At 47, Phillip Ritchie Takes Me On A New Journey…
Fine art/fashion photographer Phillip Ritchie and I have a 9 year history together.
When I turned 38 and decided to model, Phillip Ritchie (I call him Prince Phillip) was my first fashion photographer. I applied to his invitation to model on Christmas Day… he doesn’t have family in the US and therefore he spends his Christmas with model friends doing what he loves best: taking pictures. I figured I wouldn’t have much competition from other models to book a spot on Christmas Day- and thankfully he picked me to work with him! Phillip taught me the power of my jaw line, and that my character was the wealthy, sophisticated woman, not the girl next door. Even though my performance was ANYTHING but good in the beginning of the shoot, Phillip helped me find my way and we ended up with magnificent pictures. For the details of my first day as a model with Prince Phillip, click here.
Phillip and I continued our photographer-model relationship, shooting fashion several more times, even though his speciality is fine art photography of the female nude. The basic idea behind this genre of fine art photography is that instead of merely capturing a realistic rendition of the subject, the photographer is aiming to produce a more personal – typically more evocative or atmospheric – impression of the subject.
Phillip calls it “camera foreplay”. He is not interested in porn, or glamour photography (usually characterized by women with large breasts in bikinis or lingerie arching their backs). He believes what is beautiful is the flirtatious suggestion of nudity, or the stolen glance as a voyeur, something that you see on the girl that makes you want to see her naked. Or if she is already naked, you want to see what is hidden in the shadows, what you can’t quite see. Phillip’s fine art is so beautiful, and I always admired it, but I was never daring enough to do a session with him.
When I turned 42 Phillip sat me down and said very bluntly, with his very British accent,
“Look, Jacqueline, you need to capture what you look like now while you still can, this is the time to do it, you are over 40, sexy as hell, and you will want these pictures when you don’t look like that anymore.”
Good Lord, now that’s a way to light a fire. Take a picture of yourself before you lose your assets, for gosh sakes.
So I agreed.
I wanted to do something unique. I found some pictures online of a girl on shiny sheets with a hat and a half open shirt, and the same girl wearing nude pantyhose. I brought these inspiration images with me to Phillip’s studio, along with a set of shiny gold sheets, a felt hat, and some pantyhose.
It was just Phillip and I in the studio, so I let go and explored my emotions and freedom on the set, and Phillip expertly captured what he saw through the lens. It was an incredibly special day. I’d never done a shoot like that before and have never since. It was magic, and absolutely perfect, and we both loved the images. Phillip was right. I was VERY glad I did it, and I am so proud of what we created.
Fast forward to 5 years later…
I have just turned 47, and Phillip and I are celebrating our birthdays- we are three days apart in June. This year, as I turned 47, Phillip turned 74! I joked with him that we were mirror images and we needed another photo shoot to celebrate and surprisingly he said yes, we should celebrate our birthdays together and take pictures.
I was very, very nervous. My body has changed (I am larger) and my face had changed (it is more droopy and wrinkled). I am older now. I knew I couldn’t pull off what we did before, and even though I searched online for another concept like the pantyhose/hat pictures, I couldn’t find anything that I felt inspired by. So I decided just to trust my friend Prince Phillip.
His unique amazing skill is to find the beautiful parts of the woman and photograph those, leaving the rest in the shadows. I trusted him to do so. I also felt that I needed this photoshoot to gain some of my confidence back. I had to find myself newly as a the model I was now. This shoot would give me my sense of exploration back, the fun that I used to have in modeling. I knew that the long relationship between Phillip and I, and the intimacy of shooting privately together, would give me what I need.
It was time to pull on the stockings.
I went for it. I didn’t worry too much about the extra weight around my hips, or my face. I did hide my face behind my hair a little, but it turned out really great in the pictures. Phillip and I explored me, the private me, the sensual me, the older, more quiet, more mature me, in a series of images where he walked around me, observing and clicking the camera, while I just went into my own world. He knows what he is doing so I let go and let him do it.
As we progressed my enjoyment of modeling returned. I was ok with my new body, and I was ok being a little older. It was me, in a new form. I had fun. We took a few breaks, drank a glass of wine, and shot again. And as the day progressed I got more and more relaxed and happy. This was just like we used to do.
The pictures from this day are different than the ones before. More thoughtful, more private. But still, as any time I work with Prince Phillip, they are wonderful, full of sensuality and the magic of a private moment. I was very pleased to celebrate my birthday with Phillip this year, 2016.
Dear Prince Phillip: thank you for another special day, and happy 74th.
Onwards and Upwards…