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bill nordquist

Bill Nordquist appears in the New York Times

Designer Chris Webster was on the phone. Her husband, the amazing photo-illustrator Steve Webster, had an assignment for the New York Times. She asked if I would be interested in modeling as a "shredder-obsessed" person for the illustration. I replied in a New York minute: Yes! A trip over to Steve's studio is, well, a real trip.

"The Hideout," as the studio is known, is in the Clintonville area of Columbus. Built in the early 20th century Mediterranean style, the building began life as a church, but legend holds that it later served other passions as a brothel. The Hideout is a maze of rooms, each with its own bizarre, mesmerizing ambiance. The sanctuary still has its wood beam arches and mullioned, cut glass windows. There's a tiled, sunken baptismal tub, a working fireplace, and a galley kitchen that's stuck in a time warp from the 1950s.

Anachronistic props are scattered throughout. A Gypsy-style fortune teller machine dominates the narthex. Mod light fixtures and furnishings from the 70s - including a very nice chunk of pea-green shag carpet - occupy a corner of the sanctuary. Thousands of figurines, old eyeglasses and other objets d'art are stacked against the walls. Amid this visual blast are Steve's state-of-the-art photo robots: lighting units he controls from his iPhone, racks of monitors and processors, and tall booms mounted with very large digital cameras.

The photo shoot takes all of 20 minutes. Director Steve asks me for different poses and facial expressions. He changes the lighting and moves some booms. He encourages me to scream and laugh like a madman. The Times photo editors ended up selecting the most sedate of all the shots, which is a bummer. We had some really wild versions that, in my opinion, better represented the zeal of the truly shredder-obsessed.

The electronic magic begins after the shoot when Steve cranks up the Photoshop machine. See that shirt I'm wearing in the illustration? It was dark blue. Those shreds of paper piled up everywhere? They were put there afterwards by Steve. He also cleaned up my hair a bit, but unfortunately he left the wrinkles.

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