She’s Got Swag
Mid-May 2020, post-confinement, I was beat. disappointed in myself, ready to quit.
I had seen her walking quietly through the old streets of Antibes. Dressed elegantly but at times, inappropriately, for say – a Tuesday morning, more suiting a Saturday night. I so wanted to photograph her but couldn’t bring myself to spit out my request in broken French. Among the English speakers, there were rumors about who she was, a mystery woman. Among the locals, she was a character.
On that day I overcame my self-consciousness. Her black flapper-style dress was caught in the buckle of her shoe. She struggled. I bent down to help and politely asked, describing my studio location. She came the next day. That was the start of a 5-month collaborative journey.
Pre-second lockdown we’ve had 39 sessions and 4300 images. In that time, when she came to my studio, my answer was always yes. Rarely did we pick a preset time. I never knew when she would come.
Some mornings, while I was still in bed, I would hear her unique raspy voice call my name. “Carmen. Carmen.” (heavy French accent) While opening the shutters, I could see she had yet another amazing outfit to share. “Give me 15 minutes” I’d skip my shower, my coffee, brush my teeth, get dressed, and get my gear. I made the time when she came.
Where shall we go today? The answer – never more than 500m from my rue Vial studio. Fortunately, our streets are filled with character, colorful nooks, and crannies. I tried to compliment her outfit with the local setting and at times we just went right outside my studio. Sometimes we had a 10-minute session sometimes an hour. Each outfit was a unique combination of what she owns. I never knew ahead of time what she was going to wear or when she would come.
She wrote for me a short biography, which is how I know she worked for a high-end clothing boutique at one point in her accounting career.
She is my muse, my breath of inspiration. For her birthday, I gave her a purse-friendly album so she could carry it with her. As she paged through it, she quietly said to herself “I am so proud.”
Her name is Leaticia and that lady’s got swag.