In an attempt to update and unify my photos on my site (and social media) I put out a little “call for collaboration” on my Facebook page, a few weeks ago. I figured it would be fun to get out, work with photographers, do a little concept development and just generally get some nice photos of myself. I’m not rebranding so much as further honing my personal aesthetic, now that I am really finding what works for me as a designer and as visual human being.
My personal style is definitely condensing itself, as I start to better recognize patterns, colors and shapes that I am consistently drawn to – I think as I get older, I’ve learned to trust my instincts much more, and take more chances. I’ve also learned to appreciate my brain’s facility with pattern recognition: it somehow manages to catch onto social and cultural touchpoints before they reach a certain level of saturation. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a knack I’ve always had.
Last weekend, I did my first shoot in awhile, since earlier in the summer (which I, unfortunately never received images from). Modeling is sort of a weird thing. It’s something I’ve been doing for awhile, since I was eighteen. It took me a long, long time my in my life to even begin to consider myself “pretty”or accept my body, but modeling was one of those things that has helped paved the way. I would collaborate, dress up, and pose nude (on occasion) for photographers and found myself strangely grounded in front of the camera. It gave me a perspective on how, perhaps, other people saw me. Or how I could shape myself to be seen in certain ways. Or how to remove all layers and be, at the core, essentially human, when I often felt like I was anything but.
As I posted on Twitter, last night: “Modeling is a form of meditation in some way – an exercise in introspection, reflecting, focus, nuance, subtlety. Such a specific mindspace. The most interesting part, as photographic subject, is watching at close range how another person concepts, shapes and generates their art.”
I like watching how others make their art.
This shoot was a really interesting one. I have to say, it’s not exactly easy shooting with your best friend – but I always enjoy a challenge. Najva and I have known each other from the very first day I’ve moved to New York City, over 7 years ago. She and I have wildly different tastes in fashion – while I am more pared down, futuristic and materials-oriented; she is a maximalist that takes her style cues from dramatic patterns and silhouettes, from every era.
Amusingly so, we were both kind of nervous about the shoot. I am a ruthless critic and editor at times (and if I take the time to critique you, it means I care enough for you to improve your work) which can sometimes come off as mean, if you’re not used to it. (Thanks, Art School, for thickening my skin!) And Najva has been on the receiving end of this critique, before. I was nervous because I’m definitely not Najva’s typical subject and she is very specific about how she likes things to be styled, so, that was a bit of a struggle. It ended up being to both of our benefit because it pushed things in a way that I didn’t anticipate, but ultimately really like.
The weather was icy and damp that morning, but the clouds were the perfect overcast light, diffusing everything. The rooftop felt sort of strange and elemental, and I ended up channeling a witchy vibe towards the end of the shoot when I relaxed a little bit (and was feeling less awkward).
Check out the rest of Najva’s portfolio (some images NSFW!) here: www.najvasol.com