Portrait of Allison

June 30, 2015

When I would pass by this rock everyday in Riverside Park on the Upper West Side, I knew there was a portrait I wanted to do here. When Al came to visit New York I asked if she would be interested in doing a "no-makeup" portrait. As a belly dance artist and former model, Allison has been professionally photographed many times – gorgeous photos, usually with full makeup and costuming. As a friend, I usually see her in a more non-performative mode. So for our shoot I wanted to share her unembellished beauty that I get to see and experience when I'm with her; and create some unmasked drama of our own in black & white. As a portrait photographer, one of the things I am most interested in is providing my subjects with an opportunity to have an embodied experience. No matter how short or long the time is that we have together, my approach is aimed at getting individuals to become present by getting in their bodies. Of course in this case Allison is a dancer, so I was working with someone who comes in with a strong connection to who she is in her body and someone who is comfortable and skilled in moving. My interest here was to move away from pre-determined poses and dance positions and work with Al in a way that allowed her to explore organic improvised movements that included a relationship to the environment. Then later, as we moved away from the rocks the strong morning sun was coming through the trees. We walked around the wooded area of the park and I used the sunlight to create the dramatic light on Al's face.

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