|WITHIN THE HEART OF ME by Lenka Rayn H.|
I almost called this "My Blue Shirt" because this shirt, one of my favourites, was blue originally but the colour has slowly drained out of it with each wash. However, what is most important to me about this image is my face. Lenka suggested that it might be nice to meet before the shoot because she did not want me to treat me as a model when I arrived but to know me more as a person. Well, we did not manage to meet beforehand and so I was determined to feel as relaxed as possible on my arrival, as if we had met before and it is this that is reflected in my gaze.
One of Lenka's favourites
What was it that I liked about Lenka's work that moved me to invite her to photograph me? Colour. There is a self portrait on her website where Lenka is in a room crouched next to a wall painted bright red. She is wearing a top which is the same colour and the buttons are undone revealing part of a white breast. Lenka's face is without expression but her stance is dramatic like the colour. It made me smile. Like these images on this page, many of her portraits have a gorgeous bleached tone from the natural light. Revelation. Many of her portraits seem to reveal the inner nature of her subject. Often their expression is blank but the more ones looks, the more one sees. And their skin is uncovered showing bare shoulders or, in her self portraits, a bare body. Emotion lies just beneath the surface. Lenka creates the atmosphere where Colour, Revelation and Emotion combine to produce images of stunning brilliance.
On 31st July 2015, the sun was shining in a blue sky dotted with high fluffy cloud. I got off the train at Forest Hill, established my bearings and got lost! A kind person put me right and I found myself walking up the wrong street but I could see from my map that it ran parallel to the right street and that there was a footpath which joined the two. The wrong street was typical of any such thoroughfare in suburban London whereas the right street was anything but. Its surface was cobbled for a start and the noise and bustle from within the attractive artisan buildings on either side revealed the feel of a thriving artistic community. It was like a small oasis tucked away and out of sight. I rang the bell on Lenka's gate and, as we greeted each other with a kiss, I knew that this was going to be a very good shoot. Her house, which she shares with her husband (also a photographer) was painted grey and soft white and beautiful photographs decorated the walls.
We chatted as I sipped a glass of water. I took off my jacket and sat on a stool in front of a back drop already set up. We started. She approved of my shirt and I told her the story of its blueness. She did not have much direction to give me; sometimes she asked me to lift a chin (I have several) or move a little forward or back. At her request, I took off my shirt. Lenka bobbed up and down covering the windows with curtain or board to keep the bright sun at bay. For some reason, I loved it when she opened a door onto a patio and positioned her tripod on the threshold and then knelt on one knee to view the shot before clicking the shutter. She had mentioned that she might exchange her digital camera for a large format camera and, when she did, I felt I had really earned it. She used up three or four plates and then, it was over. She made me some toast with cheese and salami and I showed her some of my films on her laptop. I said goodbye and walked away from an excellent shoot with a very nice woman. I received a set of images a few days later. Her favourites are shown here and, although they did not coincide with mine, they were all so uniformly good that really, I could have chosen any one of them - as you can see.