Shooting Through the Ups and Downs

28 Jun

It’s a fact: I haven’t been blogging much since I moved to New York City this past January. I can blame it on a all kinds of things but the real truth is is that I just haven’t really felt much like writing. My blog is a personal insight into my career which has always been very closely intertwined with my life. Of course. My career IS my life. Or a huge part of it, any way. And a lot has been going on since moving to NYC in my personal life, some things that have been very difficult to share. The biggest thing probably has been the loss of my 13 year old pit bull, Lulu. Lulu was my rock, she was my road dog, she was my friend and my companion. Last August she was diagnosed with cancer and given a death sentence of about 3 months. This was in the middle of us packing up our house in LA and planning our move to NYC. I nearly lost it. I didn’t know if Lulu was even going to make the move with us or not. But I dismissed the chemo and started her on acupuncture and chinese herbs, spoiling her rotten, giving her all the love I could give. She made it on our road trip and landed in NYC with us on January 3rd. She witnessed snow for the first time in her life and even got to visit a few dog bars in Brooklyn. She also was able to go to a few photo shoots in New York, as she was always present on as many shoots she was allowed to be on in her 13 years. My teams would often joke that Lulu was a bigger Diva than any of us!

Lulu passed away May 19th. One of the saddest days of my life. I spent as much time with her as I could and silently, quietly said good bye to her as she started declining the last two months of her life. It was painful as hell.

But life goes on. And you keep shooting through it all, through the painful moments and even the happy moments. The jobs don’t stop because you lose someone close to you. Your bills don’t stop just because you’re experiencing a difficult time in your life. But my voice stopped and my desire to teach or share or even be close to anyone, that stopped too. And I’m still shut down. It’s only been 10 days since she’s left my life. It’s going to be hard, letting her go. But I’ll get through it. And what I usually do to “get through it” is I throw myself into my work for comfort. For distraction. For salvation.  I SHOOT through it. And sometimes I produce some amazing shit. Sometimes. Here’s a little story on how chaos can become alchemy in art, turning metal into gold. Sometimes.

I went through a difficult period at the end of 2003. I lost someone who I loved very much. He took his life and we were all devastated by his sudden and abrupt departure from our lives. I slept on the floor for two weeks, with Lulu by my side, because I was so numb, so torn apart. So utterly depleted. When I went to Holland to see his family (he lived in Holland), I had a chance to get to know his 17 year old nephew, Jordi. Jordi was very comforting to me when I was there. He talked to me about my ex, he got his mother and I to go out one night to a nightclub where we ended up dancing and laughing and having a good time. Through the pain, Jordi was there, smiling and happy and taking our minds off this horrible event that left most of us a bit crippled for some time. Jordi also happened to be very good looking. And from what I could tell, had a tremendous potential to pursue modeling. I told him so, and we decided to do his very first test. Right there, while grieving my ex, Jordi and I got together at a friend’s studio in Holland and shot a test. The last thing I wanted to do was pick a camera and shoot. But it was a life changing event. Because from that first shoot, I could Jordi was photogenic and definitely had the potential to go for it. So I convinced him to keep pursuing modeling and to keep me updated through the process. And you know something? He did just that. He has gone on to embrace a successful modeling career, being signed to every top modeling agency in Milan, Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, Hamburg, Athens, Tokyo and now finally, New York. He has traveled the world modeling. And it was I who convinced him he had potential from that very first test where I was literally reeling from pain.

In February, Jordi and I saw each other again after 7 years, after that first test in Holland, during the time I was there to grieve with his family, collect some of my ex’s things and ashes. There we were, facing each other after 7 long years. And he’s a star! Gorgeous, fit, tall, and just the loveliest of personalities! Warm and gentle and kind. Just an all around great guy!!

Of course, we wanted to shoot again. I thought of taking him out to my friends place in Long Island on a cold March day. We brought Lulu with us and it would be her last photo shoot. We shot all over Montauk and Amagansett, in the gorgeous, natural early spring light, on a bright but cold day. The pictures weren’t for any assignment. I won’t submit them. There wasn’t a client. We just wanted to shoot with each other again. And following are the results. There’s no magical lighting set up, just the sun. I didn’t use any filters or tricks. Just my camera, the sun and an awesome model. I used my Nikon and switched between the 85mm and the 24mm lenses. There’s really not much more to write about the technical side. I thought this post could be about continuing to shoot through pain, through life events that are out of our control. Or maybe about continuing to explore models, or people or ideas, even after sitting with the ideas for years. I don’t know what this post is really about but I was ready to share a little of what’s been going on with me so the twitter and FB comments about “why aren’t you posting anymore” could stop a little and you can all recognize that even I go through shit sometimes and I have hard times. I have days where I feel like throwing it all away and opening up a Rum Bar in The Keys, Florida. Some times I want a break, hey….teach ME something! Sometimes I want to be left alone and just sit quietly with myself.

I went to Miami after Lulu died and I’m still here, writing this post. I leave back to NYC tomorrow morning with a bunch of work coming up. I have a bunch of editorial coming out in June, so I can blog about that soon. I just found out my Nike campaign is going comes out this week, so I’ll blog about that too.  I’m shooting a 12 page editorial in the next two weeks, so…..yeah……Going to blog about it!  Hey, you can look forward to lots of new posts coming your way. In the meantime, here’s your post now. This one’s for you. And for Lulu, most of all. R.I.P.

Photography ©2011 Melissa Rodwell Photography

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