One busy Monday afternoon last fall I got a phone call from a woman, who needed some photos.
- Well, not just regular portraits, she mumbled and I honestly could see her blushing on the other end of the line.
- I need some nude portraits. You know... like naked ones.
She wanted to give an album of classic, tasteful nudes to her boyfriend as a Christmas present. She was excited and terrified at the same time.
- My boyfriend, she said, is a man who has everything. He also happens to have very expensive taste and financial possibilities to get what he wants. Finding a perfect gift for him is almost impossible !
After a frantic search on the net, browsing through dozens of magazines and asking help from everybody she knew, she was ready to give up. Sure, she found tons of gadgets, latest inventions and other man toys, but they just didn't feel right.
- Stuff, stuff, stuff, she exclaimed, he doesn't need more stuff. I want to give him something special, something he will never forget.
It hit her like lightning when she saw new family photos at the desk of her co-worker. A photo album ! Or even better, a nude photo album ! The co-worker gave her my card and here she was, slightly embarrassed but determined. A woman on a mission.
We decided to shoot at her boyfriend's place when he was out of town. It was a cold and gray Sunday morning. One of those depressing November days in Chicago, when the only thing that would cheer you up would be a new pair of shoes. Or maybe two.
-I am not sure if this is a good idea after all, Chloe said and wrapped her robe tighter around herself.
- Maybe I should get him something from HammacherSchlemmer instead...
After half an hour of talking and two glasses of wine (yes, at 9 AM on Sunday) she decided to go ahead. It took almost four hours and 400 frames (and the rest of the wine), but we got what we wanted. By the end of the session Chloe's hesitation was long gone. Holding a half bald feather boa between her fingers she threw herself to the couch and couldn't stop laughing.
- I've never had so much fun in my life, she said. - If I'd known it's going to be like this, I would have done this years ago.
Her album was ready in three weeks, just before Christmas. I delivered it to her personally, I wanted to see her reaction when she saw the final product. I wanted to be sure it was exactly what she was hoping for. And it was.
- I don't believe it's me, she said. -It is just so beautiful. I love it and I know he is going to like it too. A Christmas present he will never forget!
On Christmas Day the phone rang. It was Chloe. She was crying.
- You won't believe what happened, she cried over the phone. My stomach went upside down, it was liked somebody had kicked me in the belly. I couldn't breath.
- What, what is it ? He didn't like the pictures ? He hated them ?
- No, cried Chloe.
- He opened the present, looked through the pictures and didn't say anything. Then, holding the album, he went down on his knees and proposed. He proposed ! I am engaged !!!!
I have the honor to photograph Chloe and Patrick's wedding on July 14, 2007.