My friend Roxanne was in LA for a short visit some time ago. She made some time for a quick shoot with me for one of the two afternoons she would be in town. We literally had no place to shoot the day we were going to shoot. The places I would usually shoot were just not available. When you shoot nudes, it does tend to limit where you shoot.
We decided to try a motel next to the freeway that rented rooms by the hour. This was perfect as Roxanne only had a couple of hours before I needed to drop her off at the Burbank Airport. It also gives you the correct impression of the motel; it was seedy. When we walked into the room, it was exactly as we pictured. Just past the bed was a small fake wood Formica table and two chairs. On the table was an ashtray. Clearly, the motel was above the smoking laws in California.
I turned to Roxanne and told her it was too bad she didn’t smoke; the motel atmosphere would be more complete if she smoked. Always the trooper Roxanne told me to run to the gas station next door for some small cigars.
Roxanne is always about fulfilling an artistic vision. I don’t remember her ever saying that she couldn’t do something. We have created some memorable images over the years.
After returning with the Cigars and matches, I see Roxanne sitting in the PERFECT outfit at the table. She is not one to waste time. I gave her a cigar and lit one for her. Neither of us is a smoker, so there was a bit of a learning curve to create the type of smoke that would photograph well and make the images I had in mind. I wish I could show more of the photographs from this shoot here on FaceBook, but it would get me in trouble with the FB admins. Just saying that will probably get this post shadowbanned; we will see.
I wanted to focus on the smoke coming out of her mouth for this image. There was no need for her to inhale the smoke, but she needed to puff on it three or four times to get the smoke thick like it is in the photo. We had to take a few; she had to focus on not showing in her expression that the smoke hurt her eyes, and it tasted and smelled nasty. She needed to angle her head just right so the smoke would rise out of her mouth. She needed to keep her mouth in the perfect sensual shape and connect with the camera.
Roxanne pulled it off for this close-up and for all of the other photos we created in about 15 minutes. She was a very convincing smoker for someone who had never put her lips on a cigarette or cigar before.
As I said, the rest of the photos in this pay-by-the-hour motel would complete the story. But for now, this one will have to suffice.
This is NO endorsement for smoking. Smoking kills approximately 450,000 people in the US each year. That’s as much or more than Covid each year.
The camera settings are Canon 85mm f/1.2 L series lens set at f/2, the shutter speed was 1/100 sec. ISO-200 The light source was the window to her right, my left. You can see the light source in her eyes.