BLOG #132 2/5/2016
This pair (Kristin Hollinsworth and Mark Dechiazza) had been a couple and at the time of the shoot were still friends and perfectly comfortable together. I lit them for a sense of sculptural power, for drama, for sensuality. The feeling of his strength, confidence and determination and her willingness to complement and succumb to that strength worked well; each “got it.”
How does one proceed to maneuver and direct, physically and emotionally, two people together to make images?
Intrigued by the ancient phenomenon of human duality, I have made images of the bodies of pairs, or a pair of bodies, for many years. In the early phases of that work, I photographed two dancers, then two models and then ….well, have a look at some of the results.
When I began the exploration of pairs, I approached each session with some particular idea or emotional feeling in mind. As with the best explorations, I found that my subjects often helped me evolve my initial idea. I discovered quickly, when creating the first images of a pair of people, that an absolute necessity for success was a willingness of each person in the pair to explore along with me, and the intelligence to bring his or her input to the pictures.
In most cases, the two knew each other, though there were times when the two had never met. In either case, a feeling of comfort is an absolute necessity, first about themselves and their own bodies, and a trust that I would only put them together with someone equally dedicated to achieving serious and magnificent art. I did everything I could to communicate clearly, sensitively and confidently that we were going to make magic and that it was going to be fun; and if they came along fully for the “ride,” lots of fun.
These dancers (Elizabeth Gaither and Sean Stewart) were members of the New York City Ballet. They had worked together daily during the company’s season and were in perfect sync.
Married (before the shoot, not as a result of it).
I matched (or mismatched) a huge, muscular fellow, Jeff Christie (I was looking for a giant), with the smallest dancer I knew, Karen Reedy, in order to explore the idea of disparate sizes and physiques. They had never met, yet managed to work well together, understanding the “vision.”
To express sensuality and sexuality I found a pair of models, (Laura Taylor and Christian David Barton), who were already a couple. No problem here.
The following three images were made for my “Folds” project, exploring the relationship of dark and light on the human body. Contrasting details in body parts appearing as lines and curves (dark) and as ridges and protuberances (light) fascinate me.
Olivia Bowman-Jackson and Abdur Rahim Jackson
Two from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Vicky Lambert and Uri Sands who worked together frequently and were also good friends. This kind of relationship, and the physicality of professional dancers, make the explorations and experimentations a dream.
Shernita Anderson and Victor Shoyelu. Two models, having never met.
Dwana Smallwood and Matthew Rushing were both dancing with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater when this image was made.
Rachel Berman Benz and Sherri Hellman from the Paul Taylor Dance Company.
And, finally, I photographed the Bahia Ballet from Brazil that was performing in Innsbruck, Austria, when an exhibition of my work was in that city. I was scheduled to do a presentation, and I asked the company if they would work with me on it. I wanted to make an image of something that appeared impossible. Luckily, dancers are willing and able to attempt the “impossible” in every performance. And with a little help from the photographer/director, “possible” happens.
To view more of my work, visit my website.
We are so pleased to announce that Schatz Images: 25 Years is the
Winner of the 2015 International Photography Award for Book of the Year;
Winner of The Best Photobooks of the Year, American Photo, 2015; and the
Gold Medal, One Eyeland, first Place Award.
I am teaching a 4-day workshop the Palm Springs Photo Festival this Spring (end of April). The workshop is called: “THE INSPIRED EYE: Experimentation, Exploration & Discovery: A Search for the Unexpected.” http://2016.palmspringsphotofestival.com/project/howard-schatz/