30 December 2008

On Sally Mann, plus Erica's Intro

...I struggle with enormous discrepancies: between the reality of motherhood and the image of it, between my love for my home and the need to travel, between the varied and seductive paths of the heart. The lessons of impermanance, the occasional despair and the muse, so tenuously moored, all visit their needs upon me and I dig deeply for the spiritual utilities that restore me: my love for the place, for the one man left, for my children and friends and the great green pulse of spring. - Sally Mann

This past week, I took my LOTR extended version DVDs over to Felix's house. We did a LOTR Marathon which is just over 12 hours of hobbit-watching. (Faerie, I'll be giving you a call to do the same thing with you and the girls later. We'll need lots of pizza!). Anyway, between movies, Felix mentioned a Sally Mann DVD after discussing my Edward Weston Eloquent Nude DVD which I had loaned him previously. I just watched the Sally Mann DVD yesterday and it was really good. I've followed her and her photography for some time now, but I had not known that there was a HBO documentary done on her until Felix told me about it, entitled "What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann". We went right over to the library and rented the it. It was splendid. It began, of course, with the telling of how she came to do her controversial Immediate Family body of work, which dealt with the nude images of her children. She discusses the aftermath of this published work and its affect on her family. It culminates into her latest body of work (pun intended), which was just as controversial, in which she photographs human bodies in various states of decomposition. This was made achievable from her visit to a body farm at the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Facility which studies how bodies decompose by placing donated corpses out in the open outdoors and various other methods of exposure. This is her attempt to explore death and the process of decay. It begins with her dealings with the death of a family pet, but is really pushed to a new direction when an escaped prisoner kills himself during a shootout with authorities on the property of her farm. I'm wondering if she's trying to come to terms with her father's death as well as watching the muscular decay of her husband who suffers from Muscular Dystrophy.

She also discusses events in her life and how her family deals with her photography. I can recall a discussion on the point in a photo class where someone objecting to her "forcing" her kids to pose nude, maintained that these would be troubled kids who would grow up into scarred adults. Well, those photos were taken 16 years ago and those kids have grown up well adjusted and strong contributors to society. They discuss the point themselves. You should hear their commentary on the matter. Jesse, one of Sally's, daughters is a prolific model to this day with her own web site at JessieMann.com. I can say that, as a photographer myself, I love the fact that she has done what she's felt she's needed to do for the sake of her art. I respect the fact that she's been able to follow her love with close family ties. She's been married to the same man of close to 40 years. Her children love, adore, and defend her (as if she really needs defending). At one point in the DVD, I adore where she discusses how she and her husband spend hours at a time most every day simply looking out of the window of their spacious country farmhouse. Now that I think about it, if you've read my blogs over this past year, you've heard me repeat the fact that I love photographers who spend a lot of time photographing their spouses. Well, I've never seen a female photographer who photographed her husband until Sally Mann. Her latest series of work is just that. Three beautiful kids, a husband who loves her and supports her, a beautiful home, and a career doing ONLY what she loves to do... How can you not envy this woman? Get the DVD. If you can't find it at your local library, get it on Amazon. There are many articles on Sally Mann. Here is one I found interesting from the arts and culture section of the Smithsonian.com.

Segue...speaking of another interesting woman, let me also introduce you to model, Rebecca Lawrence. For whatever reason, I am just now discovering this wonderful girl as I came across her Model Mayhem profile just the other night. That lead me to her OMP site and most notably, her blog. I like models who blog! Hello, Iris! You can also check out her goings-on by visiting her Twitter profile. Rebecca maintains a large body of work on her profiles. Granted, she's beautiful...that goes without saying, but let me cover what I else I like about her. First, her large portfolio shows her dedication to her craft and her openness to a myriad of concepts. That says much about her versatility. I am certain she's been able to lend a collaborative hand at developing these concepts, thus helping to make a good project better. Next, I like the fact that she makes use of several different outlets to keep her fan base informed and they are ALL maintained! The girl is doing what it takes to make it as a professional model. Oh, and speaking as a former art model, I also love the fact that she's a figure model for drawing and painting, which is damn hard work, for those of you who have never experienced it. Overall, you just get a good feeling about the kind of person she is by reading what she writes and viewing work she does. I like the girl and I am sure you will too when you check her out.

With the first full year of blogging under my belt, I'd like to think that I've done a fairly decent job. I've been largely consistent at posting. I've posted at least 3 images of models with virtually every post, and I've also tried various forms of additional stimulating content. I think 2009 will be an adventure into unknown territory, but my photography and this blog with sustain. Its my endeavor to continue to deliver. I love my photo work and I love blogging. As challenging as it may be at times, its still a fun thing to do.

I want to finish this post with one of the last models I photographed this year. Folks this is Erica. For a first time project, we shot several images that consisted of portraiture and of shots that emphasized her self-proclaimed best asset, her backside. This was a fun project, albeit challenging at times. I am hopeful that we'll be able to continue to do more work in the coming year. For now, as 2008 comes to a close, I would just like to say that I have been honored that you have taken the time from your busy schedules to follow what I've written. My subscribers have doubled and new viewers are popping up ever day. Return readers are visiting even more often, now. If you have suggestions, please let me know. I am always open to your contributions. I'll be back with new models as well as new images of models you've already met. I should also be introducing my first series of maternity work fairly soon. Its going to be fun, ya'll!

Come on back! Ya' hear!
Thanks for being so wonderful,

25 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

Good Morning all and Merry Christmas!

I sincerely hope you are all having an opportunity to spend time with family and true friends. I've tried my best to avoid all the hustle and bustle of the streets, but today I am going out to watch a few movies back to back, as is a tradition my family started back with the Lord of the Rings came out. Only this time, the kids are in Tennessee, their mother is in China, and of course, I am here in Las Vegas. So everyone is sort of split up, but me and the kids are going to try to see a movie at the same time, just 2000 miles apart. What's the consideration... well, the front-runners are "The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons" and "The Spirit".

I've got some unique challenges ahead for myself in 2009. In one sense I look forward to it, because its still unknown to me. On the other, well...as with any challenge, there is the risk you don't succeed. But determination, tenacity, and intestinal fortitude are my traits and with the help of God, I just might be successful. I also came across a thread circulating on Model Mayhem as well as Art Nude Blog that there may be more stringent regulations ahead for those of us who work with the nude.

"This thread has been very timely as a way to get the word out to you all. Yesterday, 18 December 2008 will burn into your memory as well as give you heartburn. The US Department of Justice published the NEW REVISED 2257 REGULATIONS including the 2257A changes mandated by Congress for compliance with the Adam Walsh Act which established as 18 USC c:110 s:2257A A full analysis of this damn thing is not yet available BUT what is there will make your eyes water, and I guarantee it will. These NEW record keeping regulations extend a NEW recordkeeping requirement to a LOT of work involving mere nudity, and some with no actual nudity at all, presented in any way that can be interpreted as "lascivious exhibition of the genitals or public area" [even if covered] that is produced on or after March 18, 2009

Read and weep - - - SOURCE DOCUMENTS
text version at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-29677.htm
PDF at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E8-29677.pdf

The actual text of the NEW regulations is on Pages 38 - 42 of the PDF - there are requirements that wll apply to this site and your own website, and any other uses, such as in print, published in or distributed in the United States. Studio36 (MM)

A very Merry Christmas to you all from the US Department of Justice "

At any rate, I don't know how this thing will go down, but suffice to say, if it goes as is, its going to suck.

Well enough of issues that suck for the time being.

I'd much rather you have a joyous day, celebrating Christmas with loved ones. I sincerely hope you have a safe holiday and a more prosperous new year. Thank you all for being readers of my blog and for your support. I will continue to do my best to be even better.

Thank you and Merry Christmas.

21 December 2008

Tabitha's Debut

Some of us cynics say that "the quickest way to make a million dollars in photography, is to start with two million dollars". - Anonymous

There was much surrounding this shoot that it almost didn't happen. Several unusual circumstances would have undone the average photographer and the ordinary model. But as fortune would have it, we both stuck this thing out and saw it through to completion. Tabitha is the model that I over-slept on and ended up missing the shoot for. So you can imagine how apologetic and appreciative I was that she even bothered to give me another chance. I would have bent over backwards for her and trust me, I inevitably did. I won't go into much of the details due to the fact that I hold her confidence in regard and I see no need to divulge her business to the public domain. Suffice to say that when we did finally meet, I had every right to bail out and even wisdom may have dictated that I walk away. However this is one circumstance for which I chose to let curiosity reign and see just how deep this rabbit hole would take me. I'm glad I did.

The holiday season is upon us and I am most afraid to even leave the house now. Traffic is horrendous and the last thing you will see me doing is to drive anywhere near a mall, a Wal-Mart, or a Target. In fact, it is my sincere goal to avoid any retail establishment all together. Things get crazy during Christmas and the holidays. I couldn't believe when I heard about the Wal-Mart security guy who was trampled to death during the Black Friday sale day after Thanksgiving. People can be stupid. The man lost his life because of a sale? Come on!

A good friend of mine chose to play a joke on me that took me hook, line, and sinker. The set up was perfect as I played into it perfectly. During a dinner/meeting with a few friends, we discussed some of our recent best shots, one of which was taken by my "good friend" here was posted online and I was the only one amongst the group who hadn't seen it. It is at this point that my friend handed me his camera to check it out on the LCD screen. A few things began to roll the gears in my brain at this point. Since everyone else had seen the shot already, I felt a little guilty for not kept up online to have noticed. However instead of handing me the camera, I am given the entire camera bag. This is the first thing rolling my mental gear works. I'm wondering why he didn't just take it out himself, find the pic and show me. So this must mean he wishes for me to scroll through all of his stuff before I see the shot of the century. Can you see how I play right into this?

The next thing I realize as I unzip the and grab onto the grip is the familiar hold I have. Stop a sec. Let me predicate this next part with the fact that this friend is die-hard Nikon and shoots with the D3 (oh yeah, please watch this funny video on the D3). I shoot Canon, so now you understand the bewilderment I feel that the body grip seems accustomed to my hand. I am drawn in to the fact that the camera feels like my EOS 40D and even looks similar to it because of the thumb wheel and controls. This is certainly not his D3 that he lugs around all the time. Upon closer examination, I notice that the left side of the camera has a vertical array of function buttons instead of the horizontal buttons on my 40D. Vertical buttons... okay, this must be his Nikon D700 that I know he purchased not long after its release a few months ago.

Now my brain is bewildered again because each time I think I solve a dilemma, another one presents itself. Just as I am resolving to believe this is the D700, I see the familiar red ring of a L-series lens, which is a Canon premium brand of lenses. It is at this point that I understand that nothing is as it seems and all my assumptions are incorrect. My friend is watching my face during this entire episode and becomes exceedingly giddy as he sees me turn the front of the camera around. I am sure I must have been viewing my next action in slow motion as I turn the front of camera around to put to rest all doubt on what I am holding. The shot of the day would have actually been my face as I come to terms with the fact that I am holding the one camera I am beset to have... the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. "Bastard" was the first thought that came to mind as I saw how happy my friend was at my expense. I didn't know how to get back at him. Do I throw the camera across the restaurant or do I just run away with it? I had to concede the match to him and chose to do neither. He won that round. He had me take a few shots with it to really reel me in. Its a wonderful camera, but I already knew that. I know everything about this camera except what it feels like to be the owner of one. That's okay. I can be patient. This is what I am suspending my nude art for. I want to purchase this camera with proceeds I earn from my 40D. Trust me...I'll do it. And I'll find a way to get my good ol' buddy back on this.

Instead of a model, I think I'll feature a Make Up Artist/Hair Dresser for this post. If you already live in Vegas or if you plan to visit and do some shooting, Debra Weite is your contact for all your MUA needs. I kid you not when I say the woman is good and knows her stuff. I first met her during a lighting seminar earlier this summer. She liked my photography and we clicked pretty well. I got an invite a few months later to attend Hair Wars where she and her styling salon took first place honors. You can easily come across a hundred photogs and models who will swear by Debra and she's got a nice following. You can readily count me in that line. You'll be a fan too once you meet her and let her do her thing for you. Trust me on this. Holla at my girl. Show her some love. She'll give it back because she is the kind of person who delivers more than she promises or that you'd expect.

And lastly, I just had to share this YouTube video on the D3.

17 December 2008

The Mature Woman

"I cannot solve the problem of life by losing myself in the problem of art."

The non-traditional model is a genre of photography that I've come to specialize in. I've had the fortune of being able to shoot with some very interesting ladies who may not otherwise be on a magazine cover. Its been my perception that herein lies the real beauty in a person whereby a good photographer may discover and uncover such a rare find. Its one thing to shoot the glam girls who may be photoshoped or digitized in some way with enhancements that catch the eye and sell magazines. There are plenty of those images out there and competition for a spot can be fierce. I've shot women like that and have had fun doing so. Some models who could grace a centerfold or cover have some of the best attitudes and are a joy to work with, but then there are those rare finds who are overlooked because of some atypical flaw such as height, age, etcetera.

Well, I think I have mentioned before that I was doing a project with the mature woman. Susan is the first of this series of work that I hope to showcase on a regular basis. I'd like to make this project work with women who are over the age of 50. I've seen some women who are 50 plus whom could still make the cover of any magazine. Hello, Unbearable Lightness! I've also seen more who look every bit of their age, but wear it so elegantly. My mama is such a woman. She's been able to keep and maintain a youthful look every since I can remember, and now ages with grace. Her mother was the same way. My grandmother was such a beautiful woman. I'm not really sure how my grandaddy managed that one, but he was blessed to have my grandma for so many wonderful years. I still miss them both terribly though its been more than 10 years since I was able to see the two of them here on Earth.

Susan volunteered to be the first model for my project. I asked her to wear nothing including no make-up, or hair styling. I don't think this is as easy for the mature woman and its often harder for me to ask, but I do it anyway. It takes a little more courage to do this when you are over 50, I think. In fact, I am sure once a woman is over the age of 35, this becomes increasingly more difficult to do, but my preference has always been to work with women closer to 30 anyway. I was glad that Susan agreed to work with me and help me build this project. I plan to do the same with several more ladies for this project. Thank you, Susan.

Its proven a bit more difficult to stop shooting nudes. I hate to admit it especially after that interview I did on myself. This is in part because I'm still working on going projects and commissioned work. Its just taking longer to do and several of these have been multiple shoots. Melissa and I have shot twice and still seeking a third. I've shot a commissioned work in 3 shoots, but am now wrapping it up, but that led to another model whom I am interviewing with tomorrow and I've already stated that I am not passing up opportunities with black models in particular. I finally worked with the one model whom I initially over-slept on and am going through those edits (to be posted soon). I've just about finished all the edits for Sarah from the workshop a few weeks ago. But also, to my own fault, I've caught myself (after the fact) talking to someone I was interested in and scheduling interviews. Its more of a force of habit that's an unconscious action that is not recognized until its too late. I've already booked a date before I realize I'm not supposed to be scheduling any new nudes. So, I may have to regroup this idea til the first of the year. Its almost irritating because a few people who know me have predicted that I wouldn't stop. Garrett introduced me to a couple of Canon Reps recently as a artistic nude photographer. When I referenced suspending my nude work, he paused for a second, as if to say "Stop lying!", and then proceeded to discuss my nude work. When I tried to insist I was serious, he didn't believe me. Maybe I am kidding myself, but I do know that I have to get some new material in my portfolio and shooting/editing nudes isn't allowing for much of that.

Now also let me bring to introductions two more models who's work I've been following. One is Merrique who just started on dA a few months ago, but who's has a highly prolific portfolio. She's gorgeous with a very appealing look and style. I WILL be working with her at some point. (After I've come back to nude photography, of course). I came across her port not long ago and was blown away by her face, style, and grace.

Another model/photog whom I've been following for a little bit longer has been Bulgarian photog, Tanya Gramatikova. I've sincerely enjoyed the way she opens up her life to the camera. A very beautiful woman, Tanya has photographed herself in various aspects of her life, including her pregnancy. She's included her children in her work, as well as other people in her life and I tell you she produces some of the best emotive portraits I have ever seen. Her artistic style and expression lack not a thing to be desire with maybe the exception of more of it. This is no exaggeration or stretching of the truth in any sense. The woman is simply fabulous, gorgeous, and a great photographer. You can easily find yourself faving every image in her portfolio. She is definitely someone I would love to meet one day and simply talk with. I think I might be too intimidated to photograph her.

15 December 2008

...And The Erotic Heritage Museum

“To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognized for oneself.” - John Berger

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way." - Charles Dickens, "A Tale of Two Cities", 1859

Its been right at about 150 years ago since Charles Dickens wrote these opening lines to this book, yet I can hardly see how the same sentiments many not be used even as of today. Advancements in technology has taken us to places we only dreamed of in comic books, yet its surprising to see how stupid we can be at times. President-Elect Obama is a dream realized and is seen as the embodiment of hope for, not only the US but the also the world, to save us from global economic despair and to protect us from terrorist regimes who would destroy us.

I also can't help but to compare said sentiments to my own life at the moment...best of times, photographically and seemingly worst of times...well, everywhere else. Yes, indeed these are trying times for many of us. Last week was a tough one, in that again, I got very little rest, but it was as much self-inflicted as it was out of my control. All I'd have to do is put down the camera and fore go all photographic related activities. 73% of my time would be freed up to get more rest, read an entertaining book, exercise, and a myriad of other stress reducing activities that may make my life more comfortable. HOWEVER, that ain't me.

Its just not the life I chose for myself. These are decisions I am prepared to live with, good or bad...rest or unrest. Last week I had a shoot or photographic related activity almost every single day while trying to work at night. Twice I got zero sleep between the hours of getting off work in the morning and reporting back in that night, but I also have zero regrets about it. It hurt, yes. But I am already of a mindset that sacrifices were and still yet will be required. I am certain this will pay off and I believe it will do so in a big way. Ironically, I am not here in Las Vegas to hit the jackpot or beat the house. I'd be doing the same thing if I were in St. Louis, Dallas, or still in Clarksville, TN. My location doesn't matter; only my resolve.

I had a great time organizing my latest art nude workshop at the Erotic Heritage Museum last weekend. What, you didn't know Las Vegas had a museum dedicated to erotica? Well, now you do. It just opened up in August and it's HUGE with over 25,000 square feet of exhibition area. If you come to Vegas without paying a visit to the place, you are wrong. Dr. Laura Henkel is the art director here and as it were, she and I are from the same area of Texas. The Las Vegas Weekly did an interesting read on her a few months ago, called the "The Curator of the Erotic", Sept 2008. You can also view this video tour Dr. Laura Henkel gives of the museum. Don't click off this blog without checking both of these links. Dr. Henkel is certainly a good find for the City of Las Vegas. She's also a member of my Las Vegas Art Model's Group and I have really enjoyed getting to know her. She very approachable despite all that she's got on her table. This is a busy woman and yet she's seems to have time for anyone. Great gal, I tell you. In fact, don't wait. I think you should make the trip to Vegas, just to see the museum and meet Laura. If you are already here in Vegas and still haven't been there... what the hell?

Enjoy more of my images with magical muse, Melissa. These are a series of work I chose to make into low light shots that take advantage of Melissa's natural curves. I could shoot bodyscapes off this woman all day. She gives you so much to work with. All you have to do is see it. Thank you, Melissa.

13 December 2008

Passing of a Legend...Bettie Page

"I was never one who was squeamish about nudity. I don't believe in being promiscuous about it, but several times I thought of going to a nudist colony." - Bettie Page

You all know of my affinity for models, especially art nude models. Well yesterday, history recorded the passing of an icon. Bettie Page is finally at rest at the age of 85. There are few who didn't know of her to some degree and her signature bangs are still imitated even today. Anytime you think of pin-up, Bettie Page comes to mind first. I had known of her work with Bunny Yeager, but I hadn't known much else about the iconic figure until a few years ago when "The Notorious Bettie Page" came out, played by Gretchen Mol. Superb film. Until then, I had never known how troubled and oft times tragic, her life was.

I think I'll let this post stand as is for today and leave it as a standing tribute to a titan of a woman.

09 December 2008

Sarah Saved My Ass...

Alfread Stieglitz was once asked: "how does a photographer learn?" He answered without even a second’s hesitation: "By looking". - Alfred Stieglitz

I want you to stop for a second and just take a look at that face. Look into her eyes and take a deep breath. Maybe now, you can understand what it is to photograph Sarah. More on her in a minute. First, let me set the stage. For one of the best workshops I've put together, this was truly the most exhaustive one. When this one was finished, I could swear off any more of them forever, but I would imagine its kind of like that hangover after a hard night at the club. You make all kinds of promises to never do it again... til the next time.

This one was particularly gruesome simply because of the time constraints which put everything else in a bind. Initially, there was to be no December Art Nude Workshop at all. But then a few guys got together and said they wanted to do it. I polled the group and got several positive responses for participation. I knew this one would be challenging because it needed to be an indoor venue which costs more money. Along with paying the model, that can add up to a nice sum if you don't have enough participants to offset those expenses. I wanted this last, year end workshop to be a great one. Had I stuck to just keeping it simple, probably less headache. But if you don't know me by now, let me just say I am headache prone. I then made it more challenging by announcing an event date that was a little more than a week away. Nice, huh.

Well the first stress wave hit the shores of my brain when 4 days before the event, I've only got like 3 or 4 participants. I know that's not going to cut it. This is the day where I decide to cancel or go through with it. I choose to go for it. I also have yet to book a model and have no idea where my venue is. But lets secure a model first. The respondants to my casting call at this point are good, but not the glamorous look I am searching for. Normally glamor is not my thing, but I figure I'll give the group something different. I am scouring Model Mayhem looking for ideas. As I am browsing, I think about this one pretty face of a model that I remember seeing. I've never shot her before, but I know friends who have. If only she did nudes, I'd be gold. After another hour of searching, this pretty face comes back to mind. So I click over to her port. BAM! She's gorgeous...that much I already know. What surprised me was when I clicked on her port and saw her standing naked as a jaybird with one of the most elegant figures I've seen. Everything stops at this point. Am I getting melodramatic? Well, deal with it, cuz this is how it went down.

I'm blown away by what I am seeing, so I figure I'll at least ask. Its another day before she responds but while I am waiting, I notice her OMP Link and click on that as well. It was kind of like a shift in gears, or better yet, it was like a burst of nitrousoxide when you are already going 100mph. The girl is just fabulous and all I can think of now is that I hope she's available for Sunday and that her response is positive. Needless to say, it was. I am not editing some of her shots and aside from minor white balance corrections, I do not find myself desiring to enhance her in any way. Its really not necessary. Her natural self is as wonderful as any artificial enhancement be. This is clearly a case where less is more. If there is a mark on her, I am keeping it. In a sense, her imperfections are perfect.

But I still needed a venue and up til that point, I had planned on just renting a hotel room. I had recently done that with one model, but that was just one on one. Room for more than 3 photogs was just not there and it didn't allow for creative settings. After much deliberation, I settled on the Erotic Heritage Museum. The Art Director, Dr. Laura Henkel and I had been in talks before, but inadvertantly lost contact. By 10pm on Friday night, I had my venue. Well, get more into the EHM later in another post, but let me just say for the moment, the place will blow you away. It was an odd thing to do a photoshoot in this museum while patrons still wandered around. At times, they would come over to watch us shoot and at other times, they were surprised to see that she was not a manaquin! Two women jumped as they walked by suddenly noticing Sarah. Well anyway, we had a great time and everyone left with great images and smiles on their faces. Starting next month, I am sure to begin doing my figure drawing sessions again. See... headache prone.

On another note, I'd appreciate it if you all could go by to visit Chris St. James' blog to wish him well. He had to make another hospital visit and no one really knows the extent of it or how serious it may be. This was also a great weekend as it is always a pleasure to get to see my good friend Dave Rudin who was in town.

02 December 2008

More on Melissa

"Photographers feel guilty that all they do for a living is press a button."

Man, time sure flies when you are having fun... or just completely stressed out. I'm still upbeat and optimistic for the most part, but I royally screwed up this past Sunday when I overslept on a model I was due to interview and get some preliminary shots on. That was a first and I pray the last time that ever happens. I've been flaked on before by models time and time again, but I've never been the flaker. So my public apology to this model, whom I hope to introduce to you very soon.

For me, on that day, it was like the last straw and I cracked. I've pledged to make it up to the model of course and she's forgiven me. We're trying to reschedule right now. I ended up over at Felix's house getting full off of some more of his Thanksgiving turkey aaaaand then a whole bunch of Amaretto. Yeah, DiSoronno style. Needless to say headaches ensued throughout the night. I ended up leaving early that morning before Felix got up and missed out on Summer's pancakes. Damn! It was also the first time I slept through a Lord of the Rings movie. They put in Return of the King (at my instistance, mind you). I remember Smeagol trying to bait a hook. After that I woke up to Frodo hanging over a river of lava. So I missed the whole movie. At some point we're supposed to do a LOTR marathon.

I still need to recognize I need a break every now and again, but I also have to quit putting so much on myself. Sometimes its through volunteering or free projects, but I know I take on too much at times. One of the more important skills a person can learn is the ability to say "No". I've never really had to proactively employ that skill too much, so every now and again when it does become necessary, I'm caught off guard. Its kind of like I am out of practice on it. Dave Rudin and I recently talked and I advised him to take a day off, rent a boat load of movies, have a pizza place on speed dial, get naked and turn off the phone. Well, I just now threw in the naked part, but I should quite being so hypocritical and take my own advice.

Lets see, what else is going on...
My subscribership for this blog has doubled in the last two months. The same thing can be said of my website, TLNeasley.com. I'm guessing that is in large part to Chris St. James, who's done such a wonderful job of helping photogs gain some exposure. While the blog subscribership has doubled, the site visitors has stayed relatively the same. That's kind of an odd statistic since I know I've been getting more traffic to this blog, but Feedburner as a different way of calculating stats. I've been checking my statcounter and it just doesn't add up. Mystery. On my website, I'm seeing big traffic increases from the number of visitors and in terms of hits or the images they click on. Not long ago, I gave you the top 5 images that had relatively always stayed the same. Well, that's all shaken up now. Trisha still has the top spot, but everything else has been some of the newer models like Lorelei, Lessa, and Faerie. Elizabeth had 2 that rounded out the top 10 for November. Its been interesting to see these stats grow. I guess that's one of the main things a blogger lives for.
I would wager the only thing a blogger or artist with an online profile gets a kick out of more than watching stats grow is COMMENTS. I'm no different. I like the positive feedback on my images as much as the next guy, but you know who wants these comments even more than me...yep, you guessed it - THE MODELS! So if you like the work, leave something positive. Trust me, these models go to my site regularly and check to see if they've gotten ANY comments. Since most do it for free, its their only real validation that they've done something worth while. But the biggest reward is mine. The more you guys comment, the more they want to model for ME! Case in point, last month one particular photo of Lessa got about 200 hits...but no commentary. Oh and I guess FOLLOWING a blog is a good thing too. Google recommends promoting that by adding a word or two about it in a post to spread the word. I don't follow anyone yet, so I guess I had better get on that.
I think I'll start featuring one or two models for every post I do. So that will be something I am now adding on. Claudia from Museworthy is an excellent one to start with. She's an art model from the New England area and post regularly about her dealings. If you've ever wanted to get into the mind of an art model and see what this thing is like, you should skip right on over to her Museworthy blog. She spares no detail when she lays her mind out for the online community to review. She's writes so intelligently that you can use her material as a learning experience for yourself. I've talked to wanna-be art models before and have often sent them to Iris Dassault's site as to illustrate how a model should conduct herself. Well, let me add Claudia to that list. You'll gain a year's insight in a few days just by going to all of her past blog postings. You get to see the practical application of what a good model is, knows, and does.
And then I believe I will follow up again with ModelDonna from deviantART. Yes, I mentioned her in my last posting, but since then, we've conversed even more and I simply have to say the girl is fascinatingly worthy of mention a second time. I said before that she has that "it" thing, but let me add that she's got "it" plus some. She's photographed by her husband, Elric Doe who does a masteful job at capturing her in so many wonderful ways. She's added more material since the last posting. One of my favorite images is her "Waiting For...", done in low light. Its one thing to have such a superb model. Its something else entirely to be able to counterbalance and complement her with the perfect photographer. Well done, to the both of you.

I chose to go with more images of Melissa on this post. We'll talk more on her later as well. Still got more shooting to do, so be patient.

25 November 2008

The Newest Muse

“I never refused when he wanted to take a picture,” said Eleanor Callahan, the 91-year-old widow of the photographer Harry Callahan. “I never complained, whatever I was doing. If he said: ‘Come quick, Eleanor — there’s a good light,’ I was right there." - New York Times "The Artist's Wife: A Constant Muse Who Never Said No"

Chris St. James has been gracious enough to feature me on his Universe d'Artistes blog a number of times now. However his latest post on me is a recreation of an interview we did a year ago. He's added to it using some of my own posts as well as dialog/commentary I've made on his own blog. Its truely remarkable to witness this man's imagination and I felt very honored to be worthy of his time, energy, and creativeness that produced his 21 November 08 posting of our interview. In fact, go ahead and click over to it now. I'll wait.....

Welcome back! So what did you think? The man's a genius, is he not?

In other news, I'm still working on wrapping up this year's final projects. I've got just a few more to go, but lots of edits. I was hoping to take advantage of the holiday season with some more freelance work, but I'm not sure if its going to work out as I may have liked. Four or five good projects would have been nice. So now I have goals for next year. For the time being, I stick with my endeavors to shoot more subjects other than nudes, retool my business persona, and manage my workflow and activities better. At the same time, I've desired to try to take some time to relax a bit. You know... SLEEP! I think it was last week or the week before whereby I was averaging 3 hours of sleep a day and for the longest, I hadn't even slept in my own bed. Much of my rest time came with my head down on my keyboard or my neck cracked over sideways as I slouched over in my computer chair. Crazy, I know. Well, I'm trying to make a concerted effort to do much better at prioritizing sleep IN a bed, for more than 5 hours at a time. If I can get at least 5 hours in the bed a day, that'll be sweet and I have been doing better at it. There have even been 2 days this past week where I slept 9 hours...straight!

The images you see here are of my latest muse. I've worked with Lessa, Lissa, and now Melissa. She was referred to me by Faerie and even though it took a while to actually meet, I am so glad we did. I shot her last week sometime and the experience was marvelous. I made reference to her in the last posting about being a homie from Texas. She's the one who we share the experience of both having our first jobs being at Braum's Ice Cream. Grandy's is another place we discussed missing so much. They've got some of the best fried chicken for when momma ain't making it at the time. I tell you this girl is full of energy and imagination. I am sooo glad I got to finally meet her. It was one of those things were we just hit it off right as I stepped into the door. We didn't get to go through all my normal interviews and such. In most cases, I have to insist on at least some of my basic protocols. In this case, we had a mutual trusted friend, so I knew she was cool and she also works as an art model, thereby I know she's already comfortable with being nude. Basically everything else I needed to know we covered via email and we just made it happen. The woman is a great in conversation and so darned intuitive. We'll be doing this again.

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving. Please take it easy, relax with family and friends, and make this a safe holiday. Also enjoy these featured artist links. Both of these are models I have been in dialogs with from deviantArt. The first is ModelDonna. There are some models who simply have that "it", and Donna is definitely one of them. I made a comment that she's someone I could probably photography exclusively. I think I could make a career off this girl alone. And then there is AlexB244. I've just started a series of work on the mature woman. Alex has that grace and beauty that is evidence the art model can go on beyond the limits of time. The supermodel has a shelf life of 5 to 7 years. Not many are able to make it beyond 10. The art model is different. She can go on as long as she desires. I wish it were a truism that the art model is the ideal woman by whom young girls measured themselves against. And when you look at Alex, you know for sure that your real beauty is to the core. Photoshop is only a layer deep.

19 November 2008

Still wrapping it up...

“Edward and I both agreed with the view of a Greek friend of ours, Jean Varda, who was fond of saying there were three perfect shapes in the world ... the hull of a boat, a violin and a woman's body.”
- Charis Wilson, wife and muse of Edward Weston

Man, it is sooooo hard not to hand out a card or speak to a woman of interest for my photo artwork. Simply by force of habit alone, I’ve handed out a few cards and have talked to a few ladies about modeling for me. Of course, this goes against what I’ve mentioned about not shooting nudes for a while. BUT, I’m getting better at it, in part because I’ve been busy shooting nudes anyway. These are the ones that I’ve already said I had committed to. I am wrapping them up right now. I’ve had 4 models that I have worked with over the last few days and one of them I am doing some follow up work with on Thursday. After that, I’ve got the business of the commissioned shoot that we are still working which will conclude by the 1st of December.

This last shoot I did with a model who turns out to be a homie of mine. No, we hadn’t met before, but we come from the same area of Texas. We knew some of the same spots and both of our first jobs were at Braum’s Ice Cream! It was interesting to hear her talk about the home and then match up all the coincidences of our lives. Outside of Braum’s, we both miss Pancho’s Mexican Buffet and Whataburger. That’s some stuff we grew up on. Her house was gorgeous. You’re gonna love the pics of this girl. I’m going back over later with the wide-angle as this shoot is in her home and talk about a home! I love it. Sooo many interesting shots there.

Well, Iris Dassault and is going to stop modeling for a while, but for a whole different reason than why I am suspending my nude work. She's not the only one either. After all the great work these ladies do… after all they’ve accomplished, there are still those out there in the world who do not know how to treat a model. Iris has her reasons and you should go over and listen to her tell it. I’m at the very least glad for her contribution and those who do what she does. And you know what…that’s fine. For as much as they have given, shared, and tolerated, we owe them our respect, gratitude, and understanding. Its good to know when to walk away from the game. (...but I can't help wondering who might be next to do the same.)

These images were of interest to me in that they were done in conjunction with a project with another model. I’ve had a long interest in shooting women in their homes while relaxing or going about their affairs as if I were not present. This young anonymous model chose to pose for me since the shoot took place in her home which she shares with roommates. So we did a few images inside while she ate, relaxed in front of the TV, and then stepped outdoors into a tiki bar habitat where I photographer her as we conversed. I’d love to do it again.
And don't you just love the quote up top by Charis. I still say you should buy the DVD, "Eloquent Nude: The Love and Legacy of Edward Weston and Charis Wilson". There is simply no regret in that purchase.