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...