I saw my friend Helmut Newton today. Browsing through a local bookstore, I saw a large volume of the book “Sumo”. Although this was not the original, gigantic, $25,000.00, signed version, it was still a larger than usual book of photographs. At a cost of $180.00, I was tempted to purchase it, but decided against doing so, thinking it would have been a frivolity. I would have liked to own it for its collection value, but I would have looked at it once and then it would have forever become a fixture on my coffee table, along with a hundred other books.
I didn’t actually know Helmut. I used the word “friend” metaphorically. Although he never knew this, I did admire him from afar. As I did David Baily, Richard Avedon, Sarah Moon and many other artists whose fame was at its peak some time in the early seventies. I used to study their art by pouring over books and magazines that featured their works. I still have some of these books and magazines. Vogue, Zoom, Photo and many other less memorable publications.
Although I have evolved in my own way developing a style that I believe is uniquely mine, I am occasionally reminded by one of my photographs of the influences that some of these old masters may have had over me.
So I present Christelle. A new model for me. We have known one another, virtually, for quite some time, through mutual admiration for one another. I, for her modeling capabilities and she, for my imagery and artistry. But somehow we could never connect to collaborate on a shoot — until yesterday. It was my first session in a long time and the long awaited anticipation made me somewhat nervous. Even more than the usual nervousness I feel when I am getting ready for a session. This is Christelle. She is legendary. At least in my own mind. Having been photographed by top photographers from around the world, her portfolio is a “who is who” of todays top photographers. Certainly reason enough to put fear into my shutter-clicking index finger. But I prevailed. The session was a pleasure. She helped to make it so. A consummate pro with an old soul. Fearless, energetic and uninhibited. No ego conflict and completely submissive, she performed her art with virtuosity.
The resulting photographs somehow remind me of Helmut. I may be detecting a touch of his influence or maybe it’s just my nostalgia.