One of the great things about photography, particularly portrait photography of the Elska style, is the intimacy created through the working relationship between photographer and subject. It is a necessarily personal relationship, required because a model needs to feel comfortable in order to be photographed and because a photographer needs to feel enough at ease to get close without feeling obtrusive. Awkwardness is absolutely perceptible to both the casual and trained eye, so rapport – even friendship – needs to be built.
Forming friendship is a great thing of course, but it’s one edge of a double-ended sword. For a project like Elska, where we shoot each issue in a different city, hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the previous one, friendships are doomed. My shoot with Eugen K for the Lviv, Ukraine issue is a great example of this duality.
I felt immediately comfortable with him, a soft-spoken artist who had the hospitality to have prepared tea and cakes for my arrival. After the shooting was done, which occurred slowly over the course of conversation, I wanted to linger. I wanted another cup of tea… but I had to get back for the next shoot. Eugen suggested a walk in town that evening, and I said that I would try to, even though I knew my schedule made it unlikely. I suggested meeting during a small gap in my schedule the next morning, but he had to work.
Of course I’m glad to have met him and spent time with him at all, and I should count myself lucky that I have a set of photographs that will aid my memory when old age starts to need a reminder. But it’s also a tragedy, because I may never see him again, and this sense of loss would never have afflicted me if I hadn’t met him in the first place.
To see more of our shoot with Eugen K., subscribe to or buy individual issues of Elska Magazine, available in select shops or online at www.elskamagazine.com
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