Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Semi-Naked Truth ~

I came into this world naked, and, presumably, I'll exit in much the same way. Otherwise I totally rock the shorts-and-Hawaiian shirt vibe. (Is that on fleek, or just fleek? It's so hard to keep up.) But I come to this innocent observation honestly and forthrightly, because nakedness figured prominently in my photo-world last week, and I'm not talking about mine. I had the opportunity to do a nude study in the studio and, like all studio projects, it was compelling and challenging. And thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable.

But what is it about nudes -- female nudes in particular -- that visual artists are so attracted to? We could go on at length about the subtle mysteries of the female form, the refined visual aesthetic of lighting, mood, and texture, even the unmistakable eros inherent in the subject. Important, even necessary considerations, to be sure, but still somehow short of the mark. And maybe that's just it; maybe we over-think it to the point of abstraction.

In my case, it was the opportunity to work with a beautiful woman who had some seriously beautiful tattoos. Body adornment -- piercings, ink -- fascinates me, and has been an on-going studio project for a long time. And as I think about, this drives closer to the truth about the nude aesthetic for me: it's the living, breathing, human story somehow captured in the camera, and not a static discussion of the parts.

This is what drives me. This fascinates me. This is the intersection of our lives, and it celebrates the vulnerabilities, passions, and mysteries of both the photographer and the photographed; it is here that powerful stories are being told. All portraiture is this for me, but a nude amplifies the nature of that connection a hundredfold.

We don't stay long in this world, naked or otherwise. Along the way we leave behind the bent twigs that marked our passage; for me, these are photographs. I hope that I caught not only your image, but also your story, for therein lies mine as well.

And mine is totally on fleek.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

If I Could Find The Perfect Salad, I Would Know The Universe ~

So here's my question: what do you feel when you look at a photograph? And I mean, really look, get absorbed in it, let it wash right over you. And not necessarily in a gallery, or a magazine, or online (though god knows looking at photos -- any and pretty much all photos -- is something I am shamelessly addicted to). No, I mean your photos. If something drove you to a particular scene, made you pick up the camera and make an exposure, and then dawdle and fuss with it in the darkroom or at the computer, then what was it? Did it somehow move you? Do you think any about it? Or does it even matter?

Well, I for one think it somehow does, but I didn't always think that way. Maybe it comes with the years (of which I probably have more than my fair share) and the fact that I mostly shoot for myself these days, and turns out I'm a demanding bastard of a customer. But the events of the past couple weeks, stressful and heartbreaking, have left me in an unusually contemplative mood, and it is here that I turn to the meditative balm of taking pictures. And looking at them.

Interestingly, the excitement I feel when I've taken what I think is a great photo is rarely there to greet me when I open it up on the laptop and start tuning it. But not disappointment either, no. My initial performances in Photoshop are somewhat desultory (sizing, usually, and perhaps a schmutz of sharpening), and I have to put it away and let it percolate for a while. When I come back to it days, or even weeks later, lo and behold there it is waiting for me with a bouquet of flowers and a guilty smile. Where've you been, sailor?  Now, and only now, can I really look at it, be absorbed by it, and let it wash over me. And yes, I think it matters.

The secrets to doing photography are no more evident to me than they are to you, but I think they boil down to this: look both ways, be kind to strangers, hold your loved ones close, buy a good lens.

And now look what you've done.