Frida and Diego, Patti and Robert, Marina and Ulay... Like many before them, Carolyn White and Rudy Lamboray typify the artist-muse relationship dynamic that many only dream of. The two fell in love after shooting for the first time together in Belgium, where they now both reside, happily married and continuing to create beautiful, intense, sensual and often playful imagery. We asked them a few questions to find out more about them, their work and the creative process behind them.
How did the two of you meet?
I found some photos of Carolyn on a Flickr page of a French photographer and I immediately thought to ask her to work with me but her name was not mentioned. I found her Facebook profile on the Facebook page of the photographer. I sent her a very short message saying here is my website and it would be a pleasure to work with her. I’m not a guy who speaks about the universe to the models and things like that, I never write long stories and I don’t like to convince with words.
Carolyn replied that she was very surprised (later she told me she thought it was a mistake and that the message was not meant for her) and said it would be a pleasure for her too. It was great to read her words except when she mentioned where she was living… more than 1200km away.
I said "ok well… when I’m around I will let you know", (with disappointment of course) but she replied she wanted to come to Belgium for a few days with her brother. I said "you're welcome of course!" We made emotional photos for me because I used a very old camera, it was a 1952 Yashicaflex ASII with square format. Until that moment it was very hard for me to use this camera and… the 12 photos were good! Same thing with the Polaroid duochrome red, I never really succeeded with that and once again all the Polaroid’s turned out well thanks to her. It was a sign…
She went back to France and we spoke a lot via social media. She came back three months later… and we are married now.
Do you feel you have an artist-muse dynamic and how does this affect your images?
For sure yes. I’m a shy guy and I was always afraid to ask things of models, fearing they may feel bored, I always tried to work fast but with Carolyn this is different, I can take time, experiment techniques and she shares my ideas. But above all, sometimes I don’t take the photo because she is too beautiful… You know like if you meet a deer in the forest you feel like frozen, you just admire and enjoy the moment without moving. So… the most beautiful photos of my wife are in my brain.
How does your experience differ being photographed by Rudy and being photographed by others?
Carolyn: Each shoot is different because the photographer is not the same and therefore the photographer / model relationship is not. Rudy places a lot of importance on the well-being of the model and he is listening. I'm more afraid of disappointing Rudy than a different photographer. Certainly because I value our relationship more than others. And with him I'm forced to push my limits because I’m not sure of myself and I like that it jostles me by becoming another person through his photos. He enriches me enormously in every way.
Is photographing Carolyn a completely different experience from photographing others?
Rudy: Well not that much. Never touch the model has always been the number one rule. With Carolyn I sometimes allow myself to touch her hair but that’s it, I always have the reflex to show how I wish the model to move. When I take photos of a person I always think frame, speed, aperture, originality etc. My first goal is to have a beautiful moment with the person because it is visible on the photo! I’ve seen too many pictures of half-naked women wondering “what am I doing?” You can read it on their faces. Not for me.
Carolyn is my wife now and I respect her as any other model, woman or man. We just spend more time to find ideas we’d love to do together. I don’t feel the need to work with other models because our relationship is so strong that it can free us in the working process. We discuss a lot and we understand the wishes of each other very fast, we have a lot in common. We never say “no” but sometimes galleries on our websites need a password. Respect is the first key, an artistic vision is the second one, the two rules in a bubble of true love.
What is your favourite part of creating work as a couple?
I love to open a FujiFP100c and discover how beautiful she is on paper. We also work a lot with Polaroid and it is great to see how she’s involved in the building of an idea. Carolyn is starting photography too and she has a very strong eye.
Your work is sensual, yet often has a playful element. Do you usually approach shooting naturally or do you have an idea in mind of what you want to capture beforehand?
Well, sometimes the sun enters the room… We look at each other and she directly understands what I wish, we have the same ideas at the same moment. But the sun is not always generous in Belgium so yes we also think of themes we’d love to explore or places we’d like to see and visit. I think, like any artist, inspiration comes with a melody, a television series (we just finished “The Leftovers” we really loved), and of course pictures on the internet. But sometimes we see too many things… it’s important to see work from others, yes, but it is also important to stay focused on what we want to say through our work.
Do you have any upcoming projects planned together?
Oh yes… To live happy, to fight every day for that. Visit some countries like Norway, Scotland, Iceland and keep on making pictures together.