Sunday, July 26, 2009

New Models

I've been interviewing and working with a number of new models lately. As I've built my portfolio with new and various images from my fae project and with other examples of my glamour work, it's been easier to explain my vision to prospective models and engage them in a conversation about potential projects on which we can work together. Last week, I was able to do a test shoot with a young model called Heidi who will be one of two girls posing for my Fire Fairy shoot. We shot under the St. Johns Bridge in North Portland and we were able to get some very nice images along the river and on the steps beneath the bridge.

I did a test shoot with the young lady that cuts my hair yesterday, delivered her some prints today, and I think she is seriously considering shooting with me for the fairy project. At least, she told me she enjoyed our little photo session and wanted to do some more.

This week I'm hoping to do test shoots with two more models who want to be part of my project, and next week with any luck I'll be shooting with 2 more models who want to be fairies as well. This is all good, because I think this project is coming to a temporary close. By this, I mean I hope to have the necessary images completed so that I can begin working on designing the book for which the images are intended. My goal is to pick the final images for processing, layout the book and design the pages, and write the prose to go with each set of images during the winter and early spring. This should allow me to get the book into publication by summer.

Once this is complete, I guess I'll start working on my next project, whatever that might be. I'll need a project, though, because that give purpose to my photography and lets me exercise my creativity in a more purposeful manner.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Morality of Nudity

I've never made any secret of the fact that I photograph nudes, among other subjects, as part of my creative work. I also photograph landscapes, flowers, wildlife, airshows, fairs and festivals, birthday parties, weddings, and many other subjects. I've also never made it a secret that sometimes my wife is a model for me, as are friends, acquaintances, and other people I know.

It seems, however, that some people (specifically some folks from Georgia), think photographing the nude human form is some how sinful and immoral and I'm just a terrible person for doing so. Even worse than that, I use that awful tool of Satan, the internet to share my art with others.

I usually don't bring such personal drama into my blog, but this is more funny (and a bit sad) than it is dramatic.

I've been shooting models for glamour, both nude and non-nude, for nearly 30 years. I haven't been hit by a bolt of lightning from the heavens yet. It seems that neither Jehovah, Jesus, Allah, Mohammad, Buddha, Jupiter, Zeus, Thor or any other "god" has deemed my work prurient enough to require immediate destruction and eternal damnation. Since I don't think the gods care much about who I chose to shoot and what they're wearing when I take their photo, I think I'll just keep on doing what I like to do and not worry about the tiny minds and puritan hypocrisy of other folks. So, I do hope you like these photos of Krisa as the Combat Fairy shown above.

I imagine most of my readers will also enjoy these photos from my latest shoot with Sarah done in my garage studio. These haven't been retouched yet, but straight from the camera I'm quite pleased with them:

This was quite a challenging shoot. I had originally thought to back light black wings with both red and blue gelled strobes, but that simply didn't allow them to stand out enough against the black velvet background. Fortunately, I had anticipated that this might be a problem and had prepared two other sets of wings to use for the shoot and those wings worked much better with the lighting I had prepared. Given enough time, I might have tried to rework the lights in order to make the black wings work with the black background, but I certainly felt that I got some excellent images from the shoot.

Sarah was a great model and was exceptionally expressive with both her face and her body. She really got into the character of the Dark Fairy and I had a great time shooting with her. As a bonus, I got to meet Sarah's friend, Lexxy, who did Sarah's makeup and who I hope will work on me on some future projects.

Here's a final shot for your viewing pleasure. I sure hope your mind is open enough to view it with frying to a crisp.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Muse

I believe I need a Muse. I just don't think I'm creative enough when it comes to my photography or to my writing for that matter, and I need someone who can inspire me to stretch beyond the limits of my existing creative process and who can listen to my proposals, my ideas, and my conceptual theories without initial judgement, or negativity and then help me refine them into feasible shoots. That Muse would also help me execute those concepts, either as a model or as an assistant.

If would be great if such a person were also technically adept in photography, but not essential. It's the creativity that's important--the ability to help me sort the kernels of great ideas from the mundane chaff of mediocrity. More importantly, a Muse would propose her own ideas with a unique perspective and a feminine touch and allow me to mold them into derivative concepts to execute. This would help me to get out of this creative rut that I feel that I've been in for the last year or so, and would perhaps help me to find my own intrinsic vision while infusing me with new enthusiasm.

For many years, Wanda was my Muse. For the last 33 years, she has been my model and my inspiration for many ideas. She has borne my experiments with good grace and cheer, and has often put herself in precarious situations so I could achieve a particular shot. She has climbed trees and rocks, stood in ice-cold rushing water, stood nude in snow banks and blizzards, walked on ice, and generally has done whatever I've asked of her for my shoots.

Unfortunately, as my passion for photography, and my technical skills have grown, Wanda's interest in my work has waned. I can hardly fault her for that. Over the years, I've taken literally tens of thousands of photos of her, and today she is far more interested in her own hobbies and interests, and the extent of her interest in my photography is the images I make of our grandchildren and of family events so she can create her wonderful scrapbooks. She still supports my photographic projects, but she has no enthusiasm for them, and I can understand that.

It's unlikely I'll find a new Muse. While it's not difficult to find models, a Muse is a more personal relationship, and platonic though it may be, there does have to be some emotional and creative connection in place. There has to be friendship as well as a working relationship. It sure would be nice though.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Lost My Arbor

Wanda has yet another project going on this year. Now that the living room is completely refurnished, she wants all the river rock dug out from the side of the house and pavers put in place and a walkway added to the deck. Okay, I want to get rid of the river rock myself. The previous owners had put it in because they used that side of the house as a run for their dog, but we don't have a dog and the rock is a real pain in the rear when I'm trying to get the lawn mower from the front yard to the back and vice versa. Besides that, any attempt to walk on that surface without sturdy shoes is a exercise in masochism resulting in bruised soles and stubbed toes.

Once again, Wanda has done weeks of research, picked out the paver colors and patterns, and has dragged me to several landscaping suppliers to look at the difference between Appian, Boston, Camino, Roca, Arena, Octo, Holland and many, many other styles of stone. I've also had to look at Basketweave, Herringbone, Linen, Muster K, Step Running Bond, and Running Bond patterns using the various types of stones. This is not a simple project.

We looked at doing the job ourselves, but we simply don't have the expertise (or the backs) for that kind of labor, so she's had 4 or 5 contractors come out to bid on the job, and on Saturday she chose the guy who spent the most time explaining to her what the job entailed and how the various patterns would look - in other words, he spent more than 20 minutes measuring the area and simply providing her with a quote.

As part of the contract, we agreed that we would take out the existing river rock and provide him with a clean dirt area to level and fill before setting the gravel, sand and pavers. We thought, "Hey, a little manual labor will be good for us." Five yards of loose gravel and strained muscles later we're thinking, "Hey, we aren't as young as we once were!" The loose gravel came out, if not easily, at least without heroic effort. There is, however, the matter of the gravel that has been packed down into the dirt for the last 18 years. It's kicking our ass!

So, given that we want the project to start Monday after the 4th of July weekend, as well as realizing that if we want to keep our bodies relatively whole and not sore during the holiday weekend, we've hired some young labor to help remove the remainder of the gravel. I think at $10/hr it's a relative bargain, though I suspect it will take most of two 8 hour days to get the job done. Sometime, near the end of next week though, the side yard will have had a very large face-lift and will be suitable for the grandkids as a play area.

Unfortunately, as part of the project, I lost my vine covered arbor that divided the side yard from the backyard and which provided me with a lovely photographic prop. I put the arbor in over 11 years ago and had been carefully training the ivy to grow up one side, across the top, then down the other side. It was really looking good too.

I had thought we could simply lift it out of the ground with the vine still attached and move it to the side and out of the way during the construction process, since the lead runner was so thick and long. Alas, the posts of the arbor had dry rotted and all four broke off when we attempted to move it. Also, during the process of attempting to untangle the vine from the lattice work, the main runner broke (Wanda did it - not me!).

Removing the arbor does make the area look more open, but darn I'm going to miss it. It make a great background for photos. Just take a look for yourself:

Christine as a schoolgirl:

Holly from behind:

The Garden Fairy:

Ashley as the Bubble Fairy:

I'm really, really going to miss that vine covered piece of painted wood.