Archive for March, 2009

Who should you compare yourself too?

March 27th, 2009

Lin over at Fluffytek said in her latest blog:

On photography blogs, certain standards are inherent. The pressure to be as good as your peers is intense.

It reminded me of something I’ve been thinking about for the last few days.

On Monday I dropped off the three framed pictures at Cafe Montemarte.  (see my previous post)  The woman in charge was surprised that I’d never shown any of my work before, she really liked it.  It got me thinking about why I didn’t think about it in the same way.  I decided it was because I compare my work to others that I see most often.  Because I regularly read the blogs listed in my blogroll, and see a lot of excellent work on Model Mayhem, I compare myself to them.  These are some of the best photographers in the world.  On the one hand it’s good to compare myself to them, it makes me want to emulate the high quality that I see in their work, makes my work better.  On the other hand it does make me think that my work is inferior.  I like the work I’ve done and am proud of it, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s up to the same level.

Thinking about this is the first time that I could empathize with women who say that beauty magazines give them lower self esteem.  Prior to this I thought “how could a magazine do that?”.  Now I kind of get it.  There is a difference in that I have greater control over the outcome.  I can learn and change what I’m doing to improve my work, where as a woman is limited in how much she can change herself.  Yes, she can wear make up, dye her hair, even go to the extreme and get plastic surgery, but that can only change so much.  She’s not going to get any taller, you can only get so thin, and every day you get older.

Getting back to photography, I now realize I am better than the vast majority of people on this planet.  I’m not bragging, I just am.  Even when comparing “people who take pictures” I’m better than average.  I guess I’m just saying be more aware of why you do things.

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Now I am an artist

March 21st, 2009

So for the last few weeks I’ve been seeing a post on Craigslist about an art show at Cafe Montemarte.  The theme is  7 Deadly Sins.  So first I looked up what the seven sins actually were, and then tried to find some of my photos that illustrated them.  I didn’t think that any of my work would actually be chosen, but it didn’t take me long and it was fun looking through some of my older work.  I submitted five images, and three were chosen.  You can see them below and at the show starting Monday March 23rd.

"Wrath"  Allison in Mike's basement.

“Wrath” Allison in Mike’s basement.

"Greed"  My nephew Leo



"Lust" Tamara on my coffee table

“Lust” Tamara on my coffee table

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March 15th, 2009

For those of you who don’t know 2257 is the chapter of some new regulations the federal government is instituting on photographers that create nude photographs.  I’m not gonna go into huge detail on it, if you do a search online you can find out all that you need to know.  What I am gonna do is draw some parallels to a fictional law that will bring out many of the negative aspects of it.

The given reason for these regulations is to prevent child pornography.  The creators of this legislation believe that the new rules will decrease child pornography and give law enforcement new tools to combat it.  Those two simple sentences will get many people to support 2257.

My hypothetical example is a law against speeding.  Now you might say that speeding is already illegal.  You’re right, and child pornography is already illegal as well.  2257 requires creators of nude or sexually explicit content to do is keep certain identifying records such as name and birthday, and allow the government to access them whenever they’d like.  My fictional law would require all drivers to keep records of the distance travelled and the time it took on each trip, and also allow the government to access these records.

The more astute of you may already see where I’m going with this.  Why would someone that is breaking the law keep a record of it in a way that the government suggests?  If I’m going to take sexually explicit pictures of a minor do you honestly think I’m going to keep a copy of her ID on file so that the government can walk in and use the record against me?  NO! The only people who are going to keep accurate records are the people who are not committing the crime.  In my speeding law, if you travel 100 miles, and it only takes you an hour, are you really gonna write that down and prove to the government that you were going 100 miles an hour?

Some people will say that if you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about.  Oh, really?  There’s some pretty significant penalties for failing to comply.  Up to five years in prison.  And that’s not just for willfully disregarding the law.  If you don’t know about 2257 or you make a mistake on something, you can still be punished.  You take some sexy pictures of your 45 year old housewife neighbor, but don’t keep the right paperwork, and you could go to jail.  In our speeding law, if I drive the 2 blocks to the convenience store for a half gallon of milk, but I don’t write it down, I’ve just violated the law.  It won’t matter to the government that I only went 25 mph and the speed limit is 30.

So what is this law gonna do?  For the people who create child pornography it’s not gonna do anything.  They were breaking the law before, they’ll keep breaking it after.  For the speeder?  Same thing.  Some people will just do as the law says.  They’ll keep the records, and spend all that time doing it.  Other people just won’t.  They will not change their behavior, legal or illegal, and will continue to do whatever they did before.

For others the law will make them question whether they want to do the activity they need to keep records for.  If I had to write down every time I drove the 2 blocks to Pizza Hut, or the Mall, maybe I’d walk.  How many photographers are going to stop taking nude pictures of anyone because of this law?  Perhaps that’s the actual intent of it’s creators.  They’ve tried to ban nude photography before and they’ve been unsuccessful.  This law doesn’t say you can’t do it.  It only makes it more difficult.  And that’s the first step isn’t it?  To get the people to not want to do something.

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March 14th, 2009

So, in November I put a casting call out for a lingerie shoot.  I’ve written about it below in the post about Nicollette, how I want to put a photo up on the first wall you see when you enter my apartment.  Tamara said she’d do it on the first day I put up my casting.  We set up our first shoot for two weeks later.  Then something came up so we rescheduled until after her finals.  That day rolls around, huge snowstorm.  Buses and cabs are all running late, and she had a flight to catch.  Now she’s out of the country for a month so we don’t talk again till January.  She has a lot of stuff to do with the semester starting so we set something up for February 6th.  Of course then she finds out that her Professor wants her in the lab that day.  We reschedule again for the 15th.  Of course I didn’t look at the calendar right and I already had someone scheduled for the 15th. So we push it back again and finally on February 21st we get to take some pictures.

I think they turned out great.  Well worth the wait.  The shoot didn’t go exactly as I expected.  I never asked, and wasn’t planning on doing any nudes.  But we did some, and of the final images below more than half have some nudity.  It was really hard to pick which pictures I would edit.  There were so many good ones.  Tamara has a lot of poses.  Normally I only have to go through a photo set twice.  The first to take out the bad pictures, not focused, blinking, bad lighting, etc.  And the second to choose which photos I want to edit.  Usually on a second pass I can narrow a set down to thirty to forty pictures.  On this set I had over ninety my second time through.  I had to do a third culling to get it down to the final 31, which doubled when converted to black and white.

This is the type of shot I envisioned when setting up this shoot.

This is the type of shot I envisioned when setting up this shoot.

I think this one is very Pin-up.

I think this one is very Pin-up.

I think this shows just enough

I think this shows just enough

Click the images below to see the full size images.

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Sometimes it’s really easy to tell the difference between Pro and Consumer equipment

March 14th, 2009

Like today for example.

Today I did a shoot with Angela and Jeff.  It was the first time I used my 70-210mm lens.  I’ve had this lens for a few years, and I’ve done a few test shots with it, but never actually used it.  I forgot I had it for a while and just recently rediscovered it.  Anyway it has a maximum aperture of f/4-5.6.  For those of you that don’t know aperture describes the size of the hole inside the lens.  The larger the hole, the smaller the number.  My usual lens is an f/2.8.  An /f2.8 lens allows four times as much light as an f/5.6 lens.  This is important because shooting in the Capitol like today I was today, there isn’t that much light, which means long shutter speeds, which means it’s harder to get a sharp picture, especially with a telephoto lens like the 70-210.  I got some good pictures, but I know that I could have gotten better ones with a better lens.

Unfortunately, lenses that let in more light, are more expensive.  A lens like I was shooting with today can be bought for $100 to $300 dollars.  A lens like I need, 70-200mm f2.8 is $1,800.

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What you can’t fix, you feature.

March 10th, 2009

I heard that phrase a number of years ago.  They were talking about guys who wore glasses.  Some men think of glasses as a handicap, others as an asset.  In the particular story the gentleman had an eye infection and couldn’t wear his normal contact lenses.  So when he went out that night he wore glasses and asked women if he looked better with or without them.  Great way to start a conversation with something that may not be ideal.

It popped into my head in response to a thread on MM.  This thread is about one young woman’s difficulties in how people respond to her nude modeling.  In this particular thread it was her parent’s responses to her first real nude shoot.  Many of the things they said to her would apply to any number of people, from other family members, coworkers, and the general public.

And they’re all wrong.

I’m not gonna refute everything that’s in the thread.  You can go read that yourself and just use common sense.  What I am gonna do is to relate this back to the title of the post.  One of the things that her parents said was

No one will want to marry you.

Now, I’m sure that there are some people in this world that would not marry such a woman.  They would not even entertain the thought of marriage if they knew or even suspected that such an event had taken place. That any woman who would do that is morally bankrupt.  I don’t agree with the people in this group, but they have their beliefs and they’re following them.  I respect that.  Much more than the next group.

The hypocrites.  They’re okay with female nudity.  Until it’s their daughter, or their fiance.  They don’t mind seeing your girlfriend, or your wife naked, but theirs is “special” only for them.  These are the guys I like the least.  They’re usually jealous and insecure.  So many women I’ve photographed want to do nudes, but don’t because of guys in this group.

The next group we’ll call the apathetic.  They don’t really care either way.  They may tend to be slightly positive about it.  They might get to see the woman naked before having sex with her, which is usually a plus.  On the other hand if the woman hasn’t posed nude, it’s not gonna bother them at all.

I really don’t know what to call the last group.  Why don’t we call them people like me.  Nudity is important to me.  And not just sexually though that is a nice side benefit.  All of the women that I’ve met who have been nude in front of a camera are women that I want to know outside of the photography industry.  They share many of the same traits like confidence, intelligence, creativity and a willingness to try new things.  I don’t know if they had these traits before they posed nude or they developed them after posing.  Perhaps it’s some of both that feeds back on each other.  Either way these women are better than the general population.  Which is why I won’t become involved with a woman that isn’t willing to pose nude.

Now, I don’t expect a woman to strip right after I get her phone number.  And I’m not going to rule a woman out because she hasn’t posed yet.  But if she’s downright against it we won’t be spending much time together.  If the relationship progresses, and she hasn’t been in front of my camera sans clothing, then her finger will be sans ring.  That’s right.  I won’t marry a woman UNLESS she poses nude.  I would hope she enjoys it as much as I do.  I don’t expect her to have a career in nude photography, unless she wants to.  And if she only wants to pose for me, that’s fine.  But I’m not gonna stop her if she wants to pose for others.

And now we’re finally back to the first phrase at the top of this post.  What you can’t fix, you feature.  I can’t change the people in the other three groups.  But I can show them a better way to act.  So besides the personal benefits of having a wife willing to pose nude, I’m hoping that my example may help others.  And, just to show that I’m not a hypocrite, here’s some photos of me.

Josh Nude

Josh Nude

Josh Nude

Josh Nude

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It’s a wedding!

March 4th, 2009

Well, not really.  The “bride” and “groom” only met about two hours before I took the first picture.  The “bride” is Alex, the “groom” is Matt, and make up and hair were done by Joelle.  We met at the top of State street, then headed into the capitol.    We shot for just over an hour, ending the shoot outside.  We actually almost got locked out.  I wasn’t watching the clock that closely and as we were walking back inside so Alex could take her dress off a security guard stopped us.  He let her change and then we left.  I think the picture below is my favorite.


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Nicollette and art

March 3rd, 2009

Since November I’ve been looking to shoot some pictures for a specific wall in my condo.  When you walk up the stairs you see across my condo right at a large blank wall.  I want to put a big black and white photo there.  Something sexy dark and shadowy.  I’ve contacted quite a few models, but Nicollette was the first to come over and shoot for it.  The three pictures below are my favorite, you can see more in the gallery below, just click on the pic.


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