So they say when you do what you love you feel the happiest. I can safely say that photography is one of the thing that makes me happy. I got interested in photography as a teenager and particularly astrophotography. I did read some textbooks on general photography and did occasionally take photos of people. I remember the first time I did an intentional portrait. It was around the age of 18 and of course it was a girl I liked. It felt great. I don’t keep the photos and I don’t think any of them was a masterpiece, but I clearly remember the way I felt while I was taking them and the feeling of satisfaction and gratification when I got the prints. I used a black and white Fomapan film. It was a nice, fine grain black and white 35mm film. I’d actually do a photoshoot using that if I find a roll somewhere, just out of curiosity. But that’s not a geeky photographer’s read so let’s get back to the point. At that time I didn’t realize much of what was happening to me (I was 18-ish) so I continued my life slowly drifting away from my hobby. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I started again. I was married at that time and my now ex-wife had started studying for a hair stylist. At that time I had an Olympus interchangeable lens digital camera that I bought mainly for work (I’m an Architect) but I also used it for taking photos from travel. Nothing special really. Then I got the chance to attend one hair styling show. I took numerous photos of models and was able to feel the same spark again. Almost none of the shots came out right, as I was using a flimsy manual focus lens on a camera that wasn’t adapted for that. But still it felt good. So I started taking photographs at different shows of the same kind. Later I got a bit more confident so at one of the shows I attended I got at the backstage with the help of an ambitious wannabe model girl (I’m greatly thankful to her) so that’s how I first made contact with some models and later on did my first photoshoots. What I wasn’t realizing at the time was that I was seriously lacking attention, human touch and social life at that moment. My family life wasn’t happy and full of love as it is widely advertised and described, so photography had become my sweet escape. There is a common understanding that portrait photographers use their job or hobby mainly to get beautiful girls to sleep with them. That wasn’t the case with me. I’d be extremely respectful and careful when interacting with models, keeping away from any excessive small talk or post shooting activities. I got more experience and with that more and more models that wanted to work with me (I did it as a hobby on the base of TFP – I didn’t pay them and they didn’t pay me). After my son was born, his mother became highly protective of him and didn’t allow anyone to take care of him but her. I didn’t realize fully what was happening and just wanted everyone to be happy, you know even if I’m not. Unless I was shooting – that made me happy. Or the rare times when I was able to spend some time with my son without being accused of being careless or something else. I had never had another woman in my life, so I had my perception of how women behave and should be like a bit one sided. I saw something different – most of the girls were open, they would hug you when you meet and say goodbye, I’d even receive an occasional present. And most of all it was the feeling I got when I was behind the camera. The more confident I got, the better the feeling was. First I felt a strong connection with the model – without even touching or saying any words something was happening and I couldn’t fully realize why and what was it, but somehow I was able to get beautiful shots and explain the models what to do even without saying a word. There was also the feeling I was in control of the situation – I knew where the light was coming from, I knew what kind of makeup and hair I wanted and what kind of clothes. I was able to control every single element of the environment and even got better at predicting the weather, so I was rarely surprised by rain too. One more thing that helped me a lot was a project on Flickr that I started participating in – it was called 100 strangers and required that you’d just walk up to a random stranger on the street, ask them to do a portrait of them and get to know a bit about them and write it up along with the photo. I was attending an evening language course back then and during the break I’d just go out and do my thing. It was hard at the beginning as the fear of being rejected was something I’d never thought I had in me. I had it. A lot. I started to overcome it and gradually became very easy at approaching people most of the time.
So I used my newly gained confidence and when I’d go and shoot at some of the fashion shows I attended, I’d just walk up to a model I liked and get her contacts for future photoshoots. There was one particular model that I got really great results with. There was a strong, invisible connection that helped me to get amazing photographs of her and that was not without the help of my team which consisted mainly of my ex-wife, who switched from hair dressing to makeup and a hair stylist I met at some of the shows. I was later accused of having an affair with this model, which was not true, but in the sense of the photographic process you could come right to this conclusion. And maybe subconsciously I was drawn, but had no idea why yet.
After that many things happened and I had a very interesting and dramatic personal life. It wasn’t until I met a new person, fell in love with her and then lost everything once again that I started to dig deeper in my inner self. And what I found struck me as I’d never seen it before, while it was in front of my eyes. I took my best photographs when I was feeling sad, miserable and alone. I was finding real connection through the camera. The camera had became my shield and weapon at the same time – I was safe behind the camera, as it gave me an excuse to get into interaction and my talent was something I’d use to attract people. I found out that as a child I’d learned to put the others before me, to sacrifice my own happiness to make others like me and at the same time be an egocentric, demanding prick when it comes to attention and love. I also couldn’t believe that I can actually be loved for what I am. So how’d that work for me? Not very well. But I had found a way to deal with it and photography was part of the solution. Something else happened at that time and it was that I fell in love. This changed my work forever. Before that I’d tell the models not to smile, getting my images to look dramatic and sad, while still sensual and sexy. But now with the butterflies in my belly I wanted more vivid colors, fun and happiness and light, so much light. And when that went away I once again came back to the dramatic look, but it had changed somehow. I had changed.
I also knew very well what made me shoot at the first place. But also knew the story about the clown, who was so funny that he wanted to know why and when he found out, he was no longer funny. So I’d just sweep the answer under the carpet and stop digging deeper. It took a while to get over with my relationship. It was one of those get together-breakup toxic love stories. After one particular breakup I’d do something stupid just to “get it back” by flirting with an attractive friend of hers and of course It worked – she felt hurt too. So that’s when she got it back at me the hard way. We were so close and intimate that we’d share all our deepest fears and our darkness and of course she knew all my weaknesses as I did hers. The only think she had to do was to sum it up in one sentence. Or two.
“You know, she said, she’d just go out with you and look at you with her beautiful eyes like a gracefull wild hind. Then you take her photos, give them to her and it’s over.” The second one struck me hard. It was so true. And once it’s over I’d feel just as lonely and rejected or even more. But now I knew it with my heart. And my heart told me to stop.
I stopped taking photos for a few months. After that I’d do an occasional photoshoot, but the desire was gone, the magic was gone. I’d just take the photos and not look at them anymore. The models started to ask when they will receive their photos and I’d just postpone it. So I stopped again. I deliberately started to go out with women without telling them about my photography skills as I didn’t want to use the photo-crutch anymore. Did it work? Well not all the time. I still use it, but now I’m fully conscious about it. I recently started doing photoshoots again and I’m doing it with pleasure. I’m also doing it with caution as not to mistake the connection I get with the model in the process with a real life connection. Not that it’s not real, but it’s another kind. I also have the theory now, that if I’m able to photograph a woman and get really good pictures that depict her personality and feminine power and beauty, it is quite possible that I might like her and/or be able to get in direct contact with her shakti energy, without that being a reason to go beyond the photographer-model contract. I'm also conscious about my ability to be monogamous (I've always been, but on sexual level, on mind level it's another story) - it's not something to brag about, but just to know where it's coming from helps a lot to avoid mixups.
Why I'm sharing this? It's way too personal and might hurt me somehow? No it can't - being open and shame-less about who you are is the greatest power one can possess, so my weakness when I'm conscious about it becomes my greatest strenght.