30 May 2018

Instagram and the Art Nude

Art Model, Susan ©2013 Terrell Neasley
"Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." Well, that's what they say. Is it true? Hell, naw. When you love something you'd better work your ass of at it or you won't be loving it for long. So the work continues. You get better or you stagnate and if you stagnate you die. So what is it that I love. I love the art nude and I love travel. Its pretty much all I ever want to shoot. Making a living at just that can be challenging. How do you make a living with nudes outside of porn? And there is no shortage of travel photogs out there. In fact, I'd say there is a stark surplus of shooters traveling all over the world and returning with highly interesting imagery.

When I first turned professional after losing my job at the Nevada State Treasurer's Office, I did so after a long deliberation. For the first month I was unemployed, I did absolutely nothing related to job hunting or planning for my future. I enjoyed myself and relaxed. On day 32, I decided I'd turn pro in photo. I had all the gear I needed already and I was definitely good enough. One thing I knew for sure was that I did not want to be like every other photog swinging a lens. So I spent Month 2, five days a week, bending my brain on all the possibilities of what niche I'd carve for myself. By the end of that month, I only needed to begin my work and  execute my plan.

Anonymous Art Model, ©2014 Terrell Neasley 

And so this is where I find myself once again. Travel and Art Nude photography is the WHAT. And that's why I sit here in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala in my "penthouse" apartment that I've been renting for the last 3 months figuring out the HOW. My plan is to use this as a staging point til September and at that time,  I'll be ready to continue my adventure as I fly to Colombia. I should have the rest of the gear I need by then with a plan on execution. One of my considerations deals with platforms and that's where Instagram comes in.

I am so pissed with IG. I can't stand the censorship. Actually, there are a lot of things with which I take issue with them, but for now, lets stick to the censoring of my work. I don't know how some pages get away with it, but my profile is constantly getting censored images taken down and I have no clue as to what Community Guidelines were violated. No clue even which pics were deleted at times. No recourse to understand anything. They don't let you contact them so you can't ask questions. No clue if an algorithm is incorrectly targeting my already censored edits. OR, if an anonymous person is reporting my images and they get deleted without due scrutiny. And apparently, after a quick check, I discovered that some of my images have been SHADOW BANNED! They still appear on my profile page where I can see them, but YOU can not see them. You can check to see your's on INSTAGRAM SHADOW BAN TESTER. So I'm not sure if this is the right platform for me anymore.

Art Model, Samantha ©2010 Terrell Neasley

I can't stand being beholden to someone else's sensibilities on what is obscene or offensive to other viewers. I do my work and my art and believe you, me...I plan to misbehave. Some of my artwork leans towards the explicit and I don't know what to tell you... you can simply not look at it if you don;t like it. I won't be offended. Ergo, I need a new platform to display and exhibit my work. VERO, is a possibility but I still have time to search this out. Maybe I'll keep IG solely for the Travel work. I won't make this call until later this fall.

Instagram is only part of my challenge. I've still got to find favorable venues and platforms that won't limit or censor my work. And that means I have to tap into a demographic that appreciates and purchases my art which leaves me with with the task of finding my real audience. Plenty of people are interested in travel photography, visiting places around the world, and living vicariously through those that do in the form of instant access social media. That demographic is easy. A smaller portion of that demographic is interested in seeing a nipple exposed anywhere near a waterfall. And even less want a full frontal nude body "desecrating", what would have otherwise been appropriate imagery to hang on a family wall. I can be a bit obstinate, I know. Because the easy solution is to just stick to the travel landscape and make everybody happy. And that would be great, but it would come at the cost of my own happiness. I can not do that.

Multiple Art Models, ©2013 Terrell Neasley

So for the time being, I keep shooting. Get my gear. (I'll be ordering my laptop soon!) And keep researching, learning, and planning. I'll make my call this fall.

16 May 2018

Why Traveling (Internationally) Seems So Hard - REPOST

**** Originally published July 17, 2015 ****
I thought this was definitely worth a REPOST! Enjoy!!
Couple traveling in Guatemala
"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

I get asked often about why I travel, what its like, and how I do it more times than I'd care to count. I'm amazed at how mysterious so many people think it is. But then again, I'm reminded of the fact that I used to be the exact same way. It's not easy when you can't speak the language. Its too expensive. I have kids or a job that won't let me take the time off. Trust me. I had the exact same thoughts and had a few events and people in my life not helped me change that mentality, I'd still be in the same mindset.

German Art Model traveling through out Central and South America
For me, the military set the ball in motion. My first duty assignment was in Germany. I hail from Texas where being 200 miles or more from home was a rarity and most of those times I exceeded 200 miles, I was still in Texas. I turned 20 in Germany if memory serves. It was a wake-up call and was the first thing or event in my life that let me know people did things differently. During time off, I got to travel around Europe. Eventually other assignments took me to more places and I learned to be in the habit of moving a lot.

German Art Model traveling through out Central and South America
Towards the end of my military career, I stabilized in the city of my last duty station in Tennessee which is where my kids call home. I got to travel from there to Lake Tahoe with a former friend of mine who travels domestically often. I got to see that its not as expensive as I had been lead to believe to arrange flights, hotels, and car rentals if you do it wisely. The advent of the internet and online booking options really aided me in those efforts. And yet, I gradually lost the calling to seek out new life and civilizations. I got bogged down in work and making money.

Through some hiking associations, I met fellow traveler, @Heather Rae Murphy  (www.heatherraemurphy.com/) who took off on her own to Southeast Asia for two months one summer. I couldn't wait til she got back to talk to her about her trip. It was at this point that I realized a few things. Excuses were just that...excuses. I had already been through enough life events to realize I wasn't going out of this life with thoughts of making more money for my employer. I was on the road WITH Heather that next following Summer in Guatemala and Belize. There was one thing in particular that I had to change in my life in order to make these things happen.

Art Model Covenant on Little Corn Island traveling throughout Central America 

Yes. Prioritizing travel was all it took really. Just making the decision to go. Go anywhere! But don't be deluded. You ain't going anywhere til you get that ticket. All the plans you make. All the good intentions and mean-wells do you absolutely no good until you GET THAT TICKET AND PASSPORT! So booking the flight is first. Well at some point before you go, you're gonna have to get a passport if you don't already have one. Plan a trip that is several months away to give yourself some time to make the arrangements. Central America has been the perfect proving grounds. One, its close. Two, its cheap. Three, it eliminates any and every excuse you might have to not travel. As many times as you've flown across the US for the holidays or other family events, you'll pay less in many cases flying internationally to the Central America. So what you can't speak the language. I'm still alive after several trips of being down there. My Spanish is getting better. But I didn't remember much of anything outside of counting to twenty-nine in EspaƱol. Don't be scared of that. I'd wager that 80% of all the travelers I meet do not speak the native language and yet you don't hear of news reports of people dying because of it. But chances are your priorities are probably getting those new J's on your feet. Or maybe trying to find a way to keep those $500 a month car payments up. Or its probably more important to have your Starbucks in the morning. You spend your money on what you are about most. If you cared about traveling, odds are you would be or will soon be traveling.

Art Model Covenant on Little Corn Island
traveling throughout Central America 
"There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million."
~ Walt Streightiff

So you got kids

Children playing in Belize ©2012 Terrell Neasley
Yeah, my kids are grown. Is that an advantage? I won't lie. Yes it is. However... So what?? Bring the kids!! Why not raise 'em on a good wholesome diet of culture variety? You can't tell me how this would be a bad thing unless you are planning a trip to Syria. More likely than not, your kids will also become travelers. Why? Because they'll be used to it and will ALREADY have passports. Many people stay put because they have never applied for a passport. I see kids on the road with their families all the time. Many get raised on sailboats with parents who circumnavigate the world. You know who I meet on the road from other countries traveling by themselves? 18 to 23 year old kids doing extended travel for a few months before they get locked down in jobs and careers. Do you think your 18 year old is ready to cross the Pacific on their own? Well they would be if you took them there before they leave home.

Is it the job?

This is probably a tough one. But then I gotta ask. How important is traveling to you? If your job doesn't understand your need to be off more than a week a year, then...damn. I don't want to tell you you need to find a new job. YOU need to tell you that you need to find a new job. America is one of the few countries that still don't understand the value of time off and burn-out prevention. Traveling or not, a well-rounded lifestyle is more beneficial to your health and longevity. Expense reports are not. But honestly, who can tell you to change careers. I follow travel blogs all the time and often hear about husbands/wives, or single people quitting their jobs to follow their hearts.

All I'm saying is this: There are options out there if you look. Plenty of them. But none of them will do you a bit of good until you make the call to prioritize travel with your money and your time. Get the ticket!

Locals in Antigua, Guatemala ©2014 Terrell Neasley