We leave Oaxaca and the ruins of Monte Alban, where we were shooting scenes for both Assassin 62 and “The Burn & the Scar,” and head to the famous beach of Zipolite on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. What should be 5 hours of driving will be 8 hours of traveling, because there is a photographer in the car (me) as well as a glamour model (Kyla Cole).
Mexico is full of magic. I’ve been to 80+ countries, and Mexico and Iceland are at the top of the list for the most magical. But even in magical places, reality intrudes, and this sort of sight is everywhere along the route south.
Caldo de pollo (chicken soup), with black beans and rice for her, and some sort of steak enchilada dish for me. This is an hour or so south of the city of Oaxaca, in a tiny house without even a sign showing it is a restaurant.
What should be 5 hours of driving will be 8 hours of traveling, because there is a photographer in the car (me) as well as a glamour model (Kyla Cole).
Kyla does half the driving in my world-class survival machine, a Toyota 4-runner before the re-design, when the truck was a sublime exploration vehicle.
The road south winds through a mountain range with few towns between farms.
More ecocide, in a field beside highway 175. Still dripping oil.
Kyla makes a friend, still in the mountains, about three hours short of Zipolite.
Finally, the beach, a long scalloped cove, with palapas climbing up the hills that jut out into the Pacific.
At the bar a few meters from the Hotel Alquimista, Kyla finds a friend, moments after she gets dunked in the sudden waves of the beach which in Spanish is called “The Shore of the Drowned Ones.” You can see her white shorts are soaked through.
Zipolite by satellite, with the Hotel Alquimista the last orange marker on the left of the image.
Dawn, day one, Kyla goes searching for breakfast.
Already I am thinking about the light and how to shoot Kyla as a statue in her surroundings, but how? As a greek marble? Or something flimsier and more modern?
She finds a liquid smoothie that will get her through the day’s shoot.
It is amazing how often I find her hiding her face behind objects. More on this in the eBook, but an effect of her classical beauty is constant attention from men, so Kyla seems happiest when the photographer wants her hidden in some way.
But we aren’t in paradise for more than an hour before she is learning lines. She is rarely asked to study anything, so she tackles the lines with real ardor.
And since she is shy, she recites the lines in her head dozens of times before she speaks them out loud. She is a different actress in her native language, when she can be super-dramatic and emotional.
Hidden, safe, glimpsed, aroused.
“ . . . sick of standing around naked in front of tongue-tied photographers, she was desperate for a character who acted with honesty and intelligence.”
And coffee after the smoothie, as well as some teasing, which I do endlessly and which I keep unpredictable and irreverent.
I tell her she will be in the sun all day, but she still wants to relax and sunbathe for a few minutes: the downside of modeling, so much standing around and following directions, with little time to take it easy. And she knows me well: I am full of directions.
Are we ready? Normally, she launches into a set of poses that she’s gleaned from years in front of cameras. But we’ve agreed that we will keep the location and our surroundings in mind as we move in them. Are we visitors, residents, aliens? She cannot blend, but she cannot be seen to be trying to stand out, so she has to be natural, feline, at play in the cycles of the planet, aware of who she is at all times.
As a marble artwork, moving across the terrain, with only hints of life visible.
Her hips to waist ratio is roughly 0.72, very close to the ideal of 0.70, according to biologists and social scientists. Dissecting her hips with a line of incoming waves is designed to put danger into the mind of anyone judging her body as perfect for child rearing, the first impression that men mistakenly react to as possible lovers. More on this in these shoots!
I’m always asking the model to keep moving, clambering, climbing, slipping, falling, because it is in these moments that you get intimate glimpses into a woman’s grace and mettle. Kyla knows me, so she carefully makes her way up onto the slippery and sharp rocks. Nothing is more boring than a model simply sitting passively, looking at the viewer!
Although in her case, I’m happy to make an exception: sometimes natural beauty does all the action a photo needs . . .
. . . and it’s always a thrill to ask for a passive pose when you know the danger is coming but the model has no idea.
More to come from the first day: we will shoot more than a thousand images, and yet still have time for a three-hour siesta when the mid-day sun is at its hottest and the light is at its whitest.