With any photoshoot there is a certain level of vulnerability. In order to get the most genuine and authentic looks and emotions, layers have to be stripped away, and the model and photographer must feel comfortable – with eachother, with the shoot and with the location.
With the Impermanence series, all three of these factors are faced in a raw and in-your-face kind of manner. We are shooting deep in the desert, nude, and for two of the three, it was just the two of us. But before we started the collaborative process, I didn’t know any of my to be collaborators.
I say collaborators because, yes, I had a vision of a desert-nude series that focuses on the empowerment felt when one strips down naked and faces down the elements, but because location, concept, lighting and framing are only a small part of the equation. It’s a collaboration because the people I photograph need to feel part of the process, need to be invested and need to WANT to strip down and embrace the elements. If there is any grain of doubt or reservation, that comes through in the final product.
For Impermanence II, my collaborator was Katie Alderson –– a performing artist who I’d seen perform at a couple local events. She was petit, pretty and had a confident edge to her. I had seen some of her movements onstage and after a few conversations, knew that she would bring a dimension to the series that I hadn’t anticipated originally.
This second part of the installment focused on the mid-level of the Colorado Plateau. Whereas the first was on top of cliff edges, and the last would be in the bottom of slot canyons, this part of the series focuses on the mid-level sand dunes.
The aesthetic would be clean. Working with the strong lines of the sand dunes, and the soft palette, we would focus on dance, body movement and wind. It was a two-day shoot, one full-day in the dunes and an evening/morning exploring new terrain.
Shooting on a long-lens, I had to give Katie direction beforehand, and just hope she understood what I was looking for. There was place for radios, as she was practically naked, so I relied on her dance and confidence in her body movements. This was collaboration afterall, and she was as much, if not more of the project, than me.
Her performance was magical: strong body movements, dancing with fabric and dresses in a barren, other-wordly landscape. It couldn’t have turned out better!