Thursday, February 11, 2016

Art vs Commerce

I am not a good business man. There you have it.

Some may deem it a weakness but I choose to embrace the positive. I would much rather create work that I'm proud of, work with artistic merit, images with purpose, dignity and a conscience.

I love the human body, and yes I've spent a great deal of time focusing on the male form. How much of that work has truly been art? Not as much as I would have liked. It's easy to get caught up in the game, sort of a competition among contemporaries. Who's most popular? Who gets the most clicks? Who's style gets emulated today? Who gets to shoot with the modeling "stars" of the moment?

It's all just so exhausting and at the end of the day I just wasn't proud of much that I was creating. I certainly wasn't making money off of these endeavors. I had the pleasure of working with a handful of models who are recognizable in some circles but certainly no huge bragging rights. I did manage to make some art here and there. But I wasn't getting enough out of what I was putting in.

But I still believe in championing the male body as a valid art form. Every so often someone still comes back to me and says "hey, I'd love to shoot again if you have any ideas"  Well of course I have ideas, my brain is still on.

So I do another shoot but what's happening now is I'm focusing on pretty much one word singularly when preparing for a shoot with a male model these days.

"Why?"

Typically I like to come up with 2-3 "vignettes" or series when I'm planning a shoot, all while also leaving room for spontaneity as well. So now as I'm planning these segments of a shoot I ask myself "Why?" when I think I have a good idea.

Why does this idea need to happen? Why do this at all? Also questions such as What are we saying here? What do I want people to get out of this? Why should this exist?  If I can't answer these questions then that particular idea gets shelved or even trashed.

I'm also looking to incorporate various other art mediums into my work. I've recently done a fantastic shoot where I painted the model head to toe in black liquid latex as part of a theme. It was fun to break out another medium and put it to work in my photography. Another layer of art. It was gratifying.

I feel as if I'm beginning to ramble and that's partly due to the hour. But my point is this: I am infinitely more interested in making art than I am simply running a cookie cutter factory of the hottest spank bank material for circulation on the internet.

So a collaboration with me should answer a lot of "Why?" questions and we may speak at length before getting to the shoot to ensure that all the details are set and a spectacular plan has been made.

Even if the plan is to not plan. That's a valid plan as well. Sometimes we just want to fly by the seat of our pants and see what kind of art happens on the fly. Or we challenge ourselves with a prop and see what can be made to happen when faced with an unconventional obstacle, or opportunity.

It's about art, ya know?

Art happens from the soul for the soul.

That's what speaks to me today. Money talk turns me off. Art turns me on.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Behind The Scenes Spotlight: From Model to Bestie



I have always held a 9-5 throughout my photographic career. It's been a pragmatic, logical decision. This way I am afforded the opportunity to make the images I want and not be so bound to customer input. At least for Fine Art imagery. (I do what I want! - as Cartman would say)

It was in one such office that this beautiful boy caught my attention. Because of the politically correct nature of Corporate America I chose not to approach him even though I knew the camera would adore him.

Then there was a fire drill. Actually it could've been a case of burnt popcorn in a microwave, that happened too many times to count in that building. I was sitting in the grass with a friend of mine just shooting the shit when she said hi to someone who walked past. It was him. She knew him!

Quickly I discovered that they were friendly and there was my connection. I asked her to introduce us and for her to broach the subject of my photography that mostly focused on the male form. Before I knew it he was sitting in my living room and we were hashing out a plan for a shoot.

Luckily he had a friend who owned a cabin in the woods (no horrifying monsters beneath it to my knowledge) and we chose to travel a couple hours north to spend a weekend creating these gorgeous natural images.

We hiked all over those woods, stopping anywhere and everywhere that seemed to call out and say "Hey, I'm a good spot!" Unfortunately this is the only image that has survived an ill fated hard drive crash from several years back. But I believe it was my favorite anyway so I'm happy to still have it.

This all took place in 2004. We've not only stayed in contact but his friendship means the world to me. Rarely does a day go by that we don't communicate. Everyone needs a friend who knows to rush over and erase their buddies hard drive after your unfortunate passing. This guy is such a friend.

From Model to Bestie. It's a rare occurrence but very much a treasured one.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Geppetto: A Digital Journey

In the late '90's I fought digital imaging with everything I had. At the time I managed a camera store and my insistence to keep with traditional photography and avoid digital like a plague was not my best attribute as a salesman who needed commissions and sales incentives. So I left.

Then when the quality of image scanning grew to the point that, under magnification, you could see actual grain from the film stock instead of pixels... I was forced to at least take notice and put my ear to the ground.

Eventually I made the plunge and enjoyed the immediate gratification of shooting digital. 

Initially my editing skills were non-existent. I put very little time and effort into learning anything about real editing techniques and because of this I got sucked into many of the  incredibly cheesy newb traps that many of us do. Emboss, Invert, Neon Lines, etc. Don't even get me started on those wretched attempts to combine two images in PS Elements. 

I literally couldn't even....

But I fell down the rabbit hole. Much to my great fortune I was set straight by a friend who had a real education in this technical landscape that I found so overwhelming. He taught me some real basics like image masks, adjusting levels, proper use of the cloning tool and other editing techniques that helped me take my digital imaging to the next level. 

At this point in my evolution I would tend to stick with "portrait" style editing that really just included cleaning up the image, clearing skin imperfections, expanding backgrounds that I'd become too lazy to include in-camera and adjusting the levels. 

Every once in awhile I would put on my experimenting pants and try something more advanced. Sometimes they worked out well, some times they really didn't. The latter of which I may put on blast in a future post. Today my ego needs stroking so I'm going to focus on a piece that I feel worked out pretty well.



In talking with David; the model in this piece, before the shoot I got the idea to do this macabre image that combined some social commentary about being a sheep who follows the masses and incorporating a bit of my personal love of horror. 

A really fucked up Pinocchio concept was born. "What?! But you named this piece Geppetto you hack!" Yes I did. Because Geppetto was the creator of the puppet and pulled his strings. See? the title "Geppetto" represents society in this one. 

This is where art and technology collide. I knew I wanted it bloody and twisted. However David was not keen on me putting very large fish hooks through his skin and actually suspending him from the ceiling this way. Some people are into that, he wasn't and I didn't blame him. 

Unfortunately the image had already been born in my brain space and as any artist knows... once that brain space is filled with a creation, the birthing process must happen. There is no choice. The artist becomes the bitch for the concept.

It was clear that many aspects of the impending image would need to be done digitally. I knew it could be done and I had a vague idea of how to go about it but I was nervous. This guy was coming down from Chicago on his dime in order for us to work together based on the awesomeness of this concept. **Gulp** Could I deliver? 

The only aspect of this image that I look back on with regret is the border. But it's lived there so long that it feels like I'd be bastardizing if I changed it now. Plus I have a framed print of this in my office and on display it looks pretty amazing. 

Personal sidenote: My favorite part of this entire creation was meeting David's then-girlfriend. She and I hit it off famously and have referred to each other as twins ever since. No idea what David is up to these days but Gen and her fam are coming to my wedding in three months. :) I LOVE YOU TWINNY!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Behind The Scenes Spotlight: Brand New Shoes


I have a history of models withstanding harsh weather in order to get to me and/or working with me in the damndest of conditions. They are like Postal Carriers. "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds".

Josh and Trish were certainly no exception. I'm based in Indianapolis, IN. and they lived northwest of Chicago. Not too bad a drive normally, except when having to traverse a blinding snow storm. I'm not even exaggerating. They said there were times when visibility was zero. These two young, rebel hearted masochists just said "fuck it" and kept right on truckin. 

Good thing too because Trish got Josh to pose nude for the first time (only time I believe) so kudos to him for having the... balls... to leap out of his comfort zone also we created the above image which to this day remains one of my top five favorites in my entire decade and a half of creating images.

Please remain calm, no models or shoes were harmed in the creation of this piece of art. I would also like to point out that the effects were physical, not digital. Yay for old school!

I think the image speaks for itself, it's cheeky humor. In writing this post I recall having several ideas at the time for creating a series of editorial images that took dark humor with a dash of slapstick and a pinch of cheesiness to portray the less blissful parts of domesticity. 

Sounds like a good project to circle back around to.



    

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Focus

In 2014 I announced the retirement of LightWeaver. To be fair I also conceded that it would likely be very much akin to the way Cher retires.

I did shift my focus for quite awhile to things like seeing friends in person, cooking quality meals for myself, spending time with my husband. I'm also developing my first feature film so that does take a chunk of time. Script still in the works.

Besides not spinning my wheels dealing with flaky models, last minute cancellations, scheduling conflicts, undeserved egos and prima dona attitudes I realized it wasn't LightWeaver I had grown weary of... it was my focus. Or lack thereof.

Don't get me wrong, photographing good looking guys nude, scantily clad, in costumes, in studio or out... that's fun. At least it can be. But what's the point ultimately? Sure I can take pride in the fact that my images are of high quality and that I'm not one of those photographers who does the same shot, same background, same lighting and same editing style over and over again ad nauseam. In the end though I would rather my life work stand for something. Mean something. Say something. Move people.

I have had some standouts over the years that accomplished this goal. Such as...


 and...



... but after 24 years isn't it reasonable to believe that I shouldn't have to search my image collection to show you two images that really mean something to me?

Yes. That answer is yes, it's reasonable to believe that I should have a much large collection of images that actually classify as art and that aren't just throw away spank bank material. Yes that's crass but come on. Let's be honest. OK thanks, now let's move on.

Continuing my narrative let's look at Merriam-Websters definition of Art: Something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or expresses important ideas or feelings. 

Blammo! There it is. "...expresses important ideas or feelings".

Somehow I don't believe that "Damn I want to fuck that guy" is what the dictionary folks had in mind as an important idea or feeling.

Now that I've laid out the contention let's examine the solution.

Moving forward with projects I find inspiring, meaningful and poignant. Pretty simple solution right?

When considering future projects here is my checklist:
  • Why?
  • Artistic Integrity?
  • Symbolism?
  • What does this concept express?
  • Does this matter?
  • Is this unique or at least a unique take?
  • Will this enrich me artistically?
  • Is the end result something I can truly be proud of?
  • Will this make the viewer want to choke the chicken or consider life? (the necessary answer is the latter)
Look, I'm not being a snob. There is a time and a place for everything. But my time is increasingly valuable and must be spent on projects I find personally fulfilling on an emotional level. 

There is absolutely no shortage of 'togs out there snapping ripped guys in wet underwear. More power to them. I wish them only the best most successful careers. But I no longer want to be counted in their number. 

My Life. My Art. My Way.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Cover!

Insert Happy Dance Here.

Here's my first cover. Beautiful Mag is an online magazine with a world wide audience and is highly trafficked. I'm very happy to have this in my repertoire of credits.

What's next? hmmm... stay tuned!


Check them out at BeautifulMag