One of the things I'm starting to understand about my photography is the privilege it is to be a photographer. People let me into their lives on a number of levels. They have been willing to open themselves up and share a special time in their lives by working with me to create images during those times. I've been given the privelege of making photographs of women before and after the birth of their children. I take that level of trust given me as a special honor and calling. I owe it to my subjects to get it right. They trust me to make them look beautiful. I think they know how beautiful these special times in their lives are to me.
As part of my photographic development, I've worked with models of various experience levels to get some great images. I've learned a lot about composition, lighting, posing and working with subjects to get good images. A lot of the images are just pretty, with out a lot of meaningful content but still fun to do, and a great way to learn the process. Those images are fun to do, but, not particularly rewarding artistically in and of themselves.
I met Jackie through one of the modeling websites I use. She had put out a casting call a while back looking for photographers to help her get some images she wants in her portfolio. I responded and didn't hear back for a long while, and, truthfully, forgot about the casting call. She contacted me recently asking about doing a different set of images. For this one, she wanted to work with me (specifically, not a general casting call) to capture a different time in her life and the emotions attached to it. Jackie was in a pretty bad car wreck last year, ending up going face first into the windshield, courtesy of a drunk driver. She got wracked up pretty bad (broken vertebrae, and jaw, lost some teeth, severely screwed up shoulder and muscles) and ended up needing pain pills to get through the day, and even more to get through the night. She ended up needing more and more until the need crossed the line for her. The pain was tortuous, unrelenting, and all consuming. On top of that, she had to quit her job because of the pain and short term memory loss. Basically, Jackie has been trapped in her apartment for the last year.
Jackie got down a pretty deep hole. Eventually she pulled herself out, and is still in the process of doing so. Jackie wanted to capture this time in her life, and share it with the world. Hopefully to help someone else avoid what she got into.
Together, we decided to create images that were not "beautiful" at all. Rather they would be interpretations and memories. To do so we decided to use minimal make up, and to purposely tone down Jackie's physical charms.
Understand, Jackie has been competing in beauty pageants since she was 8, and has worked coast to coast as a model and spokesmodel for swimsuit and adult beverage companies. She's been in Playboy a couple of times and, to be direct, Jackie is smoking hot when she feels like it. She wanted to set that aside for these images.
I suspect that doing so was incredibly hard after a lifetime of training and experience going the other way. Most models would freak if their "ugly side" showed. Together, we decided that is what we'd try to do on purpose.
I talked to Jackie before we started making sure that she was up for going down this path, dredging up some bad memories. I wanted to make the photos, but didn't want her to suffer for me to get images. She said she knew what she was risking, but wanted to do it. I also asked her if it was ok to tell the back story as part of this. She said "please do!".
I'm humbled by her trust in me to get these images, to share this time and pain in her life with me and the world.
This first group of images is related to Jackies imprisonment and torture...
We moved to Jackie's basement for this final group of images. I find them very moving, going from despair, to starting recovery to freedom from the prison...
I'm looking forward to more work with Jackie.
I'll post more images from this shoot in a few days.