Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"My " Models

I don't have any.

The models I work with are human beings with their own sense of destiny, their own ideas and their own minds. I don't own them, nor would I want to, especially since I am not a big fan of "people."

I've heard a lot lately and read a lot lately about some photographers who feel entitled to some sense of ownership of models that they have worked with...and it makes me wonder…

It makes me wonder about what is really percolating under the surface here. Freudian or not, but this false sense of ownership is unsettling. Maybe even pathologic. Maybe even something that could be equated with mental slavery. But mostly a pathetic justification for one's station in life.

Here's what I believe:
If you define your work by the people you work with, then you are not an artist.

Your work should be your work. Period, end of story.

"Who" is actually presented in "said work" is secondary. Actually, not even secondary but transparent – they should be part of the art.

And if you are afraid that some other photographer "steals" your model and takes a "picture" of them, and that the act of the other photographer doing that (in this shit world of shit photographers) somehow compromises the "picture" that you took of them, well, your "picture" probably wasn't that special after all...and you are AFRAID. Why are you afraid?

Insecurity and how it manifests itself is amazing.

Who owns Sigourney Weaver? Does Helmut Newton? Ridley Scott? Her husband? My guess is that Ms. Weaver would have issue with being owned...period. Even though I’ve seen AMAZING photos of her by Mr. Newton, have never seen that Columbus film by Mr. Scott (although the ALIEN one is pretty good), and have never met her husband, although he does really great off-off Broadway theatre in lower Manhattan.

Oh, but you “discovered” someone and “made” them. Really? Give me a fucking break…

Bottom line: If you tell me or if I read that you have a problem with other people "using" your models, I dismiss you.

Collaborations are precious. Muses are a gift. But people don’t belong to you.

Artists are confident. At least my definition of an artist is...

The photo above is of "my" model.

If you shoot with her, I will FUCKING KILL YOU. Or delete your tags. Or write about it in my blog.

And as D. Boon from The Minutemen sang, “Serious as a heart attack!”


bt said...




Richard Goldstein said...

dude, you SO stole that model from me!!!

Dave Levingston said...


I've been astonished by the attitude you talk about here too. It's really almost incomprehensible to me. I think you nailed it that it is a sure sign of insecurity, if not mental illness, on the part of those who make such statements.

As much as I enjoy working with a model who "gets it" as far as my work is concerned, in my photos the models are really interchangable. I need a nude figure in a particular place in the composition. Any reasonably attractive figure will do. Talented models do a better job of looking attractive in the weird places I put them, but I can work with just about anyone to get what I'm after.

Oh...and remember...naked chicks on rocks...that's mine. I invented it. Don't you dare take any photos of naked chicks on'd be stealing my ideas...

Be well,


Chip said...

if this is some shit off of MM- then first consider the source and move on.

too much heartburn can be found there by too many idiots without a clue.

I try my best to stay away from that nonsense.

feel much better in the process too!

the real concerns are not with those issues at all, are they?

Lin said...

Hear hear James.
Bloody good post.

Stacy Leigh said...

MY models are made of silicone and cost 7k (incl. shipping) for 7k you too can "own" one!!!!

What you have written about has recently surfaced in a conversation I had with a photographer...I didn't get it then, but now I do.

I worship you James M. Graham. You are an artist of the highest caliber.


cat b said...

i agree.
work should not only be qualified by the subject.
i feel that the territorial attitude often times is rooted in the greedy desire for having 'discovered' talent, so that one may ride it's coat tails.

Iris Dassault said...

If a photographer's work is defined by who is in the picture (unless the subject is a famous person), what the pose looks like, what props or locations are used, than that doesn't say much for the photographer's work. To me, what defines talent as a photographer is the ability to do it with a clearly identifyable unique style. A good photographer will make his work stand out in his own way, and doesn't need to fret or obsess over models. Great post.

Tanya said...

I have seen a few models get possesive about a photographer shooting other models as well, You get that all the time, don't you ;)