The Path to Here (Part 2)

Halley Dances 57

Kelley was my first studio model, “K__” my second, and Kristy my third. I was referred to Kelley by a fine art drawing instructor at the local community art center. K__ was Kelley’s friend, an amateur, came with her on one of the shoots, and decided she’d like to try doing nudes herself. Kristy came to me through my first ad seeking models, in the university newspaper, and was also an amateur. I suspect this is fairly typical for those just starting out doing nudes, although Model Mayhem and One Model Place have eased the challenge of finding models. (Convincing a model to work with you when you are wet behind the collar is another issue.) The models were about as uncertain as I was. (Kelley was experienced, but to that point only in striking a pose and holding it for minutes — she required some adjustment to the concept of poses flowing in rapid succession.)

I sometimes look at initial portfolios shown by photographers new to doing nudes, and their images often take me back to 2002. I have “archived” (essentially, thrown away) so much of that early work. A few photos have survived, and I’m sure that to the extent they are of acceptable quality by my current standards, it’s a matter purely of luck. Here’s one of Kelley:


I began learning about light and use of strobes. My first studio setup was at that same art center, which had a photo studio, some seamless paper, and a large, dark canvas backdrop. They had a couple decent-sized softboxes, so I was able to build on the basic lighting course I’d taken there, experimenting with various lighting possibilities. A photo with Kelley might even qualify for the kind of off-axis, directional lighting I use today:

“Acoma Forms”

Still rather a clumsy composition, but moving in the right direction. By the time of our third and final session, I had set up my home studio and no longer used the art center facility. I photographed both K__ and Kristy in the new studio.

Keys to making it work: practice, frequently trying something new, and working with models who are as interested in experimentation as you are. (Importantly, if you want to proceed at a faster pace, hire experienced models with the understanding they will tutor you as well as providing the basis for some better-than-average photographs.)

I joined One Model Place in May 2002. I’m member number 7557, so that gives you some idea of how early I came to that approach to contacting models. Several good ones came through OMP in those early years, although these days
I get my best models by far through Model Mayhem.

2002 was a good year, but still formative. Here’s a final image, of Kristy:

The lighting is better, the frame rather cutesy, the skin texture natural (i.e., “rough”), musculature nicely defined, and the pose relaxed.

The next year, however, would prove to be a watershed, in terms both of technique and of my approach to marketing myself. A dramatic increase in the number and quality of models (not to denigrate any of the 2002 models, but I began working with some gals who had experience and/or serious modeling aspirations). Most important, I began selling my work, and built the subscription website that continues to today.

More about all that in the next installment.


Antipathy to Religion Department

Report via Associated Press that an Iranian cleric has blamed women’s clothing and promiscuous behavior for earthquakes. Any wonder that I find organized religion to be anathema to progress in the world, and religion itself responsible for some of the great sins of repression, oppression and brutality?

“Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes,” Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Sedighi is Tehran’s acting Friday prayer leader.

Of course, now that this idiot mullah has issued his proclamation, Iran will inevitably have an earthquake, whereupon he’ll say, “I told you so.” Then those who benefit from male repression of women will adhere to the party line and further suppress such nascent liberality as young women are presently pressing for in Tehran.

Minister of Welfare and Social Security Sadeq Mahsooli said prayers and pleas for forgiveness were the best “formulas to repel earthquakes.”

“We cannot invent a system that prevents earthquakes, but God has created this system and that is to avoid sins, to pray, to seek forgiveness, pay alms and self-sacrifice,” Mahsooli said.


Blood and Guts Department

Still watching the weekly installments of HBO’s The Pacific. Sunday night’s was the battle for Peleliu Island, one of the most grueling (and gruesome) of the war. The Marine commander had predicted the island would be secure in four days. Instead, it took over two months.

The casualties were horrific, and considering the island’s limited strategic value, perhaps in vain.

Peleliu turned out to be one of the islands where Japanese survivors held out until after the war, not surrendering until April 1947.

HBO’s depiction of one small portion of the battle was exceedingly realistic, and I could not help but wonder how anyone could remain sane after that experience. Every single one of those Marines would have suffered PSD after such a battle, by today’s standards. Yet they just kept going. It was, after all, only September 1944, and the war had many months and several islands to go, including Iwo Jima and Okinawa.


Confederacy of Dunces Redux Department

Those old enough will remember when in 1980 John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces burst upon the literary scene, eleven years following the author’s suicide, and went on to win the following year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I recall reading it and being blown away by the richness of imagination, the complexity of characters, and the picaresque description of New Orleans (possibly the most interesting description of New Orleans, which is virtually a character in the novel, until events surrounding and following Katrina — I think HBO’s currently running drama, Treme, is doing equally good things for NO).

Now comes another book, which I’ve not yet read, which also sneaked into consideration for the Pulitzer and ended up winning it, fortunately without tragedy visited upon its author: Paul Harding’s Tinkers. The NY Times‘s description of Harding’s path to the Pulitzer is especially interesting.

(As an aside, the book’s title refers in part to itinerant “tinkers,” men who traveled the countryside doing odd jobs and offering services. I remember when growing up that a man would show up every year or two offering to sharpen knives, repair rain gutters, of fix small appliances. My recollections don’t rise to the richness of friend Dave’s of his own youthful encounters; regrettably, perhaps.)


Stop Counting Those Calories! Department

Zoë François attended my “Digital SLR I” workshop the other day, bringing out her Canon 5D Mark II, literally brand new out of the box. She was a bit intimidated by the camera, and I tried to lessen her unease in the course of our three hours. I think she will be back for the follow-on workshop, where we discuss photographing in RAW and more information regarding digital color and related topics. Most fascinating, however, is the use to which she plans to put the camera.

Zoë is a professional baker, and she said she wanted the camera to photograph her creations. She had already been doing so with a Canon Rebel unit, and the results are, well, mouth-watering. So, get your drool reflex under control and click on the link to visit Zoë Bakes.


Street Photography Department

Britain’s The Guardian weighs in with an article briefly surveying the history of street photography, warning of dangers to the art form by misuse of anti-terror legislation in Britain, and then discusses some current practitioners.


During our dance set.

This entry was posted in Books, Movies & TV, My Photography, Religion, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>