Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Victor Wong, a shared experience from the way back machine

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It was more than just a few years back when I met Victor Wong for the first time. Our mutual friend Bobby introduced us-- along with a favor. “Can you give Victor a ride home?” Absolutely, I jumped at the chance already planning how I might ask Victor to let me do a portrait session with him.

Victor, a highly recognized movie star at the time, has a face to remember and I felt so lucky for the opportunity to spend a few minutes with him. It took a bit of courage but my photo session request was met an enthusiastic yes. I was thrilled! Just a few days later I arrived at his house to pick him up to go to the photo studio. Thinking back on it I had very little planned. I work simply and often consider these kinds of sessions a collaboration-- and I take a photojournalists approach too. Who are you, what will you tell me, what will you reveal to me-- this is my quest while working one on one in the simplest of situations. I’m there to draw it out, to capture it, to reveal a nuance, an essence, a flicker. One light and a conversation. That’s enough for me as an artist with my muse.

And that was more than enough that amazing day when Victor and I shared an experience. Victor, the extraordinary man-- part photojournalist, part actor-- fully showed up. With him next to me in the car I was nearly vibrating with nerves. It seems so funny now because while I was trying to muster up the courage to ask him if I could photograph him shirtless he suddenly and without provocation announced that he’d be glad to get naked for me if I wanted him to! Though he never did get fully naked he did reveal parts I never expected to see. “Charr, photograph this. No one will ever have this picture.” he said as he pulled out his dentures for a close up photo. And his belly button, and even revealing his behind.

Before becoming a movie star Victor was a photojournalist and he wanted to give me the gift of himself, in ways previously unrevealed, with that journalistic viewpoint. And he prodded me too, trying to get me to remove my blouse just so I could capture a “real” look on his face as he reacted to a woman’s body. He was daring, creative, fun.

Thank you Victor, for crossing paths with me and sharing yourself during this unforgettable experience!

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