It has been one month since Grant's session in the studio. The world has changed.
After weeks being sidelined by minor elective surgery, by the second week of March, the studio calendar had roared back. Between Monday and Friday, we had three sessions on the books.
Grant's was first, on Monday. On Thursday we were working with a model who had just moved to New York from Texas and on Friday, we were finally shooting a model whose session had been postponed since the fall.
Half way through our session on Monday I knew that I wanted to work with Grant again. When the model quickly agreed, the priorities and pace for the remaining hour of the session shifted. We continued working with the understanding that this would be the first half of a larger session that would be concluded a week or two later.
The second week of March was also the week that local governments on the West Coast started closing non-essential businesses and the first work-from-home orders were being implemented in the Bay Area. In mere hours after turning off the lights at Grant's session, our world and our calendars started disolving.
Operating in midtown Manhattan and seeing what was obviously heading toward New York, I was confronted with balancing ambition and caution. After months of inactivity, I had 5 models lined up for March and April. Within hours of Grant's session I found myself having to choose between acting quickly to schedule as much work as possible before our looming lockdown or to err on the side of caution and postpone the models until an unspecified "all clear" was called.
Belonging (in pandemic terms) to a high-risk demographic group, I chose caution. I reached out first to cancel the models that had been scheduled for April. I reached out to Grant, not to schedule his session next week but to postpone it. Indefinitely. The two I put off to last were those at the end of the week, just 24 and 48 hours out.
For the record, most models thought I was acting prematurely; in mid-March New York, the reality of the threat was only starting to sink in. The virus wasn't here and but a distant threat to most 20-somethings. Only one, the body-builder scheduled for Friday, agreed that it was probably a good idea to postpone. That helped. Because of how long we'd already been postponing, his session was the hardest for me to call off.
I "postponed" their sessions knowing that it was unlikely that we would ever be rescheduling most of them. Six months is a long time in model years and in the best of times most models and actors have tenuous connections to New York. They arrive with more ambition than prospects and with patchwork gig jobs, shared living arrangements and few connections to an indifferent city, the attrition rate is high. In these times, with the city's bars, theaters, restaurants, clubs and gyms closed, there is no reason to be here. With historically bleak job prospects, I had to believe it was just a matter of time before many would be forced to retreat to hometowns, childhood bedrooms and family basements across the country.
Such is the background for the "half-gallery" of Grant's work that we open today. We remain optimistic and confident that his second session will happen. As his pictures show, he thives on the work and loves the camera as much as it loves him.
While Grant's may have been the studio's last "pre-pandemic" session, his gallery does not mark the end of new work here on the website. We can work from home and will use the time to get caught up on a backlog of editing. The lights may be off in the studio, but we will be debuting new models, new galleries and new photo essays while socially distancing.
In the four weeks since Grant's session, life has caught up with the three models we'd scheduled for the second week of March.
Grant remains in town but furloughed from his job. He's eager to get back in front of the cameras, but for. . .
Thursday's model, just arrived from Texas, has gone home. Not to Texas, but to Singapore!
Friday's model is the one who wound up in the basement of the family home. Quarantined with CV-19, he became ill 10 days after the day we were to have shot. He's doing well at this point.
That Friday, the hammer came down on the city. The studio was officially closed by mayoral proclamation prohibiting all non essential work. The Pandemic of 2020 had arrived in New York.
There is a high probability that Friday's model had been carrying the virus and had we shot, the virus would have been invited into the studio.
I am not a superstitious person, but I need to rethink how I feel about this. That day was Friday the thirteenth.