I love this portrait very, very much.
I had the perfect assistant for a while. Her name was Renae. She was telepathic. She could sense what tool or prop I needed it long before I even thought about needing it. And she would occasionally say, "You need to do a beautiful portrait now. I'll have a friend drop by." And one day she announced that I should photograph Amy. And since I never thought to argue with Renae I dutifully prepared the studio for Amy's arrival.
I was still shooting film at the time. Early years. Maybe 2000 or 2001. We had digital cameras but we used them for quick stuff. Not for art. We shot this on Astia. With an R8 and a 90mm Summicron. We shot all our fun stuff on Leica R cameras back then.
The lighting I used was my favorite. A big soft light high up and to my left.
I took one look at Amy and fell in love with her face. She was remarkable. A natural beauty. We shot a lot of portraits. And we played with the light. But that was secondary to our banter and back and forth. It was a seduction plain and simple. From both parties. Eventually it all got silly and Renae broke up the moment and we all had a few glasses of wine. Then everyone went home. And that's the way the best portrait sessions go. Men or women. You meet the sitter. You mutually conspire to fall in love in the safety of the studio, both knowing that it won't progress past the last roll of film. You flirt, you engage, you tease. And when you get good images you give your subject good feedback and they push closer to the invisible edge and then the moment passes and the energy ebbs aways and you become friends. And you know you've taken a wonderful portrait. But you know you could not have done it if your subject hadn't submitted in some way to your advances and responded in kind.
And that's when you know the magic of portraiture manifested itself to you. If you can't fall in love with your sitters you are doomed to make documentations instead of art. In commerce it's different. That's why it's important to do work that pleases you and the private sitter and not worry about the masses. Not everyone is lovable and not everyone can fall in love.......
As Renae pushed our sitter out the door she gave me a look. She knew just where the edges of the process blurred and how to enforce her own mystical idea of inspiration. I've never known a more prescient person and I've never had an assistant like that again. She made herself part of the process. And she was so valuable to my vision that I gladly let her.