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.

10 November 2008

Happy 1000 To Chris St. James

"Dear artists, I'm wide open to all new ideas, creative and technical help ! Because I'm nothing without you, all together "yes we can" make something better, bigger and never seen before...My wish for this so particular moment is that for a better promotion of your work, and to keep the Art alive, you backlink this site. It would be such a nice gift !"
- Chris St. James, Universe d'Artistes

You can mark November 7th down as a special historic day. Chris St. James, Blogger-in-Chief at Universe d'Artistes, has just posted his ONE THOUSANDTH article! That's a thousand different issues, subjects, and bits of information that he has brought to us in the form of interviews, exhibitions, features, book and web reviews, and general information concerning photography centered around the artistic nude genre. You've seen me comment about him several times on this blog. For a while, he had to take a leave of absence from his charge to us, in order to tend to matters of his own health. His will to survive and then come back to us full-force is just a testament to how much this man lives to give. A lesser person would have resolved to a life of self-pity and depression. Chris chose to overcome and become more. Click on his link and scroll down to the Nov 7th post.

This is my message to him in honor of that celebration:

"What Cal Ripken, Jr. is to baseball.... What Brett Favre is to Football... Chris St. James is to photographic art nudes. I am glad and indeed honored to be able to call him my friend, despite the fact that we have never met.Over the last year, Chris has been invaluable to my growth as a photographer and as a writer. My blog would not be what it is today without his tuteledge and guidance.I am very thankful that he is an overcomer, a super-achiever, a survivor, and most notably a man full of genuine love which he bestows upon us on an almost daily basis.His prolific blog has helped countless photographers emerge from the dark confines of obscurity into the light of exposure and visibility.This is a very dedicated and committed man. I love him for it. One of these days we'll meet, I'm sure. I am looking forward to it. Chris, thanks for being so strong and perservering for us! Your eternal Friend, Terrell"

On another note, this was also a pretty exciting weekend for me as well. As I have mentioned, I've pledged to concentrate on a few other things, rather than just the nude. Again, I am not giving up nude photography...I am just going to do some other things for a bit. In fact, Trixie is coming over this afternoon for some work and I have a few other projects that were already planned that I still need to follow through with. This weekend, I got to try my hand at some NHRA races at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Talk about AWESOME!! This was something new to me. I'd never shot race cars before and I quickly learned there's more to it than shooting the nude. As with any subject, it requires its own perspective. I was instructed by the chief NHRA photographer that I'd have to shoot this pretty much like a portrait. I added a few things to that. I quickly learned that I needed to shoot from a lower perspective. Also an extreme wide-angle lens served very well...two things you don't necessarily do in portraiture work.

So right now, I'll post these images for you to enjoy and will speak more on how this all came about later. I gotta get ready for Trix.

01 November 2008

Me Interviewing Me

"Jeremy, there is a famous photographer that shares your last name. He is Terrell Neasley. He is famous for his artistic use of the nude." - A text message to my son, which he forwarded to me. Funny, huh?

This is me, interviewing me:

Me: So how are things going?

Answering Me: Not bad, not bad. Few challenges here and there. Same as anybody else.

Me: Yeah, challenge you can handle, I presume.

Answering Me: I'd like to think so. I mean, you never know. Times are tough for everybody. Its just a matter of holding on... you know...weathering the storm so to speak, til the clouds break and the sun shines on you again.

Me: Sounds like philosophy.

Answering Me: I guess, in a way. I ain't no Socrates or nothing. I've just got a survivor mentality. I know what I believe. I got tough skin. I'm used to adversity. The poor weren't jumpin' out of skyscrapers during the depression.

Me: Point well taken. So let's get on with this. Tell me about this new direction you are taking in your art work. You list some objectives in your Model Mayhem profile that say you are shooting nudes for the next 18 months. Not sure when the clock started on that, but oh well. Now in your last blog post you say you're taking a "hiatus" *air quotes* from doing nudes at all. Isn't this sort of a contradiction to your original objectives?

Answering Me: Not at all really. I know I wrote those goals, but sometimes you gotta drop back and punt.

Me: What exactly does that mean?

Answering Me: Its a football analogy. You've got 4 times to touch the ball to make a touchdown or at least gain 10 yards for a first down. Sometimes you don't reach that 10 yards so you punt the ball. In a since, that's what I am doing. I put my defense on the field for a little bit while I try to figure out another way to consistantly move the ball and score. There's nothing wrong with that strategy. Besides, sometimes the defense can make an interception and score too. You just never know. The point is, I WILL get the ball back. I will figure out a way to score.

Me: Okay, I guess that makes sense. Good to have that sort of drive. So what exactly will you do while your defense is on the field?

Answering Me: Lots of things. I'm trying to make it so that when I do start doing nudes again, I am better at it and with more resources in which to do it. I'd like to be able to do it without out of pocket expenses. I want to gain more experience shooting other things and then bring some of those new-found skills back to my nude art again.

Me: Can you give me an example of these resouces and new skills?

Answering Me: Certainly. Right now, I am behind on many of my non-nude edits. I've got other things I like to. I have a series of work on old scrap metal like rusty cans and I like to shoot odd signs. I've taken so many other photos that no one has ever seen just because they are still sitting untouched on my computer.

I also want to take another look at the business side of my operations. I don't have a logo just yet. I need to better manage my workflow. I need to improve my backups and storage management. All that takes better resources in terms of equipment and tools. In terms of skills, I think I can benefit from some better lighting techniques and more photoshop editing. Shooting other things that have different demands from my nudes can help me excersize different photographic muscles to help tone up my photo skills overall. I think its a good way to expand my knowledge of image capture and light manipulation. When I am back to shooting nudes, I am just that much better at it.

Me: Understandable. Makes a lot of sense too. Where did you get this idea from?

Answering Me: Well as you said, "It makes sense". I've had to do the same thing in other areas of my life before so why not use the same measure of wisdom here?

Me: So you're giving up nudes, cold turkey? That doesn't sound like such an easy task considering how much I've read in your blogs about loving your work.

Answering Me: Ummm, I can't say cold turkey. I still have a few gigs I've already made committments to. I'll still fulfill those. I also won't pass up opportunity shoots with interesting people. Then there are also those models whom, I've said can have whatever they want from me, like Trixie and Faerie. They've been dedicated Muses for me and when they want to shoot, we're going to shoot. Case in point, Trixie just emailed me last week about wanting to follow up on a project I asked her to consider. So this won't be a cold turkey thing, but I won't actively pursue models, I don't think, at least not for free work. Commissioned stuff, well that's in line with my whole objective of making the camera work.

Me: You know, it wasn't that long ago that you blogged that you liked where you were in photography. How does this new direction jive with that? Doesn't sound to consistant.

Answering Me: Why not? Just because I want to change my mind a bit? That blog piece was just what I meant it to be. Rather than pity myself on the challenges I face, I'd much rather reflect on what I've been able to accomplish and when I did that, it brought into perspective a more positive experience. You ever heard of "Looking on the brighter side?"

Me: Dude, I'm just asking questions. It's my job. No need to be defensive.

Answering Me: Bite me.

Me: Whatever... You can't say everything is simply a mind change. You also said you were going to start camping out at least once a month. And I quote, "I want to set a goal of camping at least once a month for a year. Can I do it?...Is it practical?...Don't know. The point of the matter is that I'm interested in experiencing life."

How is that going?

Answering Me: Man, why you gotta be an ass?

Me: I'm just asking questions. This is an interview? So how is that going?

Answering Me: Not like I planned, thank you very much? It kind of fell apart when I got banned from that unmentionable park and I just never followed through on it yet. Thank you for bring it up to my attention again. *Sarcastically*

Me: Don't mention it. So how long do you expect all this to take?

Answering Me: Til it takes! ...When I've got what I wanted out of this deal. I'm just going to take it day by day til it feels right.

Me: So what made you want to do this "interviewing yourself thing"? How is this helping, anyway?

Answering Me: Man, I honestly just sat down and knowing I wanted to post a blog today, it just came out like this. I'm waiting on Felix to bring me back one of my flashes for a shoot tomorrow afternoon and kind of fell asleep at the computer. I woke up and figured, I'd stamp out a few keystrokes til he gets here. This is the way it all came out.

Me: So you are shooting a nude tomorrow?

Answering Me: Well, yeah, but I didn't contact her. She got hold of me and its a good opportunity shoot. Its going to be some commission slash art work for me.

Me: Now is that going to be what you say everytime you get a chance to get a girl out of her clothes... "Its an OPPORTUNITY SHOOT?

Answering Me: Dude, F*ck you, Man! What's your problem?

Me: I'm just asking a question. It doesn't sound like you are giving up nudes at all. Isn't this going to just put you in the same predicament you're still in?

Answering me: No. No, it isn't. This is a beautiful black woman. I don't get to shoot many black women. I'd be a fool to pass on her. Besides, like I said, commission! We are going to work together on this. She's already talking about referring me to some of her friends for MORE commission work. Comprende?

Me: Fo-shizzle, My Nizzle. I understand...word of mouth. It makes sense. I'm just asking you a question! So what about you workshops? You gonna give them up? Let someone else run them? How's that going to work?

Answering Me: I'll still do my workshops. I don't get to shoot at my own workshops anyway. Well, at least I don't get that many great shots. I get some, but they are mainly over the shoulder shots of the model posed by whatever photog has lead and is directing the model at that time. I don't see them so much as myMY shots, so I either don't shoot or don't shoot much.

Me: Well, we are about out of time, for now. We'll pick this up again for another session later. ~Nice portraiture, by the way~. Any parting shots?

Answering Me: Yeah, you're a butt-head.
(Models are Stacey Scott and Lisa Savilla from a previous lighting seminar.)