New York City-based photographer Jennifer Loeber met Lorelei in 2012, while she was working on a project about a non-traditional summer camp. “It was a sort of teenage Utopia, self-governed by the campers and freed of the usual constraints of a conventional camp experience,” Loeber told PDN. At the time, Lorelei was still identifying as a male and going by her given name, Robert. Loeber reconnected with Robert on Facebook while she was exhibiting the series, “Cruel Story of Youth,” and took a chance by asking Robert, who was transitioning to Lorelei, to pose nude for a different series Loeber’s still working on, “Zeig Mal.” Lorelei agreed and that portrait session was the beginning of this series, “Gyrle.”
Loeber has been working with Lorelei since Fall 2012, photographing her in Northhampton, Massachusetts and most recently in Florida, where Lorelei was living for a short time. “I typically spend four of five days with her on each trip lurking around as she goes about her day. I’m incredibly fortunate that Lorelei has allowed me complete and total access to her life and the people in it. Loeber’s photography follows the traditional documentary style, but she occasionally uses a flash (almost all of her images are taken with natural light). And though the photos may look natural, it’s not always easy for Loeber to get the right shot. “I spend a lot of time crouched in awkward positions holding my breath.”
Many photographers will agree editing long-term projects like this is not the easiest of tasks. Loeber, who has experience as an editor, says the best advice she ever got came from Alec Soth while she attended a Magnum Masterclass this summer. “I was bitching about how hard it was to photo edit yourself and that I was having a hard time with this series, and he said something to the effect of ‘be more mysterious.’ So simple. So right on.”
Images from “Gyrle” will be featured in The Center for Fine Art Photography‘s “Open” exhibition which opens Friday, December 5, 2014 in Fort Collins, CO. “Open” was juried by Shane Lavalette, and includes work from more than 50 artists from all over the world.