What It's Like to Suffer for Your Partner's Art

It's a hard life for husbands/muses.

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May 5 2017, 8:51pm

This article originally appeared on VICE Denmark

As a photographer, I've asked my muse to do some wildly ridiculous shit over the years. I've coiled pink string around his bare arse, had him run naked into some shrubbery and dragged him to the desert for many different kinds of unspeakable acts. I'm usually very happy when I'm photographing him because I love him, and I think he's beautiful.

I came up with the idea for my series My Man – My Muse as I was going through all the pictures I've taken of Buster and hadn't used for anything. They were all either bad shots or test shots. But at the same time, they all told a story of their own – one of a relationship between a photographer and her model/husband, and of what things are like behind the scenes of a photo shoot.

People rarely consider the massive amount of work that goes into getting the shot that makes the cut. That final image usually looks natural and effortless – which, of course, is the whole point. But in reality, a great shot is often born from blood, sweat, tears and lots of shouting and bickering. That's what I wanted to show with these photographs, which initially weren't meant to see the light of day.

I must have taken Buster's picture thousands of times over the years. Not just because he's one of my favourite models, but also because I've had to try out the composition of shots before official shoots. I should mention that he isn't really a fan of posing in front of the camera – he actually fundamentally opposes the idea. So given that his wife is a photographer and his own dad's a photographer too, he's had a bit of tough luck in that respect, throughout his life.

One particular moment of tough luck for my husband was when we were in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. I had asked him to lie on the ground to pose with his pants down and hold the string of a balloon between his butt cheeks. I told him to imagine that he was a fat little bird that couldn't fly. So there he was, lying butt naked and face down with a balloon coming up from his arse in the scorching desert heat, when a group of hikers happened to pass by at that very moment. There was no missing him. And that wasn't all – we had both overlooked the fact that the area where I had asked Buster to lie down was covered in tiny cactus needles. They're hard to spot, but if you come into contact with them they'll stick with you for days, and so will the burning sensation on your skin.

There, in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, Buster threatened to divorce me, got into the car and drove away – leaving me just my camera and the balloon. But after about 20 minutes the car suddenly reappeared on the horizon. I got in and we drove back to the motel, to the sounds of Van Morrison and his bum balloon flapping out the window.

Scroll down for more of Sarah Buthmann's photos of Buster.

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