The Value of the Muse

muse: Classical Mythology, -n a goddess that inspires a creative artist.

A model shows up on time and well prepared for a shoot.  A good model takes direction and looks like a natural in front of the camera.  An excellent model makes any photographer they work with appear even better than they actually are.

Then there is the muse.  The muse is the rarest of all models.  They are all of the above but they somehow inspire the photographer to search for reasons to pick up the camera, any reason at all.  They participate in the shoot unlike anyone else and share the passion for creating something new and interesting.  This passion is contagious.  Enough passion can change almost anything in the world, including your photography.

I have LOVED shooting with dozens of models, I’ve really, really loved shooting a smaller group of ten or so models and I can count the number of muses and potential muses I’ve stumbled upon over the past ten years on one hand.  Here are just three of them… though a couple more are unlisted.  🙂

First there was Katherine.

I do, and will always, credit Katherine as the main reason I eventually became good at photography.  Her bubbly quirky personality was and is magnetic to be around. If she was born 4,000 years ago wars would have been fought over her.  Immediately after shooting her I’d want to shoot her again, and again, and again.  This was in the day before digital cameras and it was much more expensive to shoot but I didn’t care.  We had a lot of good times me and her and she always inspired me to take better photos.  I still get to shoot her every few months or so today but is getting less and less as she gets busier and busier, though she will always be my very first muse.

Mara sent me an email at the very tail end of 2004.

She attached a couple snapshots of herself and said she was interested in modeling. I was immediately inspired by the amazingly rounded structure in her face, it had a very rare chiseled quality that I couldn’t possibly describe with mere words.  I was only able to shoot her for a year or two before she moved away to L.A. but in that short amount of time I became addicted… I wish she’d visit Utah again!

Carly and I had our first shoot in July 2007, just before her 18th birthday.

I knew Carly would be amazing almost immediately.  That rare combination of a fear-nothing personality to a bewitching shyness the contradictions in Carly are endless, which shows in the way she models.  She fluidly moves from pose to pose, constantly shifting between whacky and serious.  She’s amazingly fun to shoot and is the reason for this post…

The Value of a Muse

To celebrate our three year anniversary of our very first shoot Carly convinced me we should do a classic shoot from the food series I worked on a couple years ago, a series Carly helped me with many, many times!

As she’ll tell you I was very skeptical, I shot so many images during that little phase that I thought it would be impossible to think of ideas that I hadn’t already done, but it was Carly and when she gets something in her head…

So there we were at the grocery store shopping for food, we got a number of items before meeting up with Steven Robertson (who volunteered to do some styling)… it was after the shoot I realized something… the food series from a couple years ago was full of quirky ideas but it felt like just a warm-up, now I had to really make a series out of it.

This one suggestion from one model not only sparked an amazing shoot that night, but I have since shot three more girls for a new series based around food… which is blowing my mind!

8/9/10 EDIT :: Images from this series will be available in the November 2010 issue of 944 Magazine.