Updated: Aug 7, 2019
Karoli is my seventh stranger.
He replied to my advert on Internet . He come from a small town, from Hungary. He lives in London since 20 years, and he works as a builder and decorator. He has many clients and he feel satisfied.
He owns his own company and he has a wife.
She comes from Asia.
She is small, lovely and very young.
When first I met him, she was pregnant, they were expecting a daughter, he was becoming father.
He was deadly happy.
Karoly is a 45 years old man, he looks trustworthy, he is very open, he talk about everything without problems.
Without knowing me, he opened up, telling me, few secrets about his past love stories, how things went wrong and how much he suffered to recover from bad women.
'They ruin my life', he said 'till I met my wife'
He made me laugh, because he was telling me his stories, in a funny way.
He is a naturist, he likes walking naked in his house and nature. He, also, showed me some of his pictures, when he was a young boy, naked in the forest, showing proudly some erection.
'My ex-girlfriend took them', he said, 'I was young and handsome'.
Karoly_©2014_ I am your mirror_photography project, © Loredana Denicola, 2014/2015
Since many years, he is developing a personal project, he is looking for funding.
His dream is to build a magnificent, huge place, in Hungary, immersed in the nature, surrounded by trees, where all artists can visit, use it, sleeping there, living temporarily and create art all together, being naked in contact with nature.
He needs funding, someone who can trust in his idea and that can finance his project.
He is going to take care of the rest, building the 'Bed and Breakfast' and create the place, all in wood.
He works well with wood, he said.
At the moment, he is very busy with his work and doesn’t have time to pursuing consistently his dream, but it assured me that all will happen, it is written in his agenda.
He would have posed nude for me, as for him being nude is very natural and he is not afraid of nakedness as many people are.
Nakedness reveals itself, nudity for him is a form of dress. My clothes are my skin, he said.
Nakedness make us democratic, adornment make us individuals
He proposed me to use one of his houses or flats, where he was working, as location. He was working on two sites as a builder, when he met me.
I could have taken some pictures of him there.
He was alone all day, and we could organise something there.
In exchange, he wanted me to take other pictures of him, sort of naked/erotic, another day, that he would have used for his own personal purposes, especially to promote his project in the nature.
One night I found his email.
He was asking me to meet him in North London at 6 pm, just for a small chat, the day after.
He would have picked me up from Costa coffee, with his van ,which was a few meters, outside North Finchley station.
The day after, I took the tube and I reached him.
I arrived 15 minutes before the time arranged, and I sat outside Costa coffee having a hot drink.
Someone sat next to me, on the same table beginning to talk, when I received, a text saying that Karoli, would have reached me in 10 minutes.
He said to wait for him, in the same street, after the first traffic light, in the corner, next to an off licence and to be ready to jump in his van.
I took my hot drink in my hands, said'Bye', to the other stranger and left.
It was cold, I walked down the street and I waited for him after the traffic light.
I saw a white small van approaching and someone inside was waving at me from the window. I thought he was him so I waved him back.
My phone rang. It was him.
Karoli wanted me to walk down a bit further and turn on the right side of the street, which is what I did.
He stopped his van, opened the window, and introducing himself, shaking my hand.
‘It is nice to meet you. Thank you for coming!’ He said.
'The pleasure is mine', I answered
Finally we met.
'Would you like to have a coffee?', he said.
'I have one already with me, in my hands', I said smiling.
'So, would you like to get into the van and talking about your project? Or do you want to go somewhere? I finished to work right now so I am a bit tired. It was a hard day.' He said..
'That’s ok, I have already my coffee, so I will come with you in the van.'
'Jump in then! Let's go somewhere else…I can’t park here.How is called your project? I don’t remember', he said.
'I am your mirror,' I answered..
'Oh yes sure, how can I forget that name…'he replayed.
So, I got into the van.
'… I am driving somewhere else, hope you are not afraid, I am a good man'.He said.
'Not at all' – I said – 'that’s fine. I know you are a good man.'
'Are you worried? '– he said
'Not at all', I answered, 'are you?'
'No, I am not, I am just curious to know what your project is about.' - he replayed.
Listening to the way he was talking, he had a strong East- European accent.
He drove the van away from where we were, close to a football field, he said that we were more safe there. Teenagers were playing in the field.
'So what your project is about?' - he said.
I said that I was looking for people with obsessions, fears and sicknesses or even happy people with dreams, that would like to pose as they wanted, in front of my camera, like a mirror, as in that period I was obsessed with negative thoughts and maybe documenting other people’s obsessions could have been beneficial for myself and for others. Like two mirrors, one reflecting each other.
'What is your obsession?' I asked.
'I don’t know if it is an obsession', he answered.' I am a naturist, I like to be naked, especially in the nature. In Hungary I have a house and when I work there I work naked. Have you never worked naked? ' he said.
'Not never, but it would be fun to work as a naked photographer. That can be an idea,' I laughed.
'What is your obsession?' He said.
'Negative thinking', I answered. 'It is killing me. But something slowly is changing. I recognised the lie I am telling myself, and I am able to watch my mind. I am still at the beginning. I started to do meditation and all is getting better.' I said
Then, he talked again, about his project and the need of funding.
I said that I was happy to give him something back, he was helping me with my project.
'So, what do you want to do with me?' - he said.
'Nothing '- I said. 'You have to tell me what you want to do with yourself and how and where you want to take pictures of yourself in front of my camera.'
'I am building a house now, it is around this area. If you want, you can come one morning and you can take pictures of me there.' He said.
'That is good idea. I liked it' , I nodded.
'None is going to be there, just me and you. I will give you an hour and half of my time. You can come for lunch break.'
'Yes of course!' That is good'.I said.
'What about taking pictures of me naked with all my tools around and maybe we can use a ladder...' he proposed. 'I will text you the right day, in a week time, and we will meet here, then I will bring you back home if you want.' He said.
'Great, hopefully we are going to create something amazing,' I answered.
One week passed, then he texted me saying that, it was better for us meeting in another house. He was working on a different area, and asked me to reach him there. I did it.
He picked me up from the station again, with his white van and we reached the site where he was working.
'You are going to like this place' – he said
He parked, we get off from the van, we walk through a garden full of small trees, he opened the door and we got inside the house. All was empty, just his tools everywhere, on the floor.
The first thing I noticed was that there were not many windows. That was a problem for me. The light was mostly a problem, during the making of this project.
I was using an old camera, a Mamiya 645 and I didn’t want to add lighting and create a professional setting.
I was looking for natural light, in any occasion.
It was a suicidal idea, I know, but that was what I decided to pursue for my project. I wanted a natural documentary feeling.
I was interested in connections, in energy and try to get the best from those strangers as everything was.
'Do you like it?' He said to me.
'Yes it is great, a bit dark but it is a good place to be…I don’t know how all is going to look but let’s have a try..'
'So you want me to get naked now?' He said
'Yes why not? If you feel the urge…?' I said laughing...
'Can I keep my shoes on? It is cold on the floor', he said..
'Yes, of course!…'
so, he went to another room, took off all the clothes and come back naked to me with his socks and tennis shoes on… he was a fun look.
'Why are you laughing,' he said, 'Don’t you like it?'
'Yes I like it' I said, 'I need to measure the light on you with my light meter. Is that ok?'
'Yes' he said.
'But don’t get excited,' I said.
'So, shall we begin?..' he said, looking at me excitedly.
'I am going to use my tools first, and then we can move to the toilet, if you want you can take pictures of me while I am taking a shower…'
I said to start with his tools, hammers, ladder, drill etc….and not to have erotic dreams.
Karoly_©2014_ I am your mirror_photography project, © Loredana Denicola, 2014/2015
The overall situation looked like a horror movie. There was a empty house, in London, with me and a naked builder with tennis shoes, a stranger who could kill me in any moment, with a drill or a hammer while I was taking a picture!!!
My imagination was vividly running and I felt good. It is good to have imagination. It makes things more exciting ...
Suddenly I realised that I was getting more confident and I knew how to deal with strangers.
I felt strong. I felt connected, open and distant at the same time.
I felt very calm.
I always felt secure, during this photography project, I don’t know why. I was gaining more and more confidence with myself and I knew how to talk or what to do.
I was feeling balanced, I was talking with them about everything, I was directing them and I was learning how to deal with them in a safe manner.
I knew that the story of him, killing me with a drill, was my imagination talking, so I breath in and out and said 'Let’s start, shall we?'
I knew, that probably the pictures would have came out blurry, but I continued, going forward and showing confidence …
I pictured him sat on the floor, and than standing next to the window, then he took the drill and the hammer in his hand, and he was showing proudly his sex, which was going up and down.
Then, we moved to the shower, he wanted to take a shower.
I didn't want to see him taking a shower, in that occasion.
But he had a shower, the second time I met him, when I took his personal pictures in exchange. It was weird.
It was dark so I switched on the light on the ceiling.
Then he took a ladder, and put his left foot on it , looking at me in a relaxing way, that one was one of the best pictures. Despite he loved to feel comfortable naked and walking naked with me around, the overall situation from an external point of view looked strange.
There was me, a woman, with a camera, in a house, far away from everything, with a stranger, a man, naked next to me.
And we were talking.
Sometimes, he had some erection.
Maybe the fact to be photographed by a woman, was the reason of his erection, and the weird situation as well we were in.
There was a man and a woman, two strangers, who don't know each other in a empty house, far away from everything.
Written by Loredana Denicola, 'How I met my strangers, I am your Mirror' photography project .
©Loredana Denicola 2017/2018, All right reserved.
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