21 December 2007

I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas

I am starting to get back to an adequate measure of sanity where I can concentrate on my photo work again. Over the last few weeks, I have been able to do a wedding and a wedding reception (of a different couple). I have about 800 photos to go through and edit with about 300 left. I am also happy that I have had a chance to line up a few model prospects. I've done a few interviews that have gone well, but doing anything right now is crazy, so I am delaying shoots til January.

This is the Christmas season and I really hope everyone will be safe and respectful to everyone else. There is no Christmas without Christ, so I wish that those who disagree with that theology would let it go and just accept Christmas the way it is and leave it alone. Its just one day out of 365. I talked to a friend from Malaysia today who has no history of Christmas, but she's not out protesting against calling Christmas, Christmas. Just be respectful of what has been established and enjoy the day off doing something else.
I am REALLY missing my young'uns right now. Other than military deployments, I haven't been this far away from them during this time of year, at least not as I can recall. They are almost all grown up. My son is no longer a teenager and my daughter is just getting out on her own. I wish I was there so much, if for no other reason than to beat her ass for screwing up in her first semester in college. But I still love her. Both of my kids are Godsends and I am sooo thankful that they have turned out so well and have grown into promising semi-adults. I've always said that as long as my Mama loves me and my kids are proud of me, I'm good to go. One of our Christmas traditions is to go see two movies back to back. One year we did the 1st installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was 3 hours. We saw another 3 hour show right afterwards which kind of kicked our butts. A few years after all 3 LOTRs were out, we got the extended versions of each and had LOTR marathons. That was almost 12 hours of DVDing. I did it with my son first since my daughter was unavailable. She got upset that we didn't wait on her, so I did it again the next weekend with her. She couldn't hang.

Anyway, enough on Memory Lane. I just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and bid you all a safe New Year's. Unless, something comes up that I really need to share, I am going to take a break from posting and catch you all at the first of they year. I am going to catch up on some of my Rankin/Bass Christmas cartoons. Don't act like you don't remember. We all know Rankin/Bass Christmas Specials..."Rudolph", Santa Claus is Comin' to Town". Who doesn't remember the Burgermeister Meisterburger? I know there's not a soul in existence that doesn't recall Mr. Freeze Miser or Mr. Heat Miser in "The Year without Santa Claus". So, I thank you all for becoming subscribers or regular readers of my blog. Also a special thanks to those of you who have helped me develop this blog, so special thanks to Chris St. James, (BTW, Chris your daughter is gorgeous!), Iris Dassault, and Dave Rudin, along with all those bloggers who put me on their list of blogs of interest and drive traffic to me. I really look forward to this new year for more opportunities to get better and develop my art into something you all can appreciate even more. I thank you all your support, encouragement, and kindness.

Merry Christmas,

14 December 2007

Studios....I need STUDIOS!

Whew...its been 10 days since my last post. Sorry about that. Things got a bit hectic for a while, but big claps to me as I just finished my second Masters degree as of today. I've been in school the last two years doing 2 programs for a MBA and a Masters of Science in Telecommunication Systems Management, along with 4 semesters of photography . The TSM degree is the one I just now completed and am now done with school for a while. Two graduate degrees and I am STILL hunting for a job.

I say that I am done with school for a while, but actually, I am planning to take some more courses in Photoshop, hopefully in January. I could use the added wisdom to help edit my photos, in particular with layers, curves, and histograms. I do not plan to do much in terms of special graphics, but I'd rather, for now learn how to better enhance my photos as they are. I may later explore some work with other types of digital manipulations as I did with alternative darkroom manipulations using film.

Since I am done with school, I am trying to get back to working with models and getting some more shoots lined up. I haven't been able to talk to potential models as much as I normally used to. The challenge is to be able to work with models since its gotten cold here in Vegas. I'll have to do more indoor environmental shoots instead of working with the great outdoors, but I'd still like to use natural lighting as much as possible. I meet with a potential muse early next week to discuss some possibilities. I am kind of excited about this one because I was searching specifically for someone who could be available for me to shoot on an ongoing basis, even on short notices. Ever wake up to a lovely day, with beautiful clouds and just think to yourself that if only you could find someone to take off their clothes and let you photograph them? Well, that's what this interview is for. Sometimes you just get a spontaneous moment and want to shoot and there is no time to hunt for a new model, coordinate schedules for two weeks out, and put together a concept. No, sometimes I do not need a concept...just a naked female with a good attitude. I don't have that here in Vegas and I need to change that. The girl in this photo was one such muse. She is a friend from Kentucky who was ready and willing whenever. I'd like to get to work with her again as well as a few others I left behind...Trish, Jacinda, Chels, Dana, Elizabeth...and the list goes on.

For any readers in the Las Vegas area, I need a venue to hold figure drawing sessions for my Las Vegas Art Model's Group. Specifically, I am seeking a drawing studio complete with hot lights, easels, benches, and a model platform. I'd like to be able to use this facility at least once a week to hold figure drawing sessions. I could use the same thing with a photo studio, but right now, the biggest focus is on drawing. (Volutneered is the operative implication here.) I want to begin this mid January. I want to hold a few photo workshops as well and will be looking for guest instructors to come and impart some knowledge on fellow photogs. So when we get a studio for it, I'll be interested doing this as soon as possible. So I am putting out the call: I need models, particularly female...we have plenty of guys. I need a drawing and photo studio. And finally I need artists and volunteer instructors to help participate and grow these functions. Thats my Christmas wish list, so to speak. So unless you are getting me photo equipment, stick to this list.

On another special note, I was very please to get to see my friend, photog extraordinaire, Dave Rudin from Brooklyn again. Dave and I got together and checked out the Crazy Horse topless cabaret show at the MGM Grand. I had seen the show once before about 6 years ago, but we got front row seats which made for quite a different experience. Those girls were GOOD. They possessed the unique ability to show you everything without letting you see anything. I tell you that took the skill of a magician.... Now you see it...NO YOU DIDN'T!

*** Note to MOM: Ignore the aforementioned list....stick to the photo equipment.

04 December 2007

Tribute to Umit

Its December now and its starting to get cold here in Vegas. Although today was nice, sunny, and perfect to play some football, the temp drops in a desert like you would not believe. One of the top 3 or 4 coldest places I have ever been in was in a desert. Getting to shoot a nude model out here is going to be left only to the brave who have a smidgen of antifreeze in their blood. (Any takers?) Needless to say I'm gonna have to move indoors for a while.

At any rate, I am going to do tributes every now and again and this one is going to be for my friend, Umit (oo-mit), from Istanbul, Turkey. I got to meet Umit while doing my MBA at Murray State University in Kentucky. I got to meet and interact with many different cultures while in the Army and I have always been intrigued by observing and learning how other people in the world go about their daily lives different from my own. I grew up in Texas... in Terrell, Texas actually. I was not named for the place nor do I own it. I just lived there. Anyway, I didn't travel too much, but I always loved reading about the history and traditions of other cultures. So when I joined the Army and was sent to places all over the world, I got everything I could from the experience.

Therefore I came to relate to Umit very well. Since I was curious about his country and customs, I was glad that he was willing to indulge me in my questions about where he lived. I thought I might have gotten on his nerves to some degree, but I was able to often return the favor in his quest to learn more about the U.S. Sometimes we had challenges with the language. Umit spoke English very well. Every now and then a word might understandably stump him and we could spend 15 minutes just to figure out what he was trying to say. On one such occasion we discussed job opportunities. I thought he was trying to tell me he wanted to be a carrier builder, so I am making associations to either naval ships or HVAC units. When it finally dawned on me that he was interested in finding a job on Careerbuilder.com, we were both too mentally exhausted to continue the conversation.

The closer it got to the end of the final semester, the more we hung out. We went to a party that was in his honor where I got to meet even more international students. My daughter called me while at this party explaining how proud she was of her command of the french language. I put her on the phone with some of Umit's french speaking buddies and she quickly realized there is a big difference between learning french in school and speaking to someone from France. I recall good memories with my friend, Umit. I regret that he has called me 5 times since I have been in Vegas and I have missed each call! I do not hope for Umit's next visit to the states. Rather I hope to visit him in Istanbul sometime and let me be the foreigner for a change. I know I could not do what he did by coming to a foreign land and get an MBA. I got a 3.5 GPA and he did better than I did!

So this is for my man, UMIT! I look forward to visiting you sometime and I hope that Kentucky MBA serves you well. I wish you all the best my friend.


28 November 2007

Eloquent Nude Review

I was very satisfied with the Eloquent Nude DVD. It was well written, well edited, well directed and produced. The thing that made it the best for me was that it had actual video commentary from Charis Wilson. If you think back to the movie "Titanic" for a second, the movie opens with the the female lead character "Rose" being played by actress Gloria Stuart. We are not talking about the younger Rose, played by Kate Winslet. It's first narrated by the frail little old lady, Rose, who recounts the story of Jack and how he saved her life on the Titanic. Well, this is what it felt like only this wasn't the real life Rose. It was the real life Charis!

She is very frank in this documentary. She doesn't try to be lady-like, politically correct, or even "proper". She tells it like it is, both the good and the bad. She seems to have a knack for story-telling. I would love sit at her feet, like a child, and listen to her accounts of adventures with Edward Weston and their escapades across the US on a budget. You don't hear many 91 year old ladies talking about sex, yet here she is recalling how she was well advanced in her sexuality at a very young age even before she at age 21, met Weston. (This is in the early 1930's). She discusses how he made her feel in the beginning as well as how she hurt and betrayed she felt toward the end of their marriage. She remembers it all with such vivid recollection that you can see it all play out in front of you.

But that vision is also aided by the film's actors who portray Charis, Edward, Ansel Adams and a host of other notable figures that the couple interacts with throughout their journeys and travels. I could be wrong, but I seem to feel that Charis lead a very fulfilled life, full of zero regrets. I am sure she must have had some moments where she may have made wrong decisions, but from the limited vantage point that we are made privy to, I would guess that she still lived her life the way she wanted to and on her own terms. As I watched the credits roll, I felt an even deeper appreciation for her contributions and for what she did for photography as much as I have for any photographer, including Weston. She helped make photography into an art form when the art society was still discounting it as a true art. Weston was the first photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship only because Charis wrote is letter of application for him.

If this is a first time read for you, you will have to pull up some of my previous posts regarding my search for this DVD to fully appreciate how I feel about Edward Weston and Charis Wilson. The DVD is titled "Eloquent Nude: The Love and Legacy of Edward Weston and Charis Wilson" and is available at that link. Whether you are a fan of Weston or not, I highly recommend you purchase this DVD and share my enjoyment for it. No pics this time. It would just have spoiled the review. This was all about Charis.

23 November 2007

The Shaving Thing

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving Holiday and I hope everyone survived Black Friday. I vowed not to leave the house today. I did, however go get some lunch, but I stayed clear of any retail outlets.

To fulfill another promise, I’m covering some questions I commonly get from models. I recently covered some male model concerns that resulted from several emails I received. While I didn’t receive emails regarding female model concerns, I have been questioned regarding these issues during my model interviews or right before a shoot. I get at least 3 particular questions with regard to female models wanting to know about “that area”, but today, I am dealing with one. Almost every model I have worked with has asked me about the age old question of “to shave or not to shave”. There is a strong trend toward shaving the nethers amongst girls nowadays. Chances are, most girls I shoot will be shaven, or at the least, trimmed. Very few have a “full bush”. Personally, I have chosen not to be selective in this sense anymore.

At first, I did have a tendency to prefer a model who did not shave. I am a natural-as-possible artist, and since having pubic hair is certainly natural, then it was preferred. The idea of not shaving lent itself to more open poses (or at least less restrictive ones), since even though a model’s legs may be apart, the area of concern was still covered. In my mind, this allowed the viewer to see my work without the distraction of bare skin down there. They could see everything in the composition and not zero in on one place, thereby possibly appreciating my efforts closer to the way I had intended. So at this stage, I had a stronger sense of caution as to not offend anybody, ignoring the fact that nudes in general might cause offense to the people anyway.

Today, I have changed this line of thought. First, I realize that models also shave underarms and legs, so why not the pubes if they prefer. So while I have shot women au natural, I hadn’t really shot anyone totally natural. Next, I also prefer to present the model as she presents herself. This is who she is and that’s the way I will portray her. I still have a preference for one or the other, however. I’d rather not shoot the strip, although I don’t mind close trimming as much. I also still cling to the idea of no jewelry or makeup, in most cases, but not all. In addition, I have come to not care so much about what the viewer is concentrating on or whether or not I may be offensive. I shoot the total nude, not just in parts. If the model’s legs are open and she’s closely trimmed or shaven, so be it. Genitalia is part of the nude and I am not inclined to hide it. I take what the model gives me and applaud her for it. I respect the model either way: shaved or not, exposed or not. If the pose lends itself to my project, great and if it doesn’t then I won’t use it. As of yet, I haven’t tried to do anything overtly sexual as a theme…sensual, yes.

I also find it absurd to hear other photogs or critics say that anyone who uses the cleanly shaven models are clearly into child porn or prefers children. To me that’s a serious allegation and in these times today, I think it’s a bit over the top. Women do it for several reason apart from fashionable trends and to suggest that men have a sadistic reason for showing it or preferring it … well, let me just say, I would find it personally offensive if someone told me that to my face and my reaction would be personally offensive to said person for saying so. So far, I have only heard men making that assertion. I could also submit that the kind of man to make this claim may be dealing with his own demons, himself.

So if anything, ladies, be comfortable with your choice. It’s a good question, but if you prefer shaving, do it. If you prefer not, don’t do it. If it doesn’t make a difference to you at all and then leave it to the photographer’s preference and go make some great art.

17 November 2007

Eloquent Nude DVD - Got it!

There are several things I could cover tonight, but I need to limit it. "Shave or Not to Shave" will have to wait one more entry as I plan to cover some different things here tonight. I have also elected to bring back some of my landscape artwork for the next few posts as well.

Today was my first meeting of the Las Vegas Art Model's Group. I didn't have the turnout that was signed up, which was disappointing, but in a way, I was also relieved. The venue I selected could not have accommodated the seating arrangements had everyone who RSVP'd showed up. At the time I selected the venue, I only had 6 or 7 people in the entire group. Well, it ballooned to over 30 within the next week. This was more of a discussion meeting than a group session. So nobody brought easels, cameras, or paint. This was for brainstorming purposes in which case I utilized the opportunity to introduce myself, cover some basics about the group, and solicit suggestions and input from the members.

I plan to grow this group not only in size but also in influence. When you think of the art community in Vegas, you'll think of the Las Vegas Art Model's Group first. I want this to be the "IT" group if you move here and want to make an impact in the local art world. Several group members made outstanding suggestions and we have some valuable contacts to help us get started. I am thinking I may have to run a second blog as well. If this thing goes as I hope, it will not be serving to my current readers (especially overseas) to discuss the non-relevant happenings of the Art Model's Group when they have nothing to do with Vegas. By the first of the year, I will consider publishing a new blog for the LVAMG.

On another note, I just received in the mail the DVD of which I have been searching. Again, I want to give a special thanks to Peter J. Crowley for putting me in contact with Julie Gliniany of NW Documentary, the company which produced the DVD. I have not viewed it yet, but I plan to watch it tomorrow or the next day and then begin my review of it there after. For any new readers who may not have read these specific posts, this DVD is titled, "Eloquent Nude: The Love and Legacy of Edward Weston and Charis Wilson". I am particularly enthralled about this DVD for two reasons. First, I have been a big time fan of Edward Weston. I have not searched out why I identify with his style of photography, but I just know I relate to it. For some reason, I have a sincere appreciation for his methods and techniques. Maybe sometime I will do some self-imposed psychoanalytic inner reflection on why I like it, but its kind of like asking why I like cheesecake? Because it tastes like cheesecake, I guess.

The second reason I was thrilled to find out about this DVD is for the relationship between he and his muse, Charis Wilson. I have had the most affinity for the work of photographers who photograph their own wives. Edward traveled the country side shooting Charis everywhere and anywhere. I recently posted an entry on The Artist's Wife which outlined a NY Times article titled "The Artist's Wife: The Muse Who Never Said No", referencing Eleanor Callahan, the wife of the late photographer Harry Callahan. One thing that made this article so rich to me was the focal point on Eleanor who is 91 at the point of this interview. She was married to Harry for 63 years.

13 November 2007

Male Art Model Concerns

During the month of October, I reviewed a book on this blog by Sarah R. Phillips, "Modeling Life...". I was familiar with every issue, concern, and aspect of modeling that she brought up because I have been an art model myself. I mentioned she covered male models dealing with erections, but I did not elaborate as to HOW they dealt with them. Since then I have received a lot of questions regarding men who want to know how to deal with this issue should it arise, (no pun intended). Soooo, I think it may be a blog worthy topic to cover. Bear with me here. I hope my mom doesn't see this.

Okay, first there are birds. Then you have bees. Suddenly, an errant thought crosses your mind. What happens? You'll get an erection despite the fact that you are naked in front of a mass of people and a woody is not a desired outcome. Sex stats say men think about sex 70% of the time during the course of a day, so laws of probability say its likely to happen if you model at some point during your career. It won't happen too often because posing is not a sex thing. You are mainly concerned with not moving a muscle, the ache that's in your neck and shoulders, and the fact that you KNOW 20 minutes MUST have elapsed by now.

If it does happen, its probably gonna be when you are in a comfortable position and relaxed. For me, I would try to position myself at some angle whereby I would be facing one of the studio lights. If I even thought for a second that an erection might be coming on, I'd blind myself with the lights. Was that smart? Maybe not, but to not pop a boner in a class was worth the temporary blindness. If for whatever reason, that didn't work, I begin a thought changing process. Two thoughts that worked for me was 1.) puppies in a bag floating in a river...look don't hate! I love dogs which is why it tended to be effective. There are 3 boxers running around my house right now; 2.) imagining what my grandmother would do if she walked in on me right at that instant. In all of my days getting naked, each of those things failed to work on 4 occasions. In 2 of those instances, I faked a cramp. On the third one, I didn't break the pose because only one girl had full view, which was why it happened to begin with. She was 2 feet away from the platform sitting on the floor while my legs where open. We both whispered apologies to each other and acted like all was normal so everyone else was none the wise. The forth one happened when I fell asleep. There ain't nothing you can do about that one. Play Nightmare on Elm Street and "Don't fall asleep!"

Well, I hope that helps. Its brief, but effective, I think. I thought I'd throw in some more fun pics from Colorado. They all have titles too. Tune in next time when I cover female issues... To shave or not to shave!

09 November 2007

TITLES ... plus some on LooknSee

See if you can relate...Have you ever been in church and it felt like the preacher was speaking DIRECTLY to you...you know, that feeling of guilt that fits like a plug in your throat? Well, that's the way I felt when I visited my buddy Chris' site at Univers d'Artistes and read his post on Titles, (he should get a kick out of this). Chris is dedicate to his art, people as well as supporting other artists. There's no getting around that. Well damn it, if the man says we need to title our work then we need to title our work! He spoke to me on this once before and while I attempted to heed his suggestion, I've gotten wrapped up into...well, I was just about to make an excuse when the fact of the matter is that when I agreed he was right I fell back into my nasty ways. This is my second time being spanked as a blogger. The first time was by Eolake Stobblehouse from Domai. It's good to know someone cares about me.

I think part of it is the fact that I still work with the other side of my brain and when I mix them up, I get art that needs to be categorized, annotated and organized in a way that I can find it. I do a lot of series work, SERIES...not SERIOUS, (well I do serious work, but that's not my point right now). I can name one image in a set that I like best or I can title a set, such as the photobook I am doing "Elizabeth in Series", coming to a blog near you! I just have trouble naming every single image out of a shot of hundreds...other than "Elizabeth in Series 003". What I need is some photo management software, to where I can categorize them, by image type, series name, and then number in a series. ie... L -Utah 103, for Landscape image of Utah number 103, but then still attach a specific title to it. So each image would have a title and a file name. I am good with MS Access as an option and I have heard of Photobyte. Suggestions?

Also, another site I frequent LooknSee, sent out emails asking for help on reorganizing his site and updating his equipment. If you didn't get an email he is asking for recommendations as to what he could do to improve his site such as, another HTML editing software (he uses Frontpage right now), things he should keep on the site or dump from it, as well as suggestions on his images, choice of models, etc. This guy has been around for a while and when a fellow artist reaches out to his peers to seek help then, by all that is right, artists should help. He takes donations to keep his work up and running. I have already spoken recently on donating and I invite you to help contribute to the upkeep of his site. Every bit helps. Here is the link to his survey form page. You can also use this link here to donate. Much obliged!

05 November 2007

Fun Shots

Another short post for today. Much of my focus has been divided up between photo stuff and making preparations for my first Meet Up with my Las Vegas Art Model's Group. I appreciate the help from The Saint Louis Figure Model/Artist Co-Op organizer, Teya, for some timely advice. I am already implementing some of her suggestions. I have posted the meet up location on the Las Vegas Art Model's Group site now, so come on out and join us.

I have also been working on my photo book and am reviewing another publishing company which I may like even better than the last. I am putting together several publications to be evaluated before I settle on one in particular. Other than that, its been study...study...study. My TSM class is still going well and I have come across several informative sites that I need to add to my list of photog resources. Photo Notes has been very helpful in my studies as of late as well as Planet Neil. I came across these sites via a forum suggestion while studying up on lighting techniques.

So I thought I'd go with fun pics today. These were done in the freezing cold waters in the Black Canyons, Colorado. They are not the bestest of pics, just some fun snapshots. I had to blur out the other guy's face since I do not have a release for him. Does it get any better than naked fishing? I mean, come on....

01 November 2007

Three Things

Now this is an omission on my part. Somehow, I've not added the accomplished photographer Dave Levingston to my list of photogs and blogists (is that a word?). You have heard me speak on the incomparable Dave Rudin before, several times I might add, so it would stand to reason that I would also add in someone whom he lauds, Dave Levingston. I mentioned in post sometime in September that I got to have breakfast with Dave R and how he frequently referenced his friend Dave L. I have Dave Levingston in my AOL favorites folder and I visit his blog, Exposed for the Shadows, quite often. I just didn't realize that it wasn't on my own blog til just yesterday while revisiting Univers d'Artistes blog, who properly recognized this photo icon, while I missed it. When I started this blog I was constantly referencing Dave R, Dave L, Michael Barnes and Iris Dassault. So with this paragraph, let me give the man, nay, THE LEGEND, his proper dues and advise you now that he has been included on my blog list.

ALSO, let me extend a special appreciation to Peter J. Crowley for giving me some contact information on how I might obtain the DVD I was seeking aid to obtain, "Eloquent Nude: The Love and Legacy of Edward Weston and Charis Wilson". I have already made it know about my reasons for wanting this DVD so if need be check out the post with the same title done just a few weeks ago at most. If you have not heard of Peter J. Crowley, then this is also a good opportunity to reference his blog and website. I invite you to stop by pay him a visit and and send him a comment to two about how much you enjoyed his art. His contact info is readily available. Please note, he is and already has been on my blog list. His was one of the sites I added originally when I started this only a few months ago.

ALSO 2, you have read some of my posts about select photo books, specifically Kodak Galley mini books. I have been checking out some others as well, and I am about to start doing more of these and offering them for purchase in addition to my prints. "Elizabeth in Series" is a black and white studio session I did a few months back before I came to Vegas, you have already seen some of the work posted on this blog and on my website. In fact I just added several of them to a new gallery on my site TLNeasley.com. I initially had about 20 primary images that I used to affect some darkroom manipulations which I made prints for. However, I shot approximately 15 rolls of this young woman and have spent the better part of a month editing about 100 of those images. This will be the first set I start making full size books of. I will subsequently begin work on a Trisha series. So stay tuned...

28 October 2007

Supporting the Arts

Something else I have been working on is posting my work on other public galleries. In August I put together a gallery on BetterPhoto.com which I mentioned in one of my blog entries. I would say that it can definately bring in more exposure to your work as well as feedback from other artist and viewers. I have also set up at PhotoClicksPro.com where I have been getting several views but not too many ratings. Stop by and rate my site if you've got a second.

Next, I opened a gallery on Altphotos.com and now you can also visit my work on Community Zoe. You can rate and comment on my images on both of these sites, but you first need to register on Community Zoe. I have contributed to some of these sites which I believe is also important. I invite you, the reader to do the same if you are not already doing so. I guess it was about 2 years ago that I decided to make more of a monetary contribution to the arts as I began donating to my local art guild. I then tried to patron any of my contemporaries when they had shows, exhibits, or help with pizza on late nights. I have also realized that I listen to NPR an awful lot and have never contributed so when the campaigns started a few weeks ago, I felt compelled to give. Ironically, I had just been discussing with my son how he can benefit from listening to National Public Radio, so now I had to back up my words with some action.

Give to the arts. Its one of the most neglected areas in our schools as well as our communities. I am just getting to really know Vegas and can't say I am all that excited where art photography is concerned and even moreso with artistic nudes. Maybe I can do something about it, or maybe I can't but I think I will at least feel better if I try. I need to begin somewhere, I guess. Right now, I am still job hunting. I have been working as a project manager for the last 6 weeks, but all projects end and this one was no different. If I can still be compelled to contribute, then by golly gee so can the rest of us. Where ever you are, help out...time, money, whatever...start contributing. And for those of you who are, keep up the good work. Support the Arts, people.

24 October 2007

The Las Vegas Art Model's Group

I hope some of my purist friends won't be mad at me but I went out and got myself a Canon EOS 40D. This brings up the whole film vs. digital argument, I know, but I just think this was right for me, that's all. I'd rather be doing film in my darkroom, but I don't have one since moving to Vegas and I am having to get my film developed somewhere else and then scanned anyway. So I broke down and did the digital thing. My initial preference was holding out for a Canon EOS 5D with the full-frame sensor, but when the 40D was introduced, I could see that it fit the bill for my requirements. This thing is built just like the 5D. I researched it well and at half the cost, I think I prefer this fully capable camera which will allow me to spend more on accessories and another camera body. Any good photog needs a backup and right now, I can't do that with the 5D. Had the 40D not been such a MAJOR upgrade from the 30D, I would not have done it. Major factors for this change of heart was due to an aricle from Luminous Landscape Blog, a chance meeting with a current 40D owner, and then there was my mom's validation of my artwork that made it seem more worthwhile to make the purchase. That said, everything I feel about the artistic nature of film still holds. I still love film and will continue to use it. I still have plans to get my hands on the Mamiya RZ ProII.

On another note.... I have spent some considerable time talking about the amateur model lately. After joining an Photography Club on Meet Up.com, I came across an opportunity to start an Art Model's Group as well. Now for the most part, this may consist of mainly figure drawing models moreso than art photo models, however I have opened up the group to establish networking opportunities amonst art models and artists of all genres. So if you are living in the Las Vegas area and take off you clothes for the sake of art, then come on and join The Las Vegas Art Model's Group. If you think you may be interested in trying to see if you can pose without clothes or have always wanted to but have never had the right forum to do so then this is a good place to start.

19 October 2007

Conclusion to Modeling Life

First things first, Jan Knutsen of ArtNude-Blog recently posted a link to me on his blog. I contacted him soon after discovering his weblog of artistic nudes which showcases a collection of really nice work of other artists and welcomes artists to submit their work to him for posting. He also has his own website of artwork which will certainly appeal to you at http://www.janknutsen.com/.

I have finished Sarah R. Phillips' book, "Modeling Life: Art Models Speak About Nudity, Sexuality, and the Creative Process". After consuming the entire contents, I can say it was well work the read and purchase. As I mentioned previously, I can personally identify with every issue, concern, and story she presented in her findings. The last portions of her book deal with model interviews and then she gets into her discoveries on what it takes to become a good art model. I know modeling for is hard work and strenuous on the body, but she pointed out that over time, this profession can significantly have an impact on your body, especially where chronic pain and joint pain is involved. I hadn't really given much thought the long term affects of modeling, but again, it would have been better to have a larger sample size than 30 models located in Portland, Oregon to base her findings on. In sociology, you have to become a statistics nut, so I am somewhat surprised that after admitting to spending several years on this project, she didn't feel compelled to venture out a bit more.

Another thing I was surprised with are a few issues she left out of her book. She lends deep insight to sexual perspectives, which is one of her specialty fields of study, according to her university link bio. She also covers a variety of aspects in art modeling, such as older models (briefly), but three big topics to cover which were omitted are race, religion and maybe large models. I was pretty much the only black art model around. There was one black female who refused to remover her panties, but she only modeled once. No black males, other than myself even thought about doing this. With her background in observing the way people think, I wish I could have benefited from her experience. Religion is another topic I wish she could have briefly touched on to give a perspective on the church stigma and how models dealt with it or whether or not they even had to. I modeled in the Bible belt so there was indeed a certain connotation about that there. I have dealt with large models, but you don't get that many. A perspective from a model such as in these images of whom I worked with here may have been a good addition.
Overall, I was pleased with her work with the exception of her conclusions on photography. I wish she could have talked with me before writing this. I think I would have been able to offer a helpful contribution to her work with my dealings in this matter as well as my education in Human Sexuality from both a sociology and a psychology standpoint. Many sociology students had to take business statistics at some point and I excelled in that too. I invite any of you review her work for yourselves. I'd love to hear some of your perspectives.

18 October 2007

"Eloquent Nude" ...Edward Weston and Charis Wilson

I spoke on this just recently when I posted a link to the New York Times article "The Artist's Wife", but I just came across a new documentary that was released earlier this year. One of the most prolific photographers I have come to admire has been Edward Weston. I was even honored one semester by my photography instructor in college when he commented on my latest series of work as being too "Edward Weston-esque". He didn't mean it to be a complement at the time, but I couldn't help but to take it that way. Anyway, I digress....

The newly released documentary "Eloquent Nude: The Love and Legacy of Edward Weston & Charis Wilson" is an independent film directed by Ian McCluskey that features actual narration by Edward Weston's former wife and muse Charis Wilson. A review by KEN DUBOIS, of REEL.com describes how Edward, almost 50, met Charis, who was only 21 at the time and how they formed a union and alliance which helped to shape modern photography as we know it. Edward Weston has been a dramatic inspiration in terms of his story and his relationship with Charis. I simply adore the photographer who is able to photograph his wife like this. Edward was able to travel the country shooting Charis any and everywhere. She loved being in his photos. As I have commented before, this would simply be my dream, only I'd like to travel the world. I have been unable to find a copy of this DVD for sale. I understand that some were available for purchase at the art theaters where it was seen, but Amazon doesn't have it. At some point, I'll also get to review "The Model Wife" by Arthur Ollman which portrays the lives of 9 photographers who readily photographed their wives, including Weston, Stieglitz, and Callahan. Somebody help me find that DVD...please.

17 October 2007

The "Modeling Life" Saga continues....

Sarah R. Phillips is very detailed and analytical as a Sociology Prof should be. That much is for sure. Facts and quotes are scattered amidst her prose work in a way that draws you into believing what she says. She makes a statement and offers proof much like a prosecutor draws a conclusion and offers evidence for which you are dared to disprove. I like her presentation and am half way through the book "Modeling Life". At this point, I can say she doesn't leave anything out. Having been a figure model myself, I fully relate to all the issues, concerns, and stories mentioned by her interview subjects. She doesn't ignore anything. She offers historical insight and elaborates on the relationship between artist(s) and model, boundaries, sex, the penis, people's ill-perception about models vs. their admiration for the results rendered by the artist.

Let me clarify, Chapters 4-7 deal with sex, erotica, and genitalia in some way, shape, form or fashion, but its cleverly done, informative, and I would stretch to say even necessary. In particular, she discusses moments when male models have that uncomfortable moment when an erection may occur and how they deal with it. She goes into how female models may feel violated when an artist constantly positions himself for the best view of her genitals or may illustrate them in an exaggerated fashion in their work. She covers instances when models may have an accident while posing during their menstrual cycle. Sarah covers it all and expounds upon it. You can tell she feels totally at ease discussing and reporting the subject which obviously bespeaks her sociology background and research on matters inflenencing human sexuality.

At the same time, I am still not totally sure I can concur with some of her findings. She is definitely an outsider looking into this world. I wish she'd have left Portland and sought out models in California, or maybe some from the Midwest. I did not like some of her associations with art models and sex work. Case in point, she speaks to the prostitute who doesn't want to be degraded by being called a whore; and then the stripper who feels the same about being associated with a prostitute; and finally the art model who resents being referred to as a stripper. I felt there was an allusion to the fact that [she believes] we are who we are despite our resentments for derogatory titles, a prostitute may not like the title of a whore, but that's still what they are...Just as art models may not like being called a stripper but in essence, that is indeed what they are. I'll keep reading, so should you. Enjoy these images of Laura.

16 October 2007

Kodak Gallery Mini-Books

I recently tried out some mini-books, from kodakgallery.com. Photographer, Dave Rudin suggested them when he visited here last month. I ordered 4 different books and had duplicates made of two of them for a total of 6. Overall, I was satisfied with the print and binding. There were a few images where the color rendering was not at rich as what I submitted or the color was off in spots on the image. I didn't like that at all, but for the amount of work, what can you argue with for $20. The books cost about $7 for up to 20 pages and I had anywhere between 65 to 80 images. There is an additional charge after the first 20. Dave suggested I try MyPublisher.com next. Mpix.com is another possibility. I was very pleased with their business cards.

This is indeed going to be a short post. I had begun to discuss the book "Modeling Life" that I mentioned in the last post, but need more time to arrange my thoughts a bit better. I didn't like what I had so I erased it. Ever have moments like that? This image is one that I did by accident, but I liked it. I was going too fast and clicked inverse while attempting something else. When I saw the image change, I stopped, mulled it over and kept it. Maybe it just reminds me of looking at my negatives right before I place it in the enlarger. Call me weird, but I do miss my darkroom...

11 October 2007

"Modeling Life"

This is going to have to be a shorter post than usual. I have homework to do tonight which requires some research time, so I can't play on my blog like I'd prefer. I was recently linked by Nude Video Art, (...thanks, Iris), which used this image to link to my website. So, I extend my thanks and invite you to visit their site as well. More than photography is posted on this blog, as it portrays videos, digital illustrations, and music sharing. I found several of the digital illustrations to be of particular interest as they showed an air of creativity that I hadn't previously appreciated.

I am also currently reading a book by Sarah R. Phillips titled "Modeling Life: Art Models Speak about Nudity, Sexuality, and the Creative Process". I picked it up at Amazon.com. Its also been in my links section of this blog. I haven't gotten far as I am only in the first chapter, but she is pointing out a particular distinction between life or art models who pose for the big three...drawing, painting, and sculpture, vs. those models who pose for photography. I must say, her research does not look favorably upon art photo nudes, nor the models who pose for us. I intend to keep an objective perspective on this and review the book through it's entirety, though I will criticize the author for not having a larger sample size in which she based her conclusions on, being a pool of 30 models all located in Portland Oregon. For a professor, I'd expect a bit larger sample and a larger distribution. Many of the models she interviewed more than likely know each other and thus may formulate some of the same opinions.

Okay, so I lied. This isn't necessarily as short as I planned. I will include in my future posts reports of my critiques and opinions on this literary publication as I am able to review it. I think I can lend an interesting perspective having a background as a life model of both drawing and photography. As always, I'd love to hear your comments on the matter.

07 October 2007

The Artist's Wife

Whew...the Pro vs. Amateur debate sure drew some interest. I like that. Its good to exchange ideas. Univers d'Artistes has postings and relative commentary regarding the matter. My post just before this one was featured on this site as a different perspective to that of Marcus J Ranum. Iris Dassault, the professional model I am constantly harping about, also added some timely and poignant insight to the mix which was added at the conclusion of my addition. The saga continued the next day with a post from Gunther Vandenven and more commentary from Iris. Its definitely work the look, so check it out. The only element we missed was the voice of a true amateur model to provide that unique perspective. I might have to see if I can solicit some and then I will let the issue rest.

Another interesting point regards a few articles I came across that discuss figure modeling or life drawing models. I'd like to share some of them with you by way of the following links. The first one is most interesting to me, which is a New York Times article by Carol Kino written just this past week on the 2nd of October. I relate well to this particular article because I sincerely adore the photographer who spends much of his time photographing his wife. One of my initial inspirations was from a friend Malcolm Glass and his wife as I recall one image of his wife done in a spontaneous moment of unique opportunity for which they were able to take advantage of. This article is touching because, although it is referencing the exhibition of the late artist Harry Callahan, it is done from the perspective of his wife of 63 years, Eleanor, who is now 91 years old. The article is titled "The Artist’s Wife: A Constant Muse Who Never Said No", again, by Carol Kino of the NY Times.

Other article of interest that may be appealing to you includes this one which I thought was funny. "My 11-year-old is drawing nudes? What do I do?" Its an advice column done by a reader who writes in to Dr. Gail Saltz for help with her son who is allowed to draw the female form by his artist dad. The mom is hoping Dr. Saltz will take her side on this. See who's side she ends up supporting on this. I'd love to hear your comments as well. Do you agree with the Dr's. advice? Now enjoy these recent abstracts.

03 October 2007

More on the Amateur ...plus Imagens

First, let me give proper dues to Imagens for featuring me on their blog today. This is one classy site that gives tribute to photographers and thier work. You can see some of the sites and blogs of better know photogs and chances are you will find a link to Imagens. So check them out and you will see why that is.

Ironically enough, I was breezing through one of the sites I check most every day. Univers d'Artistes did an interview with Marcus J Ranum that talked about the use of models vs non-models the VERY DAY AFTER I do my tribute "To the Amateur". (Go ahead, click the link and check it out. I'll wait.....) Model vs. Non-models...Professional model vs. Amateur model = Same thing. In one sense we have opposing views, but then in another I agree on most of his points. I at the very least understand where he is coming from. There are definitely pros and cons in either case. He points out the fact that is just easier to use pros in that he can be choosy and that, for whatever reason, he hates asking non-models to pose for him.

Well, I can agree with several points he brings out. I know that there are specific shoots that could really be complemented by the aid of a professional model. When I have an idea and need a specific personality, body shape, or style, I could easily go to OneModelplace.com or ModelMayhem.com and basically shop. A photog or aspiring model can for sure learn a thing to two from Iris Dassault, who's blog I still direct my models to visit. You just can't beat the expertise of a pro. Her value is to beneficial to ignore. I am also a fan of Abigail Stewart.

On the other hand, I mention why I like amateurs when I can use them in the post just before this one. In addition to that, I think experiences have much to do with this. Marcus mentions hating to ask an amateur to model. Why that is, one can only speculate. Personally, I find it easy for me to do and I have gotten great results, so I continue it. In addition, I can identify with the amateur, because I have been there myself and have developed a special affinity for those that do this (both pro and non-pro). I have dropped trow and stood before a class of artists for 30 minutes at a time as well as posed for photo peers. Thats not the easiest of work, mentally or physically. So I guess I have developed a high respect for figure models and even moreso for that person who can decide to do this on a whim as a first time experience or for the sole purpose of helping out an aspiring photog. Again, thanks Imagens!

30 September 2007

To the Amateur

September didn't turn out like I had hoped. Two models, I had conversations with and interviews backed out and I didn't get to shoot anybody. My plans for outdoor shoots are about to end pretty soon when it gets cold. So my scouting trips may have to go on the back-burner til spring. Regardless, I will keep shooting though it may be more landscape and portraiture than nudes, but we will see. These things happen when you use amateur models, but thats okay. My business background has conditioned me to allow for shortages and mishaps. These are costs of doing business. So far business has been good, so I am okay.

I hope my would-be models get a look at this post and know that its all good. I am certain most photogs who use predominately amateurs understand that these things happen and for one reason or another models have to reconsider their commitments. I definately defend my use of the amateur. I love the initial shoot where the amateur seems to awaken for that first time in the lens of my camera. When I look through my viewfinder and release the shutter to capture that first image, I can see a dramatic difference between that moment and the last time my shutter actuates. I get to see a moment of courage triumph over fear AND that initial hesitancy from the realization that they are about to take a step into another realm of expression...the nude. In most cases, even models who are comfortable with their bodies experience that realization that they are about to reveal all to someone they really don't know very well, whom they trust to present them artistically and gracefully to the world. So even despite being slightly disappointed in not getting to shoot, let me take a moment to thank "the girl in the bookstore" in particular for at least being courageous enough to consider taking that step with me; and I thank all the amateur models who have worked with me for helping me present my dream works to everyone with an IP address.

In fact, these posted images are two of my first projects doing nudes. So here you get to check out Terrell in the beginning. Have I improved much? I certainly hope so. I wish I had the opportunity to shoot these women again just so they can get a much better quality of work than what they got from me at the time. Again, who knows.