The night Mapplethorpe took my hand

I’m not the best sleeper these days.  Falling asleep can be a challenge and sometimes even staying asleep doesn’t work like it used to.  So when I do get a good night’s sleep, it’s gold. When I wake up remembering a captivating dream, it’s even better.  But that rarely happens.

Late December, while reading Patti Smith‘s award-winning book Just Kids, I was introduced to American artist and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.  Provocative, indecent, shocking and obscene are words that many critics have used to describe some of his work.  That being said, Mapplethorpe was an extremely important and influential artist during the twentieth century.

Some of his black and white portraits are strikingly beautiful.  The lighting, the composition, the honesty; they got to me.  Mapplethorpe got to me.

And then he came to me in a dream.

I was asleep in my dream until Mapplethorpe appeared in front of me, his quiet presence causing me to wake.  We did not speak.  He took my hand and led me down a hallway with walls that were pure white.  On the walls, spaced out perfectly, were large close-up photographs of my daughter Abbie.  Before I could even form the question, “Who took these pictures?” I knew the answer.

It was me.

Then I woke up.

The images of Abbie were vivid.  I could picture the lighting, the details of her face, the way her eyes were looking at the lens.  In essence, I saw each picture crystal clear in my mind and I felt a sense of responsibility; an urgency to compose these photographs, to make it happen.

Initially, I was afraid that if I waited too long to plan a photoshoot that the clarity of the images would drift away from my mind.  But they didn’t.  If anything, I was able to see more detail and even experience to a degree the emotions I wanted my pictures to evoke.

Sharing your art with others takes bravery and I’m not very brave when it comes to things like this.  But just as I felt compelled to take the pictures in the first place, I now feel compelled to put them out there for others to see.

Special thanks to Abbie for listening to my dream and letting me photograph her.  And thank you also to Mark, who first introduced me to Robert Mapplethorpe and highly, highly recommended that I read Just Kids.

I shot these pictures with my Canon 70D and used a 50mm lens and 135mm lens.