he is a commercial fashion photographer by profession and he is bored. not only is he bored, he is upset with how all of the models look the same--work to look the same--and if they don't look the same enough, how they will be edited to look the same. he is upset about perpetuating this terrible idea of beauty. he tells me about wimmin he has worked with who were literally geniuses but had to keep it secret and separate from their modeling lives. they carry an air of ditziness because, they tell him, no one would be able to see the intersection between beauty and brains. the people paying would not know how to react. in this day and age, it seems unreal to me, but here he is, a NYC commercial photographer, telling me his experience.
he's only interested in shooting nudes, personally. he'd tried to shoot nudes years ago, he tells me, and he was awful at it. he hadn't had a very conservative upbringing, but he'd break down at the shoots, unable to focus. making a photo, to him, means making the thing being photographed an object. i think this is a simple definition and i agree with it. i have struggled with loving photography, and enjoying modeling, and allowing myself to be objectified for this. i have kept it to this alone and i feel good about it still. but he'd put down his camera. he tells me that some model friends of his helped him through this, and now, years later, he is photographing nude ladies again, and he is so good at it.
"i refuse to shoot a model in a way that could be seen as submissive," he tells me. so we make strong, powerful images. but he won't look towards me as i undress.
he says that he thought that i, as a radical feminist, would not work with him. "because you're a man?" i ask. he doesn't know he is a feminist ally, so i tell him. he tells me that he expected me to be less pleasant. or something. and he gives me, as is his routine i gather, a nice thank you card in a nice blue envelope with his card and my payment as i am leaving.