Muse (noun): the source of inspiration for a creative artist.

Jouk Oosterhof
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It was André’s facial expression that first attracted me to him. He is friendly yet taciturn, and his emotions can be hard to read. We were neighbours; one day he came up to my apartment to grumble about my music. While he was disturbed, his face did not convey this. This stoic exterior fascinated me, and I began photographing him, the beginning of a relationship grown slowly but solidly that resulted in him becoming my muse.

It started with a fashion story for a Dutch newspaper supplement called AD magazine. My first photos of André are polaroids, sketches for this shoot. We then photographed the story on film, showcasing his hobbies and wearing designer fashion pieces that suited his style and could be mistaken for other, simpler brands. 

When I wanted to make a personal image for my tenth anniversary as a professional photographer, it was André who inspired me. Slowly I started to realise his importance.

The following year, when I was assigned to do whatever I wanted for Playboy magazine, I knew adding him to this image of a naked woman would inspire me again. 

The choice of women’s clothing was made with subtleness in mind, to feel natural and relate to André’s age and character. What would he wear had he been a woman? As he is a heterosexual man I did not want it to appear he was cross-dressing. Rather, I was thinking of his porcelain-like skin and the soft colours and pastel range in his house. 

He never forces a smile or a pose. What you see is unaltered André in situations that come to my mind. Images I want to exist. 

This collection of photographs plots the evolution of a muse. Through the ageing of us both in these 15 years and the diversity of scenarios, it reflects André, it reflects me, and it reflects a fascination with one natural man.

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© Rob Johnston

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