Matthew is the walking embodiment of the classic American mongrel. Part Mexican, part Polish, this fitness buff and model projects a timeless All-American look. Fittingly, he calls Washington, DC, home.
We did Matthew's session on a recent trip to Washington and the northern Virginia suburbs. It was a session almost a year in the making. We had started corresponding in the summer of 2015, but our respective schedules did not align until months later.
Each session is as different as the model on the paper, or in this case, on the staircase. Our Polish-Mexican-American model had a commanding physical presence. Clearly this man spends a lot of time in the gym, but from which side of the family he gets his hulking 6'3" frame, we didn't ask. We just set about looking for the best light to capture a classic torso. The formal nature of the home in which we were working lent itself well to the classic physique poses that we were pursuing.
Matthew's was the second session that day and by late afternoon we had explored most of the home's nooks, corners and crannies. One unused option stood in front of us: the entry hall's grand staircase. I wasn't sure what challenges it might present in our attempt to shoot such a tall model from either above or below, as would be necessitated on the staircase.
It had been an intermittently cloudy day. The hall was filled with a beautiful, soft light as we studied the possibilities. No sooner than did we start snapping—one from photographer from above the model, one from below—than the sun came out. The room’s ambiance changed totally and suddenly our camera settings had to be changed. Sixty seconds later the light changed again. And the cameras.
Then again. The peekaboo sun in the fast-moving April sky was wreaking havoc on the set. It was like having someone constantly turning the lights on and off. In the end, I capitulated and turned the camera on automatic and kept shooting even though most of the time the model was standing in mottled light as sun poured through blinds on a Palladian window high in the entry hall. I was skeptical that anything of value was being captured.
What prompted it, I’m not sure. But not only did the light surprise on the staircase, so did the model. Gradually he edged into more provocative poses and the final work has a distinctly different feel from the images captured during the first part of the day. (I'm not sure, but I suspect it may have been "the staircase effect." Staircases have been known to bring out the diva in many of us.)
And the dreaded mottled light turned out to impart a mood that augments the softly erotic nature of the model’s work. I can picture him standing in an old home in the French Quarters of New Orleans. Listen closely and you can almost hear the old ceiling fan slowly turning.
Check out Matthew’s gallery here as well as the additional pictures of him in the Fine Art Gallery. And who knows? More pictures from other parts of the house may eventually make their way into a future issue of Captured Shadows.