One last hurrah to celebrate the end of another summer, ironically: Nova. With everything that's been going on with me and my creative crisis, my last scheduled shoot of the year needed to be named "new," though I imagine she goes with more of the "star" part. She's in the midst of her own crossroads as well, having made the decision to step bad from modeling because she is sick of how models get treated, which I got to experience first hand while we were driving and she was trying to sort out hosting at her next stop. I'll just sum that up by saying I dropped her off at a hotel.
There has always been a little list of models I would love to work with, but years would usually go by before they were anywhere near me, and that would generally line up beautifully with a time in my life when I was counting change to put gas in my car. This year has been a bit of a phenomenon for me because when I do get the nerve to reach out to a model, though their initial response is that they don't come out here, it isn't long before I catch a travel schedule that reveals that they are on their way, which is not to say that their LA experience is positive, per se, but I get to work with them...and hear about all the bullshit they have to deal with.
Anyone who truly knows me can tell you that I appreciate the stories and experience, meeting these beautiful souls, and I just happen to have a camera on me all the time and have always shot the experience, though my work is not as documentary as I'd like it to be. Maybe that's the wall I'm hitting creatively? Maybe...instead of random, seemingly themeless and styleless photographs, they need to start having more of a purpose, and I need to focus more on the stories and experience? I don't know.
I do know that I crave real and raw people. On our way out to this location she started asking what I wanted to shoot and how I wanted hair and make-up. I just told her the same thing I told everyone else: however you want to be seen. I have a natural aversion to anything made-up, because to me it represents the machine's control. Most professional models, however, do have an image to maintain, and their paychecks depend on it, so I respect that, but it makes me sad on a much deeper level. I understand, but I don't get it. This beautiful soul was perfectly comfortable rocking her natural everything, war wounds from a recent shoot included, which was awesome. In the first pic in this series her face was completely flushed and reddish from the heat and mild exhaustion. I saw a lot of character in that, so I shot it, but I was sure to ask her if it was ok that I use it. She was just like, "PSH... yeah." At the end of the day, the treatment doesn't nearly represent how she actually looked: like she was about to pass out from the heat. I feel like I should explain how we got to the middle of the desert, so I'll go back a bit.
Any time I talk to a traveling model who's coming through LA or SD, which is very rare and primarily dependent on finances, I offer rides and a place to crash, general help, to compensate for the money I can't afford to pay. I DO pay, but it is often less than what is now hourly rates, out of necessity, not because I'm a greedy, arrogant photographer, which is becoming redundant. In this particular case I offered her a ride to Vegas because there was an abandoned water park just shy of Zzyzx that I've been wanting to hit. The original plan was for my model wife and kids to meet us out there, all of us shoot each other (she's a photographer, too), then I take Nova to Vegas and go back to camp with my family because my wife's birthday was the very next day.
That plan got nixed because of finances, but I had already offered and it was agreed upon, so that meant I was driving her out by myself. My wife demanded that I stay in Vegas and not drive all the way home, but I'm not about to wake up in Vegas by myself on my wife's birthday while she's at home with the kids. I left my little mountain at 6am, and the hour and a half drive to LA took about four hours, because fuck LA. Left LA around 10, stopped at the abandoned water park and shot in 100+ degree desert for a couple hours, and ended up dropping her off in Vegas around 6:30pm... got back in my car, and drove home attempting to lie to my wife about where I was staying to keep something resembling a surprise intact. I'm a horrific liar. Stopped in Victorville to buy some flowers, and was home a little after midnight, but she was asleep and I didn't want to wake her up, so I quietly curled up on the couch. She thinks I made a sacrifice to come home and surprise her; I think she makes sacrifices to let me run off with models to accomplish what I love. I honestly can't wait until my girls are old enough to come with me and not need constant attention.