27 June 2008

Sporadic Thoughts


"The question is not what you look at but what you see!"
-Henry David Thoureau

Seems like its been a while since I've been able to work on one of my own projects. Everything has been concentrated on my art model group, and so I have not had the time to even think about shooting for my independent work. I guess that's fine since the group work has been steady. The figure drawing part of it has taken a slight nose dive due to venue issues. If I don't get to do the World Market Center scene again, well...it was fun while it lasted.

But honestly, I have absolutely nothing to write about today. I am sooooo tired right now. I didn't even realize its been a week since my last posting. Does that happen to any other bloggers out there. WHERE did the time go. Blogging isn't exactly easy, but it is fun. Sometimes you can hit a dry spell, get writer's block, or just have a hard time putting words together. My thoughts right now are more sporadic rather than smooth flowing. I wish I could defrag my head!

Here's what's on my mind:

I want to know what's happening with my friend Chris St. James, keeper of the faith over at Univers d'Artistes.

I'm finally offering images for sale on my website, TLNeasley.com. I've got a shopping cart set up and offering image sizes from 8x10s to 11x14s. At the very least, I'd like to make this expensive passion of mine pay for itself, so I am going to be testing a few sale concepts, vendors, and general policies. For now, all my prints will come already mounted, with the option of framing or other specialties. So go to my site and click on an image to see the pricing options.

I also want to tell people that Candy Poses isn't Tuesday anymore (from my April 6th post). I get several hits a day from people searching for her. Well, she's done posing nude, at least for guys, and she talks about it >HERE<. She has taken down her Candyposes.com website AND her Feminism Without Clothes blog. She can still be seen on Model Mayhem and you might catch her somewhere under the name "Candy Pauses" or "The Good Bush".

I want to put out the word on a new search engine that searches pics instead of words called TinEye. I think its neat and a good way to keep up with where your pics go, who has them, and what the hell they are doing with them. They can even be tracked if modified. I'm still checking them out, so if anybody knows about them... holla.

I strongly advice you to check out photoattorney.com too. Lots of good stuff there. The latest post is of particular interest. So go there and at least review the last 3 entries.

I'm thinking this new replacement for the 5D better be good. What the hell is Canon waiting on??

I am wondering also what the fidoodles is up with Blurb.com. I've ordered 3 books from them (wedding photobooks) and each of them had pages stuck together. One has to be returned. I can't present a book to newlyweds like that! I use them because their additional pages are much cheaper than My Publisher.com or Lulu.com. I used 120 pages. with anyone else, every page over 40 is about $2.99 a page! The images come out a tab bit darker, but overall they are not bad. But the pages sticking is unacceptable.

Here is an article I've been meaning to post. Is a BusinessWeek Online article entitled, "Business Advice for Artists from Artists", by Stacy Perman on 11 April 2008. I think its a good read. Many great artists out there will never be discovered due to ignorance on the business side of things. Its a short article that should at least get you to thinking and hopefully do more research.

And finally, I wish I could get back to the Kentucky/Tennessee area for a while. Its been a year since I've shot Trisha and I could use better shots of her. At the time, we did more than I expected to do. I was also shooting her with film. I was already done with grad school and was days from moving here to Vegas when we hooked up after not having seen each other for a while. She's an art student herself and we had taken one photo class together, but she didn't stick with photo like I did. She's a painter. Well, I had only a few rolls of good slide film, but I had also just gotten my hands on some outdated rolls as well. I figured I'd use them to experiment. As it turns out, Trisha and I really connected. What started as a 2 to 3 hour shoot, turned into a multi-location 2 day shoot. We were simply having too much fun to quite. I ended up using all the film I had left, including the outdated stuff and even some consumer grade. She kept wanting to do more and more and I was happy to oblige. So now, I could use some updated material of her using a better medium. So enjoy this series of images done at Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky as she gets surprised by a cold wave. Check her out on my website and leave some comments. Models love comments.

I guess I had something to write about after all.

Update: July 2010 Images of the model featured have been removed.

20 June 2008

Scouting Nevada

"Unlike any other visual image, a photograph is not a rendering, an imitation or an interpretation of its subject, but actually a trace of it. No painting or drawing, however naturalist, belongs to its subject in the way that a photograph does."
- John Berger
"To Keep a Promise..."

Well, on the last entry, I promised to post a nude with my next post. So, I give you the lovely Faerie in Sepia, but the bulk of this post concerns my recent scouting trip. This past Sunday was spent exploring Hwy 93 with Felix, his wife Summer, and Jeff. We took two vehicles and I rode with Jeff. It was a lovely day. As we left I-15, we headed northwest and were on our way to Delamar, a ghost town that is the ruins of an old mining town. Its still fairly hot, so bringing a model out there right now would be unsat. (military term for unsatisfactory.) I shot some of the ruins out there but I think I could build a project out of the old rusty refuse that has stood the test of time thus far. Old cans, wiring, and scrap metal littered the entire area.

Along the way we stopped off and got shots of abandoned buildings, ranches and corrals. We hit some watering holes and let me tell you, they felt great. You know me...I couldn't leave without experiencing them in the natural. We headed on through Caliente, had lunch at a former railroad station and then made our way to Cathedral Gorge. Initially, it looked okay, but it was after we got a bit closer and realized the clefts in the rocks had spots that cut deeper into the mountain and formed laberynths of amazing passages that coursed back to a dead end. One such passage way ended in what looked like a huge dark den. I didn't think it was safe to explore that alone, so I got Felix to check it out with me. The den was about 4 foot up the back of the wall and about 5 foot in diameter. It gave me the impression that something big had made it but I was too stupid or just too curious to leave it at that. I had to go in. Climbing up, we realized that the hole was only about 10 feet in, but then it went down about 20 to 25 feet and there was another passage off to the left. You could see down to the floor, but not around the corner. My curiosity again was not satisfied. We had no rope, but Felix did have a tow stap. It was only 16 feet, but that was enough. He held onto the strap as I descended. Believe you, me... that took some trust. I had two knives, a flashlight, and my camera, splunking around in the bottom of a crevase. Summer was against even the notion of me being down there, but you know how guys get when they get a notion in their heads. The bottom was L-shaped and extended for another 40 feet or so. Somehow, I am guessing Unbearable Lightness is reading this and thinking I am out of my mind and perhaps I am. It was fun though. I was as careful as I could be. Skinny dipping and cave exploring just made my day. That was a 15-hour day trip and I plan some more!

On another note, I came across a new blog by a figure model called Museworthy. I got a kick out of reading her site and have now added it to my list of good blogs to follow. I've linked her page into my model resources as well. I recommend you check her out. Also, my other group, The Las Vegas Photographic Society, for which I am assistant organizer, had an event which I plan to host every month. We did our first night shoot and, I got to play with bulb exposures. I plan to hold such an event every full moon week. This one was shot off a spot on Lake Mead. We had a great turnout of about 10 photogs and we were out til about 11:30pm. I may post pics of it and talk about it on my next post. So stay tuned.

13 June 2008

Sophie's Recovery and "Are College Degrees a Waste of Money?"

"Yeah, It Sucks"

I've had such an outpouring of unexpected affection for Sophie. Some of my friends who whom I never talked to about Sophie wished her well or inquired as to her health. It all caught me off guard. I didn't know they had been following my blog. Well, I am pleased to say she is doing extremely well. The Vet said she was ahead of schedule compared to other dogs. That was last week when he took off the bandages the day after my post. This week he said she is still doing well, but he wanted the staples to stay in another week. They were supposed to be out today, but he wants them to heal some more instead. I kept the next photo rather large, so when you click on it, you can scroll down and see where she was stitched up along the inside of her knee as she sticks out her leg to show you. Sophie is quite the ham when it comes to the camera. I don't think she's quite up to par with Wegman's Fay Ray, but when a lens is pointed at her she knows what to do. BTW, she doesn't have to wear this contraption all the time, just when we are not in the area so as to keep her from biting the staples out of her leg.

On another off topic, I want you to take a listen to this 16 minute segment: NPR Talk of the Nation's May 12th clip entitled "Are College Degrees a Waste of Money?". (If that link doesn't work, try ->THIS ONE <-). This is a interview of career coach Marty Nemko who thinks today's college degrees are America's most overrated product. They are just not worth it when you look at it from a cost-benefit perspective. I looked up this article again after listening to it live. Along with my last post on Subprime Lending, this was the next most impactful interview that I've listened to in a while. I've had to rethink my own circumstances when I concluded my ordeal and challenges are local to the Vegas area. I've recently graduated with TWO masters degrees, a MBA and a MS in Telecommunications Systems Management. Vegas gives not a flip about a master degree. I met a guy parking cars with a masters. He told me he came here with high hopes and would have starved trying to make that degree work for him. Now he can earn more than $60K a year as a Valet.

I've got another friend with a 9th grade education earning a comfortable living as a painter and out-earns his wife who is a CAD engineer! At one point, he was poking fun at the irony of society's mentality ... "Go to college so you can make a lot of money and get rich". He doesn't even have a GED and is out earning 80% of the city. This NPR article addresses this faulty thinking of an outdated concept. There's been a paradigm shift and I've only just now realized it. I've had to rethink my efforts of hammering own kids who were in college this last year. Neither of them wanted to be in school. It was ticking me off something fierce to see my well capable kids failing in school, when they did not want to be there. It was actually prior to me hearing this segment on the radio that I talked to them and re-evaluated my thinking. If they didn't want to be in school then they had to give me their plan to do something else. Besides, all they were doing was wasting grant money that could have gone to another kid who really wanted it. So take a listen to the piece. I promise to get back to the nekkid chicks next time.

And on one final note, its was a surprising and sad thing to lose an icon of American politics and journalism. We say good-bye to Tim Russert who had a sudden heart attack today. Some speculate that he worked himself to death from being so dedicated to his work, his peers, and his family. Can you imagine how this year's election in November will play out without Russert at the helm explaining it all? I'd always respected him as a noted journalist. I figured I'd always get a fair perspective from him and could trust him to dig at the truth. It was only after I listened to the audio version of his book "Big Russ and Me" that I became a fan. It was a truly heart-felt and genuine piece of work.
Bye, Tim...

06 June 2008

Sophie's Surgical Woes and the Low Down on Subprime Lending

"Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited and the wealth and confusion man has created."
-Edward Steichen
"Do Not Pity Me"

Neither of these two topics have anything to do with my photography, except for the fact that I've had to delay a scouting outing to help tend to poor little Sophie. This is my girlfriend's 7-year old Boxer who underwent TPLO surgery earlier this week. As active as she is, this is pure torture for her to be restricted to a few walks outside to potty and the occasional stroll through the house. Outside of that, she's stuck in a pen for the next 8 weeks, but at least its spacious...about 30 sqft, and its in the living room. The upstairs is off limits to her for obvious reasons. She's used to sleeping under the bed, so that's also got her a bit peeved. She has no idea on why we are being so "mean" to her, and I am sure its a bit confusing. Then again, she's also quite complacent for the time being since she's got a Duragesic patch stapled to her side releasing pain-killers (narcotics, actually) directly into her bloodstream. I think next week is going to be a totally different experience for her. The patch will wear out by then. Even though she'll still get pills by mouth, its not going to be the same stuff. I don't recall whats in the patch right now, but its supposed to be the good stuff.

We can't afford to let her romp around with her pups, Sidney and Stanley, both about 4 yrs old. The probable risk of further complications is just too high, so we've had to maintain a measure of separation between them. If you haven't been around boxers, you don't have a clue how much of a jumper these dogs are. Sidney hangs on the 6ft cinder-block fence in the back yard with her front paws to investigate the on-goings of the next door neighbors. We used to get periodic screams from next door when Sidney suddenly popped up next to an unsuspecting person standing too close to the wall. So anyway, Sophie is going to be imprisoned for the next 2 months. That's my girlfriend Angel with all 3 of them taken several months ago.

One other thing that I'd like to share is a NPR feature about the Subprime lending debacle that has turned our nation's economy on its ear (along with a few other things like the oil and gas crisis). I know its not a photo topic, but I've had a few people ask me about it since I've studied finance and economics in school. In most cases, I attributed it to greed from the banks and wall street and ignorance from the consumer which added up to a perfect storm of a debt-laden cocktail of poison. Its affect has reached to more than just our national limits, but many banks in Europe have had to close or take a big hit. Everyone who put their hand in this pot came out dirty. This May 9th collaborative article by Chicago Public Radio's "This American Life" and NPR's "All Things Considered" is the first explanation that I've seen or heard that really breaks it down to where anyone can understand it. Its both informative and entertaining. It doesn't have a free podcast download, but you can still go to the link and listen to the archived segment. For the full version is an hour long, click "This American Life: The Giant Pool of Money". Then click on the Full Episode link on that page. Or there is a 13-minute synopsis at "All Things Considered: The Global Pool of Money Got Too Greedy". I fully recommend taking a little time out to lean how greed and ignorance led to the default of several banks and the foreclosure of many, many homeowners. Nevada was hit hard and trust me when I say the after-effects just keep mounting. I implore you to learn a bit about what's happening in your country. Chances are, it has a direct effect on you.

04 June 2008

Ode to the Art Model

" Sincerity"

"...To me photographing the nude is simply using my camera to sense and feel the pulse of life… To photograph a nude without desiring her is the ultimate in perversity..." - Larry Fink

I realize that mine is the art of photography. Specifically, photographing the nude form has become my passion and my niche. However, I still have a distinct affinity for figure modeling as it relates to drawing the figure. My association to figure drawing is no longer through the medium of charcoal, conte, or paint, but rather as a facilitator of the sessions. I don't draw anymore, but since I have an extended background as a figure model, I've still held a strong connection to the those in the field of art modeling. That's the primary reason I started my Las Vegas Art Models Group. So despite my particular genre of art being photography, I still talk about and discuss figure modeling. Its the art model who has captured my admiration and appreciation, whether she poses for drawing sessions or photography.

I've wanted to do more in my group with models of various sizes and shapes. The plus-size model has less of a representation in this field, but I'd like to find a way to encourage more women of this body type to participate. At the same time, I know I also have to garner the interest from the photogs who participate in the workshops. Its a bit easier to incorporate the plus-size and large women into figure drawing sessions, but I have still heard disparaging remarks from vain and disrespectful students who would rather draw the hot chicks. I am an avid avocate for the model who can shed her clothes and strike a pose to lend a much needed inspiration to us artists who have need of their services. I'd like to do more to help them earn more work in their trade outside of the collegiate environments. Las Vegas has less of a need or I should say has less of a demand for the nude art model, but I guess challenges exist all over to earn a decent income from such a noble effort of sacraficing privacy and enduring criticism from those who cannot understand.

I wish I could do more in my efforts with my group. For me, I have an excellent venue in both space and prestige at the World Market Center. However the catch is that my sessions are not on a regular or frequently held. Because of the WMC business hours, the sessions have to be held during the normal working hours of artists, which is on Friday afternoons from 1pm to 4pm, instead of after-hours when more may be inclined to participate. I'm left beating the street and buring up my cell phone minutes to solicit paricipation from artists. When I don't get enough artist participation, then thats also an out-of-pocket expense for me. Since I've pledged to have the highest pay rate in the Las Vegas area for figure drawing models, this can be challenging to somebody who's still yet to find steady employment. The efforts have paid off for some. During a few of my events, I've had artists get commissions, so its definitely worth it for the artists to come out and draw. You never know who may come by to see your performance.

But in order to keep the dream alive, I get out there and do what I can for as long as I can. That includes my efforts of scouting locations and interviewing models to hold my art nude photo workshops. I like what I do and I believe in it...for both photo and drawing. I want to be the go-to guy for artists and organizations needing models for nude art work. For those models wanting to continue doing the work, I want to keep you busy, but the bulkload of my energy will be reserved for those who I can determine are serious about their work, take pride in it, and maintain a high standard of professionalism to their craft. These are those who are where they are supposed to be ahead of schedule. They are not afraid of the hard poses. They strive to understand the need of the artist and give the artist the best they have to offer in order to help them achieve a desired goal. Art Modeling is hard work. Most think its a piece of cake to be still and look pretty. I say to thee nay! But you will never understand it til you give it a try. I dare you!

These are more images of art model and muse, Trixie. I hope to do some more work with her very soon. Also, you have GOT to see this 10 minute video, "The Perils in Nude Modeling". Its dramatic, romantic, and FUNNY. If you can't see the clip below, then just ->click here<-