It was many years ago now that I first began a casual friendship with Jessica. We met through our jobs and I enjoyed our daily encounters, and even looked forward to her coming by where I worked. She was young and free spirited, somewhat shy through an unexplainable low self-esteem. She liked fast cars, loved horses and was nurturing a passion for photography.
I am considerably older and felt like I had done everything and my life was on a decline with no new goals on the horizon. Through our conversations she found that I had done photographic work for a number of years with a manual SLR. I had taken personal snap shots and had taken photos for my Jr. High School newspaper long before I devoted my lens to my girlfriend, who became my wife. After twenty years my life with my wife ended and I found myself fairly isolated from the social world and living in Florida. Jessica treated me with an undeserved respect. She valued my opinions, listened to my stories and laughed at my jokes. We talked about politics, we spoke about our faith, discussed many topics and odd as it may seem, we listened to each other. She told me of her exploits taking photographs and showed me some of her images. I saw immediately she had a good eye for composition and actually observed what she was photographing rather than documenting the scene. When she found that I had a hobbyist background in photography she asked my advice concerning things such as depth of field and long exposures. She had many ideas that she wished to photograph and had some issues concerning the technical aspects of capturing what she envisioned. She mentioned that she wished to photograph her younger sister is specific ways and ultimately I suggested using one of the several empty rooms at my house as a studio. She could bring her camera and I would be there to assist and answer any questions that might arise while photographing her sister. At the time I had only a couple of unused rangefinders since I hadn't taken any photographs since the end of my marriage. When Jessica mentioned that a house fire had destroyed her father’s photographs of her and her sister, I offered to take some photos of the two of them to send to him. That was when it really began.
Initially I bought a used SLR at a pawn shop and another lens. I bought a few lights and a large canvas drop cloth to cover my walls. The girls came by and I had a great time photographing them. I felt alive because I was doing something again besides my day job. The girls had fun too though our results were less than desirable. We planned a repeat photo session and this time I was more prepared. I bought more lights, reflectors, and props and borrowed a digital camera. This time things went better and so we continued to meet and have our little photo shoots only with me being the sole shutterbug. Things and techniques came back to me and I invested more in my little studio and before long I had a room crowded with professional equipment and another room set up as a dressing room, complete with a vanity filled with expensive make-up and a closet teaming with gowns, shoes and a great variety of items for the models. Jessica quickly learned that the camera loved her. She was a perfect model for me. Jessica not only had an exceptionally pretty face and beautiful hair, but a figure that brought looks of envy from women young and old when we went shopping for clothes. She was a fast study at posing and was always game for whatever I came up with, be it formal wear or costumes. She radiated a look of glamour from a bygone age, subtly seductive and innocently alluring. We met often to photograph and in a short time I had a thousand images of her. She was not the only one in front of my camera. In time I felt the hunger to photograph more girls. It was innocent fun, dressing up and posing, sometimes hamming it up other times making an effort to take on the persona of another character.
I read books and took classes on graphic software and photography, leading me to set up a full time darkroom. I spent large sums on cameras and equipment. In the following years I photographed many girls at my studio, made location portraits as a hired photographer and even did weddings, though that is not my preferred subject. I became the “lab” that a local camera store sent their photos out to for restoration. I was hired to make an actor’s comp card and a model’s portfolio and all the while continued to photograph the girls at my studio. The studio itself had expanded to encompass a large room, formerly the living room at my house where I built full size sets with multiple backdrops. My halls are covered in framed photos of some of my favorite images and a filing cabinet holds many of my image files. Life has taken on a new purpose.
Thanks to Jessica I left the hole I had crawled into and began life anew. I have made a lot of friends and given a lot of girls memories to take with them the rest of their lives. Jessica moved away, earned a degree in fine art/photography and pursued a career as a photographer. She has photographed weddings, portraits and traveled to South America, New Zealand and Britain with her camera in hand. I can't believe she could still have any issues with self esteem at this point in her life. I hope that through it all she hasn't forgotten the fun we had learning lights and makeup and that the images I am displaying here remind her of her own beauty. I feel deeply indebted to her and am proud of the images we made together years ago. If not for her, I should hate to think where I might be and the emptiness the years would have held for me.
I am sure you will enjoy this small sample of my photos of Jessica Williams .
Visit my galleries of other models
Return to Ed's Imagery Home Page