By Kevin Casha
Throughout my career, I have now fully illustrated with my photography, no less than 14 books. Subjects vary between coffee-table tourist books, to archaeology, antiques, restaurant guides and other specialised titles, which, although not always my cup of tea, have helped supplement my earnings as well as give me invaluable experience in different genres of photography. In fact, all my books have been commissioned, except Reflections on Life, which was a collection of my favourite images, and which I financed myself. I had tried to get sponsors on this publication, but needless to say, the rules they imposed on the content of the book eventually caused me to just do it under my own steam. Needless to say, it took me about four years to recoup my costs, as this was an 'artistic photography ' book which took its time to sell. Still, it was well worth it as it provided me with a very glorified printed portfolio to showcase my photography.
Last year, a top wine expert and friend, Georges Meekers, (a Belgian married to a Maltese girl), met me over a glass of wine (naturally) to discuss an idea for another publication, this time on a quite an offbeat subject. I had already collaborated with Georges on another successful book, Wines of Malta, so I was receptive to his ideas and proposals. This time, the main idea was to produce a book aimed at wine connoisseurs which would contain mostly 'tongue in cheek ', but still very technical, expert information on the subject of wine. Georges was all for illustrating this book, in some manner, with classical and artistic nude photography. Naturally, I was enthusiastic as wine, women and, of course, photography are quite dear to my heart. So I jumped at the idea.
It was not an easy task. Malta being what it is, small, insular, catholic and religious (anyway, that is what the statistics say), it was going to be hard to find the right models, willing to pose in the nude. It is a fact that everyone knows everyone else in Malta, so girls are very apprehensive to pose nude, and one does not blame them, as the tendency is to look down at girls who are posing in such a manner. The distinction between artistic, classical nude and pornography is not always understood by most of the islanders, particularly the older generations.
Anyway, I pushed ahead. Those who know me are aware of my hard headedness when I want to achieve something. I started by looking carefully at Georges' text and after a couple more long meetings, (I am not complaining, these were always accompanied by copious amounts of good wine to inspire creative thought!), we mapped out the various props and images we would be taking to interpret the text and to also come out with an attractive, classical and artistic set of photographs which would enhance the book as well as be its main focus.
I am one who does not like to be restricted when shooting, so I did not want to have to hide the models' identities. I feel most nude images suffer, (particularly from composition), when the photographer has to crop out the model's face, so that it is not recognisable. So, for this reason, I wanted to source models who would not mind being recognisable. The few local girls I initially approached confirmed my fears as they were all reluctant to take on the work due to the factors mentioned before.
There are 155 days to get ready for The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
which starts on Wednesday 22nd January 2020