15 October 2019

What Is a True Muse? Let Me Show You


Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley
 "All aspects of photography interest me and I feel for the female body the same curiosity and the same love as for a landscape, a face or anything else which interests me. In any case, the nude is a form of landscape. There are no reasons for my photographs, nor any rules; all depends on the mood of the moment, on the mood of the model."
~ JEANLOUP SIEFF, Photographer, b. 1930, Paris, d. 2001, Paris.
It's been slightly unsettling to me that I don't get to shoot art nudes that much in the almost 2 years that I have been traveling. I went a few weeks short of an entire year between nude shoots at one point. But I understand or at least try to, that it's not the cultural thing to do for the conservative catholic countries I've been traveling through. I tend to not be in places with a lot of tourists and local women in the Central and South American countries are simply not used to such a thing.

That being said, I've learned to be grateful and appreciative of the opportunities I do get. I was grateful when @Kayci.Lee came with me for my first month. I was appreciative when @JennyPoses4u_2 joined me in Peru for three whole weeks. And then there are those entirely unexpected little blessings that come unlooked for.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

My good friend, Susan and I were conversing and she brought up the name of a woman she thought was quite impressive whom she wished I could meet and possibly shoot with. She said the woman was in Santiago, Chile. I was in Lima, Peru, so I did not put that much stock in ever meeting her. However, as it turns out, Susan was mistaken. The woman was in Cusco, Peru. I STILL didn't think much of this happening, but this was my friend Susan. Sometimes, you need to shut your brain off and listen to your friends.

Cusco is an hour and a half flight from Lima, so I booked a flight and made the trip and it turned out to be the best spontaneous decision I've made in quite a while. I knew I was going to meet an experienced nude model. What I didn't expect was to meet a true muse. There are models that will get naked for you and there are true muses, whom I often call Godsends, whose purpose in life is to inspire people like me. What I mean by that is this. Her passion to inspire is equivalent to my passion to create. And this woman delivers. This is Athena Demos.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

Now understand me. I was only in Lima because it was cheaper to Argentina from there than it was to fly direct from the US to Argentina. On a whim, I decided to spend a little time in Lima to get back to the book I'm writing. I'd written 369 pages over the summer, but for the 3 weeks I was stateside, I wrote 3. So I wanted to play catch up in a quiet spot in Lima for a bit. I lengthened my time by an additional week in Peru in order to fly to Cusco and meet Athena. I was not constrained by a flight to Argentina because I had not yet purchased a ticket. Why I had not done so, I cannot tell you, but this gave me the leeway to spend that week in Cusco.

The gift that Athena gave me was more than just her musings in front of my lens. She had an added-benefit effect on my overall experience in Cusco when she became my tour guide, by inviting me into her world there. She'd already spent months in Cusco. She took me around to the San Blas Mercado (market) and showed me places to eat that got me full on good food that cost me $1.30. Just the day before, my dumbass was eating a single meal that I had waited almost an hour and a half for, paying $25 for the privilege. I walked a half hour to that place when the Mercado was 6 minutes from me.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

The people in the Mercado greeted her like a sister or a friend. It was the same as we walked down the street back to where she rented an apartment. Let me give you the perfect analogy. SHE was Crocodile Dundee and I was Sue getting the backcountry tour. Oh... I can tell you why that's such an apropos analogy. She didn't have to do it, but she invited me out to the Animal Sanctuary where she'd previously volunteered. I'll talk more about this later, but the Cchocahuasi Animal Sanctuary was amazing. Because I was with her, I was admitted into some of the enclosures with these gorgeous animals. I had never been up close to an Andean Condor and now there were 6 of them around me. I wasn't getting into the monkey house with her, but I watched HER do it.

And then at the end of it, we stopped off at the sanctuary cafe there and I had some Capis Coffee. If you are not familiar with that, it is made from coffee beans extracted from the poop of the Coati... a little raccoon-looking animal in Peru. It eats the coffee beans which get processed in the Coati digestive enzymes and is the beans are extracted from its poop, cleaned, and roasted. The enzymes are able to lessen the bitterness that occurs naturally in coffee. Look it up. It's actually a fine, smooth tasting coffee.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

The images I was able to capture of Athena were more her doing than my own. In some aspects, I knew what I wanted to do, how I wanted to shoot, and how I would edit. However, the location selection was hers and I had to depend on her muse-guidance to help me do my best work. What I mean by that is this. We'd never worked together before and given that I shoot nudes very infrequently now, I was more inclined to let her dictate the flow. Two years ago, I shot nudes practically every day. Now I begin this blog post about learning how to be grateful for any chance I get.

I did the shoot knowing that she'd be moving on after our shoot. It can be difficult to enjoy a meal when you have no clue when or where your next meal will come from. You just eat. But maybe you save a little bit for later. Maybe you even pass up a larger portion because you know your system isn't used to it and can't handle it. Does it sound like I'm starving? Well, aren't we all in some regard. So in light of these unfamiliarities and uncertainties, it was better to take what was given and direct her within those parameters.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

Getting back to being grateful, though. This is what I've come to understand. Timing has been one essential element in all my shoots, grand experiences, and great adventures on this trip. And they've had one common theme each time. They've been JUST what I've needed for THAT specific time, in THAT specific moment. God has put people like Athena, Jenny, Kristi, Osmany in Nicaragua, Cristina in Ecuador, Rosa in Lima, Javier in Argentina, Carola in Guatemala, and several others along the way to help me, guide me, counsel me, and sometimes just be there. So yeah, these have been humbling times.


2 comments:

  1. Wow. Thank you. This is a fantastic article.
    And you are very welcome. I look forward to another adventure with you.

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    Replies
    1. Dang... I'm going back through previous comments. Blogger did an update a while back and wiped out how I get notified of comments awaiting moderation. All this time, I just thought there were no comments. Until this latest update was so drastic, I had to go through it all and low and behold, all these comments... awaiting me to approve them and respond. Nice...

      Thank you for those sentiments on my blog. I hope that adventure is soon.

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