30 January 2013

More Optimism, Altruism...(less drama)

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that
in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” 

― Maya Angelou
This is an invite. It's going to get weird, but bear with me.

I'm a people watcher. Actually, more like an observer. I've tried to look at people sans judgments  but with understanding. Sometimes you run into those who are just plumb stupid, whole-hearted assholes, and otherwise mean-spirited folk. But I would say this is the minority of the kinds of mannerisms for most people you will meet.

“How can you govern a country
which has 246 varieties of cheese?” 

― Charles de Gaulle
As a photographer, being observant is an asset. I feel like I've always been an observer, but now I see people often times through an imaginary viewfinder. I see how they might look with a lens between them and me or how they might appear if I strategically cropped out the rest of the world around them. It's fascinating actually. Ya'll should try to visualize that sometimes. Things can become a bit more easy to see when you shrink the world. And when you can see, you can understand.

One of my life-long goals is to become less angry and fed up with people. I think I can do this by understanding people's affect on my life and put them into true perspective. What this essentially means is letting go of drama. I can't stand drama. Drama should be in the cinema or on stage and never in real life. I've had to deal with my fair share and ever more, even now. But I want to invite you to think about this and contemplate the affect it has in your life. I would wager to say that most drama has very little true impact on a person's life. We tend to empower drama, more so than our drama has its own natural power. Case in point: I've been betrayed or blindsided quite often by people who I imagined were close to me. Hurts every time, I'll admit, but what surprises me most about myself is my ability to get better at recovering from it much more quickly than I have in the past. Part of that is realizing that people's opinion of me don't really matter. They don't affect my income or my ability to care for myself. They don't affect my relationship with God. They don't detour my future potential and they certainly don't dictate my ability to decide what's right for me. That is, unless I empower them to do so.

“All the diversity, all the charm, and all the beauty of life are made up of light and shade.” 
― Leo TolstoyAnna Karenina
Let me entreat you to try a little harder at optimism. I struggle with it. Make no mistake, I'm not speaking to this like I'm some wise old sage, guru, or mountain mystic sitting above 8,000 feet in a small village above the cloud-line. But I think if we can look at things in their proper perspective and give credence only to those things and people that really matter, it would be difficult to NOT be optimistic about ourselves, our future, others we hold dear, and humanity in general.

Another word I will throw at you is Altruism. Random acts of kindness, a good-natured attitude, looking for the best in people and situations, light-hearted, caring for other people and the world we live in; all of that. That's altruism. Not being divided by social, political, gender, racial, and sexual persuasions...that's altruism. Actually desiring to reach a mutual agreement and working tirelessly towards that goal...that's altruism.

“Be sure to enjoy language, experiment with ways of talking, be
exuberant even when you don't feel like it because language can make
your world a better place to live.” 

― Deborah LevyPillow Talk in Europe and Other Places
The Hubble telescope is one of many instruments we use to see deep into the universe. We can see so far into the distant expanse of space that we are actually seeing into the past. As far as well can tell, we here on the planet Earth are the only representation of LIFE that we have been able to find. That girl on the job that you can't stand is still, in essence, a miracle of life. We can procreate life because we are designed to so do. But we can't just create life from scratch. Its impossible. Even the most simplest forms of life are yet impossible for us to create ourselves. Can you create a worm? Do you have it in you to re-engineer a fly? None of the most brilliant minds or the smartest brains to ever grace the human race can do this. Yet we often cheapen life and the value of one another.

I am reminded of the movie, staring the late great Michael Clarke Duncan. You know the movie..."The Green Mile". His character is gifted but fed up with how mean we are to each other:
"Mostly I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand?" - character, John Coffey in "The Green Mile"
“If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life's exciting variety, not something to fear.” 
― Gene Roddenberry
So I submit these questions: Why can't we enjoy one another? Why can't we just enjoy life? Why do we needlessly get caught up in things and people that don't really matter? Let a mother feed her baby in public. And if she uses a boob to do it, so the f-what. Quit being so disparaging over a naked body. Clean up the heart and nudity won't matter. It doesn't matter what your faith is, God said to love. He didn't specify exceptions at to sexual orientation. I'm Black, but I'm just like you, just with a longer dick, better natural ability with a ball (you can keep your pucks), and more rhythmic responses to music. I'm Kidding! Cuz we're getting a grip on the puck, too! Nah...All jokes aside. I'm actually just like you, maybe culturally different. But isn't that the brilliant thing about life...Our Diversity!! That's what made life proliferate throughout time. Diversity. Relish our differences. I promise you. If you want to enrich your own life, get to know cultures outside of your own. So appreciate and celebrate me. I will love and cherish you. How about we make THAT deal. More OPTIMISM. More ALTRUISM.

....less drama...

You can do this. WE can do this. Help me treat you better. I wanna start with me. You do the same. And we can just see where it takes us. I found this animation over on Peace, Love, Nudity. I thought it was interesting.

26 January 2013

How To Get Women To Take Off Their Clothes, Part II

Early work, Laura: First model I shot after moving to Vegas
Okay...So how many No's have you received in the last two days since my previous post. The goal is 20 in the next week, so if you're on track you should be between 4 and 6 negative responses right about now. Are we there yet? Once again, just in case anyone is reading this second post first, let me preface with this: This is not a "how-to" to get into women's pants, (or shorts, skirt, or bed, or dress, etc.)

I want to also cover another important part of this process and that's to have a good WHY. What makes you want to photography the nude? What is your attitude about nudity in general? How do you think you will feel when you have a woman in front of your lens who has removed her clothes and is trusting you to be decent. This is just a quick blog post, but let me first give you my impression of what the nude is, as well as what it most certainly is not.

Model Laura,
New Edit from Previous Image
The nude is art. Now that may sound cliche as hell, but bear with me. I shoot the nude because I love photography. My love of photography comes first. People will shoot for different reasons, but they will tend to gravitate towards a particular genre. Some photographers do not work well shooting people or live subjects. Other photographers love the capture of competition, motion, and action. Me, I love life and the human element. The most beautiful aspect of the human element is the female form. Hands down. No question about it. This is why I shoot the nude.

The nude is different from just a pic of a naked chick. You see that kind of stuff on cell phones or as snap shots somebody took and put on the internet. It becomes art when you choose to evolve that nakedness into something else by deliberately incorporating the elements of light, shadow, the abstract, form, shape, angle, perspective, composition, texture, patterns, symmetry, geometry, line, mimicry, emotion, and color or the lack of it (just to name a few). Sometimes the nude may not depict any nudity whatsoever. In a sense, the nude may be naked, but the naked may not necessarily be a nude.

Model Laura, New Edit from Previous Image
The nude does not equate to sex. This is a tragic misnomer and a major reason why many people do not appreciate and will ofttimes vilify the nude, photographers who shoot it, and models who pose. One does not equal the other. I learn that for the first time in Europe. Just because a model chooses to pose for you does NOT mean she is interested in you beyond your photographic skills. I wish, most emphatically that photographers venturing into the art nude might understand this. The nude is also most certainly not a tool to satiate your own private lustful desires. That kind of negativity has a nasty habit of finding its way out of the heart and sitting on your shoulder for all to see.

So ask yourself why you wish to photograph the nude and be honest with your answer. The "why" will give your a focus and will be the template you need to build from. This is one of the most difficult genres of photography to master. It can actually become frustrating if all your images simply look like a naked girl with minimal artistic value. It is important to study the masters who have already done this and who are doing it today. Study, study, study. Your work will assuredly benefit from it. Learn to cultivate the imagination. Shoot, shoot, shoot. Whether you have a nude or not. A clothed subject is still an excellent practice subject. So while you are out there getting your "No's", continue to study and above all, keep shooting.

Model Laura, New Edit from Previous Image
Some of the inspirations I learned from to cultivate my craft include: Edward Weston, Harry Callahan, Sally Mann, Spencer Tunick, Jerry Ulesmann, Dave Rudin, and Mosa. If you REALLY want to get good with this gig, don't just stop with photographers. Look at the models! They will teach you! Charis Wilson, Eleanor Callahan, Iris Dassault, Nettie Harris, Brooke Lynne, just to point out a few. Talk to the women you meet. Ask them for their input. I would be a stick in the mud with a camera had it not been for several of the models I worked with. These are women who trusted me and allowed me to develop my craft when I wasn't really good at all.

Model Laura, 
New Edit from Previous Image
You've seen my images of Trixie and Faerie. Trixie would let me experiment and try new things. Faerie let me shoot for the fun of it and just play. Panda, (These are not their birth names, by the way) was a God-send how came along just when I needed a model to do exactly what I needed. We shot 10 times in a single month, often times averaging 8 hours per shoot. And I have several other anonymous helpers who have benefited me greatly. You get to find out who you are as a photographer with models like this. Try to work with potential models who's goals, interests, and expectations match your own. As well as, those who's reasons for posing nude reflect your reason to shoot nudes. That kind of collaboration is bound to yield excellent work. The model featured on this post, is Laura. I met her when I first came to Las Vegas and got talked into a colonic hydrotherapy procedure by a girlfriend. Laura was the attending facilitator for this thing. For whatever reason, I was inspired to ask her during the procedure and I think it was because I was in such a vulnerable position and she was the obvious one in control, (with her hands on the water control dials), she felt I was more than likely serious and said yes. I got to work with her several more times which was a big help to my development. I thank all the models who chose to trust and work with me despite no credentials, website, card, or previous good work. And I extend a special thanks to the other models since then who decided to help me on this adventure and make me better.

23 January 2013

How To Get Women To Take Off Their Clothes

"Art can never exist without naked beauty displayed." 
~William Blake 

© 2011 Terrell Neasley, Art Model Enyo
Now right away, let me clear something up. While my title is accurate, it's not what you may initially think. I'm sure I'll get plenty of Google hits on this post. My goal here is NOT to get you laid. Rather instead, this is another blog post aimed at photographers wanting to experiment with the artistic nude genre of photography. So let me say again that these close-kept secrets are for your benefit, but you should not use your new-found powers for evil. Copy that? Let's begin.

© 2011 Terrell Neasley,
Art Model and Performer, Mercy
First, you should note that sometimes its not simply in the asking, but also in WHO you ask. So we're talking of increasing your success rates from 0 positive responses out of 10 to at least 3 or 4 for starters. Now, what I mean by WHO you ask is simple. In an exaggerated analogy, my odds of success is going to be relatively low if I ask a church pastor's wife to pose nude for me, while we're in church on Sunday morning, in the middle of the alter call. Granted, I could probably do that, but I choose not to out of respect for the religious office. You, on the other hand, would be escorted from of the service and be shot by ushers outside. Get my point?

This is something you will begin to perfect over time. Learning to decide who to ask will serve you just about better than any other method I can think of. To follow up with that, HOW you ask is the next. The trifecta of HOW is Appearance, Honesty, and Confidence. These are the factors that will increase your chances for success. You can't look like a scrub. Nor can you look like a 1970's van with shag-carpeted floors owner. At least be normal and presentable. Look like a professional. When you say you are a photographer, that woman should be able to believe you.

© 2011 Terrell Neasley, 
Art Model and Performer, Mercy
Introduce yourself and be absolutely honest about what your intentions are. Don't lie or attempt to deceive. And above all, chicks smell bullshit better than you think. You even be able to talk a woman out of her clothes and into bed, but talking her out of her clothes and taking pictures is something else entirely. Be upfront with who you are, what you would like to do, and be prepared to answer a few questions. The first question you will likely get is "Why her?" Have a genuine answer. I don't want you to think up a convincing lie or a "sure-fire, works every time line". If you like her body type and it will best suit your next project, then say that. Don't tell her how beautiful she is and that she smells like roses. Keep it photo-related and keep it honest.

"Two or three things I know for sure, and one is that I'd rather go naked than wear the coat the world has made for me." 
~ Dorothy Allison 

© 2011 Terrell Neasley,
Art Model Enyo
If you have hesitation in your voice, go home. Confidence will take you a long way in a myriad of things. Look her in the eye. Speak deliberately. And when you finish introductions, ASK her to pose for you and then stop. Let her mull you over. Look her in the eyes as she ponders whether or not you are a nut job. Don't smile. Be serious. If she wants more info, you're a quarter of the way in the door. Answer her questions to her satisfaction. Have a card. Have a website. And above all, you better have good work. Its okay if you don't already have nudes. Explain that you are experimenting in a new field of photography. But whatever your specialty is, it better be GREAT! If not. Skip this entire notion. You have better things to worry about. She needs to see you know your way around a camera and not just another GWC trying to get in her pants.

This is all for now. I may revisit this topic again with more details and the next avenue for you to take. For now, I want you to do a few 20 things if you think you may be remotely serious. Go get 20 no's. They'll be good for you. Get as many negative responses as you can in a week. They'll be good for practice and you will get used to being told "No, Thank you... you pervert!" You will quickly understand being told no is not personal. Well, maybe it is for some of you, but its all about HER comfort level. Don't expect to be like me and get a yes the first time out. That's just unrealistic and just puts undo stress on your odds. Get 20 no answers and then report back. Dismissed.

17 January 2013

Welcome to Photo Anthems 2013!

"Like all great travelers  I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen." - Benjamin Disraeli 

© 2013 Terrell Neasley, Anonymous Nude Model

First post of the year. Hooray!  Nah, I don't really get into all that. But I understand many will still make resolutions, break'em, and renew them the next year. I'm normally not a conformist, but let me give it a try.

First, I'm gonna shoot more nude models than the FOUR I shot last year. Granted, 2012 was quite odd. I spent the first 4 months on lock-down from knee surgery. I spent some time out of the country and came back to the US and traveled around some more. So I didn't have a lot of opportunities to shoot many models. That changes. Regardless of travel schedules, or other extra-curricular activities, I'm making time for nudes. I don't care where I am. I'll be shooting. I had the good fortune of starting the year off right. When the clock struck midnight, I raised a glass, drank some champagne, kissed a few beautiful women, and 30 mins later was shooting a nude...for the next 7 hours. That's how I want to spend every New Year's.

© 2013 Terrell Neasley,
Anonymous Model
The second priority of business is to travel MORE! I know I have to get back down to Central America again. I need to backtrack some of my spots from last summer and this time bring a nude model with me. There were so many beautiful spots to shoot in and nobody was getting naked. Nature = Nudes, as far as I'm concerned and this is a must do. I need to spend some time with a Guatemalan family to learn EspaƱol, as I had intended to do on my last trip. But as I detailed before, Hurricane Ernesto had other plans. I don't know how much I'll get to do, but the priority is to do backtrack Central America, head on down to a few more C.A. countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama. I may leave Nicaragua and Costa Rica for another day. And then skirt on down further South into South America with priorities on Brazil, Colombia, and Equador. I'll see how things go and maybe get Peru and Chile in there.

"Full nakedness! All my joys are due to thee, as souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be, to taste whole joys." - John Donne

© 2013 Terrell Neasley, Anonymous Nude Model
The problem is that I like to take my time and sufficiently explore a place. I don't want to do a city or two and hit the next country. I want to absorb the culture and actually learn something. Tourism is not my goal. Experiencing the places and people I visit, is. All that takes time. How much time will I have? Who knows. A better question might be how much money will I have. Yeah, funding is kind of important, because at the same time, I still have Photo Anthems to run. Can I implement more travel into my business model? Well, that's still left to be seen. I'm taking steps as we speak to make that happen.

© 2013 Terrell Neasley, Anonymous Nude Model
Which leads to the next priority for the year...My business. Travel will definitely be a part of it, but I don't want to travel on my own dime by saving up and hitting the road with a limited budget. The goal is to have funds coming in WHILE I am on the road...or boat, as it were. I tell you my mind is constantly bent on this notion. I've almost entirely evolved my initial business plan when I first set out to do photo, which was primarily going to be on personal documentaries. Well, while this is still part of my business, I'd like to incorporate personal travel documentaries in the mix. I'd follow a client around and photograph and video their experiences and edit everything into a final package.

I love this thing, photography. And I want to revamp everything about the way I do it, in terms of gear I use, my methodology, and my art. I'll talk more on all that later on, though. But I can definitely envision great things, great collaborations, and EPIC projects. I hope you are on board and are following me. 'Cause its going to be a fun ride!