20 June 2017

10 Tips on Photographer's Block Part III

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
"The thing that's important to know is that you never know. You're always sort of feeling your way." 
~ Diane Arbus

I broke this series up into three parts for a reason. I wanted to use my first post to drive home the fact that those 4 realization points were imperative before any benefits from any tips could come to fruition. The next post dealt mainly with elements that involved a more direct focus on photography. However, this last post of the series has a bit more focus on the issue of mental health, itself. When you look at creative blocks, its your mental ability to cognitively contribute that's impeded. So, let me dive on into this.

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
Tip #6 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Get a medical check up (and some rest)

If its been a while since you've had your last doctor's visit, maybe it's a good time to make an appointment. Getting a clean bill of health can be mentally comforting all on its own. At the least, you can get a doctor's recommendation to help you deal with stress, know what vitamin/mineral deficiencies you might be suffering from, or find out in advance if there is something more serious which can be caught in early stages. 

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
If you can't do that, then at the very least, get some rest. Spend a day or weekend doing absolutely nothing. And when I say nothing...I'm talking about getting up to eat, bathe, or go to the bathroom and that's it. Take a chill weekend. Prep for it. Prior to your do nothing day, get errands done, pay bills, and arrange for a baby-sitter if necessary. Me and my girl did a staycation at the Artisan earlier this year just to get away for a bit. I let her go on her own for a few days and then joined her for another 2 days after upgrading our room to a huge suite. Netflix and chill.

Tip #7 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Spend some time with family/friends

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
Sometimes hiding away or going solo is not the better option. It can be just as important to remember why certain people are important to you and then treat them as such. Call them up and arrange some hang out time. Do the phone only if there are miles and miles of separation that makes eye to eye a bit challenging. Invite a friend (some friends) over and get some pizza and beer. Hang out on the back patio and just talk. Its not necessary to have to spend a bunch of money or make a big to-do about the matter. Relax

"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tip #8 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Take a day trip 150 miles away

Now this one is more of a task or assignment, but it definitely belongs here. Look at a map from where you live and plot out a sight, place, city, or landmark that is 150 miles away from you or the closest to it. Pick a date within the next week and go. You don't have to even bring your camera but at least have your charged cell phone. Nothing at 150 miles...do 200 miles. But now you've got 3 hours one-way to kill and beyond that gets into more than a trip you can make in a day. Here out West in Southern Nevada, I'm grateful that I can travel in any direction and see wondrous landscape of all kinds. I can head up further into Nevada, head south into Arizona, southwest into California, or Northeast into Utah. Any direction I go I can find a major State AND National park to visit. 

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
Tip #9 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Have sex (or at least exercise)

I wouldn't think it necessary to go into details on the benefits sex has on your life, but you'd be surprised. And I'm not talking about meaningless sex for the sake of simply having sex. For the purposes of this post, lets assume intimate relationship sex. But regardless, who's going to argue with me on this one? The health benefits are too staggering to ignore. You want to freshen your mind with a splash of creativity? Get with your partner and become awash in the dopamine and endorphins that will rest your body and heal your mental incontinence. Its relieves stress, helps you sleep better, helps reduce depression, and more. At least, that's some of the stuff I read in this recent Medical News Today article. But do you really need an article to tell you this...

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
Tip #10 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Grab your camera and go shoot something

And finally, when it comes down to it, do the things that you can do. You don't have control over everything. You DO have control over somethings, though. And when you can't do the things you want to do, do the things you can. You may be blocked, but you CAN still pick up your camera and press the shutter release. You CAN get in your car and drive 150 miles to a location and explore it. You can tell your mother you love her and go pay her a visit. You CAN actually do a lot of things. Go. Volunteer. And if its taskings you need or assignments, I have that too and I'd love to share them when requested of me.

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 
* BONUS Tip on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Pray

And sometimes you have absolutely no control what so ever. Sometimes any and everything you can think of crashes down like a house of cards set aflame. I had a school project due in a photographic final presentation. I was to photograph a couple in their mid-50's and it was to be a great project. For whatever reason, they bailed on me for our shoot. I could come up with nothing else and time was running out. At the end of my rope, I prayed about my predicament and honestly didn't really expect much. On my way back to my dorm room, I ran into Elizabeth sitting on a bench, whom you see featured in this blog post. I hadn't seen her in a year and even before that I didn't really know her. We had mutual friends, only. 

We talked briefly and said our cordial, "Hello...long time no see" to each other. As despondent as I was, I just wanted to get back to my dorm... Until she asked about my photography and did I have any need for any models. She turned out to be one of the best I have had the privilege to ever work with. Answer to prayer? Yes. Directly, so. The girl was a God-send, because I had no control, no power, and no idea how I was going to get any of it done. So yeah...Prayer.

17 June 2017

10 Tips on Photographer's Block Part II

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.” — Pablo Picasso

Now that you have given close and careful consideration to the Four previously posted Realization Points, let's get into some of those actual tips on dealing with Photographer's Block. There are a myriad of different taskings you can assign yourself. I have written more than a hundred just for the explicit purpose of speaking or writing on this before. But I want to challenge you just a wee bit differently here in this post. The goal isn't so much to just give you all the answers and have you mimic programmed robots that execute commands. The objective is two-fold, but they run together. I want to prime your pumps, so to speak, and get you into the habit of thinking. In the majority of these examples I give, it still leaves open room for your input, creativity, and values that are important to you. Here are the first FIVE, I'll challenge you with in this post. You can let these digest a bit before I do the last FIVE later on.

Tip #1 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Volunteer

One of the best cures for dealing with your own troubles is to help someone else out of theirs. Find a "Give Back" project and open yourself to it as much as you dare to. I won't tell you what to do and it doesn't even have to be in a photographic capacity. Volunteer somewhere that you feel is meaningful and that you know you can make a contribution. The specifics don't matter so much. Photography doesn't matter that much either. The reward should be purely intrinsic and your intentions completely altruistic. Start there and spend some time in this endeavor. When you are ready, pick up the camera and consider documenting this cause, but only when you begin to see the story in it.

I've spoken regularly about my efforts to help out NowILayMeDownToSleep.org which offers remembrance photography services primarily for little babies that don't make it long after birth. These are professional portraits done that mark a child's time on this planet much better than a birth/death certificate can do. Its likely the only portraits that will ever be done. I reached my limit with this program after about 5 years. Trust me. Its good to know your limitations. Now this is a give-back program that already involves a camera. However, there have been several more causes that I've taken up whereby I brought the camera in later. So you search yourself and look for opportunities to give back.

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley

Tip #2 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Act like there is no block

Yes, it sounds crazy, but think about it for a minute. First, staying positive about the situation is the absolute best thing you can do for yourself. Second, conducting yourself and your affairs as if there IS NO block is the ultimate in self affirmations that will help you actually BELIEVE there is no block. But lets take those two points of fact out of the picture for a minute. The third reason is that you can easily FORGET that you are blocked by allowing yourself some distractions. When you take the pressure off, you can bring in some much needed reprieve by catching a movie or spending some time with someone important to you. Before you know it, you're not blocked. See? Not so crazy.

"When I am stuck … I just search for excitement, but not too hard. It is when I find myself playing more than trying that I find my way out of a block." - Aris Moore

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley
Tip #3 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Get Desperate

Right. I know what you're going to say. This sounds like the opposite of Tip #2. Well, that's chiefly because it is. These are not systematic tips that you are supposed to methodically utilize one right after the other. If only one of these tips helps you, then that's all you need. Getting desperate is a trick I used to play on myself during my military days. When a task seemed insurmountable, but absolutely had to get done, I'd change the stakes. Which is to say that I'd imagine much more dire consequences if I failed at my mission. Failure became an unacceptable option simply because the mission perspective changed. I'd do the same thing in high school. I may have an assignment due for which I procrastinated til the last minute. Getting my ass whooped by my mom became the unacceptable option that made me desperate enough to put something on some paper and get an assignment turned in. You'd be much surprised to learn that many of my final grades on last minute projects where over a B. So if you have to, Get Desperate!

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley
Tip #4 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Get a mentor

As self-promoting as this may be, you need somebody like me. I'm an ass-kicker. I'm going to be in your face and I will hold you accountable. That's not to say I go all out drill sergeant on you, but think of me like that big brother that honestly cares about your success and well-being. Because, I do. Finding a mentor like that is priceless. Well, let me not say priceless, because I do sometimes have quite a specific price. But once you got me, you got me. I've got several students that have paid me to teach them photography in my week long one-on-one courses. Its a rare thing to never hear back from them again and some have become very close to me. I'll get a call back from any one of them asking about advice and counsel and it doesn't have to even be photo related. Get a mentor like me.

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley
Tip #5 on Dealing with Photographer's Block: Get some gear

I work at B&C Camera on an on-call basis...maybe a day or two a month. We have a Rental department that is absolutely exceptional. I spent the first part of the day yesterday prepping rental equipment by getting people's rental reservation gear tested and ready to be picked up. Its been a while since I had worked there and there have been a plethora of new additions in all sorts of cameras, lenses, LED lighting, audio and video equipment, action cameras, you name it.

You can reserve 135mm Zeiss Batis glass which is perfect for those indoor sports gigs, the Hasselblad X1D-50s, Rode or Sennheiser Wireless Mics, Profoto studio lights, a DJI Osmo X3, or a million different items in the Canon, Nikon, Sony, line-up. And there's plenty of  the latest Tamron and Sigma lenses to even mention. So I'm not even saying you have to go out and buy your own gear. Just go online and reserve it, then pick it up at the store. Wanna play with a Nikon Tilt-Shift lens? Reserve it. Go get it. And see what it looks like. Then see what you can do with it! Get some gear!!

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley

15 June 2017

10 Tips on Photographer's Block Part I

Art Model, Merrie ©2017 Terrell Neasley
"When I am stuck … I just search for excitement, but not too hard. It is when I find myself playing more than trying that I find my way out of a block." 
Aris Moore

I think this year has been tough on a lot of photographers, including myself. As a mentor, friend, instructor, and counselor, I often get calls asking for help, inspiration, and advice. I try to oblige in any way I can, and that's usually by first dealing with the attitude about the problem via a change of perspective and or perception about what's actually going on. I've noticed a few common origins to many people on creative or artistic mental blocks. So here are a few realizations you need to come to terms with before any tips can be meaningful. So I start with these FOUR Realization Points as they will be the focus of Part I of this 3-part blog series. Bear with me, as it might get a lil' bit preachy.

REALIZATION POINT #1: Its okay to put the camera down for a while.

There is no rule that says you absolutely have to ALWAYS be shooting. Life happens. Sometimes you may need a little bit of self healing before your creative outlets can manifest its work in your own self expressions. To pressure yourself when you are not ready internally only exasperates the issue. That'll feed negatively on itself. Its so much liberating to put the camera down and rest your mind, your soul, and your body. Get your center back.

Art Model, Merrie ©2017 Terrell Neasley

For me, the camera helps me find my center. If that is the case for you as well, then I definitely invite you to pursue that option. However, my warning still stands. If you bring in the camera but also bring in the pressure...you'll ruin yourself on photography.

REALIZATION POINT #2: Get it out of your mind that everything need to be perfect.

This is another one that is so stifling that no wonder you are artistically constipated. Not everything is going to be perfect. You want to do your best with any endeavor you pursue, sure. But ofttimes, that perfect project comes up from an imperfect idea, that done well becomes more akin to perfection. There are times when I honestly had no idea that something would turn out the way it eventually did. I've shot something that I wasn't so pleased with only to see a client lose themselves in it and call it, "perfect".

Art Model, Merrie ©2017 Terrell Neasley
Your goal should be to just go shoot and do the best you can in that moment. Drop back to fundamentals if you have to and begin anew. Try to understand and find out what or where the blocks come from and make adjustments. You might be looking for the next perfect concept because you've spent too much damn time looking at other people's art and end up comparing yourself too harshly on it. Stop comparing yourself to someone else. I can promise you, your work will develop faster and more freely when you rid yourself of the unrealistic burden of comparison. Just be you. Open yourself to your own world and your own calling. You'll find your ambitions will gnaw a hole inside you and your need for self expression will attempt to fill that cavity. But if comparison is the soil in which you sew your seed, you waste yourself.

Art Model, Justine ©2017 Terrell Neasley

REALIZATION POINT #3: Nothing says you have to do this alone.

In so many ways, I'm definitely a loner. However in those moments of photographic blocks, seeking help is a winning proposition. Check out the most miserable times in your life and see if one of your habits is to hermit yourself in your special room and shy away from people who "don't understand you". Okay, well I respect that. But if you want to get out of those doldrums, you're going to have to ask for some help. This may not be direct requests to someone. It could be indirectly by joining a photo group, taking a class, or finding a mentor. Hell, BE a Mentor! Okay, I'm getting into some of my actual tips to be covered in a following blog post, but you get my point.

Original ideas don't have to come to you in a dream. Talk to people. Better yet, LISTEN to people. Here their stories and challenge yourself to interpret them photographically. These aren't epiphanies that drop like an apple of inspiration onto your head. The opportunities are swirling around you like leaves in the wind. Just be still. Listen. Let the stories come to you.

Art Model, Justine ©2017 Terrell Neasley

REALIZATION POINT #4: Don't worry about the money.

Granted. This is a hard one. Especially when you need to be about making that money! However, in terms of getting over photographer's block, the money issue comes into play when there is a lack of resources. You begin to believe that you can't come up with the perfect idea, like Mr. Pro-tographer down the street, because you don't have the resources, access, connections, or camera gear, like he/she does. Listen to me. If you spend your time looking over someone else's shoulder and using that comparison as the measuring stick to gauge your own ability, you're in a sad place. Stop doing that to yourself.

Conceptualizing a good project begins in the mind, and not with the camera in your hand (or the lack there of). Yes, there are projects that require resources and in some cases, a lot of money. But we're talking about just getting past the block. When you get the creative nectar flowing, the ingenuity kicks in that open up doors and possibilities. You'll begin to see how to work a budget or form partnerships and trades to get it done. Don't let money be the driving force though. Have your reasons, but don't let money be the primary impetus. When you aren't making money, then what? What do you do? Stop shooting...No! You improvise and figure out how to work with a Canon 60D that you can borrow from your neighbor's high school kid. Either way, you go get to work. And by the way... I profess to be no master at any of this. Its a progression.

Art Model, Justine ©2017 Terrell Neasley

04 May 2017

Gear Equilibrium - The Pinnacle of Photographic Achievement

Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley
"An equilibrium can never last. Dynamic forces are always at work. But there are times when even those forces must rest. It is in that moment that life finds it's balance."
~ Terrell Neasley

Last month I picked up the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 G Master Lens. Today, my pinhole body cap came in the mail. I haven't yet played with it, but upon that acquisition, for the first time as I can recall, I think I have reached a point in my life that I might just have everything I need as a photographer! It is at state of photographic achievement whereas the equipment you need is in perfect balance with the equipment you have. I don't know for how long this feeling of "Gear Equilibrium" will last, but I do not have a compulsion or longing to buy another camera or lens. Its like that final scene in Matrix Revolutions where The Architect asks The Oracle, "How long do you think this truce will last?". And she replies, "As long as it can."

Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley
So who knows how long this equilibrium will sustain itself. Currently, my repertoire includes  2 bodies, 3 wide-angles, a macro, and portraiture glass. I haven't had a real need to have telephoto in my arsenal since I last shot Canon's 70-200mm. Upon my transition to Nikon's high resolution D800e which gave me the ability to crop in quite a bit, I had less need for the telephoto applications and perspectives. In addition, some timely advice from a travel mag editor suggesting more environmental portraiture, as well as inspiration from Gregory Crewdson, particularly his work in "Beneath the Roses", shooting wide has become more prevalent in my work. My main workhorse lens is my Sony 16-35mm f/4 which is the only zoom lens I own.
Art Model, Anne ©2015 Terrell Neasley
The recently announced Sony A9 won't be anything I will add to my current line-up of bodies. Great camera, but not anything I need for the time being. That doesn't reflect negatively on the A9 as much as it credits the badassity of the Sony A7RII. This is simply an amazing system. I don't need the 20 fps speed. My a6300 will give me 11fps when I need it, albeit, cropped. I am fine with 1 card slot for the time being. The 42MP resolution is my main preference.

Art Model, KristiC ©2015 Terrell Neasley
I have no doubt that Sony will likely announce the A9R maybe even by the end of the year. And maybe even an A9S. I'm still good. It'll still be a full-frame system and even if its 50MPs, I'm cool at 42. If I'm looking at another camera body...and I'm not...I currently reside at Equilibrium Ave ...But IF I'm looking at another body, it would be the Fujifilm GFX 50s Medium Format system. Granted. I'm fine with my Sony A7RII right now. But if funding suddenly wasn't a factor to possess that body and a good 3 lens line-up, yeah I'd be all over it. Like ALL over it. But seeing as how that would easily be upwards of a $15K investment...I'm good with the gear that's already on my shelf.

Art Model, Leslie ©2015 Terrell Neasley
With all that said, I can still hook myself up with some accessories. I could use some more SD cards, batteries, and another cable release. I lose those things so easily. I may even find myself in the market for a good slider and a drone has crossed my mind a time or two. I could also do with an upgrade to my computer. Or a new one. It mainly needs a better video card, but after 6 years, I'm sure a new one with the current processor speeds may favor my workflow better. Storage and RAM...I'm good on that.

Gear Equilibrium is a good place to be. I thought it was in imaginary place, but apparently not. How long will it last? As long as it can!

20 April 2017

Return of the Panda

Art Model, Panda ©2017 Terrell Neasley
"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."
~ Nelson Mandela

If you haven't seen it or heard the news, Sony just announced the much awaited and rumored Sony a9 system. Its a beast of a system, at that. You can see the details of the camera on the Sony website. The thing has almost 700 phase detect AF points which now practically covers the entire sensor and can shoot continuously at 20fps WITH AF/AE on each shot. Its got dual SD card slots now. I really miss that from my Nikon and Canon days. The battery life has doubled. It can shoot silently with a shutter topping out at 1/32,000 of a second. This thing definitely set new standards of what can be done in photography.

Art Model, Panda ©2017 Terrell Neasley

But its not for me. Its designed for sports, but I'd love to have it for my own purposes as well, mind you. However, it still doesn't suite me better than the Sony a7rII. I still love that camera and if I need speed, I have the fully capable Sony a6300. Yeah, its the same one I bought for my girlfriend, but I traded her my full-frame a7II AND my beautiful 55mm 1.8. On the surface, its a dumb trade. I'd have to be entirely stupid to make this trade with anybody else. The operative word here is "girlfriend". So that makes it a good deal, albeit selectively. But that's okay. I lost the 2nd best lens available for the a7rII. There's only one lens better and that's the Sony G Master 85mm 1.4. And I just picked it up. So don't cry for me... I'm good.

Art Model, Panda ©2017 Terrell Neasley
"I'm a storyteller; that's what exploration really is all about. Going to places where others haven't been and returning to tell a story they haven't heard before." 
~ James Cameron

And then guess who came back to town for a visit. I'm sure you figured that out from the pics. If you've followed me for more than a few years, you'd know that Panda was the one model I had photographed most. (Now Tracie...er...Art Model, Covenant holds that honor.) As an artist, she's one of the few among hundreds who has allowed me to get better as a photographer. That's the actual function of a muse. I might have 5 like that in my life right now. I always want to tell a story with my camera and she's aided me in my own self-exploration and expression. She was on her way to Peru and knew she needed a new camera system to make some great pics on her journey. She gave me the specs on what was most important to her and the Sony a6000 fit the bill. Am I a bit biased towards Sony gear. Nope. If Sony is the best for the job, then I'm just truthful, wouldn't you agree?

Art Model, Panda ©2017 Terrell Neasley

So she picked up the camera and then flew back in to Vegas for me to train her on it. Remember...I teach One on One photo classes for YOUR specific camera system.  She stayed with me for a week and of course between training sessions we got to do some shooting. Its been 3 years since Panda moved away with her family. So it was a pleasure to see her again and shoot. What's changed about her in 3 years? Well, she's got "mom" all over her now. She's had another daughter since I last saw her who's about 2 years old now. Herding TWO girls, two years apart has stained that mommyhood varnish over her in a double thick coat. Nonetheless, we practically picked up where we left off except this time, I also explained a lot of what I was doing while shooting her.

Art Model, Panda ©2017 Terrell Neasley
Seeing how this time around, shooting her was also a teaching session, we shot A LOT! 3 different shoots and 3 different locations. For a 5-day class session, the first two days are in-house going over the camera on day 1 and then general photography principles and fundamentals on day 2. The remaining 3 days are spent out in the field and/or studio. I hated having to see her go...again...BUT, its likely her hunny bun might be getting a job out this way this summer. So who knows...

Art Model, Panda ©2017 Terrell Neasley

27 March 2017

Where To Next?

I'm long overdue for one of my Epic/Adventure/Experience the World trips and its time to get back to those considerations. So the question is now, "WHERE?". I have no problem whatsoever heading back to Central America, but it'll be hitting rainy season there soon which can be tough on photography gear. Shooting in general can be tough with all the humidity hanging in the air which takes away from the nice deep depth of field landscape shots.

So what are some other options that can afford scenic, but off the beaten path shots that won't break the bank if you stay there a while? Well, there's always South America with regions for all seasons year round. Depending on where you go, you can avoid the humid areas, but heading up in the the Andes. It still gets cold up in the mountains practically any time of the year. Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia are definite considerations. Possibly even Bolivia.

Some of the lesser traveled and less popular islands of the South Pacific can be destination alternatives as well. Everybody knows about Fiji and Tahiti. You don't hear about Tonga, or Rarotonga as much though. Each of these archipelago island countries has hundreds of smaller islets of which many are not even populated. Getting to them can be a bit tricky though. Its not so cheap to fly out to them. If I had my wish, I'd find someone sailing throughout the South Pacific and join them. That would be a grand adventure to spend 6 months or so sailing and exploring these Polynesian island nations.

Outside of these, I'm not sure. Western Europe? Eastern Europe? Continental Africa? Asia? I'm open to ideas and opportunities. That much, I can say for sure. No one place has an advantage of selection right now. My options are open for opportunities. The chance to see, shoot, and experience more cultures takes precedence. So if you are sitting on a catamaran contemplating an idea to sail the open seas with a need for a photog to document the experience, call me. We should definitely talk about this.

I could also ask the same question of you, dear reader. "Where to next, for you?" Do you have your passport in hand and updated? When do you next plan to get some new stamps on some of those blank passport pages? Granted, its not all about getting stamps, mind you. You can hop from one place to the next, stamp collecting and you'll not be any more enriched had you taken a through a Wal-Mart parking lot on the good side of town. Traveling entails getting to know life from the local's point of view in the country you are visiting. And I don't think you'll see much fulfillment if you just visit Cancun and never leave the resort.

But maybe that's exactly what you need...who know's. Sometimes its just a break from your normal routine that does the trick. This is not what I'm talking about though. To each his own. I understand that. But you're not broadening out your humanity by simply taking a vacation. Vacations are useful to help you reset...like the weekend break from your normal 9 to 5 work week. Traveling and experiencing new cultures and God's creation helps you learn a little bit more about humankind, and thereby you learn about yourself. Not just the superficial you, but rather the deeper self, that you may rarely get to connect with. Okay, that's it. I'm doing a blog post about Traveling vs Vacationing real soon.

10 March 2017

Ladies and Gentleman.... Chloe Ann

Art Model, Chloe Ann ©2017 Terrell Neasley

I got introduced to Chloe Ann by the highly regarded and a notable photo colleague, Dave Levingston about a month and some weeks ago. I didn't know her, but when DaveL shouts out a model you pay attention. So right off the bat, I'm making a few assumptions. If she's working with Dave Levingston, she's good to go. AND if she's a friend of his, then she's automatically cool with me.

Art Model, Chloe Ann ©2017 Terrell Neasley

Chloe Ann is from Maine on an adventure trip, driving coast to coast from one corner of this great country to the opposite shore. From the shores of Maine to the shores of San Diego, CEE-AY, she and her fiance set out on a trek. She got to spend considerable time here in Las Vegas, and we did our best to make due with that time. Having never seen this part of the U.S., it was tough to narrow the sites down to only a few. I asked them what were the most important spots they wanted to visit, and that's where we shot.

Art Model, Chloe Ann ©2017 Terrell Neasley

We got in 3 good days of shooting and it was phenomenal. I took the betrothed burlesque couple out to some of my stomping grounds where I knew we could avoid crowds and inquisitive eyes. Oh...did I say burlesque...you're still caught up with that description. Well, allow me, if you will, to digress for a bit and introduce you to the creative burlesque duo, Mr. and Mrs. F*cksmart. Here's one of their performances, CREEP. Funny, right? Okay. As I was saying... avoiding inquisitive eyes. Yes. From their pick of places to visit, I chose the appropriate spots to get in some great sight-seeing, beautiful hikes, and of course, great spots to shoot naked people.

Art Model, Chloe Ann ©2017 Terrell Neasley

Apart from the smile, the charm, and the figure, I'd have to say I enjoyed her attitude the most. She's definitely more comfortable being nude than clothed and her bubbly personality makes her easy to work with. She's hardy as well. Coming from Maine, she's experienced with a little cold and she had to endure some cold here in Vegas because all 3 days we shot, the temps were in the 50's. And that's not just regular cold temp 50, but 50 with wind that make it seem more like 10! I did my best to keep her nude as little as possible, but art nude photogs aren't that great at that. Hiking out to these spots, it would seem I was asking her to drop-trow every 40 feet it seemed. There's just so much gorgeousness around here! Its hard not to see a spot and not want to improve it with a nude. That's just my pain I have to endure. Its not easy to resist the lure.

Art Model, Chloe Ann ©2017 Terrell Neasley

In 3 days we got in 4 locations of some of Nevada's finest landscapes, locations, and scenic hot spots. I added some promo work for their burlesque shows, and when it was all said and done, I had a body of work I was quite pleased with. Contact her via her Model Mayhem page and schedule some time with this fabulous muse and rest assured her time in your work will be money well spent. You can catch any of her burlesque performances by keeping tabs on the announcements on her Facebook page. Great girl to work with. You'll see.

Art Model, Chloe Ann, @theFsmarts ©2017 Terrell Neasley

18 January 2017

A Butterfly Emerges: How One Woman Came to Redefined Her Life

Jungles of El Salvador 2015 touring waterfalls
I'm way past due on doing my photo books. 2012 was my last book that I did, an annual of all the nudes I shot earlier that year. I've done books for other people since then (travel, bereavement, and commissions), but not any of my own books for my own art work. So I've put my mind to three projects and this is the first one.

This is my latest art project, an intimate, sensual, and even explicit pictorial narrative of a woman's transformation from a stifled life to one of her own will and exploration. She's made life changes after a divorce that now prioritize travel, exploration, and being much more positive about her body. There are over 230 full-spread images in this book and two editions are available. Both are hard back and large format. However the higher priced of the two editions is printed on the best quality heavy paper the publisher has to offer. The other has a dust jacket and printed on premium paper, but not the heaviest stock.

This is the largest book I've done to date, primarily because of the volume of accumulated work over about three years. Trying to curate these edits down to the maximum allowable by the publisher was quite the daunting task. I could have easily added another 500 images to this collection and I am considering a separate volume with nothing but cell phone images...easily another 1,000!

I titled this art piece, "A Butterfly Emerges, How One Woman Came to Redefine Her Life", because its very appropriately describes her life's journey to this date. I won't get into specifics, but suffice to say she has come to terms with where her life has brought her and has chosen to live much more liberated going forward. She's my personal muse, companion, and soul mate and we've chosen to share our adventures in this series of work with more to come.

Copan Ruinas, Honduras 2015

The butterfly honestly embodies who this model is on several levels. A delicate creature, emerging from her past to find her wings and fly skyward. Fitting with this analogy is the story of transition and transformation. Often when you hear of butterfly used as a verb, as in "to butterfly a fillet", its often describing the act or splitting something apart, almost in two and then spreading it open. As you will see in the pages to follow, we've chosen to not shy away from exhibiting this model's natural tendency to be seated with knees high and spread open. She truly relaxes and is most comfortable with her legs "butterflied", if you will.

And for my part, I photograph the nude. All of it. I do not shoot to miss, cover, or hide genitalia. I use discretion in some cases and then again not in others. I know I run the risk of over-saturating your senses with pussy shots (and even penis images in some spots), but again, I remind you of my volume dilemma. We have photographed in and around our home and studio, but our journey has also taken us on travels throughout Nevada, Utah, California, the Outer Banks in North Carolina, and three months in Central America (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.) We enjoy camping, backpacking, and day trips.

El Salvador. Yes, sometimes it got THAT hot!
Therefore I ask for you, the viewer, to try to see these images and my art as the way it was intended; as a real-life depiction of a woman's emergence into a will of her own and shared by myself. It is intimate, provocative, and yes, explicit. However, I have faith that you can see through all of that and see the journey for what it is and enjoy my artwork.

You can see previews of this journey on my Blurb bookstore site. I must tell you the edition with the highest quality, heavy stock paper is damn sure worth your investment. I will generally sell a single piece of my art for 5 times that amount and in this case, you get more than 230. Its more than a book of a hard binder and pages. My hope is that I have been successful in my attempt to stimulate your senses and bring you into our experience. Click on this link. Buy my book. I know you will enjoy it.

Thank you.

08 December 2016

Alternatives for Shooting When it Gets Cold

Art Model Covenant, "Baby its Cold Outside..." ©2015 Terrell Neasley

The temps dropping fast here in Las Vegas. I can only imagine what things are like in New England or the Midwest. Actually, I don't even want to imagine it. I'm having my own difficulties handling these frigid temps where its hovering around the mid-40's at night. (Don't judge me.) But the more important question is this:

What's a photographer to do when she/he is used to shooting outdoors and is partial to late evening and night time shoots?

Good question.
Art Model, Franki Dame Hotel in Las Vegas, ©2016 Terrell Neasley
Well, you're going to have to get smart about it. As well as get out of your comfort zone. You can't stop shooting. Let's get that established as priority one. Photogs don't go into hibernation until the spring. If you try that, you'll start the spring off with some major suckage...and nobody wants to suck that bad. So don't get out of practice.

Instead, when things get cold outside, you bring all your business inside. I know...that likely means studio and you're going to throw out the "natural light" card. Well, if you want to be a shooter, you're going to have to learn ARTIFICIAL LIGHT. Okay, so the first thing you're going to need is artificial light, obviously. Take a look at some flash options. You're either going the speedlight(lite) route or studio (mono) lights. And then you're going to need some space to shoot in, which is the easiest part. You can temporarily move your furniture around to get that needed space.

Art Model, Christina. Working in my studio ©2016 Terrell Neasley
Lighting might be tougher. First it depends on your budget. Well, actually it all depends on your budget. You can buy what you need or rent the lights you need. Fortunately, you can do both at B&C Camera here in Las Vegas on West Sahara. They've got some excellent beginner kits as well as some advanced 2-light kits that'll get you started. Here is the top flash monolight kit I recommend:

The Promaster SM300 Digital Display 2-Light Studio Kit for about $450.

You may need to purchase some additional softboxes, but you can get that later if you want. It comes with flash sync trigger that attaches to your camera's hot shoe, as well as light stands, reflectors, and a carrying bag. I've recommended this kit to several of my clients and gave instructions on their use. They are very simple and easy to use. This is a middle ground beginner kit at 300 watt-seconds which should satisfy the majority of everything you'll need. While it may be easier to go with LED lights, which are constant light sources, but your best options are going to be with flash.

Art Model, Leslie my living room couch ©2016 Terrell Neasley
You can purchase speedlights for your specific camera brand, (Canon/Nikon/etc.), or you can go with some manual flashes, also by Promaster which are way less expensive. You can also rent studio lighting from B&C as well. Check out their rental options for your needs online or visit the store and let one of the associates help you determine your best option for what you are looking for. Anyone up there can help you figure out exactly what will do the job for your budget.

Art Model, Justine. Still cold, Late February ©2013 Terrell Neasley

Another option you have at your disposal is hotel rooms. I've done this plenty of times. Sometimes its actually too hot outside or your model doesn't want to be around nature. I've packed up studio gear and rented a room in several of these hotels in and around Las Vegas. The best option is to shoot during the low occupancy times of the week, like Monday through Wednesday. Thursday begins to pick up in business which is reflected in the room prices. You can literally pay $20 a night on a Tuesday and that same room will go for $120 a night by Saturday. At the very least, use the opportunity to explore options for your own stay-cations or to help with recommendations when your friends/family come to Las Vegas and you don't want them staying with you! Try to use discount sites like Travelocity, Priceline, or Booking.com rather than the actual hotel website.

Art Model Covenant, close crop, wide aperture, shallow DoF ©2016 Terrell Neasley

Shoot in your OWN house or apartment. You'll be surprised what natural settings can do that don't have to look like a 4-star hotel. If need be, use a lenses with really wide apertures. Prime lens with f/1.8 or f/1.4 apertures are excellent for this. They give you the shallow depth of field that blur out clutter in your background. Shoot compositions that are tightly cropped in to your subject or model to further reduce clutter in your background.
Panda, my kitchen with a wide aperture ©2011 Terrell Neasley
Finally, go get yourself a hardy model who can handle a little bit of cold. Pack some warm blankets, a thermos of hot chocolate/coffee/tea, and keep the car running with the heat on close by. I have actually done ALL of this. I've had some great models who braved that cold and sacrificed comfort for the sake of art, including getting in cold water! Yes. This is true. Be smart. Always stay conscious of the risk. Often times, I'll brave that water WITH my model, just so I'm aware of what my model is experiencing so that I don't ask them to be wet too long. Model safety is priority one at all times. Always stay conscious of your model's comfort and health. Outside of that, keep shooting!

Super Trooper Art Model, Covenant February. Pretty damn cold ©2015 Terrell Neasley