15 February, 2009
Fine Art 104
When Michele Serchuk contacted me with a request from photographer Jack Montgomery about the possibility of contact and a shoot, I did what anyone flattered to be asked does, I Googled him. With the exception of a smallish number of gallery placements and one museum mention, I found nothing. More to the point, I found no images - no examples of his work, no way to size up his skill and hence my interest in exposing all my loosely-but-none-the-less secret secrets to his lens.
An uncommitted inquiry to the email address provided by Michele yielded a very enthused response and, in anticipation of the inevitable next question, several pictures, including a couple of Goddess Adena, whom I had spent the better part of one of the early BondCons tying for public display, as well as a short series of the estimable Bob and Chantal of Holland's RopeMarks.com.
I immediately liked Jack's technique - which I observed was medium or wide format, nicely detailed and finished. I was already enamored of Michele's use of medium format (examples of which I will post here ere long) so I not only appreciated its super-fine tonal gradations (apparent even in electronic form), but, when Jack confirmed my suspicions, I was pleased with myself for recognizing the step up from 35mm.
A few emails and a couple of phone calls later we had schemed to meet at a friend's private dungeon space in Brooklyn, one with an upper story, south-eastern exposure, which would allow Jack to shoot somewhat higher ASA film in available light.
With us and at my behest was also the woman who would become known as the persona "Ursula" during the shoot. Jack had been working on a series for years using masks to obscure the traditional clues to character of the principle figure in an evolving narrative of his devising. Ursula had, by the time we all came together, been inhabited by several women, all of whom present facially as ciphers, but bodily as who they really are, and in our chapter of the serial Ursula is informed by a fondness for rope.
The results were, I think, variably jaw-droppingly beautiful and achingly melancholy. Even the fluky lighting worked. Jack's confessed ambiguity regarding many aspects of BDSM is carried by the vessel of Ursula in this series - he may have picked the carnival / mime motif with some foreknowledge - and during certain of my interactions with Ursula he had to excuse himself, acknowledging frankly later that the scene energy was simply too intense for him. That some of these images exist at all is, I think, testimony to a certain courage it took to work inside of sometimes obvious discomfort.
All of the images shown here are taken from contact sheets - meaning, they are the original size of the negatives. Another advantage of medium format.