I went down to France that summer at the invite of my friend George from Louisiana. I had met George the previous year at workshops in California and then (by coincidence) Provence. He asked me if I’d like to join him again in Provence, as one of the workshop models he’d kept in touch with was also a photographer and had offered to set up photo shoots with some of her own models. I was already planning to visit London and Paris the two weeks immediately prior to George’s plan for Provence, so it happened to fit into my plans and I said yes.
The four photos here are of a lovely, sweet natured girl named Emilie. The first two photos here were made on a memorable day when we ventured to the “calanques,” the rocky coastline of the Mediterranean Sea near Marseille. The day is memorable for two reasons.
First, George fell off of a rock in the morning and when I went over to take a look, I saw him sitting on that rock with blood pouring out of the side of his head, running down the side of his face and down his neck and chest. (It would have made a great color photo with the red of the blood and the blue of the Med behind him, but I thought doing so at the time might have been insensitive. George’s wife, though, told me that evening that I should have gone ahead and done it!) Anyway, George felt well enough to walk so we all packed up our stuff and climbed back over the rocks to the lifeguard station at the nearby beach. Paramedics arrived and treated George, saying that his wound was just superficial.
George decided to spend the rest of the day resting in the shade, so the models and I returned the “calanques.” This is the second memorable part. While climbing down a large rock, I saw that my shirt had gotten caught on something jutting out. I immediately yanked myself away – which was probably a mistake. From that moment on, over the next several days, I began getting pains in the left side of my chest that kept increasing in intensity. Eventually, I could barely move a muscle while trying to sleep without a sharp pain shooting through me. So, we had to cancel our last day’s photo session because I needed to go the emergency room at a hospital in Arles! (After an EKG and half a dozen chest x-rays, I was told that the pain was most likely caused by a pulled muscle.)
About the photos, the one at the top was made late that afternoon. I asked Kathy, one of the other girls, to hold her hand out so that it would cast a shadow on Emilie’s face as you see it. To me, it seems to add a sense of mystery to the image. The second photo was also made at the calanques earlier in the day. As you can see, at this point the sun was pretty high in the sky and was casting harsh shadows, but I still think the image works with her upper torso seeming to come out of the fabric.
The other images were made a day or two earlier at another location in Provence: the quarries at Les Baux. near Arles. Unlike the seaside setting of the first two images, the quarry area offered more in the way of shade and softer light. It also offered some graffiti, so I thought it would be cute to have a nude Emilie looking at another ‘nude.’ The final image here is a simple portrait of Emilie against a bright background. What I find interesting here, besides Emilie’s lovely visage, is how the shadow on her stomach gives the effect of her having an extremely narrow waste!
(By the way: if you’re reading this, Chris – this posting is for you.)