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11.I met Toni, the Artist. Extract from 'I am your mirror' photography project

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

Extract from 'I am your Mirror' photography book by Loredana Denicola.

Then I met Tony.

I called him "the Artist." Meeting him was a very awkward experience. He is an artist who travels the world.

He is not only a singer but also a very sporty man, and he is quite famous in East Europe.

I realised this later when he gave me his Facebook account. He had uploaded his photos and various show movies from his travels around the world.

My idea was to photograph myself and twelve strangers that I would find through the Internet.
These strangers, unpaid, would be free to choose a time and place to be photographed. They could express themselves as they wished and could remain anonymous if they preferred. I asked the strangers to look at the camera as if it were a mirror.

I was looking for people with obsessions, fears, paranoia, and dreams who would love to pose in front of my camera like a mirror. I would meet them and take some pictures of them.

Man naked against a natural background
The artist | I am your Mirror photography project | Loredana Denicola

It all started with a simple email, that he sent me one evening. He had found my advert somewhere and decide to take the opportunity. He said:

'I can do whatever you like. I am a life model, so being naked is not a problem for me. Yours' .Toni

He also sent me a couple of his pictures. I replied to him, the same night:

'Hi Toni, that's great! Would you like to meet me this week for coffee and maybe get to know each other better? Please, let me know . Lore"

Toni responded:

"I could meet on Friday but I don't do coffee. I'm a bit of a workaholic. We could meet at Asda, East London, Becton, maybe at a quarter past one pm, and then I can get straight back to rehearsals .On Thursday, I'll be returning from Norway and will drive straight to Dover for some filming. Thursday would have been a good day for me."

I agreed, and Asda in Becton seemed like a good location, although it was my first time there. I arrived early, so I got there ahead of our meeting time and took a look around while waiting for him.

There was a parking area and the shopping center. Feeling hungry, I decided to grab a sandwich. I was starving.

After about ten minutes, I went back to the parking area, expecting him to arrive by car, and indeed he did. He called me on the phone, and I headed over to where he had parked. As I approached, I saw Toni in front of me.

Toni is a very fit man, and I was surprised when he told me he was fifty-seven.

Hello Loredana, how are you?', he said.

'I'm good, and you?' I replied.

'Very well' ,he answered.

It was one of those rare sunny days in London, and he appeared to be sweating, as though he just completed a heavy run.

'I don’t have much time,' he said, 'I am always on the go, traveling around the world.' 'I'm happy to help you with your project. You can use me as you like, I've participated in photoshoots with other photographers, in the past. I'm a performer, and you are fortunate to have me on board for your project!'

Once there was a female photographer, I don’t remember her name, who asked me to masturbate in front of her camera and asking me to come.

I couldn’t, but after a while I came, and she took a picture of me coming without showing my face. If you want something like this we can do it!

She held an exhibition featuring my photographs, and it was a great success. I'll show you the pictures the next time we meet.'

'I am not looking for you to come.' I said - 'Can we use your flat?'

'I don’t think so, because at the moment I am living with other people and it is quite messy and crowded.'

'I don’t mind messy situations. I quite like confusing ones.' I said.

But he proposed, "No, no, it's better to use a studio with me, I have a friend who has one.

'I don’t want to use a studio', I insisted. ' I don't like studios. I prefer natural settings, everywhere is better than a studio, believe me.'

Toni looked very youthful, confident, physically fit, fun-loving, and talkative. He constantly generated ideas and came across as self-centered. It was evident that he enjoyed being in the spotlight, and now I understood why he worked as a life model and singer on stage; He thrived on being the center of attention and feeling important. It didn't seem like the type of person who could be comfortable being alone. He needed to be at the center of attention to feel alive.

'I need to go', he said, I have a rehearsal.

'Ok Toni, that's fine" I replied. "Would you like to come to my flat? We can use my communal garden, but I can't guarantee that there will be people looking through the windows.'

'I don’t care about people! If they want to play with me, they can come down and join the photoshoot with me, I am always happy to be part of a collective photoshoots. Once I did one with another photographer and 5 women naked. They were touching me everywhere. In that occasion, they asked me for erection again. All the time they ask me for erection, but I find difficult to do, sometime. It is not easy."

He showed me the pictures on his mobile.

They were very commercial, digitally taken, somewhat trashy, not quite in line with my artistic style. They were amusing, and he made me laugh but it was clear that he didn't quite grasp what I was looking for with my project, considering the photos he showed me.

'So, I'll see you soon. What about next week?', I asked.

.... to be continued ....

by Loredana Denicola

"Behind the Lens: A Photographic Journey with Strangers"

Short stories from the photography project: "I am your mirror" by Loredana Denicola © 2017/2018, All rights reserved.

I'd love to create a book! If interested email me to loredana denicola


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