“Here I stand before you, naked and without illusion”
May 15th, 2010
It was April 23rd, 2010 the first time I received an email from Allegra expressing interest in shooting with me. She was relatively new to modeling and had never done any nudes before. In fact, according to her profile, she had no intention of ever shooting nudes. I had to question her on that up front to avoid any awkward confusion. She responded “I looked through your portfolio, and you presented the nude body as art, not as a centerfold. I would be interested in working with you because I feel that your work has integrity and is beautiful, which is very different from a lot of the portfolios I have seen.”
We met a couple days later and talked about things. The next day we had a shoot. A week or two after that on Saturday May 15th, 2010 this photograph were taken.
This was during what I’ve come to refer to as the best weekend of the entire year for me. The rest of the weekend will be written about another time. For now, this photograph…
You may have noticed from a previous post a self-portrait of me sitting in front of a wall with the words “Waiting for something beautiful” painted on it. I painted those words on that wall in an abandoned building just east of the Third Ward in Milwaukee the week before. I had a shoot scheduled that day and whoever it was with canceled on me last minute, so instead of wasting the inspiration, I turned it into that self-portrait. A week later Allegra comes to Milwaukee to shoot with me and I decide to return to this building to see if we can come up with any ideas using that wall and those words.
As you walk out through the door of this abandoned building there is at least a one to two foot high step. I climb out the door and turn around to give Allegra a hand if she needs one. As she stepped up and braced herself on the side of the door with her arms, that is when I saw the pose that you see in the photograph. We immediately took the shot and she put her sundress back on.
Moments later at the end of the alley way we were in between these two abandoned buildings, a squad car drives past, sees us, slams on the breaks and backs up. I walk over to greet him. He first asks me what is in the bag. I show him the bottom half where my cameras are. He then wants to know what is in the top half. I open that up and show him miscellaneous photography supplies. Extra battery, charger, pop-up reflector, etc… What he failed to see was the bottle of acrylic paint and paint brush covered in dried black paint that I used the weekend before to write the words on that wall just a few yards away from where we now stood.
He quickly assesses that we are simply there taking photographs, and while it was never actually stated, I did get the impression that he also deduced that it did involve nudity.
He merely told us that we were on private property. “This property, as you can see, has a problem with graffiti. Obviously you two are not here tagging the building, but regardless, you are trespassing and I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
We apologized for the troubles and went on our way.
That was the first time I’d ever been stopped by the law on a photo shoot. Part of what I consider the best weekend of 2010.
The title I used for this photograph, “Here I stand before you, naked and without illusion” is something that I’ve had bouncing around my head for years. When I finally self-published my book at the end of last year, I deliberately put this photograph with this caption at the beginning of my book. If you have the book, do note that the entire thing does read as a biography of the last several years of my life; in the photos and the captions. If you look at my photograph as self-portraits, which you in fact should, this photograph is about me having taken some serious punches from life lately. I was broken and beaten down, I might of needed the support of something around me to stand, but I was still standing. Life hadn’t finished me yet. What was left of me was me. I had nothing to hide. I was going to come out of the ruins that were behind me and continue moving forward.