Updated: Sep 13
Extract from 'I am your Mirror' photography book by Loredana Denicola
Sean is the sixth stranger I met online. I call him "the underground worker".
I remember he sent me few emails before deciding to partecipate in the projects. He was a bit undecided; one day he wanted to take part and another day he didn’t, so it was a bit challenging to deal with him.
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 be anonymous, or not. I asked the strangers to look at the camera as if it were a mirror.
I received his email, on Thursday.
‘Hi I am not sure if I would be suitable for this as I am very slim and hardly have any hairs on my chest but I would love to meet you.
I sometimes cross-dress; my size is (8/10), and I have always wanted to wear a wedding dress. I also have quite a lot of boy clothes and would welcome the opportunity to take part in your project. I am a genuine person.
My number is… Please, call me.... I live nearby.'- Sean
After reading his email, I remembered that I met him a couple of months earlier while I was doing some portraits of males for fun and looking for subjects. Even on that occasion, he didn’t want me to take his portraits, after proposing.
I reminded him that I had already met him once, and I didn't want to waste my time anymore, as he let me down. He assured me that, this time, he was committed to co-operating with me; he really wanted to show me the clothes that he bought from his favorite shop.
He was looking for a wedding dress, but he couldn’t find one.
He is very slim, and the available sizes were too big for him. He bought some dresses that he liked very much and wanted to wear one.
I didn’t know what he had in mind, but I trusted him.
I was looking for subjects who wanted to take part in the project spontaneously. I don’t like chasing people. I am more interested in energy.
One evening, while looking at my emails, I found another email from him.
'Lore, thank you so much, I am off next Tuesday. I don’t know if you saw the text I sent you on your mobile, and I would love to meet you for the photos.
I have been a bit crazy shopping around, so I have quite new outfits that I want to show you, if you are free.
Hopefully the weather will stay like this.
I finish at 7 pm, late shift on Monday, so after 10 am that would be great; it would be early enough to meet at my home and go somewhere together.
I could bring some of my stuff and do a few changes.
Are you up for this?'
I didn’t know what he had in mind; I understood that he was a bit confused.
I was looking forward to meet him at his place, and I already knew the address. The day after, the sun was shining brightly, high in the sky, not clouds, quite unusual, here in London. I was happy and unhappy at the same time; I had to meet him at 10 am, so, in my mind, I was imagining that I would have taken his pictures outside at 12 am when the sun is high, and shadows were coming from the top, I knew the light wasn't great.
I felt a bit disappointed about the overall situation, no wedding dress, and the sun high in the sky. However, at least it wasn’t raining in London, and that was good. We could get something. I was positive.
Then, reminding myself of my project, it states that the subjects could choose a time and a place to be photographed as they liked.
I woke up in the morning, gathering all my equipment, model release, films, light meter etc...and I went to meet him. I was excited.
His flat was not far from Stoke Newington, where I live, and once there, I rang the bell. He lives on the second floor, in a flat inside a block building, near Clissold Park.
He didn’t hear me; he didn’t open. I was worried.
I thought – 'Maybe he changed mind again.'
But after 10 minutes, he came down to open the door.
I saw a big smile on his face.
He looked happy.
'Hello,' he said, 'I was waiting for you!... Come with me, I want to show you the clothes I have chosen'.
I smiled at him, finally he decided to be in the project. While we were going up to the second floor, he was keeping talking. Sometimes I couldn't understand him; he had a very soft voice, and he was shy. We went upstairs to the first floor, walked through a long corridor, and then took other stairs to the second floor, where all the rooms were organised on both sides. The building inside looked like a hospital.
We arrived at the last door, numbered 388, which was his room.
He opened the door, and a weird smell came out, something had gone bad. I got in with him.
He showed me some pictures that other photographers took of him and selfies of himself dressed like a woman that he took by himself, which I really liked and wanted to take myself, but that day was not the right day.
The clothes that he showed me this time were completely different.
His voice was low, a bit tender, almost whispering.
I couldn’t hear him sometimes.
I was losing few words.
He looked happy.
He took one bag, layered few clothes in and finally we moved to Clissold Park.
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