Updated: Jun 17
Extract from 'I am your Mirror' photography book ...
Sean is the sixth stranger I met online. I remember he sent me few emails before taking part in the projects. He was a bit undecided, one day he wanted to take part and another day he didn’t want to take part, so it was a bit difficult to deal with him.
My first idea was to photograph myself and twelve strangers that I would find through the Internet.
These strangers, 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.
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 dressing, my size is (8/10) and 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 of your project. I am a genuine person. My number is…
Please, call me.... I live nearby'.
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 I was looking for subjects.
Even in that occasion, he didn’t want me to take his portraits, after proposing.
I reminded him, I already met him once, and that 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-operate 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 size available 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 looking at my emails, I found another email.
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 gone 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, would be early enough to meet at my home and go together somewhere.
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, shadows were coming from the top, I knew the light wasn't great.
I felt a bit disappointed for the overall situation, not 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 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, place together 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 at 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, we walked through a long corridor, then we took other stairs to the second floor, where all the rooms were organised on both sides. The building indise looked like an hospital.
We arrived at the last door, numbered 388, which was his room.
He opened the door, and a weird smell came out, something went bad. I got in with him.
There was a small room and a small toilet.
He had all the clothes layered on the floor, next to his double size bed.
Also there were shelves, many of them, and on the top of them there were some wigs, make up, books of all genre, cds, puppets and other clothes.
I don’t know how he could live in that small place, it was so small and so stuffed of clothes. There were clothes everywhere. It looks like a shop.
The room was completely full of everything, I couldn’t move much, so I stayed on the same spot, till he goes ready.
I asked him if I could get some pictures of him in his room which was looking very inspiring or in the corridor but he didn’t want it. He said to go to the park.
I agreed, I couldn’t do otherwise.
In my project the subjects decide to show themselves as they like and where they like.
He showed me more clothes.
I realised that he was changing mind again.
The clothes were completely different of those he told me he had to use.
This time were military clothes, there was an American flag, big black boots and a black tight dress with a jumper with ‘Amanda’ name on it.
I said that all was fine, if he liked them.
I asked him if he wanted to put some make up on.
He didn’t like my suggestion, he said that people were around Clissold Park, at midday, and he didn’t want to be noticed.
There was too much light, and he didn’t want to be recognised.
His figure was strange.
Sean is very slim, and small in stature.
He looks like an alien, like someone who doesn’t live in this world, a bit lost and confused.
When he is off from work, he passes most of the time in his room, watching television.
He doesn’t have Internet.
He doesn’t need a bigger room because he works mostly at night, in the underground.
Sometimes, when he is lucky, he does day shifts, so he sleeps mostly during the day.
He is been working like this for 15 years, he doesn’t have a social life, not a girlfriend or boyfriend.
He doesn' t go out often, except for shopping and clubbing.
He showed me some pictures that other photographers took of him, and selfies of himself dressed like a woman took by himself, that I really liked and that I 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 is 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.
The sun was high and he was happy for that.
There were families going around Clissold park, so he asked me if we could move more inside, somewhere more hidden.
We walked a bit, we found a little path where there were few bushes, he found a thick one where to change his clothes…
He was very slow, a little fussy, his movements were loose.
He put a towel on the grass because he didn’t want to get dirty.
He was fun, he looked like he didn’t want to get contaminated.
Then he wore his black dress, with a flowering textile shirt.
He looked well, I took few pictures of him, dressed like that.
Sean, the Underground Worker, 'I am your mirror'Project, © Loredana Denicola, 2013/2014
Some mothers were curious and were passing nearby with their strollers and their babies, looking curiously at him.
He looked a bit unstable with those clothes on, it could be a bit disturbing.
He didn’t care much, as he was dressing like he normally does at home.
While I was taking his pictures, I saw a man getting closer to us.
It was a security man that approached me, saying that I could not take pictures of him in those conditions, because at that time, there were families and mothers with their children in the park, that would not appreciated to see him dressed in that way.
I was seeing nothing wrong in what we were doing.
He asked me gently to leave or to move somewhere out from Clissold park.
I had few problems already, the light was struggling me, plus the fact that Sean was a bit embarrassed, after the security guard talked in that way.
I took the security guard a part, saying that I was doing a project for a newspaper, which it was a lie, and I showed him my press card.
I have one with me, which sometimes, it is very helpful.
I asked him, to give me more time, 20 minutes more and that I would have left afterwards.
I underlined the fact, that there was nothing wrong on how my stranger was dressed.
The security guard insisted, asking me to leave.
After those words, he left.
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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