Art Model, Jenny, Colca Canyon, Peru ©2019 Terrell Neasley
“The ‘Muse’ is not an artistic mystery, but a mathematical equation. The gift are those ideas you think of as you drift to sleep. The giver is that one you think of when you first awake.”
― Roman Payne

Doesn’t seem like a year, but I guess that’s the nature of TIME. It creeps steadily along and before your know it, you’re saying “Happy New Year” again, marking the transition of another lap around the sun. Well, it was a year ago already that my good friend, Jenny came to work with me in Peru for three weeks having never met me before.

We had some hard travel days, freezing nights living on a lake, and still came up with a gorgeous 230-page photo book with some of the most amazing images and locations I’ve ever been to. I am most grateful for her trust and willingness to let me play, experiment, and try new things all while being patient during the challenges. Sometimes things don’t work the way you think they will. Sometimes problems come up that you don’t anticipate or lights don’t work when they should. Jenny’s muse instincts kicked in and helped find alternatives and sometimes she was just being understanding. We cut our losses and moved on to a different gig.

Art Model, Jenny, Near Tumbes, Northern Peru ©2019 Terrell Neasley

That’s what a muse does. When you look at my shots, you won’t see where her stomach might have been upset, because she is still smiling and still giving. You won’t know that she had a personal tragedy at home to contend with. I continued to shoot even after she got the news. You won’t even know that she stayed even after finding out her husband was in physical pain. He handled it, but you gotta know her mind was with him. That’s call commitment. That’s what a muse does! She prioritized me and my art over her own comfort. My job is to do all I can to balance all that because I don’t want her to be uncomfortable, of course. And that’s where the mutual collaboration comes in. I became “Johnny on the Spot” making sure she had water, rest, and I tried not to push too hard. Yet through it all, we got it done.

Art Model, Jenny, After some bad news…
Near Tumbes, Northern Peru ©2019 Terrell Neasley

I am also most grateful, as well to her man, who is also an accomplished photographer! She visited so soon after her birthday AND Valentine’s Day last year. I hope he enjoyed the book we produced. It took an additional printing to get it done right. I was not satisfied by the initial publishing and got them to redo it. That’s a rare thing for my relationship with this company. In fact, I think I’ve done two reprints for quality control in more than 50 large scale books I’ve done with them.

Not long after the shoot, somebody asked me what was the best location and then also asked what basically amounted to, what was my missed opportunity. If I were to add my own question, I might add, what additional accessory I might have wished I had with me. My best location is a toss-up between the beach near Tumbes, in Northern Peru and Colca Canyon down further South. I got great shots in both, but if I had to pick… maybe the ones in Colca are my fave. As for missed opportunities… hands down, that’s Lake Titicaca.

Art Model, Jenny, Colca Canyon, Peru ©2019 Terrell Neasley

We lived on that lake for 3 days, but there was no outside place to do nudes on that tiny man-made island. Everything was visible to everyone. At night, it was uncomfortably cold, below freezing. The residents were up early morning. The one thing I didn’t think to do was simply ask. There were kids around, but I don’t know… maybe had I asked, provisions could have been made. Our host, Albert, might have taken us to another remote island that was in the process of being built, but not settled yet. Shoot… Just doing nudes on his straw boat would have been cool. I didn’t think to ask. The conservative nature is strong throughout Peru and much of Latin America. But like I said… who knows. I should have asked.

For an additional accessory, I’m going to go with a Graduated Neutral Density Filter. Shooting Colca Canyon with one would have been perfect, but there were so many other gorgeous landscape shots that could have benefited from having a GND. I did recently pick up one, but I’ll get into that a little later on in another blog post. I was able to make due with what I had, however. GND or not, I had my camera, lenses, and good light that I was able to employ creatively. Once however, this was not the case. We tried. It didn’t work. We moved on.

Art Model, Jenny, Colca Canyon, Peru ©2019 Terrell Neasley

If you’re a photographer doing nudes, you should hope you run into a model like Jenny. I learned. I was inspired, and I got opportunities to problem-solve which makes me a better photographer. I would not have had those opportunities had she just come for a week. But THREE WEEKS? You’re bound to run into something that’s going to blow up in your face and make you think… hard! All challenges are not fraught with evil or ill-intent. Sometimes they are just exercises that make your photographic muscles grow. So, you better learn to think differently out here. There’s no jumping in the car and running to the nearest B&C Camera store for gear or accessories. But if you’ve got a Jenny, you can still create masterpieces, no matter what!

Art Model, Jenny, Near Tumbes, Northern Peru ©2019 Terrell Neasley