Whoohoo! For the first time, I've made sure to post NEVER BEFORE SEEN photos! These have been nowhere on the Internet before now, I'm pretty sure. Certainly not on my own portfolio sites.
I am attached to these images [Roman calls them "images" rather than "photos" or "pictures", and I think it's a fitting term]--they're not exactly what one would seek in a portfolio, but the experience that went into making them was unreal.
I shot with Roman on my very first trip as a traveling model.
The timeline looks like this:
February-March 2010: I began modeling and jumped right in, scheduling up to nine shoots a week in the Bay Area
April-September 2010: I worked trails in the woods, got in really good shape, grew out armpit hair.
October 2010: I hid away in Lake Tahoe [for the first time] and did a lot of mulling and pondering and existential agonizing, as is typical for me.
December 2010: I emerged, needed a distraction, and decided to go to LA and model--my first trip. At least I think it was in December.
And the rest is history, or something.
Anyway, I stayed with Roman for a couple days and we would shoot informally in between my scheduled shoots with other photographers. At that point, I was pretty green, having only a couple months of modeling experience under my belt, almost all of which had been glamour modeling. Which, let's be fucking honest here, is easier to do--as far as imagination and aptitude are concerned, anyway--and less personally involving than other genres. Basically, you make a pouty-face and you arch your back and stick out your boobs and writhe around a bit, and then the photos come out depicting you as a nubile young sex symbol. For some, it's fun, and for others, it's nauseating, but in either case it's not exactly rocket science.
And even the other shoots I'd done--figure work and conceptual work and so on--were generally shoots in which I was micromanaged, and had to convey a very specific ideal on the photographer's part.
The modeling I'd been doing, whatever the genre, had at times involved a lot of faking shit, playacting, and often covering up what I was really thinking and feeling. At least, it did when the reality of my life was less than rosy.
Fortunately, I was pretty good at that. But I didn't really like it. I'm not good with falseness; it's the reason I quit my former retail and office jobs and decided to only ever work jobs on a freelance or seasonal basis.
Working with Roman completely fucked up my conception of what modeling could, or should, be. What role it could play in my life...as something a bit more than I-want-to-record-my-years-of-being-young-and-hot vanity, and as something more than the money. [Incidentally, Roman won't pay cash, in order to avoid working with models who don't enjoy his way of working--but he will extend other generous and practical favors in exchange, that wind up being just as useful as paying cash...unlike photographers whose response to, "Well, I need to eat, and I live out of my car so I have no storage space," is simply, "Yeah? But I can give you framed AND SIGNED prints, then!"]
I met up with him and he cooked me a great meal while we discussed his many artistic eccentricities. The one that threw me off, especially, was when I tried to get a feel of what the aim of his work was and he more or less said, "That's up to you--how have you been?"
I thought that might have been a challenge, like maybe I looked sleep-deprived or uninvested and he was thinking I'd be a waste of film to shoot.
But no. He started to explain that, to him, photos come out best when you see something of the model's humanity exposed. He told me that I shouldn't bullshit his camera when doing my work, even if I'm going to bullshit him, or bullshit other photographers who want me to look a certain pretty way. That, if I'm feeling happy, strong, and free, great. If I'm feeling sexytime, great. But, if I'm tired and congested and have boy problems or financial issues or an identity crisis to work through, then I shouldn't be trying to look giggly or sexy. No acting, no posing, just picking a starting point, some premise [even if the premise is just a pair of shoes that I happen to be wearing, or a street corner we happen to gravitate to] that seems fun, and then hanging out there for a while and seeing what happens.
It makes sense. I aspire to rawness and candor in my daily life, so why shouldn't that apply universally to all aspects of my life and work?
Like I said, the final images may not be the most marketable--a lot of them are abstract, and the ones that aren't are not all necessarily flattering, nor do they showcase my modeling "ability"--but they come from an shoot--no, an in-depth experience--that helped me reevaluate what modeling meant to me, and what to aspire to. And, since I wasn't trying to smile through my stress or sexify anything that didn't feel sexy to me, those few days of shooting are fondly linked to my own memories of introspection, since I WAS going through a lot of gnarly personal shit at that time...and it was so liberating to be able to shoot with someone whose view of "art" [whatever the fuck "art" is] didn't need me to pretend I wasn't preoccupied with it all.
As a result, I tend to prefer shooting with photographers who emphasize nakedness over nudity--and not merely his own conception of a model's nakedness, but consummate, true nakedness, being the nakedness of the model, of the photographer, and of their collaborative dynamic.