Lately, I’ve been enjoying being in total control of this blog. From doing the casting, the hair and the makeup, the styling, and photographing it all. This time around, three women put their creative talents to showcase our vision of beauty, while I loose control.
ME FROM A TO Z
Pulling all the strings was more than a desire to be in control of the process. I was more curious to see what would come out. Image making is usually a group effort. And all these years I’ve worked with other people, pooling our vision under the control of a photographer. It left me wondering what was in my eye, if I had my say, from A to Z. If I had control.
Last February, I gave myself this A to Z control. The thing that surprised me the most was that the sexy man-eating woman, was a part of me. She came out in very interesting ways. I had thought she was something I created for the people I worked with. Since then, I’ve been working around what comes to me and exploring it.
All of the images in this blog post came from Cristal’s vision of Bibi. I’ve been working with Cristal for African hair, as I don’t have her experience. All those fashion magazine I read since I was 16, didn’t have a lot in terms of “good” African hair. Cristal’s friend, Bibi, was in town from New York, where she works as a model.
As we were talking about the details of this shoot over Ceviche, in a Mexican restaurant. She was showing me images of big, wild, curly hair with a rose in the mouth. She wanted a white shirt, opened provocatively, so you can see a touch of bosom. Well, if you’ve ever seen Cristal, it was basically a projection of her own energy and looks onto Bibi.
As artists we do this Freudian mise-en-scène; we project ourselves onto other people to play out our fantasies. For me, it’s the greatest pleasures of photography. This realization, that the images I make are about myself more than my subjects, has been very present in my mind. And the more I shoot, the more I’m confronted with projections of my own beauty standards, my points of view on different faces, and understanding of ethnicity. You can only create things you project, and things that you allow to happen.
What was exciting to me was to peer into Cristal’s vision. I was wondering if I could interpret correctly how she wanted to see Bibi. In some way, Cristal also wanted me to interpret her vision.
NEW KIND OF VOODOO
There is a chair I got as a present for working on a design project for friends. They were called Samare. You can see more of their work here www.design-milk.com/samare. Their beautiful chairs are inspired by Canadian and Aboriginal elements. She brought a lot of plastic flowers to decorate the chair, so we could use it as a prop.
Bibi brought some clothes and her fast paced posing style. As we were all putting together the first look. To pair with her red top, we used red burgundy pants from my closet, as well the Masai inspired jewelry. While the red tassel earrings are Cristal’s Asian touch. It was really a group effort with Bibi wanting new images for her book.
As I started to shoot, Bibi was giving a wild quality, it was all very Caribbean, African, hot, voodoo, south-american. This vibe is not a part of my own visual references. But it was interesting to shoot this wild woman who was more warm blooded and sure of herself than the ones I tend to portray.
Then came the white shirt look. To my surprise, it turned out to be one of the most beautiful looks of the shoot, giving her a girl-boss quality that was all channeled through Cristal’s vision. The roses are a hint to the Dior woman Cristal likes, while Bibi was freeing her sensuality in a way that I was not used to see; I tend to shoot new faces. It made for powerful images.
I had a vintage dress, that was very Gucci looking, or maybe it’s the other way around… Cristal had brought a short bob-ish wig, and she really wanted to shoot her in it. And I wanted to see what it would look like in pictures, with this very “white woman” dress.
It made Bibi look like another person! It was hard to shift my vision, from one type of woman to this other woman. Even tough this second version is closer to my own world. She went from wild, to elegant, in no time flat. Cristal had the brilliant idea to put the rose in as a prop, and it added a wonderful touch of whimsy and a pop of colour. The look was looking a bit too good girl, and we wanted to break it by running improvised poses. Then she pulled this finger and it was just perfect, with the rose in hand. It sort of pulling a finger to something high-class, I love that irreverence.
WHO MADE WHO?
Cristal took the camera many times, under my encouragement. Can you guess which images she captured, and which ones are mine? As the three of us put all of our creative efforts into the styling, the posing, and the direction. The images are as diverse as the three women who worked on them. And what if there was no control needed? Why does there need to be one eye, one I, who directs it all?
It was the first improvised/collaborative session. I love all the different versions, and visions we found of Bibi. The bonus was I got my mind expanded to another vision of style and a new way of image-making.