Every artist needs inspiration. What we create comes from a vision within us (albeit, often augmented and improved by the team who we work with as it comes forth), but something needs to inspire that vision. It may another artist's work, a phrase, a random thought, a dream -- but it has to be something. Or, someone, a muse –- an inspiring model, actor or collaborator or who pulls new, fresh creative visions out of us. It's magical and wonderful when you find yourself in a muse-artist relationship.
The muse-artist relationship is not monogamous, and it can be momentary or enduring. Fashion/portrait photographer Richard Avedon was a muse-magnet extraordinaire and illustrates this. Some of his most famous images feature Brook Shields, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Dovima, Stephanie Seymour, Brigitte Bardot, and Audrey Hepburn, to name only a few. Avedon photographed most of these a few times at most, yet his work exhibits the inspiration he drew from them. Hepburn, however, modeled for him many times over both their careers; together they created many of the images we think of when we think of Audrey Hepburn. The Avedon-Hepburn tie has become almost the stereotype for muse-artist relationships.
You can't decide to be someone's muse, and you can't decide someone will be your's. It's also not romantic. While it can be, that's not it. In my experience, there's a sense akin to falling in love, but it's at most an illusory crush that fades when we stop shooting. Then we're back to being friends/acquaintances. I can't explain what makes someone your muse, but you know it when it happens.
During a shoot last week, I found a muse, actor Charlie Seibold, and this is one shot that, at least in my eyes, shows it. We were shooting on a dive boat, and this shot through a splashed window was a magic setup in which everything came together way easier than it should. She gave me several looks that work, but I love her expression in this frame. It says she's strong, confident and at peace (which is probably why she's also a skilled free diver).
Will she be a my muse again? It doesn't always work that way. But, sometimes it does. We'll see.