Some Honesty and Some Joy

It’s the middle of the night again. I always find myself here on the weekends. Up when I should be fast asleep. This time it was because of a ferocious headache that kept me in bed pretty much all day. Finally at 11pm I climbed into the tub, after having swallowed a little too much Exedrin, or more accurately, Wal-drin, and finally able to open my eyes, re-read a great book that my friend Jillian Ann encouraged me to purchase last year.

It’s called The Artist’s Way. It’s a great book for those of us who sometimes have self-doubts about our own art. I read it when Jillian first pointed it out to me, but I was having a bit of an art crash today during that blinding headache and I needed a little recharge.

By art crash I mean a kind of depression I sometimes feel when something is either blocking my art from happening or I’m not feeling particularly creative or I’m questioning my ability. I was definitely experiencing all of those things today.

It could also be a kind of post partum depression following last weekend when Jillian was in town for 75 hours and we spent almost all of those hours creating some of the most wonderful art I’ve ever been a part of. Here are two of the images we made.

There’s so much more to tell about that wonderful shoot, but I am in a very thoughtful place tonight, so I’ll talk more about the Jillian shoot another time.

The work I did with Jillian aside, it’s not hard to imagine that sometimes it’s difficult to find women willing to be subjects for my work. Most people spend their whole lives trying not to be naked in public and much of my work not only requires they toss that fear away but that they agree to have a permanent document of the experience in the photographs we make. Believe me, I respect any trepidation on their part.

Fortunately, my work seems to speak in a positive way to the women who see it. I’m humbled to find that women see the beauty that I see reflected back to them in my images. I’m awed by women, I believe in the goddess and it clearly is evident in my work. But actually collaborating with me to make it is understandably not for everyone.

This week, after about a year and a half of discussions with a potential subject (sometimes it does take that long to establish a photographic relationship) we mutually decided that now wasn’t the time. Never say never, but at least for the time being we’d take working together photographically off the table. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me a little sad even though at this point I completely agree it wouldn’t be right for her.

So if I’m going to be honest with myself, I think a large bit of my crash has to do with the idea that for the first time in a long time I don’t have a local model to work with on a regular basis. Part of the reason is that I’m a little particular about who I’m photographing. And it’s not why you might imagine it is. It’s not impossible to find women to collaborate with, but it is difficult to find women whose minds inspire me as much as their physical beauty. I know it might sound crazy to speak of a subject’s mind in a photograph, but it’s really not. If I’m not relating to them on a level beyond the physical, I’m not going to be able to create the image I want to.

There has to be something that engages me beyond the skin deep and that usually means I have to have known them for a time before we even discuss shooting. It’s why sometimes it does take a year or longer before we get to the “should we shoot” question. At least if the image is going to mean something to me on a purely artistic level. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I’m feeling a little better now, despite the artificial jet lag that my sleep schedule has once again caused. The sun will be up soon and I’ll be up to greet it. This is usually around the time I catch one of my European friends online who greet me with a “What the hell are you doing up at this hour?!”

In the meantime, I’ve got six or seven hundred new images to catalog that Jillian and I created last weekend, on top of a music video that we shot as well… so maybe all this introspection is just fatigue gone wild. I’ll have more of the joy of Jillian Ann the next entry.

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One thought

  1. Are you KIDDING Mister Sheahan? How is it possible that you could ever doubt your talent and ability? Good Christ man, just have a flick through all the postcards you’ve sent out over the years. For cri-yi. You’re incredible.

    Looking forward to seeing more and hearing more about your lost weekend with Ann Jillian.

    Now go get some sleep, man!

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