Some celebrities shine a spot light on physical changes to their appearance. Joan Rivers for example took the bull by the horns making her face, her age and appearance a part of her act. Despite her candidness, the documentary 'A Piece Of Work' clearly showed, it was still a sensitive subject, one still able to hurt. Rivers took control of that hurt, directing it outward so less would stick and burrow inward. Not every celebrity is as skilled at manoeuvring through pain publicly. Renee Zellweger always struck me as someone, like so many, not completely secure in her appearance. Although applauded for her 'cute and quirky' look, Zellweger never seemed comfortable in public, often looking down and away. Zellweger shone on screen, when she could escape into a character.
Without a current move, or character to inhabit, Zellweger is currently without a shield. The lack of protection has been so terrifying to her, she has virtually disappeared from the public eye for the better part of the last six years. When I see someone without a shield, vulnerable, and raw, I tend to want to protect. Not in a 'beat em up' sort of way, but in a quiet, supportive way. It is how I am with others, and how I like those around me to be with me. I see, but never quite understand when some see the lack of protection as an invitation. An easy entry to harm another without the fear of any sort of repercussion.
I love Bridget Jones, the Diary Bridget, not the Bridget from Edge Of Reason. That first movie came along at a time I needed a comfort movie and Bridget, and Renee's portrayal of her, provided hours of comfort through a very difficult time. In one very sucky year, starting a New Year with Bridget, and her mother's turkey curry buffet was just what I needed. Some movies just do that for us, coming along at a particular moment to help turn a dark time, into something more manageable.
I was sort of sad, but not the least bit surprised, that so many people on-line, the same ones who post image after image, comment after comment condemning bullying within the gay community... are the same ones who often jump, make that pounce, on those who dare appear in public without their shield. Usually, but not always, it is a celebrity. Some are witty, even funny but most, are just cruel. I totally get comments about her change appearance, what I don't get is how that change somehow now makes her a candidate for stoning. Those same people will predictably love her again when she is up for another Oscar or dating a hunky co-star. Without a hit movie however... she is simply bait.
'One of the things I was looking forward to about this shoot was the location. Hotel rooms can either be great or they can be rubbish. Fortunately, this room was good. There were floor-to-ceiling windows, and an interesting charcoal-shaded bed head that was really like a wall of tiled black slates. It was clean, urban, and with a nice view over the Thames.'
I was struck by Richard Whitney's quote as most of us feel that way about hotel rooms, and I certainly feel it about hotel room shoots. It is of course partly about the rooms appearance and feel, but more importantly, it is if the artist and model shooting within, are able to embrace it. Hotel rooms can be incredibly generic, cold and devoid of character. Sadly, so are many hotel room shoots. You can tell when the hotel room is just a make shift studio, a location and just a safe place to take pictures of a naked model.
Hotel rooms can be intimate and sensual settings, they have an inherent vibe and feel that skilled artists know how to tap into. Hotels are where people, even people who would never think of doing so at home, watch porn. Hotels are where people go for sex, for secret affairs. Hotels are home bases for people's trips and dream vacations to new worlds and new ways of living. They are used by people to escape, a place to take risks and to morph into someone new, exploring aspects of yourself that you might never be comfortable doing while at home.
'Before the shoot DV and I had discussed what it was we might do together, and most of it was gently erotic and reflective. The images are soft and intimate.'
Saint Helier based photographer Doppel-V has spent years shooting architecture, nature and landscape images, but only recently began shooting the male form. In fact, these images of Richard are from only his second time shooting nudes. James (Doppel-V) says that each shoot is a chance to learn more and more about the new direction he is taking within his work. 'I think that my amateur theatre background has left me with an eye for shape and setting - and, most importantly - lighting.' James says he has a tendency to throw himself at new projects and shooting nudes was no different. His hope is that his images suggest a rawness and intimacy and apart from a few tweaks with color or shading, tries to present his models as they are, shaving rashes, moles and all!
Living in the Island of Jersey , it can be difficult to find models, although becoming a little easier after his initial shoots were received so favourably. This means James will mainly be shooting on his travels to the UK, and possibly Greece sometime next year. James's shoot with Richard, was thankfully a little closer to home. It was just this past September, Richard made his way across Vauxhall Bridge to Battersea where he found the hotel and met up for his shoot with Doppel-V.
'I feel it an honour and privilege that models are willing to appear as themselves, totally unencumbered. I am grateful to all who let me into their private world. We are all naked, but to photograph it takes bravery on their part. Richard was great to work with! As well as having a great sense of his own body, he intelligent and a true gentlemen.'
Intimate, erotic and reflective, each of the goals both model and artist had in mind, were all beautifully and successfully achieved. Richard, also an artist and writer, understands story, and I love the story he and James have created with these images. I especially love how the entire bed is used and the poses Richard creates, utilize his entire body over the full surface of the bed. James captures and frames the poses with unique angles, and through the lighting used, intensifies that feeling of closeness and intimacy between Richard, and whomever his incredible blue eyes are focused on.
There is a distinct sense that Richard is interacting with someone. There is a clear, and intensely intimate relationship between the one in front of the camera, and the one behind it. I still however felt that Richard was the only actual person within the room. Alone, naked, vulnerable yet intentionally exposed. I couldn't shake the feeling the person Richard was posing for, the one on the receiving end of his sensual gaze and longing looks, was not actually in the same room. Instead, I envisioned the person to be thousands of miles away, with him but with a barrier between them. Seeing him only through the laptop camera that he had placed along side him on the bed. The camera the connection, linking two people tied in relationship, one within that hotel room, the other far away, maybe back to wherever home might be.
'It’s the ‘tie’ pictures that I like the most. They tap into poses and images we may have seen before — office and call-out boys and so on, that evoke a specific kind of fantasy for us.'-Richard Whitney