On my trip to Manchester earlier this year I luckily got to shoot with the lovely, talented soul that is India Hobson. Check out her website www.indiahobsonphotography.co.uk for more of her work. I adore her photography style and it was such a great collaboration, wonderful to work with someone who thinks in such a similar way; we shared a lot of the same attitudes and thoughts. The natural light was very beautiful and it was a really creative and productive afternoon. It left me feeling both positively perplexed and inspired, keen to explore more into ideas of image and beauty and the ‘face’ we present to the world. I love the softness and quietness here though in these images which relates to a big part of my personality, and I like the space showing the room and air around me.
We has been talking about how the model acts as a muse for the photographer to express his/herself, and how in a way it’s like using their body, inhabiting it as a vessel to visualise your inner feelings. I like the image in the set below where India holding her camera is actually visible reflected in the centre of my out of focus image. As I do photography myself I found I could relate to India’s perspectives, as she has also modelled for her images, and it gave me good food for thought about my role as ‘model’.
I wanted to try my best to be really natural on this shoot, not posing too much at all and trying to project my inner ‘faceless’ self rather than my physical ‘shell’. I’ve tried not posing before and I do find it really challenging… as even ‘natural’ posing can be set up. It is hard to switch off that mode of performance no matter how subtle it may be. But isn’t that the point of being a model? Modelling for the camera is something that has become so normal to me and it’s almost like I’ve forgotten how NOT to pose, or at least I find it hazy where the line of posing vs being natural begins and ends. I’ve had some photographers attempt to capture me entirely without posing, caught unaware or not prepared for the shot, and it has at times made me feel really uncomfortable and more naked than any lack of clothing could. You give a lot of yourself as a model, especially with the freedom/request to be expressive, it is a great thing but sometimes you have to have limits. I can liken it to my massage work, where when giving holistic treatments and similar therapies, it is important to ‘ground’ yourself at the end of each session to seperate your energy from the client, rather than letting too much of yourself spill over into the other, and vice versa, to encourage equilibrium.
However I am interested into what I feel, in relation to what I look like, and what that makes me. I’m still contemplating about it and possibly not explaining myself very coherantly. so apologies if this just sounds like rambling self absorbtion. It seems it is often only models who can understand where I’m coming from. But most people have experienced that feeling of staring into a mirror so long that suddenly your face seems to change, or looking into your reflection and not recognising what you see, in relation to what you feel inside, for a split second your face seems like a stranger’s. Saying your name over and over again until it seems to become detached from yourself, unbelonging to you and floating there meaningless, rather than the title to your whole being and identity.
Sometimes people say that getting models to pose in pictures is contrived and not real. They could be right. But I was there, in those moments of that day, living, breathing, as human and normal as the next person… I looked into the lens and tried to open, open myself to the shutter that was recording me in that millisecond of my life. I wonder if a photo on a shoot can ever be natural if the model knows it is being taken. I wonder if I can really show myself seperated from my outer physical shell or if there will always be a barrier between the skin and the soul that the camera can only look through a sheet of glass at. I wonder if it is possible to photograph a soul.
We also did some self portraits for a project of India’s, where she set up the camera with a remote trigger and left the room for 10 minutes or so, allowing me to photograph myself however I liked. This felt like an even more interesting exploration. Suddenly being left in a room with no-one to perform to but myself… but; I would have a future audience – India would look through the set, and whoever went on to view the resulting published pictures. I’ll hopefully get to show those soon, I think they turned out pretty interesting.