or collaborate with them, it's that boring people run screaming from the building and hide under their cars when people like me show up!   Don't get me wrong - there's a huge variety of styles, attitudes, comfort levels, etc. among my models - but they are all comfortable in themselves and open to exploring.  To create magic on set, one must start with people who carry magic within them!   Photographers who ask me "how do you get the models to do that?" have already given me insight into why models won't "do that" for them ... I don't talk models into doing anything they aren't comfortable with ... I just invite them to play with me in the shadows we both enjoy!  

Asia Submits - 072513 - Miz B

Next, and I suspect most importantly, we create a safe space in which models feel free to  express themselves.   People will drop their clothes, their masks, and their inhibitions ONLY after you earn their trust.   Obviously, many models get nude for photographers they don't trust - and they look pretty and sexy in their photos.   But I maintain that the true sensuality and beauty they possess doesn't shine through, their personality doesn't leap off the page, and the images don't carry a narrative ... they are two dimensional, like paper dolls.   I've been guilty of modelling this way, and found it unfulfilling compared to posing with a trusted co-conspirator behind the lens!  Everyone on our team has to be open-minded and accepting of others' fantasies, foibles, and flaws.   The models must know without reservation that they are respected and adored - that we will always make them look their best, respect their boundaries, and allow them to explore and experiment without judgement.    Once they are secure in this creative space, they are free to share themselves fully in their images ... and you are able to see the best in them - we are just the delivery system! 

As a side note, all of this works best if you cast outside the box.   Seems like a no-brainer to me that if all you shoot is 19 year old Barbie dolls, you will not capture the same depth and emotion and experience that breeds magic in our studio!  This is why I refuse to photoshop every model to the same distorted body image as most major publications.  I will photoshop out a lot of flaws, but you will find cancer surgery scars, etc. featured proudly in our photos.   Our models are relatable because they are REAL!  They are survivors, they are diverse, and they bring real experiences to their expressions.   Sometimes a pretty picture is just a pretty picture ... but a model is never just a model - they are a soul with joys and pains, hopes and fears, victories and defeats.   How could we take vacuous photos without subtext when we are shooting such multi-dimensional, deep, nuanced subjects?!  

Finally, I think that the creative miracle {not unlike love} flows to us only if it flows through us.   I have a deep devotion to my muse ... and I know that she's not fond of being ignored.   When I fail to prioritize the creative yearnings deep inside, when I get scared to express what's truly lighting my fires and sizzling my nerves, when I settle for a project that is less than my heart desires ... that is when my muse falls mute and work becomes, well, work!   Every photo isn't a masterpiece.   But every model is.   Every vision can be.   The magic of each of us is always there - the art is in capturing it for the world to see!  

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