Thursday, 22 November 2012

HELLO, GOODBYE by Alexandro Pelaez

HELLO, GOODBYE by Alexandro Pelaez

You say yes, I say no
You say stop and I say go go go, oh no
You say goodbye and I say hello
Hello, hello

These are the opening words of The Beatles' song, ''Hello, Goodbye'' written and sung by Paul. The lyrics do not seem to say much and the story goes that John was not too pleased that his masterful ''I am the Walrus'' was relegated to Side B of the new single. Nevertheless, as with many things, what seems to be simple is quite complex, in fact. Either way, the song is uplifting and it makes you want to sing along so what more could you want?

The shoot with Alexandro was quite different from other more recent shoots I have been on. The plan was simple, the execution quick and there seemed to me anyway, no doubts as to the outcome. 

I came across a site called ''Independent London Photographers'' and I browsed through it to see if anything caught my eye and the images displayed by Alexandro certainly did. They were also quite simple; there seemed to be no tricksy lighting or post production but there was a beautiful clarity and a directness that enabled the viewer to look the model in the eye and communicate.

Alexandro was very interested in working with me and we arranged a time for the shoot quite quickly. And so it was on 22nd November 2012, that I arrived early in Hollywood Road in Chelsea and so I strolled up and down the street for a while and noticed Brinkley's Restaurant opposite the address I had been given and my mind went back to 2003 when I met two friends from the Hoffman Process, a sort of self-awareness course which we had all been on in the previous year. It was the Hoffman Process which was very much the precursor of Over the Hill in that on the Process, I met people I would never normally have met, let alone get on with famously. Both my companions that evening were self-assured career women and I found that I did not need to put on any act or otherwise pretend that I was something I wasn't; it was me and they were cool with that. My photographic project was an extension of the realisation that, at last, I could be myself and not be ashamed of the fact. I digress.

I rang the bell of the flat and the door was opened by a very handsome fellow with a lovely smile who introduced himself as Alexandro. He told me that he shared the flat with his girlfriend who happened to be a lawyer. They were both from Venezuela. He was completely charming and we sat down and he explained what he planned to do in the shoot. He was going to start with some fairly normal head shots with me wearing a suit at first and then topless. He would then download a suitable image and put it on a monitor and ask me to pose next to it, looking at myself on the screen. We moved into a room set up as a small home studio and whilst we ran through his planned shots, we chatted, mainly about feature films that we loved, both old and new. It made for a very pleasant afternoon with a very nice guy - what is it about photographers which makes them so personable? Maybe it is nothing to do with the fact that they are photographers but just the simple fact that, if you spend time with someone getting to know them, you realise how much goodness there is in that person and in everyone and in the world.

A few days later, Alexandro sent me about ten images by email and I chose one for my project. Funnily enough, Alexandro had said that if I chose an image, it would be one taken towards the end of the shoot whereas in fact I chose one of the early ones. BUT.....then he sent me this image and it eclipsed everything that I had seen before. The concept was so simple and straightforward but the final image says so much about my former life where I was trapped by a sense of duty and by financial and other constraints. Now I am free and able to look back. However, and this was a surprise, the more one looks the more one realises that there is also a deep sadness in the photograph. Not only because it portrays the former lawyer trapped in his world but also because there were good times then and, of course, I was healthy so the caring, sympathetic look is in the eyes of both the person looking in to the monitor and the person looking out. The healthy me is pleased for the new me but my freedom has come at a heavy cost. And that is the most wonderful thing about this photograph - Alexandro has captured that sadness in a way that few others have achieved. 

Of course, I congratulated Alexandro on this picture and he replied saying that he thought it was among his favourite photographs if not the favourite. Wow! I am in Alexandro Pelaez' favourite photograph - how good is that?

I say high, you say low,
You say why and I say I don't know, oh no
You say goodbye and I say hello
Hello, hello,
I don't know why you say goodbye,
I say hello

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