It’s easy to forget. It’s easy to miss things, forget them or ignore them because the world is moving at the speed of light, and in order to keep up you simply have to narrow your focus to a pinpoint or open it to full broad- spectrum. I started jotting loose notes into my notepad as I watched the winter waves wash higher and higher on the jetty. I looked, saw the homeless camps a few feet from the new luxury developments, felt the raw uncaring force of nature as it howled off the towering volcano behind me and then saw something that made me alternately happy and sad as my Facebook and Insta chimed loudly, interrupting the moment. Something clicked. When I conceived of this shoot it wasn’t just about Gold or the impermanence of glamour nor about the wealth divide and how in today’s society of instant everything we often perceive things to be different than they are and make implausible decisions based on it – it was about all of those things.
I’d been wanting to do a heavily thematic shoot for some time, but all the pieces finally aligned late last winter. By then, I had fleshed out the ideas behind the shoot almost fully, and listening to my inner muse had never been better – everything was coming together flawlessly. My model was gracious enough to artfully gild herself under my hawkish direction while I simultaneously prepped lights, backdrops and timers – all the little details.
As the lights flashed, I couldn’t help but find myself in a flow state. The settings came to me quickly and with fluidity. Muse and Photographer danced in the light, a word here or there, but largely silent. Bulbs flashed. I indulged in an inner montage. There was a time in my life when this was not only an unthinkable future, but also simply one that was unknowable from my side of the Iron Curtain. This art, so far from the Kandinsky ̧ Gerasimov and El Lizzitski of my childhood, was still a product of those impressionist and nationalistic ‘influencers’ just as much as it was touched by the muses of my contemporaries while our work brushed past one another’s in the forever dark of the digital night. What a beautiful clash of cultures and inspiration my life has given me!
In a time of constant change and in a digital age where image is global, it comforts me to know that some things are finite. We have the “gold standard” because there is a known and finite quantity of the mineral available. I feel the same way about unique moments in time. There are a finite number that we are given and whether that’s one or one thousand, we are duty bound to go through life looking for these golden moments until, as Robert Frost suggests, “so dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.” This shoot exemplified everything special and Golden. From the Ratio to the glowing model.
On a dreary winter morning, in a warm studio that’s been looking onto the bay like a lighthouse for over a hundred years, a Golden model and photographer danced in the light and for a moment, as Frost urges I am reminded of how short life is, of how we can transcend personal and physical hardship to ultimately triumph and of just how special these golden moments are because nothing gold can stay. As I edited the shoot I kept muttering the words of Jonny from the Outsiders, ‘Stay Gold Pony Boy.’ And I think that’s what we all do for as long as we can.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
BY ROBERT FROST
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
These photos were published in the Killer Issue of Obscurae Magazine in Jan 2019
Styling and photography by Liza Mahler instagram @lizamahlerphotography
Model: Jess instagram @andiwilleatyouup
Dress from my dear friend Kayla instagram @kayla_michele_photography