Does anyone like being photographed? I'm not talking about a casual photograph, but having one's portrait done, which always ends up being more work than you expect. Sometimes it's worse than work. Many years ago, a photographer required me to hold an expression for minutes at a time. He dusted my face with powder until my skin was three shades too light. I could feel my expression hardening, while he made remarks about the size of my nose and who knows what else. Then, as the session wound down, he walked up to me, looked me in my eye, expecting me to what? Punch him? Kiss him? The incident seems almost funny and completely absurd from this distance, but it was a good example of how strange things can get when power makes a seemingly casual, passing relationship go messy.
So it was a huge relief to know that I was going to be photographed by my friend Star Black. She'd taken my picture before--not a portrait, but casually, and I'd loved her portraits of Mark, Louise Gluck, and others. I went to her apartment. She made me coffee, strong coffee. I stood by the window, she held up her camera, and soon we weren't exactly in clock time anymore--no other way to put it. I thought we'd be done in--a half hour? Forty five minutes? Over two hours later the two of us were sitting before her laptop, pressing the delete key over and over, until our eyes were stitchy and we were a little sick with our looking. I learned this: a good portrait is not just a collaboration between photographer and subject, but also a collaboration between light, posture, and thought, all of which are never still. It takes a lot of work to make it look easy--300 tries in this case--and then you come across a shot and you think, ah, so there it is. The life in motion, but fixed at the same time.
Anyway, this was taken for Unbuilt Projects, but it's likely going to go on The Burning House too.