15 February 2020

A Whole Year Since Jenny. Can You Believe It?

Art Model, Jenny, Colca Canyon, Peru ©2019 Terrell Neasley
“The ‘Muse’ is not an artistic mystery, but a mathematical equation. The gift are those ideas you think of as you drift to sleep. The giver is that one you think of when you first awake.”
― Roman Payne

Doesn't seem like a year, but I guess that's the nature of TIME. It creeps steadily along and before your know it, you're saying "Happy New Year" again, marking the transition of another lap around the sun. Well, it was a year ago already that my good friend, Jenny came to work with me in Peru for three weeks having never met me before.

We had some hard travel days, freezing nights living on a lake, and still came up with a gorgeous 230-page photo book with some of the most amazing images and locations I've ever been to. I am most grateful for her trust and willingness to let me play, experiment, and try new things all while being patient during the challenges. Sometimes things don't work the way you think they will. Sometimes problems come up that you don't anticipate or lights don't work when they should. Jenny's muse instincts kicked in and helped find alternatives and sometimes she was just being understanding. We cut our losses and moved on to a different gig.

Art Model, Jenny, Near Tumbes, Northern Peru ©2019 Terrell Neasley

That's what a muse does. When you look at my shots, you won't see where her stomach might have been upset, because she is still smiling and still giving. You won't know that she had a personal tragedy at home to contend with. I continued to shoot even after she got the news. You won't even know that she stayed even after finding out her husband was in physical pain. He handled it, but you gotta know her mind was with him. That's call commitment. That's what a muse does! She prioritized me and my art over her own comfort. My job is to do all I can to balance all that because I don't want her to be uncomfortable, of course. And that's where the mutual collaboration comes in. I became "Johnny on the Spot" making sure she had water, rest, and I tried not to push too hard. Yet through it all, we got it done.

Art Model, Jenny, After some bad news...
Near Tumbes, Northern Peru ©2019 Terrell Neasley
I am also most grateful, as well to her man, who is also an accomplished photographer! She visited so soon after her birthday AND Valentine's Day last year. I hope he enjoyed the book we produced. It took an additional printing to get it done right. I was not satisfied by the initial publishing and got them to redo it. That's a rare thing for my relationship with this company. In fact, I think I've done two reprints for quality control in more than 50 large scale books I've done with them.

Not long after the shoot, somebody asked me what was the best location and then also asked what basically amounted to, what was my missed opportunity. If I were to add my own question, I might add, what additional accessory I might have wished I had with me. My best location is a toss-up between the beach near Tumbes, in Northern Peru and Colca Canyon down further South. I got great shots in both, but if I had to pick... maybe the ones in Colca are my fave. As for missed opportunities... hands down, that's Lake Titicaca.

Art Model, Jenny, Colca Canyon, Peru ©2019 Terrell Neasley

We lived on that lake for 3 days, but there was no outside place to do nudes on that tiny man-made island. Everything was visible to everyone. At night, it was uncomfortably cold, below freezing. The residents were up early morning. The one thing I didn't think to do was simply ask. There were kids around, but I don't know... maybe had I asked, provisions could have been made. Our host, Albert, might have taken us to another remote island that was in the process of being built, but not settled yet. Shoot... Just doing nudes on his straw boat would have been cool. I didn't think to ask. The conservative nature is strong throughout Peru and much of Latin America. But like I said... who knows. I should have asked.

For an additional accessory, I'm going to go with a Graduated Neutral Density Filter. Shooting Colca Canyon with one would have been perfect, but there were so many other gorgeous landscape shots that could have benefited from having a GND. I did recently pick up one, but I'll get into that a little later on in another blog post. I was able to make due with what I had, however. GND or not, I had my camera, lenses, and good light that I was able to employ creatively. Once however, this was not the case. We tried. It didn't work. We moved on.

Art Model, Jenny, Colca Canyon, Peru ©2019 Terrell Neasley

If you're a photographer doing nudes, you should hope you run into a model like Jenny. I learned. I was inspired, and I got opportunities to problem-solve which makes me a better photographer. I would not have had those opportunities had she just come for a week. But THREE WEEKS? You're bound to run into something that's going to blow up in your face and make you think... hard! All challenges are not fraught with evil or ill-intent. Sometimes they are just exercises that make your photographic muscles grow. So, you better learn to think differently out here. There's no jumping in the car and running to the nearest B&C Camera store for gear or accessories. But if you've got a Jenny, you can still create masterpieces, no matter what!

Art Model, Jenny, Near Tumbes, Northern Peru ©2019 Terrell Neasley

31 January 2020

Almost Ready for Vietnam. I'm Scared!

Art Model, Que ©2020 Terrell Neasley
"He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve got my visa for Vietnam in hand, now. Next is to book the flight, which will be within the next 10 days. I gotta tell ya. I’m just a little bit fearful! This will be a totally new experience for me. I do not understand Vietnamese at all. I cannot even say “Thank you” or “Good Morning”, yet. Nonetheless, I have a 3-month visa and I don’t know what to expect at all. This will be an absolute different experience for me than going through Central or South America.

[Update: Got the ticket the next day. Now just need to find a place to stay!]

But this is what this whole experience is about. NEW THINGS! New faces.Take wings to new places. My life has been about doing what I was afraid to do since I was in elementary school. At least, that’s where it started. Fighting back bullies. After a while, it became habit, because the realization soon hit me. Most of the things I feared were jokes to begin with so what does that make me? I’m not saying you gotta be stupid. Neither do I want you to check your common sense at the door. But how many times have you feared the dark only to later turn on the light and see your fear disappear. You realize you have been scared over nothing. How many opportunities have been lost because you didn’t take the job out of town; ask that girl out on a date; or taken that trail less traveled.

Art Model, Que ©2020 Terrell Neasley
So yeah, I’m scared to go. It’s human. It’s natural. And there is nothing inherently bad about being afraid. What you do about that fear is the determinant. So I’m going. I have my visa. But it’s always been said to me, “It’s not real until you buy that ticket.” And then just as well, “Pics, or it didn’t happen.” I’ll have my ticket soon. I’m pricing flights, checking flight times, seating, etc. I gotta have good seats flying that long. I’m looking at 26-hour flights. Not all in the air, at once, but I saw some 15-hour non-stop stretches on the itinerary. NOT looking forward to that. That’s the main reason I won’t be back so often as I was backpacking Central or South America. No matter where I was down south, I don’t think I had a single flight that had a stretch longer than 6 hours.

"I must be a mermaid. 
I have no fear of depths, but a great fear of shallow living." 
~ Anais Nin

So what will I do in Vietnam? Short answer… I do not know. More thorough answer. I’m not sure, BUT I will get to Hanoi and spend the first month in Northern Vietnam (not in Hanoi) and just sit for a month, reading, writing, and taking in my surroundings. After that, I’ll explore more of Northern Vietnam for a while and begin making my way south. Along the way, I’ll look for opportunities to check into Laos. I have a multiple entry visa for Vietnam so I will be able to leave the country and come back as long as I want within the 3 month time I have there. I am not certain just yet if I qualify to extend should I so desire. Beyond that, I’d like to do the same thing in Southern Vietnam around Ho Chi Minh City and get some shots around the Mekong Delta.

Art Model, Que ©2020 Terrell Neasley
Nothing about any of that is written in stone. It’s all tentative. After Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and of course, Thailand. I have to hop down into Indonesia at some point, make my way over to Papua New Guinea and then, the Solomon Islands. Who knows after that. Shall I try the South Pacific again? Australia, New Zealand? Or head back up into India? You can’t hold me to any of this. I expect it to take a while. Quite a while before I get back stateside again after leaving this time. But that’s okay. I have my passport renewed and I got the 52-page book this time.

I’m not upgrading the cameras. I can’t get the Sony a7R4 without upgrading to the Sony a6600 as well. I refuse to pack different batteries. So I’ll continue to run with my a7r2 and the a6500 for now. I wish I could handle the weight and do a drone, but another reason I don’t are international laws that regulate flying them. Vietnam says it’s legal, BUT… and there’s always seems to be a BUT someplace… you have to submit a 14-day notice to the regulating authorities. So you can do it, but you have to plan it 2 weeks in advance. Otherwise, you are in violation of Vietnamese law. I don’t need to be in violation of Vietnamese law.

Art Model, Que ©2020 Terrell Neasley
I'll keep you abreast of my situation when I leave, but I'm looking to be gone within the next 10 days or so. And thanks for being supportive of my blog. I appreciate the readership and am grateful that you've found my stories worth your time. I plan to do even better. Stay tuned!

20 January 2020

Someday Equals Never

"'Someday' sounds a lot like the thing people say when they actually mean 'never.'"
~ Is Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), Westworld

Wow! Two months since my last blog post! Yep, ya boy took a little time off to visit the US for the holidays, handle a little business, and prep for the next adventure. I chose to stay in the US a bit longer this time around, as I believe it will be a little while before I get to come back. My next stop will not be French Polynesia as I had originally suspected. I can't seem to figure out a way to do that trip the way I would like, which entails sailing. But in addition to that, the next stop would have likely been Australia and I have no idea how to navigate around the fires down there. I'm not interested in taking pictures of the aftermath. That's not my thing right now.

Instead, Vietnam is the place I gotta be, as soon as I figure out how to get a 3-month visa which has to be done in advance. I'm trying to decide if I need a multiple entry one or not. I don't think I have any plans on leaving the country and then coming back. But dang... you never know what opportunities might arise that might take me to Laos for a quick turn around. I'm eager as hell to start this journey, but this won't be for another three weeks or so.

I know every year, for the last two years, I keep saying this is a five-year journey or 5 more years. I'm not going to break that trend this year either. I mean, honestly! I feel like this leg of my trip is where my adventure really begins! JUST HEAR ME OUT! Going to Central and South America is cool. I'll never forget the lessons I learned there. AND I will be traveling back there often. I LOVE ME SOME LATIN AMERICA!

That being said, I had already traveled there multiple times before starting this trip two years ago. While each country is distinct, there was still a familiarity no matter where I went. Well, except for Argentina. That place was a bit more confusing because the Spanish was a little different and you may think your talking to White people from Europe... but nope, they are LATINA... of European descent! I routinely walked up to somebody thinking they were American, pero NOPE. Ellos no hablan Ingles. I made some great friends there and can't wait to return. I love you, Ushuaia!

So in truth, heading to the other side of the world will be something totally different, absolutely different, and entirely not the same as anything I've encountered before. Not counting South Korea. I was a soldier there and Vietnam is not South Korea, anyway. So that's how this is going down. The adventure begins in Vietnam and I'm guessing I will see two years on that side of the planet before I return to the US again. That's what I suspect, anyway, but I can't say that with certainty, of course.

On another note, how many of you have complained that I don't shoot nude men? Well, I hope you are happy now as I begin the year with my first nude shoot of Art Model, Que. He was introduced to me by my friend who surprised me saying she had someone available to model for me. I felt like was a good opportunity to try something new or at least something I hadn't done in a while. It was a short session, but I wish I had this guy in a studio! I had a deep longing to be back in my studio in Vegas, but... *sigh*, I know that's not possible anymore. When I get back there, though... I WILL REBUILD!

Lastly, let me just say this. It's been my experience that "somedays" do not come for most people. I was picking at my daughter the other day, trying to convince her to do Disneyland without the kids. DO NOT JUDGE ME! Anyway, my kids know me and I have a penchant to antagonize. When she said, SOMEDAY! I blurted out. "Someday equals NEVER!" and as soon as I said it, I thought, "BLOG POST!"

So let me encourage you on whatever it is that you are somedaying about. Put a date on it. Make an actual actionable authentic agenda on how you will do it. Granted, this is just my opinion, but somedays are never acted upon unless it's being gifted to you somehow. If you want to travel, however, and you have a "but-something" just understand me when I say there is likely a way around it.

BUT-money, BUT-kids, BUT-time... I've seen or heard this, and lots more. If it's something you want to do though, I'm here to tell you that it's doable. In my travels, I've come across a wide myriad of people along the way. I've traveled with broke people AND people with kids. I'm not saying you have to travel the way I do for extended periods of time. That may not be your dream or desire. But to head out for a month or three... that's doable!

Particularly if you are young, I suggest you do it now! It's easiest! And I had to learn this myself. I learned this from some young Israelis in 2015 traveling through Nicaragua and again in El Salvador. A couple of young girls who were traveling together told me this is what they wanted to do before starting a family, careers, or service in the military. They just took a year off after school to do this. I am not certain I would have trusted my own kids doing something like this so soon after high school, but I realize kids outside the US are raised differently, to begin with.

They are already used to interacting with people of other languages and they are already used to traveling to other countries. You think a guy from Belgium believes his country is so great that he should never leave it? No. He learns about Germany, Holland, and his neighbors and not just from a book. He visits his neighbors. So when it comes time to visit the other side of the world, he's glad to meet you! My Jewish friends taught me a lot about traveling like this and they are not afraid to venture out into the world. Maybe they are more prepared. But the only thing that makes those that do different from those that don't is a lack of fear. And that right there can be easily solved with a liberal application of education! Not necessarily college, but rather information.

In other words, lose the BUT and put a WHEN over your someday. Start asking questions. Maybe your someday has nothing to do with travel... same thing applies. Start asking questions. Google possibilities. Regardless, don't let time slip on you. All that does is make more regrets and an abundance of "should'ves" in your life and who needs more of that. I'm all about making more stories.! It was not pleasant for my knee, but I hiked a mountain and crawled down into an ice cave in a glacier a few months ago. It took me 36-hours and a grand to fly back home. But I have a story! AND PICS! 

Yeah, Get more STORIES AND PICS!!

BTW, thanks Art Model, Que for your participation in my art.

Have a great 2020. Let's do this!

20 November 2019

Two Years of Travel- Final Stretch of My Americas Tour.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, and her photography, @K.clayphoto ©2018 Terrell Neasley
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” 

On 08 January 2018, I set out on a dynamic, ever-changing journey to backpack around the world. My endeavor began with tumultuous life events that got worse the next year. It has taken considerable effort and time to center myself and in truth, I should say it's an ongoing process even now. I have marked objectives I need to achieve, but I still have yet to wrap it into a specific purpose and I try to be patient with that process. Right now, all I can do is simply keep moving and figure it out along the way.

In less than a week, I will complete my tour of Central and South America albeit this is not the last I intend to see of this place. I am grateful to have visited Nicaragua, Colombia, and Peru twice yet I have more to see in each of these places. In a few days, I will have spent 5 weeks in Ushuaia, Argentina at the bottom of the world. I have done more writing than photography. I was not able to make it to Antarctica. My plans changed from desiring to see Chile and more of Patagonia. Instead, I elected to stay in one place longer which has been true to my habit. Now I have an excuse to return here again.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, and her photography, @K.clayphoto ©2018 Terrell Neasley
My next leg will take me further away, although I have not made up my mind 100 percent. It will either be French Polynesia (Tahiti) or I will skip the South Pacific and go straight to Australia. If at all possible, I would love to sail around the South Pacific Islands with someone who could use a photographer aboard or at least a good friend. But maybe I will have to be cool with doing Tahiti, Fiji, and Tonga by air and THEN fly to Australia.

I'm working on a complete restructure of my photography business that will incorporate and consist primarily of LANDSCAPE, PORTRAITURE, and NUDE photography. This will include a new website, a new blog, and a few other options that will consist of LESS social media. I'm not an Instagram fan and I don't believe it should kill me that I'm not. I hope you don't hold that against me, either.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, and her photography, @K.clayphoto ©2018 Terrell Neasley
I wish I could have finished out this year the same way I started. Coming out here alone would have been much tougher when I left in January 2018. Kayci.Lee chose to join me for a month and that steadied me. I've mentioned in previous posts that Oct/Nov 2017 was a wreck for me. And oddly, then again the same exact months for 2018. But when we left that Dallas Airport 8 Jan 2018, I was in a much better state of mind to do this journey.

There's a good chance I would have canceled the whole thing in less than a month, otherwise, had I been alone. Shooting her gave me something to do... something to focus on. My brain was occupied on something that had to be completed instead of dwelling on past events. After she left, well... then I had work to do. I still had mess to deal with, of course, but I was dealing with it from a much better perspective. I would have loved to have her here with me in Ushuaia.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, and her photography, @K.clayphoto ©2018 Terrell Neasley
I sincerely hope I don't have to go such long stretches between my nude shoots. Having somebody traveling with me is definitely preferred, but this is not an easy option for 99% of people in the world. I confess travel life would be much easier if I didn't have an absolute need to shoot nudes. The places I will visit over the next year... man! They're gonna be expensive and this will likely be the case until I get to Southeast Asia... probably another year away. But who knows.

I have learned a lot about Latin America, though admittedly I can't say I understand it all. Positives? The diversity of all the forms of beautiful country you'll run into from the tropics to the cold spots and from sea level to 12K feet up. On the negative, damn... I have run into some of the same racial biases that we have in the US, between indigenous people, referred to as locals, Indians, or natives and those of European descent.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, and her photography, @K.clayphoto ©2018 Terrell Neasley
I have so many reasons yet to revisit Central and South America. I've been to Nicaragua and Guatemala 4 times each and I'm still not done. There are still places to see and I have friends there to visit. It's the same in South America. I need to get a better feel for Ecuador as I was only there for 3 weeks and all that time was spent grieving my brother. If you have any questions about making a trip to any of these places, please feel free to ask me. I want to encourage you to spend a little time out of your familiarities and travel outside your comfortable element. You won't regret doing so.

Thank you for following along with me this year. A new one awaits and I hope you'll be with me on the other side of the world next year.

I tried, but there's no way I could end a post of her with NO nudes. I was kidding myself and cheating you. Apologies. Let me correct that egregious error now...

14 November 2019

Giving Back - Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary

Athena Demos - Model, Extraordinaire 
"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another."
~ Charles Dickens

Altruism and Philanthropy are two concepts I want to ensure I incorporate into my life with everything I do. Along with, of course, being nice to people and treating others with respect the same way you should insist people treat you. I've tried to make it a point to pick up a cause and support it, but I've neglected this over the last two or three years, particularly since I've been gone on this journey. This is why I am choosing to begin my monthly support of the Cchocahuasi Animal Sanctuary.

Athena Demos holding Eagle feathers at Cchocahuasi Animal Sanctuary
I grew up learning about giving. Mama taught us about that in church. You gave during Sunday School and then at least twice during the morning worship. As an adult, I think the first time I actively gave a monthly donation to a cause was the United Negro College Fund as a soldier. As an artist, I donated my pay as a live nude model back to the Murry Art Guild, who hired me to pose. I also volunteered on Fridays to work at the reception desk and to fix their computers. I was a nude model for 12 years in total, but most of that time was with Austin Peay State University where I got my undergrad degree in Business.

Athena Demos, posing with an Andean Condor
But the last giving back project I did was volunteering my time for families for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. I did portrait artwork for families whose child was dying or may have been stillborn. I did everything at my expense and in most cases, I was able to do enough photography to make a photo book for the family all at my expense.

But I haven't had another Give Back cause that I felt led to help until late this past September when I accepted Athena Demos' invitation to accompany her to the Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary. I didn't think much of it at first. I didn't know what to think really. But let me set a few things straight. Two things, specifically. There is a difference between a ZOO and a SANCTUARY.

Finishing up construction on a new clean water reservoir 
I am not particularly fond of zoos. I'm just not. But my point is not to bash zoos, here. I just want you to know the difference. The animals at this Sanctuary were not captured and brought here for your amusement to make money. These are animals that have been injured or abandoned and are how receiving humane care and rehabilitation. The people there are individuals who are animal lovers who care about the welfare of the animals in their keep. I got to see this first hand with my friend, Athena who volunteered there and was returning for a visit. So she has first-hand knowledge of this place. She didn't just donate her time and sweat-equity, but she put her money behind her dedication and commitment to this sanctuary.

I read several of the reviews and many people lauded the care and attention given to the animals there. However, there were also some reviews that were sprinkled in there accusing the sanctuary of being a zoo intimating that they never release these animals. And this is the second item I wanted to make clear. I got the chance to see the entire sanctuary and was introduced to the many habitats. I saw a hawk who I was told would never be released. It had one eye and permanent injuries. It would never make it out in the wild again. There are also animals who were abandoned at an early age and raised there that, as orphans, were never taught to survive on their own. They won't leave either.

Yeah, I wasn't getting in with her. 
However, some of these animals have treatable wounds, injuries, or illnesses that are actually released back into the wild. How do I know? As a photographer, I was invited to attend, film and photograph a condor release in the next two days and they were quite excited about it. I couldn't attend, unfortunately. I was leaving Cusco before then and could not make it back out there. But you can see the video on their => facebook page <=.

So, SANCTUARY... vs ZOO. There is a difference. And these guys depend on the donations and the entrance fees they get by inviting people to come out and visit. Part of what they have to do is showmanship. I read where some fool complained that they make the condors fly down over people's heads. Hell yeah, they do!! I got so see it multiple times! It was fascinating! What else are they supposed to do? They put on a show and then teach you something about them. I didn't know they were so friggin' BIG! And I didn't know they don't really fly, they soar! They soared down over our heads and landed. Then they WALKED back up to their habitats! If they do fly, it's for really short distances to "jump" more or less.

Andean Condors, female in the foreground, Male in back.

Right now, they are doing everything they can to have larger enclosures to make the animals more comfortable. I was there when they had just added on to a monkey habitat and then knocked a hole in the adjoining wall so they could enter the new place. I got to sit and talk with the guys who work there. It's not easy to come up with solutions. They are in Cusco and they told me about attempts to acquire solar panels to heat some of the enclosures when it gets cold during the winter. They are not just looking for money, but rather also donated items! But yes. It takes money to feed the animals. It takes money to build more and larger enclosures. And it takes money to provide medicine and vet care for the wounded and sick. This is a first-rate sanctuary.

Andean Speckled Bears 
If you are in Peru, I most definitely recommend you take a flight to Cusco and visit Cchocohuasi Animal Sanctuary. And if you can't get there, then join me in helping them with your donation. Tell your friends who are looking at opportunities to go volunteer in Peru or they can donate as well. If you think what I'm doing is cool, Follow Athena Demos on her Instagram to keep up with her amazing adventures. She's a world traveler, as well and is documenting her journey as she goes.

Thank you for your generosity!

23 October 2019

Entry-Level Camera Options and Possibilities

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley
I was recently asked about options for a beginner-level camera from someone looking at the Canon 4000D camera bundle for under $400 on Amazon. Is it a good camera? Will it work? Easy Answer: It'll work. But we're not here for the easy answer, because the more accurate answer is: It depends... and there are better options out there available to you.

Okay, let's talk about the Canon 4000D. First, it's a Europen edition. The North America equivalent is the Canon Rebel T100. Same thing, just different nomenclature. You may want to check out warranty issues with it. It's about as bare-bones as you can get and still call it a camera. It's an 18-megapixel respectable sensor. It launched in early 2018. It's got 9 Auto Focus points. ISO can natively reaches100 to 6400.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley
Can you do work with this system? I can not tell a lie. Yes, you can. I'll say that conditioned that you couple it with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. The one it comes with is not a particular favorite of mine. In fact, when I worked at the camera store, I sold not a single Canon 18-55mm lens. So if yours broke and you came in to get a new one, I'd sell you a Tamron equivalent for less money OR, if you insisted on the same lens, I'd refer you to another sales associate.

As far as the bundle of stuff it comes with, keep the SD card, toss the rest of it. The two auxiliary lenses (the teleconverter and the wide-angle), you can toss those. Those things are trash. That cheap-ass tripod. Toss that too. That flimsy thing should not be trusted to hold anything over $50 on it. The colored filters, you'll never use them toss that too. Keep the bag and the SD card. Toss the rest. Those are throw-away items that are usually so cheap, their true worth is not in selling them, but rather giving them away to help sell other products.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley
So back to my initial thoughts on better options.

The DSLR is on its way out. I'll start with that. The Canon 4000D is a DSLR camera whose technology has been superseded by Mirrorless tech. Demand for sales has SIGNIFICANTLY DROPPED for these types of cameras and thus the prices have dropped. Smartphones have been responsible for the biggest chunk of this decline. But they still do work and if you still need a cheap one, I'd say the Nikon D5300 is a much better option than this Canon Rebel. Just to begin with, it's 24MP. It's an older camera, but still out-performs this one with 39 Auto Focus points and ISO capabilities of 100 to 12,800. If you can swing the D5600, that one comes with an LCD screen that swivels around which is great for selfie video or YouTube work. You may have to google and search for one. With respect to entry-level systems, Nikon is the better option. So, if you want to stick with the DSLR, this is my recommendation.

Here's what I like. Mirrorless camera sales are on the rise. Mirrorless is a much better option than the DSLR. I have shot on Mirrorless cameras for close to 5 years now and have not looked back. So what Mirrorless system do I like?

 “Mirrorless over the last two years has gone from about 20 percent of the overall market to almost 40 percent,” Lev Peker, chief marketing officer at New York-based photo retailer Adorama, told Digital Trends. “This has been due to tremendous innovation by Sony which has benefited the most from this increase and, according to [consumer behavior research group] NPD, became the second largest camera seller last year.”
Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley
Compare Panasonic G7 vs Canon 4000D. 
I'm going to go with two in particular. The Panasonic G7 is the first fave of mine. This camera employs the smaller Micro Four-Thirds size sensor at 16MP, but is such an amazing camera that will do 4K video as well. In the above link, you can get this for $500 WITH an additional lens with the INSTANT REBATE. I owned this camera until I went with Sony systems that also did 4K. It's got so many great features that it's hard to NOT get your shot.

Compare Canon 4000D vs Sony a6000.
The overall best you can get would be the Sony a6000, for $600, which is likely the most successful camera ever made. It came out about 5 years ago. The camera has been upgraded 4 times and yet is still currently available for sale on the Sony site. It's small, 24MP, shoots 11 frames per second, 179 Phase-detect Auto Focus points, (compared to the Canon 4000D's 9!), an ISO range of 100 to 25,600 natively, and a tilting LCD screen. AND you can control this camera with your iPhone and use the iPhone as an LCD Monitor for the camera. I got this for my ex-girlfriend then upgraded her to the a6300. I currently shoot with the a6500 as a complementary camera to my Sony a7RII, which is 4 years old. I'm considering upgrading BOTH cameras at the end of the year to the Sony a7R4 and the a6600.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley
Beyond that, there are soooo many more advantages to a mirrorless over the DSLR. You will learn more and have more capabilities with Mirrorless. These links will help explain DSLR vs Mirrorless.

1. What is a Mirrorless Camera?
2. What are the advantages of Mirrorless over DSLR? (17 min video)

If you can hold off for Black Friday deals, or Cyber Monday discounts... wait and see what you can get these cameras for. Or maybe Christmas deals. In addition to that, I STILL recommend additional lenses, at least ONE that has an f-stop of 1.8 or 1.4. I like the Sony FE 50mm 1.8 ($200) for the Sony system, but for the Panasonic, you'll need the 25mm 1.7, for $150.

The additional lenses I recommend will give you the ability to photograph in lower light, but more importantly, it extends your creativity with better shallow depth of field capabilities and these are the least expensive ways of doing it. There are more options available, but can be more costly. And again, see about the holiday deals that will come up soon.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

15 October 2019

What Is a True Muse? Let Me Show You

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley
 "All aspects of photography interest me and I feel for the female body the same curiosity and the same love as for a landscape, a face or anything else which interests me. In any case, the nude is a form of landscape. There are no reasons for my photographs, nor any rules; all depends on the mood of the moment, on the mood of the model."
~ JEANLOUP SIEFF, Photographer, b. 1930, Paris, d. 2001, Paris.
It's been slightly unsettling to me that I don't get to shoot art nudes that much in the almost 2 years that I have been traveling. I went a few weeks short of an entire year between nude shoots at one point. But I understand or at least try to, that it's not the cultural thing to do for the conservative catholic countries I've been traveling through. I tend to not be in places with a lot of tourists and local women in the Central and South American countries are simply not used to such a thing.

That being said, I've learned to be grateful and appreciative of the opportunities I do get. I was grateful when @Kayci.Lee came with me for my first month. I was appreciative when @JennyPoses4u_2 joined me in Peru for three whole weeks. And then there are those entirely unexpected little blessings that come unlooked for.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

My good friend, Susan and I were conversing and she brought up the name of a woman she thought was quite impressive whom she wished I could meet and possibly shoot with. She said the woman was in Santiago, Chile. I was in Lima, Peru, so I did not put that much stock in ever meeting her. However, as it turns out, Susan was mistaken. The woman was in Cusco, Peru. I STILL didn't think much of this happening, but this was my friend Susan. Sometimes, you need to shut your brain off and listen to your friends.

Cusco is an hour and a half flight from Lima, so I booked a flight and made the trip and it turned out to be the best spontaneous decision I've made in quite a while. I knew I was going to meet an experienced nude model. What I didn't expect was to meet a true muse. There are models that will get naked for you and there are true muses, whom I often call Godsends, whose purpose in life is to inspire people like me. What I mean by that is this. Her passion to inspire is equivalent to my passion to create. And this woman delivers. This is Athena Demos.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

Now understand me. I was only in Lima because it was cheaper to Argentina from there than it was to fly direct from the US to Argentina. On a whim, I decided to spend a little time in Lima to get back to the book I'm writing. I'd written 369 pages over the summer, but for the 3 weeks I was stateside, I wrote 3. So I wanted to play catch up in a quiet spot in Lima for a bit. I lengthened my time by an additional week in Peru in order to fly to Cusco and meet Athena. I was not constrained by a flight to Argentina because I had not yet purchased a ticket. Why I had not done so, I cannot tell you, but this gave me the leeway to spend that week in Cusco.

The gift that Athena gave me was more than just her musings in front of my lens. She had an added-benefit effect on my overall experience in Cusco when she became my tour guide, by inviting me into her world there. She'd already spent months in Cusco. She took me around to the San Blas Mercado (market) and showed me places to eat that got me full on good food that cost me $1.30. Just the day before, my dumbass was eating a single meal that I had waited almost an hour and a half for, paying $25 for the privilege. I walked a half hour to that place when the Mercado was 6 minutes from me.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

The people in the Mercado greeted her like a sister or a friend. It was the same as we walked down the street back to where she rented an apartment. Let me give you the perfect analogy. SHE was Crocodile Dundee and I was Sue getting the backcountry tour. Oh... I can tell you why that's such an apropos analogy. She didn't have to do it, but she invited me out to the Animal Sanctuary where she'd previously volunteered. I'll talk more about this later, but the Cchocahuasi Animal Sanctuary was amazing. Because I was with her, I was admitted into some of the enclosures with these gorgeous animals. I had never been up close to an Andean Condor and now there were 6 of them around me. I wasn't getting into the monkey house with her, but I watched HER do it.

And then at the end of it, we stopped off at the sanctuary cafe there and I had some Capis Coffee. If you are not familiar with that, it is made from coffee beans extracted from the poop of the Coati... a little raccoon-looking animal in Peru. It eats the coffee beans which get processed in the Coati digestive enzymes and is the beans are extracted from its poop, cleaned, and roasted. The enzymes are able to lessen the bitterness that occurs naturally in coffee. Look it up. It's actually a fine, smooth tasting coffee.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

The images I was able to capture of Athena were more her doing than my own. In some aspects, I knew what I wanted to do, how I wanted to shoot, and how I would edit. However, the location selection was hers and I had to depend on her muse-guidance to help me do my best work. What I mean by that is this. We'd never worked together before and given that I shoot nudes very infrequently now, I was more inclined to let her dictate the flow. Two years ago, I shot nudes practically every day. Now I begin this blog post about learning how to be grateful for any chance I get.

I did the shoot knowing that she'd be moving on after our shoot. It can be difficult to enjoy a meal when you have no clue when or where your next meal will come from. You just eat. But maybe you save a little bit for later. Maybe you even pass up a larger portion because you know your system isn't used to it and can't handle it. Does it sound like I'm starving? Well, aren't we all in some regard. So in light of these unfamiliarities and uncertainties, it was better to take what was given and direct her within those parameters.

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

Getting back to being grateful, though. This is what I've come to understand. Timing has been one essential element in all my shoots, grand experiences, and great adventures on this trip. And they've had one common theme each time. They've been JUST what I've needed for THAT specific time, in THAT specific moment. God has put people like Athena, Jenny, Kristi, Osmany in Nicaragua, Cristina in Ecuador, Rosa in Lima, Javier in Argentina, Carola in Guatemala, and several others along the way to help me, guide me, counsel me, and sometimes just be there. So yeah, these have been humbling times.

17 September 2019

What to Do If You Can't Upgrade Your Camera Right Now

Art Model, Covenant
New Cameras are coming out every single year. Your camera model will have an upgrade likely every 2 to 3 years, particularly for the higher end and professional models. Sometimes these upgrades will be incremental or marginal. Other times, they will be a huge overhaul with a new sensor and a completely different look. More power. More megapixel. Faster autofocus and it will come in either a bigger or smaller package. That's chiefly about how it goes. Then they'll promote the secondary features to pull in the video audience, like 4K video or 4k video at 60/120 fps. Maybe a flip-out screen, or improved ergonomics for a more natural feel in your hands.

Art Model, Covenant
That's just the way it goes. Advertisers, Marketers, Engineers, and Sales Teams all get their ducks in a row to sell you a product... year after year. It's what they do in order to keep their jobs. You likely do the same thing in a different field.

But what happens when that 61MP or that 100MP, or that 20-frame per second burst mode shooting beast comes out and, well... shoot. It's just not the best time for you to upgrade. You watch your peers put in their pre-orders. You hear about how fast-selling the camera sells out making everyone think they MUST get theirs now or they'll all be gone. How can you compete now that everyone else has the brand-spanking newest, latest and greatest, state of the art, system that has that one new feature?

Well, the first thing to do is chill. It has all happened before and will happen again. Then ask yourself how you were doing before the new camera system was announced. If you were doing quite well, chances are that you will continue to do quite well. It might be wise anyway to let the dust settle and see if the camera has any bugs or defects that need to be dealt with. Let everybody else find this out for you BEFORE you make that investment.

But if it's already been six months since the camera's release and you find that your work needs improvement, here are THREE things you can do to UP your game if you can't UPGRADE your camera.

Art Model, Covenant

I have known photographers who DO NOT OWN A CAMERA!! That's correct. You did not misread this. I have known a few like this. THEY DON'T OWN A CAMERA! I mean, if you think about it, it's perfect. They don't have any brand affiliation. When they get a gig, they ascertain what they need in order to fill that order. Then RENT the gear and space they need and then bill their client for the rental fee and everything else! They return the camera... keep all the money!

These are pro shooters. They already know how to shoot. If you are a developing photo, then you need to go buy a damn camera to have on hand so you can practice, practice, practice. However, even if that's the case, you can still rent a high-end camera to practice on. Or maybe you want to rent new gear and test it out before you buy it. But if that new camera comes out and you can't get it yet, but feel you need it, RENT IT! If you are flying into Las Vegas, you can check out B&C Camera Rental for cameras, lenses, lights, tripods, sliders, or whatever you need. Otherwise, take a look at LensRentals.com. Can't upgrade your camera, RENT IT!

Art Model, Covenant

2. To UP Your Game... CHANGE Your Game

Change yourself - This is one of the best things you can do for yourself, even more so than upgrading your gear. You can upgrade YOU! I may have to do a blog post just on this topic alone. Improve on your own skillset and you can start with the same thing you're doing now. If you do pet photography, do it better! Learn how to shoot pets better. Get out of the studio and maybe get the pet outdoors. Catch the pet in motion or doing the things it loves or shooting it in its natural environment. Try a pet night shoot. Introduce water. You can even concentrate on the business of pet photography instead of just the shooting of pet photography.

Ever think of learning to edit better. That's likely the next best thing you can do after better shooting skills. I don't care who you are, you likely do not know everything in Photoshop. And I'm not talking about just learning IG filters. I'm talking about actual editing a photo. Learning how to use layers. Learning blend modes. How to make a selection and editing non-destructively. Can't upgrade your camera, upgrade yourself!

Change your gear accessories - Upgrade by implementing a slider. Introduce timelapse to your game. Use a friggin' tripod for a change. I don't know how photogs travel and they don't bring a tripod. I broke mine and wasted no time replacing it. Get a cable release and do some long exposure work. Can't upgrade your camera, upgrade your gear accessories!

Change your light - If you are still using only on-camera flash and you're not doing macro or red carpet work, think about taking the flash off the camera. I'm referring to utilizing OFF-Camera flash, by using a remote trigger and either speedlight flashes or monolights hooked to receivers. Test out some modifiers. My fave for speedlights is the Gary Fong Lightsphere. Can't upgrade your camera, upgrade your lights!

Art Model, Covenant

3. The Manual

I've made a lil' bit of money teaching photography to people who hate to read. I mean, they may actually like to read, but not camera manuals. And that's cool. I'm can take you places your manual can't go. That being said, I'll wager there are features your camera has that you never even suspected. Let me invite you to go pick up your manual and just read it. It's not as much as you think. Only read the English part of the section that is written in your language. The manual is thick because its the same thing in 5 different languages! So it's not as bad as you think.

Okay, tell you what, if that's not working out for you, do this. YouTube! First, check out YouTube and search for reviews on your camera model. Check out a few of them as YouTubers will often cover cameras differently. They will go over features on your camera that you likely either forgot about or never knew about. Maybe you hate the fact that to change a setting on your camera you always waste time drilling through the menu. But then you find out you can assign a button to that specific setting and WHA-LA! You got yourself a new camera. It's USED, but now it's NEW to YOU!

Do you even NEED a new camera? I've worked in a camera store. My job may have been to sell you a camera, but I worked at B&C Camera They let me prioritize the customer experience over just sell... sell... sell... which is why I still support and promote them now. I'd often get someone who might complain about their camera's autofocus and blurry images. I take a look at it, change a setting, BOOM. New Camera! Sometimes all it takes is a different focus setting. Sometimes it is a matter of changing the diopter setting. This is true and on many occasions, all I did was set the diopter back to zero. BOOM! New Camera! So yeah... Can't upgrade your camera, READ THE MANUAL!

Art Model, Covenant