David Armstrong speaks to Silvia Bombardini for Diane Pernet's A Shaded View of Fashion. David shares with us his thoughts on the impermanence of youth, the notion of death, and the young model he dedicated his latest book to, 615 Jefferson Avenue. Read the full interview here, and below, an excerpt:
S.B.: The young men in your works share sometimes a look you wouldn't expect people to have when they are not alone. It's a cautious, moist look of introspection, as if they were discreetly drowning in themselves, the mild weight of longing shivering along their bodies, following the perfect lines drawn by collarbones and ribs, the perfect curve of the hips. How do you get models to expose themselves to you so defenselessly, without even asking for them to get naked? Is it their being young that allows you through the still blurred walls of their privacy?
D.A.: One thing I think no one realizes is how reverential I feel toward my models, I'm actually beholden to them. And if nothing else my desire is to put them in a place where they feel safe enough to allow something of themselves to be revealed, even just a little bit. For me asking them to get naked would be the last thing to inspire any kind of trust and so unimportant to what I'm trying to do. I'm awful at making nudes anyway. I don't think it's their youth per say. At any age you can sense whether someone is genuine or not. It's a funny tightrope you walk as a photographer. During a shoot I cringe to hear myself say "that is so beautiful", but if I do the thing is I actually mean it. One of the most remarkable shoots I've had in recent years was with a ninety-six personage who I greatly esteem. Over a period of roughly three hours, to see her suspicion melt and allow and allow me "in" however briefly is among the most memorable gifts I've ever received.