30 December 2011

The Mix One Week, Lake Las Vegas the Next

Mandalay Bay and The Luxor, © 2011 Terrell Neasley

Luxor and Vegas Srip shot from The Mix,
© 2011 Terrell Neasley
Shooting for fun with some friends can be an exceptional experience. This is when you get out and try some new things and get mixed up in situations where you ordinarily may not have ever tried on your own. My Las Vegas Photographic Society has some events all the time where we go out for specific purposes to get a particularly desired result. Sometimes these are training workshops and seminars. Other times they may be opportunity excursions to far off locations. And then there are times where a small group just meets up and you just wing it! Last Wednesday was one of those nights. We just went out on the strip and took some shots. We at least had an initial "guiding" goal to shoot Mandalay Bay in that golden hour of sunset. Trying to find a spot to set up proved tricky, as we all desired to be up in high vantage points, but there's nothing across from the Mandalay Bay to offer such perspective. The street becomes the only option, but you have to contend with the electrical and phone pole wires, trees, and other obstacles that trash the composition you see in the viewfinder. 

© 2011 Terrell Neasley

Lake Las Vegas, © 2011 Terrell Neasley
On this night, we split up. Unintentionally, we ended up dividing up between the Canon shooters and those with Nikons. Of the 5 of us, it just worked out that way. We all had tripods and cable remote shutter releases. I loved what I got with the long shutters using a wide-angle lens and going Black and White. We eventually moved inside where I got to do some more interior scenes. I don't think I got to rattle off 10 shots before security was on our butts. At this point, we were not inside Mandalay Bay. We were on the side with the Four Seasons. They were the one's who nabbed us. We tried to argue, but of course to no avail. We left, but came right back and went just outside to the pool area and got some shots. Our troubles returned when we came back inside and were asked to leave once more. We did. 

Frank Zapata, © 2011 Terrell Neasley

But when we got to The Mix (64th floor, Mandalay Bay), a classy bar/lounge, the experience was a total 180. The Mix has an outdoor seating area overlooking the stip. A 5 foot high glass wall keeps you from falling over the edge, but it was off limits at this point due to high winds. I asked for permission anyway. What we got was an alternative. On the restaurant side, which has an identical balcony, the rules were a little more flexible. We got an escort to take us through to the opposite side and she stayed with us patiently in the cold while we got our shots. She was a real trooper shivering in her short black dress. I put my coat on her, gave the guys a few more minutes and told the big chief that we needed to head out and let this girl warm back up. We tipped her for her kindness, thanked the manager who approved it, left some business cards and left. I promised to come back to dine there real soon as I had not known the restaurant part of the Mix even existed. They really made our night. 

Yesterday, just a week later, my friend Heather and I took a ride out to Lake Las Vegas to experiment with her new camera. I had just gotten a new lens and so I put it through its paces. Our initial plans were to head over to the Las Vegas Strip and just play, but I asked to change the plans at the last minute. I hadn't been out to Lake Las Vegas in quite some time and decided it might have some better scenes to test our new gear. It was fortuitous for us that we also got there right about the time a very interesting show/exhibition was beginning. Champion Water Skier, Franky Zapata had come out to showcase his new water jet-pak that allowed him to fly through the air on jets of water. I almost started to describe it, but you can see the pics. He looked like Iron Man, just without the iron, or whatever type of alloy Iron Man's suite is made of. I'd never seen anything like this before. It was fabulous and we had an excellent time there. We spent a good chunk of the day shooting and then hanging out in the local cafe. Marvelous day.

27 December 2011

Looking Out for Little Miss Mercy!

Model Extraordinaire, Mercy. © 2011 Terrell Neasley

Mercy. © 2011 Terrell Neasley
This has definitely been an interesting month. Its been a slow month, but I've at least been able to work on some of my personal projects and found my final model to cap my 2011 book of nudes due to come out in early January. I hadn't been doing many books just for me and my own work, but I've done several for private use for others. Miss Mercy, from Albuquerque was my feature model and we finally hooked up to do some collaborations. We didn't get to do everything we had initially planned, but I gotta say I'm happy with the results. We did a bathroom series and then several hotel nudes in a suite I booked for a couple of nights. The girl was fabulous and had the weather cooperated, we'd have also done some more outdoor urban stuff, but how often does rain kill a shoot in Vegas? Well, this was one of those rare days.

Mercy. © 2011 Terrell Neasley

Mercy. © 2011 Terrell Neasley
Mercy was simply way fun to work with. She's bold as hell and I felt like she was determined to make sure I got the shots I needed. These were public bathrooms and needless to say we were not always alone. We had to do some major adjustments and remain flexible to make it happen, but we had fun. There was also another girl, Panda, who helped make the shoot happen. She's somebody you're gonna see a whole lot of coming up, but I'm going to save her for the next post. She'll be the first one of the new year. Panda was a big help in assisting Mercy and I. It would do you well to check out Mercy on Model Mayhem and Zivity, as well as follow her on Twitter. You can also see her posting regularly on Tumblr, Oh, Have Mercy! Be sure to keep an eye out for the book! She'll be on the cover.

Mercy. © 2011 Terrell Neasley

Mercy. © 2011 Terrell Neasley

19 December 2011

Back with Selena Bree

A little while back, I interviewed a fascinating woman (Part I and Part II) who was getting into modeling for the first time a little later in life than what most people do and she's been successful with it. Her new career is taking off and at 58, she's really taking off. This has become such a serious endeavor for her that she's constantly on the road. Hailing from Arkansas, let me again introduce Selena Bree. *Applause*

Selena Bree, by GBI Graphics 
1. So how have you been doing since our last interview earlier this year?

Uh...modeling? I quit the belly dance group to concentrate on modeling. Trying to get back to doing my art. Will do a workshop on dancing with a sword. Will choreograph my own solos. I am now more of a “life dancer” or “tribal fusion dancer” and I like rehearsing a lot before I perform and enjoying the “process” more than “performance” so particularly since I have my own studio I enjoy the idea of going back to working that way. It suits me better.

I turned 58; ouch Getting close to that sixty....EGADS! Let me start off by saying that what made the difference the most is that I have worked with so many really wonderful photographers and a few make-up artists that have so generously helped me with each shoot I have done. I can not thank Wayne Madison of Wayne Madison Photography enough for getting me started in this and so wish I had done it three years before when he first mentioned it.

Some people do enjoy working with someone that is older for what we bring to the table as far as knowledge and life experience. Especially the eyes...the window to the soul and what we have survived, loved and lived through. Some see me as forever youthful. I got to work with several female models and tried to encouraged one by being helpful and it being a comfortable and fun experience and she took the leap and got on OMP. My husband came along way concerning me doing nudes. He knows I do good tasteful work. We don’t talk about it and I don’t show them to him but when I told him my calendar has a few nudes and how did he feel about that; he just said don’t sell them here in the small town I live in.

What is interesting is that more and more photographers have been contacting me to work with them without the standard model first step “I would love to work with you.” or have asked me when I will be in there area or when I am in there area please stop and see them. In the spring I have already booked one photographer driving from North Carolina to shoot me here and another is providing me travel, food and lodging to bring me to Utah for a week of desert shoots. This year I have been housed, and feed and treated extremely well. I hope to work at Great Lakes Workshops in Milwaukee several times a year where I can do the workshop, stay a while, and easily access the Chicago and surrounding areas. Richard Pickert is a great guy and has accommodations for models where I can stay a few days to pick up paid work.

2. Have you found your niche yet?

Not really. Geez...fine art nudes would be good this time of year since I have put on my winter weight. LOL But actually I look healthier by pulling up the nutrition, water and getting lots of sleep.

Selena Bree, by GBI Graphics

3. And how about your personal mission to help society redefine the concept of beauty?

As far as the fashion industry not a dent. I am probably the wrong person to do this with being petite and tattooed. (And I perfectly understand why photographers don’t like tattoos; it is extra and more complicated work for them). Amazing models like Michaela (OneModelPlace#6858) who have the physical requirements and outstanding modeling skills is already doing that. She is still my hero and has already battled the age barrier in my opinion.

I have seen changes already. Commercial ads don’t necessarily need a gorgeous run way model (and they are so stunning and already show fashion off so beautifully) but who knows....maybe more people could relate to an ad if they felt that model was more like them? Then we get back to the baby boomers...we are a huge population with leisure time. And what about expensive gowns and other merchandise...can that 20 year old really afford that? Would it be more realistic for someone in their 40's, 50's or 60's to be seen wearing a designer’s best?

4. So you've also started a new genre of nudes. Tell us about your decision to explore erotica.

I have only done one so far but I really like it. I would love to do more if they are quality as far as concept and photography. I have seen some really stunning erotica which is tasteful, and leaves much to the viewer’s imagination...I would like doing that sort of work. There is a distinct difference between gallery edition upscale erotica and pornography.

5. Will you continue on this adventure or is this just an experience it once and done sort of thing?
Selena Bree by Artistic Expressions 
I don’t know at this time. The only thing I regret in my life was not taking the offer to model shoes. I was approached at 17 by an agency but my parents didn’t like the idea. I wasn't smart enough or didn’t have the self-esteem at the time to simply go back at 18. Also due to illness and dying (or so we thought) I missed again doing more fine art nude photographic modeling which I did at about age 36 to 39 because I had to quit at 39 and spent most of my time in bed for the next two years and then two more to get back to the ability to work a part-time job. So I missed out again...but hey, better late than never! Even if that is like, twenty years later.

6. How far would you like to take it and what do you think you bring to the erotic arena?

You know I have no idea. I do have some “hidden” photos under wraps until the photographer and I decide where and how to use them. Truth be know we never have control as to how our endeavors go. That is the universe’s job. I do believe in opportunity meeting preparation so this winter will be spending time in my studio nailing poses that not only work well on my body but should have ones that work well with what wardrobe I have. I need work on facial expressions.

7. What other new and interesting projects are coming up?

Me working out and getting back to a pattern. This last year I spent so much time on the computer and traveling I lost a lot of what I feel my strengths are: a killer body for my age and the flexibility and versatility of other venues I have done in my life (the dancing, etc.)

The next exciting project  is something that I'm collaborating with another photographer on that will benefit models and photographers of all skill levels.  I can't go into details just yet, but you can all share the surprise and excitement as we get closer to completion.

Selena Bree, by Secret Drawer Photography
with post by Shen Garden of Suiy

8. How has your overall impression of modeling changed since the time you got started?

It is like anything else. Hard work, consistency and determination. I recognize the amount of work I am needing to do. I am starting today with many outfits that are out in my studio right now preparing for a shoot with Cajunpix2. More planning/less photo shoots/better photographers who would like to work with me. Images that are as good or better than I already have in my portfolio. I plan to work several times a week in my studio with my mirrors. Reminds me of doing dance improvisation. I will work it for poses, facial expression, different ways to put the items together, etc. I see it as rehearsal and practice time. I have been so looking forward to this time of year. I am thinking of this as my “off season” time...October/November through March where it is more about working the craft, getting healthy, organizing wardrobe, working out more, etc. What is ironic is that I spent decades getting my body aligned because I was so knock-kneed, sway backed and pigeon toed that I find it very painful to do the posing That perfectly straight back and strong core strength from years of Pilates and that upright pelvis from ballet training now make it hard to “stick my butt out”, twist and move body parts where they don’t want to go.

9. Has your goals changed any since the last time we talked?

Selena Bree by Beach Photo

Yes. Like I stated earlier: I plan to work less with more planning for a shoot and doing less shoots with more quality photographers. I think working with a smaller group of photographers is a very smart move especially when I am not any where close to being the typical modeling concept at all. Find those that believe in what the goal is and stick with them. So many wonderful photographers that have been so very generous with teaching and instructing me. Frankly some of that has had less to do with modeling and photography and more to do about people skills and how to present yourself.

10. What's next?

Modeling as Zen. Part of one’s every day life. Getting to where I am doing poses and am “on point” where ever I go...I need to be putting gas in my car and working on poses. My modeling mentor will get me going with this when we work in January where I will have set routines that I will be working all the time. Oh and I keep saying I am not going to buy any more wardrobe and then I find this new piece to add to that outfit...a belly dance outfit from Nadia who worked in Las Vegas for 20 years that she is selling...a cool vintage hat on ebay or at the local flea market I go to frequently...hmmmm....is there a 12 step program for people obsessed with putting together concepts with clothing and accessories? :-)

Selena Bree Calendar, by Fashion Figure Fantasy

No crystal ball today...just a very positive and excited attitude and great optimism regarding my future.

Be sure to check out more of Selena Bree on Model Mayhem, Model Brigade, and OMP. The Selena Bree 2012 Calendar is available for $19.95 + $4.95 Priority mail. You can send inquiries on where to send checks to: selenabree@hotmail.com.

04 December 2011

Thanks Trixie!!!

"True friends are hard to come by...I need more money." - Calvin, The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes, p86

Having to say it once is really once too many. Good-byes are definitely not pleasant, especially when its with a model you've come to appreciate because of her willingness help you be better. This day last week, Trixie moved off the Mainland and over to the Big Island. She corrected me at her Aloha Party last week. This was no a good-bye but rather an "until we meet again", kind of deal. Then a friend of her's, Gwen, highlighted the fact that I now have an excuse to travel to Hawaii! Sweet. 

I gotta say Trix is one of the main models who have been in my corner since I arrived in Vegas. She bears some of the weight in forging my development as a photographer and has been my partner in crime in expanding my skill with my nude art. She also helped when I ran my Las Vegas Art Models Group for not only my photography workshops but for my drawing sessions as well. When I needed to experiment for my own personal growth, (which often required someone of patience), I knew who I could call and that was Trixie. The news of her departure was somewhat stunning. I don't know what its like to have a man-hole cover dropped onto your head, but that's what I would imagine it was like, except maybe without the searing pain and unconsciousness/death part, that is. But you're left shocked all the same. 

So I just wanted to do a post to say Thanks Trix for all your help, love, support, promotion, encouragement, (I could go on....) I also extend a thanks out to your family for being so cool and understanding. "I got a pig on me!" will ever be ingrained in my psyche now. 

See you in Hawaii!