The obvious approach would be to doll them up, apply a great deal of makeup, and then photograph them with deep rich colors. That’s the obvious.
Tamara the Trapeze Lady, Trixie Lane, Madisun Park, and Boom Boom L’Roux arrived at the studio full of smiles, kind words, and enthusiasm. I had asked them to stop by for a few hours of frolic. My idea was to create a triptych image.
My triptych compositions at their best convey a cinematic, kinetic feel. People are sliced down the middle, caught in the act, reaching through one frame to another. Sometimes mouth wide open, sometimes eyes closed. After the photo session, each finished triptych portrait takes a considerable amount of time to envision and then bring together.
Some people think the triptych is pulled from one or two overall shots then assembled to make a single three-piece portrait. No, the people interact as I photograph them one third of the group at a time. Later I select three images to paste and stitch into the three-image mosaic.
As they arrived I was struck by their disparate personalities, yet when it came to performing they all bonded:
Trixie Lane was the grand dame of the group. At 42 she threw herself into burlesque and quickly became one of the centers of the re-emerging movement. She’s known as “Trixie Lane, Queen of Shame who has played all the best loading docks in town.” Don’t ask, I know it sounds lurid but it isn’t. Now in retirement she continues to teach but concentrates her time on her and her husband’s business, “Oldschool Pinups.”
A carnival lover with an effervescent personality, Madisun Avenue, bounced up my stairs into my studio. She was trained by Trixie Lane and is a marvelous spirit on stage. She spends her time between performing and stage productions.
Boom Boom L’Roux strolled confidently up my stairs with a smile and subtle wit. She’s a wily talent mixing burlesque and cabaret scenes. She also spends time behind the scenes as a producer.
Finally, Tamara the Trapeze Lady walked in quiet, a little shy, and very beautiful. Later I discovered she is fundamental to the resurrection of burlesque in the Seattle area. On top of that she’s a world-class performer on the trapeze as well as the stage.
We had only a few hours to create. To warm things up and to get to know them better, I suggested individual portraits of the four. What a wonderful, creative quartet. It was difficult to keep them on the set as their natural energy had them bounding to and fro. By the close of the session, many great portraits had been created and a boat full of laughs exchanged.
They changed back to their street clothes and as they sauntered down my stairs I was reminded of Jackson Browne’s “The Load Out”. I have no roadies to pack it up and tear it down. So, I go inside, strike the set, grab my camera, and head to my office to see what images I’ll have to fashion my work of art.