Saturday, 31 January 2015

LOOK AWAY by Sheryl Tait

LOOK AWAY by Sheryl Tait

January is possibly the bleakest month of the year but not when you are being photographed by a photographer as inventive as the lovely Sheryl Tait which is what happened to me on 31st January 2015. I cannot remember how I came across Sheryl's work but when I saw it, I was struck by how different each of her photographs were. It seemed to me that Sheryl did not have a 'style' but that her photographs were fed by her natural interest in her subjects and her desire to tell their story; each photograph is as unique as the subject.

I used to do some acting and indeed an actor is what I always wanted to be and some people have suggested that I might want to to go back to that now I am retired but the reason I don't want to is that I know that my illness will get in the the way of me performing well. Before my surgery, it would have been mainly my tremor and since my surgery, it would be a mixture of things. But if I was not able to give as good a performance as I would have done if I was not ill, then I just don't want to do it - I don't want people to say that I have performed well considering that I have Parkinson's Disease. I want it to be good anyway. And this is why I want to go further in my shoots physically and emotionally - this is why I am prepared to stand naked on a beach in January. I want to make up for the fact that I have Parkinson's. Mind you, it helps if two people like Sheryl and Jordi are around as they are such considerate people. They made me feel safe and cared for.

We had talked briefly before about what we were going to do on the beach but the tempting of seagulls with chips idea was ditched which was a relief! We had to hire a taxi to ferry us to the beach as Jane had used the car to go to the studio. It was a bit windy and quite cold and, although there was a small family group with a couple of dogs on the beach, they departed at the right moment to enable the shots with the red scarf to proceed. Eventually, we finished and I have to say that, although I was feeling some physical discomfort, once we got started, I did feel that I could have gone on for a little while longer. We called the taxi company who were extremely unhelpful about a pick up but eventually, it was sorted and we were on the way back home. This is where the the third set of shots were taken followed by a Tim Andrews filmfest which Sheryl and Jordi endured with good grace. 

A short while later, I received three stunning images each one very different to the others as you can see. Sheryl did not try to influence my decision and I went for the shot from the last session because there I am. Me. Unadorned. Connecting with the photographer and through her, the viewer. In many ways, it is as naked and theatrical as the others but with this added engagement. It is beautiful. 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

INTIMACY by Magda Rakita

INTIMACY by Magda Rakita
I watched "House of Cards" last night. The performances by Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright were so moving. There is so much about the people they play which is bad and cruel, calculating and ambitious - but in this episode, they showed such a deep love for each other. It was inspirational acting and I wished for one short whisper of a moment that I could do it again because, when you have the opportunity of acting in that way, you become that person and live that life and breathe that breath and think those thoughts and it is wonderful. On the one hand, you are just pretending to be another person but, on the other hand, you are that person. He leaves a present on her pillow and she goes into his bedroom where he is sleeping on his side. She slides into bed and puts her arm around him and he wakes and clutches her hand. It is not a sexual moment as such but it says so much about them and their closeness. Their intimacy.

I met Magda at Photo Forum whenI gave a talk there a couple of years ago and then we met at a cafe in Mornington Crescent and talked through some ideas and ended up with this plan to photograph me inside an old window frame possibly on the beach. But we could never find the right sort of frame. Nevertheless, we kept in touch and then recently, Magda said that she had started this project about intimacy in older age and asked if she could come over and photograph me and also interview me about my thoughts on Intimacy. 

Whilst she was here, this is some of what I said to her :-

My intimacy with Jane is totally different from any other type of relationship.  The intimacy that I have with Jane.. is based on years of love and understanding. And arguments, and touch and looks... if you want to have really satisfying relationship... then it's got to be based on an understanding and an acceptance of who you both are.  And that's what’s important. 

In this photograph, I can see what I am thinking. It is a mixture of seriousness and hope. An acceptance of how things are and how they are going to be allied to an optimism that knows no bounds. The image is crisp, full of light and texture. It is full of what I love so much about this project, this life, Jane and photography. It is full of hope. 

And Magda captured all that in one click of her finger.