Thursday, May 20, 2010


Chemistry is a funny thing. Not the kind you do in a science lab, although I suppose it works the same way. I'm talking about human chemistry. What is it that makes humans connect in such a way that some are more drawn to each other than others? It happens in every setting in which human interaction is key. I think about my days as a jazz musician. Think about a hand full of guys getting on stage not really knowing what's gonna happen next. Sure, there's a road map. But in jazz, you improvise. Anything can happen. Sometimes its good. Sometimes its magic. The magic happens when the chemistry between that particular configuration of guys goes beyond the skill of the players and factors in the way they compliment each others styles. The way they think. Their choices of when to play, when to pause. These things are all unspoken and happen instantaneously. So, it can't be about any academic type of skill. Chemistry is something different.

The same is true in photographing people. I'm currently working on a book of artistic nudes. I am always working with a different woman. I have to, in an hour or so, meet the model, come up with an idea for the shoot, form a rapport with her, and get the shot I need. Sometimes it just doesn't work. Maybe I can't find the words to get her to see my vision. Maybe she isn't feeing comfortable with the concept. It can be any number of things. But when it works, it just works. Its not that I say anything different. Its not that one model is THAT much better than the others. Its chemistry. Sometimes its just there. When I stare at a model through that lens, and I see her staring back at me, there is a moment when I know. I get a chill. I always know when she feels it too. I can see it in her eyes. Its that magic I was talking about.

Lately, because I'm back in the dating scene, I've been thinking a lot about this whole chemistry thing. I guess I'm fortunate in that I have been going on lots of dates. (I say that because I think of myself as kind of a big nerd, so I tend to be surprised when people wanna go out with me at all.) But this frequency of dating has allowed me to compare chemistry in a rather concrete way. Its pretty interesting. I think that, for the most part, I'm always being myself. Its all I know how to be. But sometimes, me being me creates a really fun and interesting dynamic with a woman. I like to talk. I like to laugh. I joke. I'm almost always bordering on inappropriate. I'm way too honest and open. So with some woman, that goes over smashingly. Then with others, it just doesn't work at all. So what is it? Why is it that some conversations seem so forced, while others seem as relaxed as old pals?

It doesn't happen often. I've experienced it only a few times. But now and then I meet a girl that I can talk to for hours even though we've never talked before. Its not lust. That happens just about every time. This connection is on a much deeper level. Kinda like hearing Miles play with Wayne, Herbie, Ron, and Tony, as opposed to hearing him sit in with some house band somewhere. Yeah, he's still Miles either way. One just feels better. I saw a video of Miles sitting in at a Prince concert once. I thought, "Who's idea was that?" Doesn't matter that Prince is amazing. Doesn't matter that they obviously had mutual respect for each other. You can't account for chemistry.

I guess my point in all this is, I've been sitting in with a lot of house bands lately. I'm looking to form my next great band. If you know a good rhythm section......

1 comment:

  1. Rueben... you are a true ARTIST!!! not just with your horn, but with your words and vision. I've always respected you as a man an artist and father, now you have just raised view my of you, Keep moving forward...