Updated: Jun 17
Extract from 'I am your Mirror' photography project.
And then I met Roberto. I call him the Brazilian model.
A female friend introduced him to me.
They were working together in a restaurant.
He needed a photographer for making a video.
He wanted to take part in a competition and have the chance to be chosen as a model.
The prize was a catwalk in London.
Roberto is Brazilian, his mother is Italian.
He lived in Italy, when he was a child, till his teen age.
He speaks Italian but he does not know a word in English, even if he is been living in London, for few years.
That is why my friend contacted me. Because he speaks Italian, he was easy for him to explain me what he wanted.
This was also the main reason why he could not find much work as a model in London. And worked more for Italian and Brazilian photographers or TVs.
When I saw him I was fascinated by his beauty.
Without a doubt he is a handsome boy, tall, dark hair, big black eyes, fit body.
He does many sports, karate, kick boxing, tai chi.... he wants to become a personal trainer, also he had a very fascinating smile.
Roberto is 28 years old, he is a fashion model. I've always wondered how he can interact with photographers when posing for them and people who work with him. I helped him in making the video. It was a success. We remain in contact.
Then, one day, I asked him if he wanted to take part in my photography project ' I am your mirror' like a model. He is the second subject that I have chosen.
I asked him if he had any obsession.
He said that his obsession has always been to be a model and that he lives the life of his dreams.
He just gives himself completely to the photographers and he likes to be photographed. He is very sexy.
Even the way he was talking with his Italian/Brazilian accent made him more interesting.
I remember, at that time, he told me, he was living with a female model, Jenny. She is English. He met her during a fashion photoshoot for a British magazine, few days before meeting me, and he lives with her temporarily.
He came back home only in the evenings.
They sleep together but they don’t talk much.
He doesn't speak English.
He told me that they were having sex and that the situation was perfectly ideal for him.
He could sleep somewhere without paying the rent. He was having lot of fun.
Then, he showed me some pictures of them together.
He told me he was in love with his life and his modelling work, because he had the chance to meet beautiful models, with whom to spend the night and time together.
So, life in London was generous despite all the financial difficulties and the lack of work. He was determined to break into the fashion industry.
He had the look of a Brazilian/South Italian male, masculine, not sure if his look was suitable for the British fashion market.
He likes having sex and has never had a hard time in finding a girl.
As beautiful as it was, it could certainly be like that.
He also told me about some sexual experiences he had in London, kind threesome he had with older women, drunk, finding himself at home after a long night of revelry.
He was living an exciting time.
Roberto decides to help me with my project and accepts my proposal. We decided to meet in my place as we couldn’t find another place/location.
I always liked to go and photograph people where they live. Their place reveal their personality and make the documentation more intimate, interesting.
During this project only three encounters gave me the chance to photograph them in their place/flat.
The rest refused or preferred to meet me somewhere else.
Or preferred to no take part at all.
I had few refusals, 7 or 8 strangers put me down, at last minute, after meeting me. I was using mostly two locations, during all the year.
One was Epping forest and the other my small flat or my communal garden. I wasn’t well organised.
I wasn’t very happy, but I had to be positive and try to be creative as much as I could with what I had, which wasn’t easy.I didn’t have much. But I had determination and perseverance, and that was enough.
Roberto told me that he was obsessed with sex, in that period of time, and with his work. Despite he was beautiful to see, he had that little shyness that is not normal or unusual to find in a male confident model.
I liked that side of his character, this sweet vulnerability.
I found that he was respectful, and a good listener.
I was captured by his beauty and smile.
It’s hard to work with handsome men.
I found myself few times, in situations like this.
I was imagining him with white balloons on his head.
I thoughts that the balloons could represent his hidden sexual thoughts. Or maybe my hidden thoughts, who knows.
We arranged to meet in my flat.
That day, he arrived earlier.
I prepared some coffee with my Italian coffee machine. The situation, this time was different than before.
My first 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 be anonymous, or not.
I asked the strangers to look at the camera as if a mirror. Then, I asked to write down a few words, that could represent them.
I was looking for people with obsessions, fears, paranoia, dreams that would love to pose in front of my camera like a mirror.
I would meet them and take some pictures of them.
In this case, I proposed him my project and I had to deal differently. I had to deal with few things.
He is a model, he knows how to pose. I had to be the photographer.
There were some definite roles here. The subject and the photographer, but I didn't want to create separation.
I didn’t like much the idea to direct him.
Then, the place where I live was very small, so it was hard to move freely.
The situation required a collaboration between us, but I felt that I could be myself with him, even if I didn’t know him well, and I could try to propose him new things, I could be silly and play in a funny way.
That is what I was feeling and that is what I have done...
'How are you today? 'I said
"Very well', he answered, 'I am happy to work with you'. 'How can you take pictures in this place?' He asked me.
'I don’t know how I do, I always tell myself', I replayed,' I am trying to use my imagination.I don’t want to waste more time. You are the 12th strangers that I want to photograph and I want to finish my project. More than a year passed and I feel that this project is coming to an end now. And you are my last stranger. With you all is different. I normally put an email on internet looking for strangers and they replayed to me and I met them straight away without knowing them. With you is a bit different. I said.
We know each other, we did the video together and you are a model, so you are not afraid of my camera and I am not afraid of you. I am a bit afraid of directing you because I don’t like directing people in my project.
So I am trying to be spontaneous, I don’t have much in mind.I am trying to see you as a model, something will happen, all has to come up spontaneously, but we can play together and this is what we will do today. The only think I know is that I bought some white balloons, nothing else. I don’t have nothing in mind, let's see what our connection will bring out.'
So while he was drinking coffee and looking around my room, I started blowing balloons.
He looked at me strangely. I blew seven of them.
I bought the balloons in a shop in Dalston, where they sell cakes, for children's parties.
They were white....
... to be continued ....
by Loredana Denicola
A layout of the book is ready (256 pgg, text & black and white pictures). Hopefully the book will soon be available. Limited Edition. I am looking for funding.
'How I met my strangers', I am your Mirror' photography project .
©Loredana Denicola 2017/2018, All right reserved.
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