Monday 30 July 2012

Naked truth

The shooting was set for Monday afternoon, at Norm's studio. Two or three hours.
"I want to do some outdoor shots, first" Norm told me when I arrived. "I have seen some very nice back alleys, I think I want to investigate that".
A typhoon had hit Hong Kong the previous week, the strongest in thirteen years, people said, and the positive outcome was that it temporarily cleared up the air from the heavy pollution. The sky had not been so crisp and crystal blue in ages. We could see the shores of China very distinctively. The temperature however was high.
Norm's studio was located in Chai Wan, which is at the other end of the island. A more modest and industrial area, not unlike the London Est End.The back alleys offered an interesting, graphic background for the pictures. The fact that I walked around shirtless didn't look conspicuous, since many men take off their shirt for a better comfort in their manual and often demanding work. Except that I was all dressed in white, with my yellow fluorescent sneakers.
I shall discover what Norm saw behind his lens. For now, I only could follow his direction and trust his eyes.
"Then we'll got back to the studio for the nude pictures. You still want to do them, don't you?" he asked with a naughty smile.
"I said I would, so you don't need to look at me that way!" I replied. We both laughed.
Posing nude wasn't so difficult. The fact that I had to constantly pay attention to the light and move extremely slowly made me forget about the other aspect of it.
"I actually find it more comfortable than posing for portraits" I told Norm. He was surprised. "Quite strangely, I can be extremely shy when it comes to play the piano or sing. But being naked is totally fine. I guess I learnt to tame the 'beast' when I started going to onsen in Japan. Everybody is naked there, from the child to the elderly, and it's the most natural thing. That's how it should be."
"I would still feel very embarrassed to show myself naked in front of people", Norm said with a grin.
"I used to as well. I didn't like my body when I was a teenager. I was ashamed of it. And in my education, it was not really encouraged. Add the Christian guilt to it and you get my state of mind then!"
Norm's pictures are studies in black and white. And portraiture.
"I want to take lots of portraits of you. Of all the models who posed for me, yours is the most Romanesque face". Norm said from behind his camera.
I suddenly thought of the Roald Dahl's story about that painter who, in order to do a portrait of his female subject, had to first paint her nude, then one by one, apply layer of 'clothes' until she was fully dressed.

I won't see the images before Norm has fine-tuned them. The book will be released by the end of the year. "Maybe end of November. I am curating a collective exhibition and will be showing some of my work as well."
Perfect time for the book launch. Truth be told, I'm still a bit nervous about it. Not because of the nudity, but simply for a more vain reason. The other models cut a perfect figure and my lack of self-confidence is kicking plaintively.
A learning experience.

Not a photo by Norm, but a self-portrait during my stay in HK

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