Maybe you have read fluff (airline magazines, beach reading, etc.) that say something along the lines of: “The model and the photographer have a very special relationship where the photo shoot is like sex.” God knows I’ve read that before, and had thought little of it. I’d certainly never felt anything electric in a photo shoot, no matter how scruffily handsome the photographer was. I figured that sort of sexual tension was something that only happened when people shot nudes, implied nudes, or other shoots that required very little clothing. With my very strict “no mature content” policy, I never expected to feel anything but professional camaraderie with a photographer.
Then I shot with Jack.
We shot in a bright, airy, apartment in Brooklyn. It was the middle of summer and in place of an air conditioner, there were huge floor fans set up all over the place. The resulting wind, along with an endless stream of intimate acoustic music piped throughout the apartment, heightened the romantic intensity of the shoot.
Half European and half Middle-Eastern, Jack had the most beautiful green eyes I’d ever seen. A girl could fall into them so deep that she’d never be able to climb back out. Some photographers direct you by striking the pose that they want you to do –it’s very effective, but a total boner-killer. The last thing I’d want in a seduction fantasy is a man who vogues. But Jack worked differently. He murmured instructions and encouragements, directing and working with me in an almost intuitive way; he was the Model Whisperer.
In turn, I tried to look through the camera and into his crazy green eyes. Whenever he would come close and touch me, pick a strand of stray hair off of my neck, say, I’d hold my breath, unable to bear the closeness, the intimacy. We were like two opposite charged magnets, forced to work in a small space without touching one another.
We shot for hours and went from distant and polite, to intimate… but still polite. And by the end of it, damn, what can I say… I wanted to shove him against a wall, is what I can say. What’s more, underneath all of that electricity was the constant tug of another green-eyed creature: jealousy. We both knew that we couldn’t have the other person, in any sense. Because we’re grown-ups, because we work with other models and photographers all the time, and we can’t go around thinking every photo shoot has some special meaning to it. The energy generated between us had no endurance, was ephemeral.
Which is precisely why the pictures have to be so good. Because that’s where all the want goes; they’re our only outlet. That’s why the pictures are important, why we care so much about lighting and angle and background. Beyond the project at hand, is our ego at play.