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'Dasha, Then 18 - A Black and White Retrospective II'

By: John Crosley  |  View Full Portfolio (2137 images)

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'Dasha - Then 18 -- a Continuing Black and White Retroperspective II'

This is a long-forgotten capture from a chip never reviewed of model Dasha, then 18, one of the best, most natural moving models I have ever worked with. A Russian-blooded Ukrainian, she had overstayed at the beach on the huge Dnipr river which bisects Ukraine, accounting for her sunburn before posing. Your ratings, critiques and observations are invited and most welcome. If you rate harshly, very critically or with to make a remark, please submit a helpful and constructive comment; please share your photographic knowledge to help improve my photography. Thanks! Enjoy! john (submitted under 'nudes' for safety's sake, and because she's ALMOST semi-nude.


John Crosley , April 01, 2012; 06:13 P.M.

Dasha and I were friends - close friends (but not intimate)

I met Dasha when she was 17; she picked me up at McDonald's presumably being attracted by my huge and very obvious photo gear in her large (1+ million) regional capital, Dnipropetrovsk, a former rocket manufacturing city,  at one time closed to westerners, but full of universities (and beautiful, young  women).

She and I palled around for about ten days, strictly as friends; there was no 'invitation', and I don't go where I'm not invited.  The first day, within minutes of meeting I took what might have been an award winning and classic 'street' photo of her (girl with upraised Coke bottle in front of Coke poster that she didn't know she was standing in front of).

We ate together, walked and talked together, then eventually I left her city.

I would see her in her city when I returned and looked foward to it.  When I began shooting models, she asked me one day if she could be a model, and I said 'OK'.

This is from one of two days when I hired her; the stipulation was 'no nudity' and I kept a promise I made to her mother and father at dinner (with my assistant, a 21 year old from Moscow, a sort of chaperone).

Dasha was a dancer and an extraordinariy graceful mover, at complete ease in front of the camera with a sixth sense for how she would look and when to stop moving for the photo.

She'd move some, stop, move a little more, stop again for the photo, then move, and so on.

Completely naturally.

She's one of the best models I've ever had, and before her I had photographed cover girls in Odessa who went to the Middle East, China, Korea, Japan, etc. and let me shoot them through their agency just to keep in practice for a very small fee.

And they worked hard for their money and were world class beautiful.

Dasha has a special quality hard to define.

For Dasha it seemed hardly like work; we worked seamlessly together, very organically.

I have posted others; this is available light and thus very low light with a much older DSLRL illuminated solely by a window from far across the room. (northern light).

It turned out to be excellent light.

She was 18 when I took posed studio photos of her, and I usually don't hang around with women her age, but she had extraordinary presence and maturity; within two more years, she was supping at the table of the Vice Major of Kyiv, or so I understand. 

She was ambitious, clever and graceful all at once, with just a touch of cunning mixed in with some slight and charming naiivete, probably gone by now, sadly. 

I miss her as a friend.


John (Crosley)

Eric Wéry , April 01, 2012; 06:28 P.M.

Portrait as storytelling


The text of your meeting and working with the Lady pictured complements it magnificently. The bold look of the model is amazing, as is the light and, well, her anatomy... Beautiful picture, nicely written text that gives us the feeling to better know Dasha. I wish you could meet her again later in life and write another chapter, both in words and images.

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Steve Hébert , April 01, 2012; 06:56 P.M.

Great eye contact here John, expression is very lovely and lighting is perfect.

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John Crosley , April 01, 2012; 06:59 P.M.

Eric Wery

If I had her number, I'd call her.

I saw her in a restaurant within the last year in this, another city, almost 600 miles away.

Her look is unmistakable and she was with a woman friend.  My look also is unmistakeable (even from the rear, regrettably).

I had given her some money to do something long, long ago, and in the end, she diverted it.  She, my assistant and I were planning on taking an international trip together, so it was for her to get her international passport.

Her parents nixed that; they were afraid I would be a white slaver and turn her into a prostitute, then take her passport away. 

Such things happen with many young women or did a decade ago, then the women were later victimized over and over again. 

When they were expelled from one country, put on a train to return home, new white slavers pulled them off down the line and continued to vicitimize them anew, or so it had been reported to the UN a decade ago.

I don't know if it's better, so kudos to her parents for being cautious.

But with the money spent, she disappeared from my life, probably thinking I'd never forgive her, which I did long ago; she's a little weak and at the same time, ambitious.

I very much miss our friendship, and if anyone knows her, let her know it was a  misunderstanding that happens to younger people, and I don't hold it against her or accountable, and to be in touch with me.

(I alluded to this previously, didn't say details, but then the restaurant encounter where she was a ways away but saw me and avoided me.  I let her have her way, as I don't foist myself off on people -- ever.)

She must approach me . . . . and if she was a true friend, she will, eventually.

If she has character and courage.  She's still young; early 20s.

She knows how to find me, just find my e-mail on my bio page and I'm easily found on google.com or google.com.ua with heaps of listings and ways to contact me (like you for instance, private e-mail for Photo.net members, my e-mail in text on my bio page (fill in the blank) and so forth.  I'm no mystery to someone who really wants to contact me.

Others who have done scornful things to me, in my ensuing years or decades following have so often to my utter surprise come forth and astonishingly to me, apologized -- it's now come to a point where in all all but the hardest cases, I wait and sooner or later, even those who rushed away heaping scorn on me, return with apologies and good feelings, full of good memories, asking forgiveness for youthful bad judgment (why youthful?  Because I'm older than most of my closest friends; older people want nothing to do with me; I think and act far too 'young' for them)

All but two -- the most important and loved  -- who have been gone for two decades, I fear i will die without ever hearing from them again.


I don't go where not wanted.

No matter how much it hurts my soul.

I have infinite patience.

To my death.

(good comment)


John (Crosley)

John Crosley , April 01, 2012; 07:18 P.M.

Steve Hebert

From the moment I met Dasha in a restaurant, those very eyes kept looking at me; her eye contact was phenomenal, often with a slight smile with one or two of her large two upper front teeth showing; a most infectious look.

Any man would be  sucker not to want to spend time with her; she was smart, clever, ambitious, interested, serious where warranted, wanted to 'go places' not be stuck in marriage or in her smaller town with the rest of the beautiful young women and I acknowledged that, and treated her as an equal.

She was equally smart as I, I felt, if more naive because of her age, but at the same time had some wisdom I never had because of  more coddled upbringing.

It was almost two years before I realized she had large breasts!

(early age 17 to later age 18).

She and her family were poor; she and her mother did what many Ukrainians who are poor did; they traded clothes.  She wore the same swearer day after day ,borrowed from mom, and mom wore who knows what those days.

In other words, there was only one good piece of clothing so the two shared as do many of Ukraine's poor, but  they made the most of it.

Thanks Steve; I captured the 'true Dasha'.

(She has a fan club on the Internet, too, I think of my prior photos.)


John (Crosley)

Les Berkley , April 01, 2012; 07:29 P.M.

Lovely subject, good b/w and I love the slightly enigmatic expression. The hand does seem to be in an awkward position, though, even given the informal nature of the image.

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John Crosley , April 01, 2012; 07:51 P.M.

Les Berkley

Thank you for the compliment.

My models always move, and poses are always comfortable; never contrived.

You can rest assured she devised this pose for maximum comfort and feeling that it showed off her beauty to the maximum.

While I might have moved the hand somewhat if setting this up for a cosmetics or hand creme advertisement, I have no such compunctions for the sort of photo I take, and in a thrice, the hand was moved; this photo was chosen for its strong points, (not the weak): the expression and the eye contact which almost caused me to jump away from the screen when I saw it:   it reminded me so much of spending time with Dasha.

This is exactly what it was like to look at her across a dinner table (albeit she wore more clothes, and I never realized she had anything other than small breasts, for the longest time, as she wore a heavy sweater always.)

And it wasn't a sexual attraction, specificallly, though I'd be lying to say being on the rceiving end of this look for over a week at a time at meals and other times, even ealking the street or quay talking was asexual and didn't appeal to the masculine parts of me.

I just never acted on them or tried. 

I stuffed all that in a box which remained sealed, as I have all my life when that box has been closed with no invition to open it.

Thanks for the comment.


John (Crosley)

Hen Ry , April 02, 2012; 07:05 A.M.

very ..very beautiful

A very beautiful portrait of a very beautiful woman. I like also the informations you have given to this photo.  The eyes as a door into the soul. Fine tones.   Congrats. Hen

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John Crosley , April 02, 2012; 07:14 A.M.

Hen Ry

Compliments on the photography are eagerly accepted.

I also graciously accept compliments on what I have written; that always is more dicey--whether to tell the 'back story' but more and more I'm getting lots and lots of compliments on that, maybe 20 to one.

The cure for those who don't want a 'back story', of course, is 'don't read; just look at the photo!'

Your comment made me quite pleased.



John (Crosley)


niki barbati , April 02, 2012; 11:00 A.M.

superb portrait, very good use of light and interesting crop

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John Crosley , April 02, 2012; 12:05 P.M.

niki barbati

Few can guess, from day to day what I will post -- even I.

I found this in a folder of old captures I had not looked at; it was in NEFs which did not show in my browser so I had never looked at then (I was not shooting on that chip NEFs and JPEGS as I usually do and Bridge then was not in existence).

I am so glad I stopped for a look and was blown away by what I saw.

There were many superb portraits, some with messed hair, more glamorous or alluring, but in this her straightforward, piercing eyes reminded me of sitting at dinner or lunch eating with her and her intense, non-conflicted stare.

I captured that here, and it shows, doesn't it?

As to her large bust, that I had been unaware of, as she hid it behind bulky clothes, so it was a surprise, almost two years after first meeting her, when I first went to photograph her.

Thank you for the compliment; I'd like to share it with her, can't presently, and hopes she sees it; it's for her as much as I, to my belief.


John (Crosley)

Garry Barker , April 02, 2012; 02:34 P.M.

I have noticed in your photography that you have a talent for bringing so much out in the eyes of your subjects.  Well done and congratulations!

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Ellery Curtis , April 02, 2012; 04:12 P.M.

a good looking christian girl...praise be to jesus :D

I love the shot...very beautiful....the model aint bad either.

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John Crosley , April 02, 2012; 04:43 P.M.

Garry Barker

Thanks for the tribute.

'The eyes are the windows to the soul'

That may be a cliche, but cliches are often simply that because so frequently  they are repeated; but it doesn't mean there is no truth to them.

In any case, in our quest as photographers to search for quality, we often must search for signs of technical excellence.

The first thing that most humans look for is the eyes; we search for the eyes, as they are prime indicators -- together with the mouth -- of human  expression.

Now, I personally look a person in the face when talking, and they think I am looking them in the eyes, but frankly I am not; I am looking at their mouth --  the way their mouth forms words and even the crinkles sometimes at the corners, same if there's any hesitation in forming words, etc. 

It also helps me understand each word, even as it's being formed, just like hearing impaired people, except I'm not.  I think hearing and listening often are two different things, and I LISTEN to people.

I work often first on the eyes, and if too dark, I may lighten them and even increase contrst, but using greatest care I am capable of.  Eyes are very hard to work on and easy to screw up.  There are tricks to doing a good job, only a few of which I have done well.

I did meet a young woman at a restaurant Saturday who had what perhaps were the world's most magnificent eyes -- at least what I was privileged to see as I spoke with her.

When they were looking at me; this master's degree candidate seemed to see into me when I talked, and likewise, when I looked at her beautiful eyes and their rapid movements which mirrored her incredibly swift-moving mind, all through her open eyes, I felt as though I she had literally opened the door into her soul for only me to have a look -- and it was a most privileged and noteworthy look, at that.

I felt honored.

I wondered then if I was getting a special view, or if she looked at everyone that way; I may find out as it seems we may see each other again!

That look was outstanding; one of the rare special looks in my life; not unlike Dasha's special look but more attractive because not composed mainly of just  physical beauty like Dasha, and truly the proverbial 'windows to the soul', I felt and undoubtedly a most privileged view.

In photography, that Saturday woman's 'look' could not be duplicated; where the bright young women's bright eyes moved rapidly, showing off her amazing intelligence and thought process. 

Film or video might have captured it, but not still photography.

I invite you to look at the eyes of model Nina in my portfolio in the case where her eyes seem 'green', reflecting partly the green arcade which surrounds her; they're magnificent, and they are looking at me. 

Those eyes were meant for me alone, and lasted a split second.  Nina never could hold a look more than a split second.

It always was revealing to follow her with a camera and just capture those split seconds. 

I realized the when I photographed Nina so many times the truth of what John Peri has written so frequently and well, that women reveal themselves just so much, and it's our privilege as to capture that which they choose to reveal.

Dasha had the most flattering eyes, and her eyes to me were always seductive.  She mostly stared straight into my eyes much of the time, an almost irresistible look when coming from a beautiful woman; a look of her self-confidence as well as beauty.

She knew what she wanted in life, somewhat, and her beauty was her ticket out of a regional but isolated big city to the bigger city where there was real opportunity. 

I know she made it to the bigger city; I saw her there.

I don't know if she's found it, but she had big ideas, was a dreamer and affixed herself to important people at later times. 

I hope she hasn't become lost in the process or lost some of her little girl in doing so; that part was incredibly charming.

I repeat, thee was nothing romantic (at least sexual) in our relationship; we were friends.  I had a girlfriend or two, and she had a boyfriend or two, and as day ended, we each went our separate ways and almost never talked about our romantic lives, but more about world events, philosophy, life in general, and so on. 

She was and probably remains a deep thinker careful to know that she has a place in the world, and when this photo was taken at age 18, searching for that place (but at the same time a youth just returned from overstaying at the beach on the huge river, hence the sunburn line on her chest.)

She was not technically 'underage' when I met her, as the age of consent is 16 I think, but that was no regard; there was nothing sexual afoot ever.  It was an entirely platonic relationship, and besides, I don't have interest romantically in women of such age.

(If you think I'm age-ist, consider that one girlfriend was 20-30 years older than I, and I was prepared to marry her, though it fell through; and she was a wonderful person.)

At that time, Dasha graduated the equivalent of high school, as all did, at 16, and went to a form of 'academy' of drama/dance, I think.  Later she affixed herself to a retired professor whose goal was to transform and guide all of Ukraine's economy and politics! 

She did not think small!

Not bad for a girl who had to share her black, bulky sweater with momma and whose father, a chauffeur, dreamed and dreamed of some day owning a machine (car) of his own, no matter how old the car  (nice man, same for mom).

And she did NOT make a point of thrusting her considerable mammaries into anyone's face . . . and actually hid them from view. 

It was nearly two years before I understood they were anything more than tiny . . . . just a day or two I seem to recall before I took this photo, during a prior photo session (there were two sessions I think.)

Interesting memories.

Eyes are so important, and that's why I can I emphasize them when I can.

Also, as photographers we look for focus on the eye, and if that's off, we tend to dismiss the photograph as deficient technically. 

I almost always place an autofocus focus point over an eyeball whenever I can, it's that important.

Interesting comment that made me think and reflect -- not only on my life and this model, but on the great importance of eyes in portraiture and facial photography.

Thanks for such an inspirational and thought provoking prod.


John (Crosley)

John Crosley , April 02, 2012; 04:49 P.M.

Ellery Curtis

I am not sure how faithful to Christ Dasha was, but we often ate meals together, and with her good company AND beauty I often found myself saying 'thank you Lord' for this meal AND the good company.

Was she 'using' me?  Of course.

Was I 'using' her?  Of course, too.

Were we true friends?


Not BFF, it seems, but maybe that will change.

If the same Dasha remains there underneath.

She's probably 24 or 25 by now.

I have a feeling she sees her photos here and may read these colloquies. 

Her English improved dramatically with my help, and she helped me understand life in Ukraine tremendously.

I never was afraid of beautiful women once I reached a certain age.

I have found all women, sometimes even mores o the more beautiful ones, are beset by all of life's insecurities, and many men are afraid of the most beautiful ones for fear of rejection or not being 'worthy'.

Models of incredible beauty often have the worst insecurities (not so Dasha, however).

Having once been married to a woman of fantastic beauty (Angelina Jolie beauty), and having had a model as a very long term  girlfriend, who was incredibly smart (looks alone are NOT enough) and with great good judgment, I can say that the combination is nice. 

Beauty is nice for looking, but brains are first.  The combination is great!

If you're smart enough to be a writer, like me, you have to have someone to talk to who can talk at your level, or you'd go crazy.

Women who are beautiful AND superintelligent are caught in the same fix. 

If all the men who came on to them and are incredibly handsome were permitted to seduce them, their mornings after would be inglorious and humiliating times.

That's one thing I could promise, never any awkward mornings after.

I can be interesting, to very bright people, and totally uninteresting to others.

I often never know why some people like me and a few may greatly dislike me. 


John (Crosley)

Trisha Jean-Angela , April 02, 2012; 09:54 P.M.

This is a great portrait for the fact that (but not only because) you have captured that confidence in her eyes, expression and her pose. To have such confidence at such a young age is remarkable. It took me much longer to acquire confidence in who I am as a woman. Lovely portrait and I hope one day you will hear from her again. Thank you for sharing not just your portrait but the way in which you educate others regarding the lives others live and the struggles they endure or overcome.

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John Crosley , April 02, 2012; 10:41 P.M.

Trisha Jean-Angela

I am genuinely touched by what you just wrote to me.  I hardly expected it.

In a way, when I write, I am almost like a radio broadcaster who sends words out into space through a microphone, but I'm mostly doing so with written words and without radio's ARBITRON rating system to give me feedback.

I can't win or lose advertiser support; there are none.

I hear from time time someone may think I write too much or in their words  'drown the fish' but the plupart of the feedback is greatly positive to this style and my manner of expression.

I am most grateful, humbled, and deeply affected by your comment.

Thank you.


John (Crosley)

Xavier Corcobado , April 05, 2012; 01:25 P.M.

Very nice portrait Best regards

Xavier Corcobado xcorcobado.blogspot.com

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John Crosley , April 05, 2012; 04:03 P.M.

Xavier Corcobado

Thank you, Xavier.


John (Crosley)

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