Be bold

Galen Woida and Amanda Stair at a costumed junk yard shoot with Arizona Photo Events.

Galen Woida and Amanda Stair at a costumed junk yard shoot with Arizona Photo Events.

Stephen King and Milton Glaser, to name just two artists, have made it clear that art is the work of the soul. In the yoga tradition they teach that the fifth chakra becomes real to us when we explore its capacity to nourish our creativity. When that happens, we begin to realize that the universe is a caring and hospitable place. Art creates heaven. I don’t think that is stretching the point.

Milton Glaser titled his book Art is Work. Stephen King, in On Writing, advised readers to imagine their characters and then ask, what would they be likely to do? It’s a great question to ask about ourselves. Look at all this talent! What’s likely to emerge from this situation and group of people?

The experts encourage boldness. Who am I to argue?

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Pricing: You know it’s 2013, right?

Big truckIf you would like me to photograph your Hummer, the one with the fancy wheels and custom upholstery, you will pay list price for my services.

If you are an aspiring model and need photos for your portfolio, I work on a sliding scale. That scale sometimes slides all the way to zero cost for the model.

Your young children will not be young for long. Let’s get photographs of them at prices that make sense to you today. The method is simple. You tell me what you can spend, and I tell you what I can do for that.

I know many historically prosperous people who have been treated badly by employers, or they work less because of growing physical limitations. I can adjust my fees according to your circumstances.

My goals are these: add value for people who appreciate it by taking wonderful photographs, and to stay reasonably busy.

What may I do for you?

Here is a beautiful photo of the marvelous Gayle Vickroy that will make this post more interesting to people. Gayle is one of the most photogenic people I know.

Gayle Vickroy

Gayle Vickroy

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Learning to see

Kendra

Our eyes see an unframed view of a wild mix of light, objects, and color. Cameras, in contrast, see a view defined by the lens. That frame is a reminder to the photographer to notice what is happening visually in that confined space. It is an exercise in noticing what we see.

We call the act of choosing what is in the frame composing. Some people skip this step, and in my opinion, they are missing out on a lot of fun. They are also missing out on the opportunity to pay closer attention to what is in front of them.

drawing

One of my sketches from The Drawing Studio

I am involved in another activity that enhances the ability to pay attention. I sketch, and I am not very good at it. Every sketch is more or less a struggle because I record images that do not align with reality. I get proportions wrong. I turn subtle curves into straight lines. I cannot do justice to foreshortening, the effect that happens when the model extends an arm or other appendage right at me. I work hard at mimicking the shadows I see.

Some people omit details and instead record something like energy patterns. I obsess on details, trying to make them as literal as possible. The way I see and filter visual information has me all hung up on a literal view. I am much more flexible in my imagination when I make photographs.

I pumped up the colors in this one to express gaudiness.

I pumped up the colors in this one to express gaudy insincerity.

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Blogging for fun, profit, and even more fun

Katlyn Lacoste

Katlyn Lacoste

There are plug-in applications that enable blog owners to charge admission, and you don’t have to be the New York Times. Tinypass has a relationship with WordPress. They say the setup is simple and fast.

My friend Laura Kay invited me to subscribe to her new website, and that is how I learned about the gatekeeper services. Admission to my friend’s site is $30 a year.

She also invites people to name a price higher than that. I think that is pretty clever. Her content consists largely of photos and video of her doing yoga poses nude. I subscribed purely out of friendship, of course. My responsibility as a photographer requires me to investigate how yoga looks nude, and with Laura doing the poses, it looks very, very good.

A simple method of charging for access opens up all manner of possibilities for blogs. I work with a lot of models and have a fairly extensive gallery in place already. I begin to see ways to turn this blogging hobby into something more practical.

Let me hasten to add that Katlyn maintains a site on Tumblr and on Model Mayhem . She announces on Tumblr: Hope you enjoy. laugh. or get grossed out. I am prone to the first two behaviors when I view her work. For my taste, she is never gross.

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Improvising on the spot

Carla Armijo

Carla Armijo

Later this month I will trek north to The Domes in Casa Grande for my second visit. The event is organized by Corinne Kushel through Arizona Photo Events.

This time I have private sessions scheduled with two of the models. I also will have access to all the models who will attend. I gave some thought to props for the private shoots. Given the setting a roll of yellow caution tape seemed appropriate. I have some ideas for using it creatively.

Working with experienced models is a whole lot of fun. They have their repertoire of poses, and they have self-confidence. They also tend to dress in interesting ways, and many of them come with tattoos and inventive hair styles. It’s a grab bag of activity and surprises, and I like that.

I did a shoot recently in a private party room that was decorated to look and feel like a strip club. One of the models climbed the stripper pole wearing high heels. You never know what’s going to happen.

The photo of Gypsy Danger involved getting the flash off camera at the end of an extension cord designed for the purpose. I like the softness of the shadows this produced as the light wrapped around her. There is no burst of flash and shadow to muddle the image.

I like the improvisation that strange settings both inspire and require.

She identifies herself on Facebook as Gypsy Danger.

Tashua Spiess is also known as Gypsy Danger.

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Unnatural surroundings

Beth is one of my favorite models.

Beth is one of my favorite models.

I attend events organized by Corinne Kushel and her Arizona Photo Events group which is located in Tucson. You can find her on Meetup.com and Facebook. She takes me places I would never go on my own. And for the price of admission I get to work with models, many of whom—like Beth and Adela—are talented and experienced. Models and photographers of all levels of experience participate.

The photo above is from The Domes north of Tucson a ways. It is a site that started off to be home for a manufacturing plant, but only the shell of the buildings were completed. Now it looks like something from Mad Max at Thunderdome.

The point of this post is to recommend unusual field trips that take you to places you would not otherwise visit, especially counter-intuitive places. I have taken pictures at a junk yard under Corinne’s influence, and they are some of my favorites. Here is one of the lovely Adela. What is most amazing to me is that Adela and I met a few minutes before I pressed the shutter button. How remarkable.

Adela Arceo

Adela Arceo

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Seeing beauty where you find it

Art Honeyman

Art Honeyman made significant contributions before he died from complications with cerebral palsy.

Jade Beall is working on a photography project to celebrate women, especially women who might be inclined to find fault with their physical appearance. Her basic premise is that women who have given birth are often changed physically by the experience,and that they ought not apologize for those changes. She encourages women to celebrate the evolution of their bodies whatever their form might be.

She has expanded her definition to include women who are self-conscious due to their size or shape for any reason. I purchased a copy of her upcoming book, The Beautiful Body Project, and contributed a little cash through her Kickstarter fundraising effort. I want this project to succeed. As I recall, she got more than twice the donations she requested.

My concentration for the last couple of years involves women who describe themselves as curvy, and women who have physical handicaps that limit their mobility. Men? I seldom photograph men. They are welcome to put themselves in front of my camera, but they seldom do. That’s a topic for another post.

Many years ago my friend Art Honeyman, shown in the photo, asked me to photograph him naked. He taught a class at Portland State University called Relations With The Handicapped. I declined to take the photo in spite of what he had taught me. Due to his illness he trembled constantly, and I didn’t know how to deal with that. That is how I was in those days. In Art’s typical fashion he responded, “I didn’t ask you to photograph my balls.” I’ve learned a few things since then. I am far more appreciative of people in whatever state they might be in at the moment. I’m less judgmental. I’m more real. I know handicapped people who I delight in photographing.

Tucson photographer Kathleen Dreier has a project she calls Bus Stop Dreams. She interviews people who are waiting for a bus and asks them about their destination and their hopes and plans for the future. It’s sweet, and it nods to Studs Terkel who wrote the classic book, Working.

Part of my task as a photographer is to see beauty, and I often see it in people who do not see it in themselves. It’s an adventure. It’s an awakening. People I invite to pose often decline. That is always a lesson for me. I will be ready when they are.

My advice is to stop comparing yourself and just notice and rejoice in who you are, blemishes and all. For all of us in this world appearances are just temporary. Have fun as you are. We all end up looking exactly the same.

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