intimacy vs. rush (and one picture)

i photographed the first girl for this project more than two months ago. she is a close friend of mine, but we never talked about her violence experience. i was still a little shocked when we met to take the pictures, because i was totally unaware of what she’s been through. and as we talked, and she told me details of the violence she suffered, i was getting more and more impressed.

i always thought that intimacy would be the key to a good picture – so i was sure that with her, i could do a nice job. i was doctrinated by nan goldin and i still think that some of my best photos are product of intimacy. but now i am starting to see that it is just usefull to a photographer when the subject matter is intimacy itself, when the photographer swims through this theme – intimate moments, privacy, personal relations and so on.

last year, as i was editing the 100men pictures in order to apply to ostkreuzschule, a friend of mine, who was helping me with this process, said of a picture i took of armin: “this is one is just a nice picture. you were too close”. i was kinda angry as he said that – what the f* did he mean with “too close”? it was definetely not about physical aproximation to armin. but why is that a problem? i WANT to be close to people.

now i see what he meant: i was way too involved to be practical, to be “photographical”. now that i am not photographing my own life (finally?), i am facing myself with this challenge. personal involvement can blurry your critical view. can also blurry your view at all.

i have noticed that intimacy can be noxious.

the pictures i took of the first girl were not great. they are not bad, but i was still too close, like jörg once said about armin. i was way too much there. also, when you are making pictures of someone you know well and you need to direct her, all of the tricks you use are kinda ridiculous – the person photographed will know she’s being manipulated, because the person knows you when you are not playing the photographer’s role.

of course i still haven’t found a way out of this problem. last week i traveled to fortaleza and it was mentally exhausting – instead of intimacy being the enemy, it was the lack of time. people simply had not much time to meet me (it was holiday and father’s day) and it was the complete absence of intimacy that made me crazy. it was a nice exericse, though, to have only one hour to catch the feeling of these stories.

i am a control-freak so it is hard not to play the director. i am working on letting go. with the second girl i photographed (in recife, in early june) i was totally authoritarian, because we are not friends, i don’t know her, i told her all the time what to do. in the end, the best picture was the one she suggested (behind the leaves, by the sun). and then from the third girl on (sao paulo, in later june) i just gave up: no plans, no reference, no nothing.

since then, we meet and we see. i set the camera and start to talk. whatever the hell comes, will come.

s. has 35 years and was phisically and mentally abused by her ex-boyfriend for something like 7 years. she filed suit against him and is under protective measures. there has been no trial yet.