Friday, October 7, 2011
The Storyteller: Randall by Manuscript Photography
FH is all about story. It is the reason I bug those I profile with questions. It is the reason I struggle with just posting photos. I love the process of putting together a profile, choosing my favorite shots, doing the research and taking a glimpse into what went into a shoot or an image. The artists I most enjoy profiling are doing more than taking pictures, the are trying to say something, to tell a story, often times their own.
In the case of these magnificent shots of Randall, there are actually several stories involved. To begin, I have to share that I have known the artist behind the images for several years. I did not know him as a photographer however, the man behind Manuscript Photography was introduced to me as an editor and writer, a storyteller. Working on magazines such as Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest, Mirabella, Travel & Leisure and Out Magazine to covering the arts, the social and cultural scene in The Village Voice, Interview, Playbill and numerous other magazines and periodicals. He has assisted screenwriters, a film director, written short stories, scripts and plays. Add to that a website where he wrote regular pieces, usually literary or film based and had the dream job of owning his own book store.
Over the years we have known each other we have sort of gone through a bit of a Freaky Friday (the Jodie Foster version, not the Lindsay Lohan one...). I, who once worked trying to be a professional photographer, am now mostly writing, he, the writer, is now telling stories through his images. The photographers and artists we once both admired he is now a part of.
Watching his journey has been a both a joy and an education. People often talk about changing their lives, following a dream, but not many actually do it. It has not been without bumps, photography is a costly pursuit, both on your finances and your emotions. Beginning anything new means finding your place, making your mark and building a reputation. It takes maneuvering through personalities and egos and draining the last drop of your patience.
Obviously loving a great book does not make one a writer, it is the process of creating that makes one a writer or in this case, a photographer. A difficult process does not always lead to a better image, but it may make one a better artist. The journey of Manuscript Photography over the last year or so has led to the creation of a exceptional artist who within a relatively short period of time has built both a strong portfolio and and equally strong reputation.
The story of these shots of Randall is not surprisingly literary based. It began with a notice on Model Mayhem looking for male models with that boy-next-door look to work on an art project based on mystery books from the 50s, sort of an homage to the Hardy Boys. 'I'd been collecting those kinds of series since I was a kid.' Randall answered the notice but wrote to ask if it was a serious project and commented that any time a photographer uses the word "art project" or "artistic" it is usually a euphemism for nudes. Although nudity was never going to part of the book project, both photographer and model decided to forgo the book theme but still get together to shoot.
'Randall was terrific, eager to try new things. A pleasure to shoot. He was also experienced in modeling, with a lot of good ideas. Not to mention sexy and handsome in a totally down-to-earth way. Randall definitely looks like the boy-next-door, but he's also very smart and knowledgeable about the world. He's been to Asia for modeling work. And has a sophisticated eye.'
'I wanted to try some shots that I had seen in a book by Richard Gerst, a photographer whose work I admire. So we did a few pictures using the beautiful wooden floor. These are some of my favorites with Randall. We also shot some images out in a garden. Randall's skin was milky white. So it was hard to get just the right skin tone when editing the images. Trying black and white versions helps sometimes to overcome these problems. But not always. In the end, I had to discard several pix that were taken in midday light that was too harsh. Since I rely almost completely on natural light in all my shoots, I was eager to take advantage of light streaming through the bedroom window. These are some of my favorite shots of Randall. There's a sense of mystery in the shadows. A feeling of calm. Of quietude. Of introspection. He's like that anyway. So I'm glad I captured a glimpse of it.'
I am confident Randall is Chapter 1 of the story of Manuscript Photography on FH!
See more of the work of Manuscript Photography on
Manuscript Photography Blog