Posts in Category: Photographers

The Stories Written Upon Our Skin

Billions of dollars a year are spent on advertising in this country to teach us one thing; that we are invariably Stupid, Ugly and we Smell Bad. That message starts when we are barely old enough to talk. We are taught what to buy and what to use to give us flawless skin with nary a blemish or a wrinkle; never showing a single sign that we’ve aged.  We’re told to go pay professionals to remove the scars that are the signs of our adventures and misadventures.   We’re told we must smell like flowers or citrus or spices, but not like people.  And most of all, we are told that we don’t get to decide what is pretty, or what smells we enjoy or what things we believe. The bright shining loud people in the flat box attached to the wall get to tell us that.  We’re too stupid to know, to decide, to live without their aid and comfort and most importantly, their products. The real sin in their message, though, is that it teaches us that our life’s story isn’t one worth telling.   We can write things down on paper or make movies or tell stories, but that’s only a description of a story.  The real story of our life is written in the blemishes and the scars on our skin.  The real story is in the textures and shapes of our bodies.  The real story of our lives is written on the parchment of our bodies and those blemishes and scars and shapes and stretch marks and baby chewed breasts are the words that story is written with.

The ultimate beauty of a person can only be seen when you can read that story and learn to love that story.  Why would we let some talking head in a box or manipulated lifelike manikin in a picture in a magazine keep us from letting that story show forth in our skin, our posture, every wrinkle and sag and roll and stretch mark and blemish?  Our life is sacred, our stories are beautiful, our lives are worth living and loving and sharing.

I have the incredible privilege of knowing a woman who has never been taken in by the bright people in the box.  Her life is a hard one that if written out in a script, it would make you weep.  But through that struggle to survive, she learned not just to cope, but to *live*.   She’s had spouses and divorces. She’s had children and struggled to feed and clothe them.She’s been as near destitute as you can get and nearly lost her life to a simple, common infection.  She survived all of that and lives today with that story written upon her body.   It’s as beautiful and as harsh and as soft and as stark as the marks and blemishes and scars she’ll carry with her the rest of her life.

I have attempted to capture a few short phrases of that story here to share with all of you. Her identity is hidden, by her request, and by my choice. Her name is not her story; it is a label. The photos exhibited here are purposely stark, textured, even harsh. No attempt to pretty them up and in most cases very minimal processing was done at all. Who is she? She is every-woman. She is your sister, your mother, your neighbor, your child.  She is you.

As you view this gallery of photos, look at her not as a model in photo studio, but as a book begging to be read, to be deciphered, to be experienced. I will not put my own labels on these photos. I want you, the viewer, to read this story and find your own symbols in the blemishes, in the scars, in the stretch marks.  Then, when you’re done, go find a mirror and start reading your own story and loving and experiencing your own life.   You’re too precious a being, too holy a person,  to divine a soul to do anything else.

The photos here are of the nude form and not safe for work in most places. View them at your discretion.

Waterfalls in Asheville, NC

I found this beautiful spot just off the highway on my way to Asheville a few years ago.  Enjoy.

An experiment in low-key photography. – Part 2

I took some time recently to complete my finishing touches on the first shoot of 2015.  There may be a few more gems buried in the shoot, but I am extremely pleased with the results so far.  I hope you will be too.

As you probably already knew, the images past the cut are NSFW.

Expressions of Beauty at Alchemy 2011

The spirit of creativity and the joy of free expression is the foundation of Burning Man and the regional festivals that have formed from it’s inspiration.

With that spirit in mind I asked this lovely woman to let me capture her expressions of that freedom and her inner beauty at the Alchemy burn in 2011.

Images behind the cut and as you already know, They’re NSFW.  Tasteful and beautiful nudity abounds in this set.

First shoot of 2015 – A Low Key Shoot.

I’ve been experimenting with low-key lighting and trying to achieve a very soft, body-molding look for a while.  Regular readers have seen some of the results of that experimentation in previous posts.

All of that experimentation came together for the first shoot of 2015 tonight.  The setup is deceptively simple with a black cloth backdrop, an SB-910 speedlight in a 24inch softbox to the right (photographer’s right) of the model.   I set the speedlight to 1/4 power and shot at F/22 or F/18 @ 1/125 and ISO 100.  This gave me a completely dark room with the only light showing up on frame being the speedlight.

The results were everything I had hoped they’d be. The model was very fun to work with and I’ll be shooting her often over the coming year.  With the exception of the image labeled ‘Fire Down Below’, the only editing on these is cropping and b/w conversion and, when needed, a touch of sharpening.  ‘Fire Down Below’ had a bit of color bump, clarity and sharpening to get the look I wanted. I also brought the exposure up slightly on it.

As you probably already guessed, these images are NOT safe for work.  Click the ‘continue reading’ link to see the photos.   And as always, enjoy and I look forward to your feedback.

A blast from the past – Niki

Back in 2006 I was asked by a friend to play the role of the Sin of Vanity in her Seven Sins party.   What better way to help people wallow in vain sin than setting up a photo shoot for all their sexy costumes.   I spent the better part of the night shooting beautiful people in all their sensual and sexual glory.

Going back through those sets, I come across a few that I passed over before and with new eyes and new skills, bring them back to life.  Here is the lovely Niki in an incredible corset.   It’s been eight years since these were taken, but she’s every bit as beautiful today as she was then.

No nudity this time, but corset and lingerie still makes HR directors soil themselves so the photos are behind the cut.  Enjoy.

Retro Redhead Pinup

A few shots of the lovely Aimee taken at my studio during an all day group photo shoot in 2009. Aimee’s one of my favorite models over the years.  She’s moved on from modeling now, but is still a close and dear friend.

A little bit of beauty in blue to brighten your Wednesday.

These are from a shoot in 2011.   Enjoy.

A Study in Stark Contrast.

Back in June of 2011, I had a fun couple of hours in the studio with two of my favorite models from that year.   I’ve gotten a higher percentage of good shots out of that session than just about any other that year.   A couple of those images even became the centerpiece of three different gallery shows.

As anyone who follows my work knows, I’ve spent a good portion of this year going back over my entire body of work and pulling out those gems that just did not have the tools or techniques to polish at the time.   I also have been revisiting the “finished” pieces to see if I can get just that little bit of extra shine from them.   This shoot is one of those that I have gotten both new images to show and been able to really refine the quality on some of the ones already deemed “finished”.

Only one of the shots I worked on tonight is work safe and you can see it up top.  The rest are behind the fold.   As always, use your discretion when viewing.

Classical Nudes

For quite a while now, most of my work has trended towards high key lighting, almost to the point that it’s become somewhat of a signature for me. As an example, these are the out-takes from a set called “A Sleazy Drag King Shoot” due for publication next month.   Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been pushing my lighting experimentation in the other direction. Low key, softer and more subtle lighting. Below the fold are a couple of nudes from last week that give a strong sense of the classical painters of the last century. Even though the lighting is very simple (1 strobe with softbox and a single incandescent in the room), and with just a little bit of work in Lightroom, I’m very happy with how these came out.

Implied nudity behind the fold. May or may not be NSFW depending on how picky your HR department is.