Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fallen legions

They used to scalp Barbarian women to sell their blond hair for wigs, not to mention their tendency "to ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, and call it empire; and where they made a desert, to call it peace", but I can't help myself to feel kind of a sympathy to the Roman Empire. And there was a caesar called Maximian who, had he been just a little more successful, could have changed the course of history; but he failed, and his image shows just that: a failed man, seeing his world collapse around him.

I always loved this image with all the world-weariness written on his face and for some time entertained the idea to make a similar self-portrait just for my own fun. With the peace of Christmas holidays descending on us I took the time to make it. Ironically, there's a poem titled "With fallen legions" by Hungarian poet Árpád Tóth, in which an aging man, still longing for love but neglected by young and desirable women, compares himself to an emperor still ready for new conquests but having only "fallen legions", a metaphor for being powerless. Not in the sexual way of meaning; at least to me, still far from being powerless, it's about understanding much but not being able to change anything, going far beyond love. And of course seeing a new seed of beauty growing which my generation will never reap. Isn't this ironic: long ago I knew their mothers in their full beauty, and now I see their daughters blossoming? Anyway, the point is that I didn't want to hire professional models, I wanted to have two under-age beauties to emphasize the difference between their fresh faces and my own worn-out look.

So entered Rebeca and Reka, with reflective shields replacing the scutum of Maximian's bodyguards. Originally I wanted to do it with Edd Carlile but he was away, and I still had enough photographic legions to attempt it on my own; in any case, I counted on his portrait expertise but didn't want to do it his way. I admire him but don't want to imitate him. In any case he had made a much better emperor than me.
After the emperor shots I took a few beauty shots of them, which were nothing particular but good exercise.

I screwed some of Reka's pics though by over-stretching de 5D's flash syncron speed but somehow I like those images anyway.

It was a tad difficult with Reka. She will grow into something wild, with more explicit sexuality than usual, and I didn't consider it right to push the shooting into that direction. I wish she had worn a torn leather jacket with sharp metal rivets. Or just smash a window. She rocks, and she definitely should rock. In the good, old-fashioned way. Maybe next time.

It was easier with Rebeca. Attending a ballet school and prepared for a life on the stage, she was a pleasure to instruct. And I love working with professional ballerinas. Bodies innocent and graceful from far away, but lethal terminators from close enough.

We had some problems in the beginning because the shooting started with me slipping & tearing down the black background fabric. (You know, a good photographer shows to the models what pose he wants them to assume.) I told Rebeca, "jump up and do the splits" which she happily did, only to prove the studio too small.

So, there we stood with Reka (a quite bendy model herself) looking with dropping jaws at Rebeca who seemingly without any efforts assumed the most self-torturing poses, and even when I told her "OK, nice, but now do it again so that I can capture it and don't forget to shake your hair" she did it without any moaning.

Anyway, I'm not so satisfied with this set; there were lots of props we didn't use, Reka got stuck in a not-so-fitting innocence, and the black background, and my own stupidity not to use the stroboscope mode of the 580EXII for the ballet shots - but it was great fun at least. Even though I, the old emperor, couldn't shake off a little envy for the young lucky centurions who might be legally in love with these two beauties.
But in all honesty, I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.


Anonymous said...

Il semble que vous soyez un expert dans ce domaine, vos remarques sont tres interessantes, merci.

- Daniel

Anonymous said...

Very nice 'Emperor' shot, especially the first one. I love the choice of accessory, and the models (including you) are fantastic.

I can imagine that sort of shot for a CEO, to be hung in the office or factory. That would be killer.

Happy New Year Balazs,