“This particular journey started when Dark Beauty Magazine teamed up with Lindsay Adler to bring about a Photography Competition titled – Secrets. We didn’t have access to a New York studio, amazing equipment or an extensive budget. We didn’t have any supermodels either. But we did have “Super Souls” , a functioning garage studio with a DIY lighting set-up and whole lot of spirit. And armed with that we embarked on a journey to birth a secret.”
Panida Csanyi. With a name like that alone she ought to be a top New York designer. And then there’s what she’s capable of… I don’t think anyone including herself really knows the capacity of her talent as a stylist and designer. I just hope I’ll be able to get in a few more sessions with her before someone realises the magnitude of her potential and carts her off to New York.
Panida was supposed to meet us for months with the hope of collaborating on something but for numerous reasons we were unable to commit to any plans let alone for coffee. When the Secrets competition was announced I knew that if I was to enter the only way I was going to do so was with Panida. And so we finally had that cup of coffee and brainstormed. Next up was finding the right soul for the portrait.
We genuinely sat on the initial ideas for too long. Panida was unavailable after June and whatever we had to do we had unintentionally kept for the last two weeks. Time really is flying it’s already July.
And so while wondering whether to make a casting call, Mel Palmer and her gas mask popped into my head. Another long overdue shoot that had gotten shelved. For some reason it felt like the right time to blow the dust off that idea and call up Mel. And Mel, as wonderful as ever, was keen. But due to some interim scheduling issues I was again at a juncture where I may not have a subject or the time.
Enter Tara. Now Tara will forever be remembered as the tall girl with pink hair. (She will most definitely make a skewed face for that as she was initially very apologetic and almost embarrassed about how she had to dye her hair pink for a workshop. The selfie she sent me instantly had Steven Tyler singing in my ears – “Pinkkkk is my new obsession”) She had liked my picture of Talia carrying the bug infested window that Dark Beauty had posted, and I dropped her a message wondering if she’d be keen to get in front of the camera for a project or two which was when she explicitly stated her love for Dark Beauty Magazine‘s feed. And so given the timing and Tara’s wide open schedule we scheduled to meet up for a second meeting to get our specifics sorted.
Degraves, same café, same seats- they say we are creatures of habit this was borderline ridiculous. We got our basic ideas down and decided that we were shooting that Sunday.
Mel was back on the map and I still needed her to be there in all her Asylum glory so it was unanimously decided that we would utilize both of the girls together. It would be my first time shooting multiple subjects in a single shot. What a time to be leaving comfort zones.
We had to accommodate two bodies in the garage lighting space now (Oh how very dodgy if someone started reading this from here). Spotlight decided to set the aligning of whatever domino’s that were going to fall in order for this to just all work out perfectly by having a massive discount on black blinds. From there it was a gruelling Saturday of setting up a make shift studio. We prevailed, and much more successfully than we ever could have hoped.
Sunday came and the girls descended here with bags filled with amazing heels, clothes, props and most importantly polka dots! We also learnt that Tara has a spreadsheet for her Black Milk collection.
Now we nether ever thought we’d end up with this final product but it goes to prove how important being on the right wavelength and the beauty of a collaboration to make art really is. We were not distracted by anything but the goal. Make a picture that screamed SECRET. Once Panida worked her magic and Tara was in costume, all those individual ideas that we had suddenly just connected in my head. And I suppose this is what I was useful for. Being the linchpin, the secret of taking singular elements and weaving them into a story, passed down from my grandfather to me and his grandfather to him. And so on my head I spun the yarn and the golden thread tangled and gave me the story. A story that could be told in singular picture.
There will no doubt be different interpretations to the image, already there are dozens and we’ve barely released it. Talia would usually be the only one who’d hear or see the story in my head. But on this one she reckons even the master – Poe– would not be able to tell it as it is. Thus I will for the first time write a short paragraph that carries the essence of my own interpretation/story behind the image. However that will have to wait until the competition is over as I will be most intrigued to see (if nothing else) if Lindsay Adler will give me an interpretation.
That said all of this would never be if not for Morgan. She truly is the enabler, the mother that gave life to perhaps what may forever remain one of my greatest photographs.