Muse | myooz |
(noun) a woman, or a force personified as a woman, who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.
I am a lucky, lucky man. It’s now a month since I’ve been back in the states after the still inspiring trip to Paris. I feel good. I feel healthy. But most important of all, I feel inspired. It’s hard to describe what this feeling is. I find myself smiling quite a bit for no reason. Sometimes I just laugh out loud… again, for no reason. I get up in the morning and I feel good.
But maybe there is a reason. I’ve been fortunate enough in my life as a photographer to be able to find subjects to photograph. Most of the time not nearly as much as I want, but as the song goes, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you just might find, you get what you need.”
I wrote a while back that for the last couple of years, it seems like my usual cast of models has been either traveling to distant lands or retiring or moving on from the type of modeling they had done with me in the past. I continued to photograph many of them, but less frequently as time went on. As I like to tell them at the end of my shoots, “Thank you, because without you, all I’d have would be a well lit set.”
I think if you would have asked me over the years what the single thing I most wanted in my life I would have to tell you it would be a model whose passion for creating beautiful images on a regular basis matched my own desire to do the same. I can always hire models, but what I was looking for was something of a more ongoing relationship. Art history is full of painters, photographers and sculptors who had muses that inspired them from periods of a few years to much longer. Edward Weston and his wife Charis. Helmut Newton and his wife June. Alfred Stieglitz and his wife, the painter Georgia O’Keeffe. Picasso and his mistress Genevieve Laporte. The list goes on and on.
Only once in my life did I have a model who I had an intimate relationship with outside of the art we made together. When things went sour, it was difficult for both of us. We stopped working together photographically for a number of years and then mutually decided that even if we weren’t meant to be together as a couple, we did make some damn fine art together and we decided to have another go at the art. I think our history together helped us create some of my favorite photographs once we managed to put the past behind us. I think she would agree.
So I guess the last few years when I was hoping to find a connection with a woman who would inspire my art of a regular basis, I knew it wouldn’t happen over night. I know plenty of beautiful women, but in order for me to really lose myself and let whatever it is that allows me to make the photographs that I do take over, there has to be a mental connection as well. I’ve had experiences where I’ve been shooting an absolutely stunning woman, but there was no connection on a higher, more cerebral level and the photos suffered because of it.
Beauty and inspiration comes in many forms, but for me, beauty has to show up with a brain as well.
…And sometimes a muse arrives when and where you least expect it.
I’m not a superstitious person, but I do know that in the early stages of something wonderful, it’s best not to examine it too closely. Inspiration is a bit like quick silver and if you try to grab it or contain it, you can lose it all together. So yes, I’ll admit it. My new muse revealed herself to me quite recently. She had been in my photographic thoughts quite often in the last year, but she never really seemed interested in being in front of my lens. She was always very supportive of my work, but that was about as far as it would go. Until last week.
And that’s all I’m prepared to say at this time… at least in public. This will be one of the few times I have a blog entry with no photographs. I have to say that I have such profound respect for this new artist/muse relationship that I’m just not going to rush it along here. It’s too rare and beautiful a thing to have true inspiration in my life. She is my muse. I am indeed a lucky, lucky man.