Two shoots in one day.
Day 5 – I was once with a strange friend, hanging out by a river outside of Portland. We had just spent an uncomfortable day with nothing to talk about, staring at the shallow rapids and climbing boulders in the stream. Suddenly, without warning, he laid back in the water and let himself get carried away downstream over the treacherously shallow rocks, disappearing over a waterfall.
Several minutes later, he came walking back up along the bank. He was suddenly a superhero.
“How did you do that?”, I asked him.
He replied, “You just have to let go.”
And with that, almost exactly with those words, I laid back and let the water take me. And he was right. The water carried me over the tops of the rocks and I let my body bend and conform until I was over the waterfall.
This is how I feel about New York. There is a staggering force propelling all things. If you can relax and let it pull you, it can take you to inconceivable places.
By day 5 I’m feeling completely in harmony with that river. I’ve never done two different photo shoots with two complete strangers in one day before. One shoot in a day has seemed huge in the past but today I am feeling invincible.
I’m starting to think that every model in New York is a wonderful person. I begin the day shooting with dancer Christopher Bursley and his nearly yellow eyes. We meet in a dance studio with floor to ceiling windows and the room is teeming with light.
Later I work with French model Julien Parquic. He immediately jumps in to help and we set up a backdrop together. He tells me he lives in “aah-rem” and I need him to repeat it maybe 8 times before I realize he’s saying Harlem. He has the kind of absolute smile that makes me bashful behind the camera. After we leave, he sneaks me a payback of 1/2 the cost of the studio through Venmo. I told you: wonderful people.
Later I’m at Whole Foods grabbing some food and talking on my cell. A woman by the bathroom grabs my arm and starts talking to me with no regard for the fact that I’m on the phone.
She says, “Ooh you a big man. I’ve never dated a big man. I want to date you.”
I laugh and smile at her and I wonder if she knows she’s made my day as I float further down the river.
Bonus for my Instagram followers:
If you’ve been following my Instagram account you may know that I had a photo reported and taken down last week. I promised everyone that I would repost the photo in all of its incarnations of censorship and non-censorship along with my response on Instagram below. They have since taken down an image of Ballet Idaho dancer Phyllis Afrunti in the gorgeous foothills of Idaho and it took me a couple of days to even figure out which image had disappeared as Instagram gives no feedback as to their reasoning.
I’m reposting the image from last week of dancer Tayte Hanson with a lot more coverage. I don’t have issue with Instagram for having standards and parameters for what can be posted; that is their decision as a business. But I have to say that compared to so much of what I see on here, I can’t exactly figure out why this image in particular was singled out beyond someone complaining about it. If the standard is someone’s complaint, then there is a slippery slope that is being embarked upon.
Whoever that person is, I still welcome you to enter the conversation. I’d like to learn more about your perspective and why the image was troubling to you. My intent is to present the human body in a way that celebrates its remarkable beauty. I want to help reveal these individuals as people who are living out the ultimate metaphor of openness and honesty: to be naked. Sometimes this might provoke or stir up uncomfortable feelings, but I hope we can all stay together in the place of openness and not resort to judgement or punitive actions.