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The Best Laid Plans

I was inspired by an image by Bert Stern (surprised, right?) of a model wearing a man’s black shirt, jacket, tie, and a bowler style hat. What made the image was the hat and that 70’s tie – it was graphic, yet simple, a trait of Stern’s that I very much am drawn to.

Well, things didn’t exactly go as planned. That sometimes happens. The images just did not speak to me.

Jessica and I shot some things that she needed, and, just before leaving, I talked her into putting on a white man’s shirt and shooting some high key images.

These turned out to be the ones that really spoke to me.

I love tone-on-tone images anyway, and in B&W I have always loved the subtlety and the softness of them. Even though there is a lot of light (4 lights, in this case) they are still emotional to me. Usually the more light you add the less emotional images can be; there are times – and I think this is one of them – where this isn’t true.

I admit to playing it fast and loose with the nose breaking the cheek line – but it isn’t hanging off into space and I felt like the hair keeps it from being too prominent. And I really like the gesture.

So in the end we didn’t end up with anything like I had originally planned.

This is not entirely unexpected, as the starting sequence of images is a little iffy in terms of getting good material. We were just getting warmed up, and hadn’t really gotten into the flow of the shoot yet. This is the first time I had shot with Jessica, so we were still feeling each other out. Again, not unusual. For this reason I often tell subjects not to wear their best wardrobe, or go for the shot we really want to nail, at first. That should generally come somewhere in the middle of the shoot. That last sequence can by iffy, too, as we start to get tired – but this time it worked out.

Shooting with women in men’s clothing has its challenges. Loose material can be a problem – it adds bulk. It does add a casualness and a unique, comforting look – something that will make its way into my portfolio.

I still have the bowler hat; I’m sure I will try again.

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