Today was my 21st shoot with Alison. I hadn’t seen Alison in a while and I kind of needed to be around her as a friend and as my muse. I haven’t shot much in the past two months. Sometimes other business gets in the way of taking pictures and time can fly by so fast. I needed some motivation.
While I was in Maine last week, I bought a great vintage dress at an antique store. The minute I saw the dress I knew it would look perfect on Zarina, standing in the North Forest of Central Park. Zarina is dancing in Dresden for the next 9 months but I was going to hold on to the dress until she got back.
This morning, as I was pulling together the things I needed for my shoot with Alison, I thought maybe I should have her wear Zarina’s dress and photograph her in Zarina’s favorite place. I’ve thought a lot lately of bringing my muses together in shoots to see what kind of pictures I could get, bringing people together who I respond to so well but who might not necessarily click as a couple in a photograph. It would be up to me (and would be interesting) to capture the initial tension but then hopefully capture the pair as they became one. Zarina wasn’t here for today’s shoot but maybe with Alison in “her” dress and posing in one of her favorite places, I could channel some of Zarina’s essence into Alison.
Photographing Alison never seems like work. It’s two friends getting together for a fun afternoon, having some tea and giggling non-stop like two twelve year old girls. When Alison came over today I had her try on the vintage dress. It looked great so we packed it up with two thermoses of my special blend of green tea and took a walk through Central Park up to the North Forest.
Alison had never been to this part of the park before and was surprised by it’s natural beauty and serenity. I felt the same way the first time I saw it. The North Forest is a shallow valley with a small river and several waterfalls running through it’s center. Near the tallest waterfall you can’t see or hear any part of New York City. It’s easy to imagine yourself one hundred miles away in some secluded spot in the Catskills.
I never told Alison she was wearing Zarina’s dress in Zarina’s place. We shot for a long time in the vintage dress, stopping every now and then to have a sip of tea and enjoy the nature around us. The rush of the nearby waterfall and the chirping of birds were the only sounds we heard. At one point, Alison stopped and said, “I can imagine your friend coming here to draw. What’s her name? Za…?”
I answered, “Zarina”! Zarina is the one who showed me this place.”
I was a little stunned by what Alison had said. Zarina had always read my mind during our shoots and I felt somehow she had sent a message to Alison, either through me or through this place in the park she loves. I was kind of kidding earlier this morning when talking to myself about channeling Zarina’s essence through Alison. Now I’m beginning to wonder.
Alison Cook Beatty photographed in Central Park on 10/18/11