The late photographer Horst P. Horst had a preference for working with friends over “professional” models. Of course, in his earliest work prior to World War II, there was no such thing as a professional model, so convincing friends from within his social circles to pose was the only option. But even after the war, when the Ford Agency redefined what it means to sit for hours in front of a camera or wear a designer’s clothing for hire, the legendary genius of the lens preferred to work with people he knew well, citing their ability to pose comfortably, take direction more precisely, and carry on a decent conversation.
Working with Katherine Reiling recently reminded me of Horst’s musings. It’s been roughly seven years since Katherine’s been in front of my camera; not that we haven’t tried to shorten that distance on numerous occasions, but schedules and life so often get in the way and maintaining friendships become more difficult as life grows more complicated. So as we met and began the process of taking pictures, there was much to talk about. In fact, had we been taking account of the time talking versus the time shooting, I’m sure we spent nearly twice as much time in conversation.
Of course, having friends who also have experience as models is the ultimate win. While the atmosphere was calm and relaxed, Katherine knows how to pose without needing a lot of direction. I could tell her the shot I was wanting and she was beautifully accommodating in making that image happen. But while experience always makes a difference, so does the ease with which we were able to move from image to image while carrying on conversations about family and travel and heritage and health.
I like having people in front of my camera with whom I can relate and enjoy the time even when we’re not actively taking pictures. For me, the pictures have a deeper resonance and while the depth of that resonance may not be felt by everyone who views them, I am convinced that friends always make for better pictures.
Click on any of the thumbnails below to view the images full screen.