Danny Ferguson Made Me a Model For an Hour

Periodically I’ve posted things about wanting a photographer for a photoshoot. I’ve done it online where information generally gets washed away. While a couple folks have made attempts at connecting me with photographers, nothing came of it. I know a couple great photographers but I didn’t feel comfortable asking for a favor. If someone wanted to do it, I thought they’d raise their hand. No one did for six months.

The focus of the photoshoot was me. I wanted a lot of photos of myself in different positions that I could use in artwork. The idea was to store these images and then bring them out in different contexts. It wasn’t an idea driven by vanity, it was a project driven by practicality. I can make fun of myself (which I don’t mind doing) but I can’t make fun of others. If I put myself into random scenarios printed off on pieces of cardstock or colored paper, I don’t think folks would get mad. If I took someone else’s visage, and made a critical comment about it, someone could lose the overall focus of the critique or general stupid gesture. Let’s face it, most of what I create is stupid gestures. I feel like I can make fun of myself, but I can’t make fun of others. And yes some folks might think I’m trying to promote myself (I’m not, but visibility is real) but I don’t really care. Look at me, I’m a fat almost forty-year-old, seeing me as a model is pretty funny by itself. I mean I never trained as a “teen model” but I’m one now. Fat models unite! It’s been too long that pretty people are the only ones that have been in Sears clothing ads. Down with attractive models!
Out of the blue I get a Facebook message from Danny Ferguson (photographer / tattoo artist / extremely handsome person) saying that he wanted to help me with my project. Honestly, I don’t know Danny that well. Most of what I know about him has been expressed through Andy M. and his many hetero-lifemate-love declarations. Since its Winston-Salem, and there’s about 100 weirdoes circling around one another, we both kind of know each other even if we’ve never really hung out.

I met Danny at his studio off of Sixth Street. The two of us talked a little bit about what I wanted, and we were off. When I think about the whole process, I feel like I should have been more self-conscious. I feel like I should have been nervous but I wasn’t. Getting paid to stand in front of a crowd of unhappy people and force them to do work that you judge must have something to do with it. I feel nothing when I’m in front of a class. It might also help that Danny was easygoing and professional, I could tell that he’d done this many times. He could have talked me into taking my pants off if he wanted me to but I don’t know what he would have done with those pictures.
The shoot only took about an hour. I tried to get as many possess as possible just so I could drop them into any context. It was painless and fun. After the shoot I went into his other room where he shot a quick portrait, which is part of his ongoing series. I’ve seen quite a few of these online and they look amazing. This made me a little nervous since most of his former portraits were static and serious in tone. I can’t do that. I make faces at the camera. Even the beautifully silly (and now married) Charlie Johnson struck a stoic pose. Burns embraced the power of the fight-jacket in his picture. His other subjects looked like Civil War generals dressed in contemporary clothing and I look like Nick Nolte about to say “Oh hell” to something I mildly disapprove of. I’m actually showing teeth! I wasn’t meant for the serious portrait.

A few of the sweet shots.
A week later he sent me a message saying the pictures were ready. I went back to his studio and he gave me a thumb drive of about 300 images (oh boy) in multiple formats. I went home and immediately started playing around with them.

My creative work often happens in two places. Upstairs, which is mostly on the weekends and on random computers throughout the week. I make analog collages upstairs. From there I take the scans of those collages to make into add and passes, broadsides, and various things. Most of the latter occurs when I can’t get upstairs. Upstairs time is precious. At work I can find an hour here and there to recharge my batteries and make something in between grading essays. I can do this because I can take those digitized materials anywhere and assemble them on a computer. This process has become even more involved because I now use my phone to create silly things. I work on my phone at home while I’m watching 30 Rock or Seinfeld episodes for the hundredth time. Most of this creations are basically memes, sent as personalized responses or things used in my mail art. At best I’m making digital collages on my phone. Every second of the day will be used!

Broadsides using the images.

So much thanks goes to Danny Ferguson, his amazing generosity and his immense talent. The spirit of punk rock lives. You can find Danny at his two different Instagram accounts, @inspector_kemp for tattooing and @a_star_noir for photography.