The Empty Space

Today I walked through the empty space one last time as a guest. Tomorrow I will walk through it again… and it will be mine. Everything is gone. The walls and floors and shelving… containing nothing. Nothing but possibilities.

For the next week I’ll be living in two worlds. One that I have outgrown and one that I will grow into. The one I’m leaving I have fond memories of, even though it has been hard to stretch out here lately. Everything is just a little too small. But many great collaborations started here.

My photography world really started here. At least the serious one. Kristin, Jill, Marcia, Kat, Keyomi, Laura, Nikki, Suzanne, Melissa, Genevieve, Sue, Vicki, Rachael, Nikki, Shawn, Jill, Venessa, Jillian Ann, and Melissa. Pretty much all the studio work I have done in Chicago was done here. The names I have just listed were the generous people who took a leap into the darkness with me and trusted a guy who was really still figuring out the lighting and what clothing to put them in or not put them in. My work would be a series of empty frames without them. I owe them a great debt.

Over the years my cyc has moved from the west wall of my main space, to the east, back to the west, to the north and finally to the south wall. Once for six months I emptied my bedroom and made my studio in there and slept on the sofa in the living room. I photographed brave models on my balcony outside and never got arrested. Never did shoot on the roof, but that’s because it was never very inspiring up there for some reason.

I learned my craft here. It is where I figured out what kind of photographer I wanted to be. I tried a lot of different things until I finally found my groove. Always experimenting… sometimes surprised… always exhilarated.

I think it was when Shawn and I were lying on our bellies, pouring over contact sheets of our first shoot together that I realized I had finally achieved what I had been trying to work out. The images looked like images I had imagined. They were inspired by the tremendous work of Herb Ritts. It wasn’t that I was ripping him off, but that I felt that I had captured emotion and drama and beauty of a subject that I had seen so often in his work. I didn’t dare tell anyone I thought I had made images as good as Mr. Ritts, they probably weren’t, but it was the first time I really felt like I had made images that blew me away.

Certainly other images I had made with other subjects prior to the Shawn shoot were good and clearly loaded with potential, but from the standpoint of an entire shoot, that one was fairly ground breaking… at least that’s what I felt at the time.

So while I’m happy to be moving to a space that will allow me to explore my art in a much larger way, I have to tip my hat to the old small… oh so small… space that really shaped my art for a decade.

I may be without computers and internet for a few days while I move my world across town. I can’t wait to move and get settled. I’m very excited.

Here’s an image of Shawn that I really find amazing to this day.

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