Sunday, October 19, 2014
I've always tried to maintain a strong lock onto the eyes. Normally, there is a natural rhythm of looking at people and looking away. When it feels right, we can hold our gaze a little longer, relishing a simple moment of human connection. We are naturally drawn into images by eye contact. There is nothing like that feeling of a tie bound by an invisible thread, as in sharing a unique moment with them. It’s very hard to articulate and explain in words that feeling that connects you to a subject, either in the viewfinder or on the printed page. When that connection is there, its obvious – and doesn’t need words to explain it, we feel it.
Monday, October 13, 2014
One of my all time favorite photo books (and biggest guilty pleasure) is Revenge by Ellen Von Unwerth. It's a little (6 x 8 inches) limited edition book, bound in black linen. I don't like to judge books by their cover- but just looking at this cover, you know that it's going to be a treat inside. While there is a general narrative arc (taken as "excerpts" from the diaries of the nubile young heroines), Von Unwerth primarily uses stylized black and white photography (think Helmut Newton meets Man Ray) to tell the story of how the Baroness "disciplines" her newly orphaned nieces. It is not a very original story, but Revenge is really not about the story. What little narrative there is, is executed with a tongue-in-cheek panache that sets the winkingly saucy tone of the book. And the eroticism in Revenge really does have panache. The models are gorgeous, the clothes (when there are clothes) are gorgeous, the set (a glorious mansion and its extensive grounds) is gorgeous - all in the style of the lovely pornography of early 20th century France and Italy. The sado-masochistic elements tend less towards real pain and suffering and more towards the discomforts of dominance and submission in a campy, Paris Vogue sort of way. You can't help but laugh, but you also can't put it down - it's just too damn pretty. Though I find the pleasure of reading Revenge to be more aesthetic than erotic, I certainly can't deny that it's definitely pleasure all the same. Revenge is a sexy little volume, all the more so because it doesn't take it so too terribly seriously. If a book could wink, this one would.
Friday, October 10, 2014
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
This is from a series that remind me of old-timey boardwalk photographs- except that they more resemble actual vintage images, rather than being campy or hokey. I find it interesting there is such a fine line between being genuine versus stereotypical, and I like trying to walk that tight rope...
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
For anyone remotely interested in Henry Miller but have been put off by the intense tangent-rambling in the Tropic books, I would suggest picking up a lesser-known edition- Quiet Days at Clichy. Miller, in his masterful way, gives us an account of Paris like it once was. Far from the visual clichés of a saccharine city as portrayed in fairy tales like "Amelie", "Quiet Days at Clichy mingles the picturesque with the down-and-out for a portrait that would have pleased Emile Zola. Whores and cafes, breakfasts of Roquefort and white wine, poetry and squalid prose, Miller dissects Paris in the brilliant way Roman Payne writes about Paris in the novel Crepuscule, the way Zola writes in Therese Raquin... presenting a city that is a filthy beast deserving not less than all our love and praise. It's straightforward, hilarious- and at times shocking, but undoubtedly it will continue to be an inspiration to those who long to live life to the fullest. I've been a big Henry Miller fan since I was a teenager, but his infamous and banned books (the Cancer and Capricorn ones) are not my favorites. I far prefer this one, along with The Colossus of Maroussi and Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch. Quiet Days in Clichy is a memoir, a nostalgic love story of life in Paris before WW II, a celebration of the Bohemian life Miller lived when he was a poor unknown writer. It's wonderful, rollicking, hysterical, and introduces fans to a whole cast of characters who became Miller's lifelong friends, people who influenced his writing and his art forever.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
I shot this in a cold, dirty, and actually very unexceptional basement space. Yet it doesn't look much different than my usual "spiffy" studio shoots. I've always said, since I starting photographing twenty years ago, that I could probably shoot anywhere and make it look striking. I tend to get very close in on people, so the only thing that matters are a couple of small details of the background- fancy settings tend to go to waste.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Granny panties are awesome. Personally, I can't understand why anyone might think that they are "uncool" or "not sexy", or "ew". Frankly, I think that thongs look stupid and cheesy- why would someone wear a rope up their butt? It doesn't serve a purpose; you might as well wear nothing...
Thursday, August 14, 2014
I've been looking at a lot of Modigliani paintings lately. A Modigliani nude is not that far removed from a porn cliche- the kittenish pose with libidinous intent. The key to what makes it great art is that it holds a tension between the real and the abstract. The abstract qualities include coloring that is not natural, distortions and simplification of forms. But the catch is that then, suddenly, on these unreal beings are very specific and sexually evocative detail- armpit hair, pubic hair and teeth. Then, to top it all off is a unambiguously erect, and naturally colored nipple! In the midst of some dreamily abstracted aesthetic, we are suddenly offered things to be touched- a coral necklace, hair, teeth, a nipple. The wonderfully disturbing qualities of his nudes are that they work on two levels at once, keeping the viewer unbalanced. Intellectual pinups!
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Sunday, July 27, 2014
The second image was a carefully arranged homage to a Bettie Page photograph from the 50's- it pretty much looks exactly like the original. The first image, however, was not based on anything at all- I just gathered up some items and arranged them a bit. I did have something literary in mind, though- I was thinking Henry Miller as a woman. I really like both of these, despite than the first one is much more original. Studying and copying vintage photographs goes back to my roots as a photographer, and I used to do it so often that it's become part of my DNA- that's the reason that I can do it without preparation or forethought now...
Friday, July 25, 2014
Thursday, July 24, 2014
I often do shoots where the model wants to remain anonymous in one way or another. One way is that I do not ever display their images on the internet if they are in any way recognizable. I'm not particularly fond of that that method, but I can respect it. Another way is getting creative with obscuring the face just enough to make recognition of the person in question impossible. Yeah, her name isn't Valentina...
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Tattoos may not seem out of place among other images posted in this blog, but they are something relatively new to my body of work in general. The reason that tattoos are conspicuously absent from much of my work is certainly not because I don't like them- I do, actually. The reason is that most of my influences come from classic masters, and I've always wanted my images to have a timeless feel- so I've always either avoided using models with tattoos, or made sure not to show them. I've always had the same policy with contemporary clothing, hair & makeup- I've seen some otherwise great images from the 80's & 90's that look painfully dated simply because of the clothes, hair or makeup. Lately it seems that all of the most interesting models, or models that are the most uninhibited, have many tattoos. Not to mention body modifications, body piercing's, scars, et cetera. So I've kind of given up excluding these things from my work, and I've actually embraced them. I still tend to stick with vintage looking hair, makeup and lingerie, though. I honestly don't think that there have been any great new strides made in those departments in the last 30 years. I'm very happy with the recent work I have been doing, but only time will tell which will hold up better- my newer work (which is also digital), or my older work in film...
Mara had seen some of the photographs that I took of Meira, and mentioned that she would really, really want to shoot with her. The feeling was mutual for Mer, so that was easy. In fact it always seems to be easy to get two girls to do a shoot together- I can't recall ever getting a decline after suggesting it. It's actually much harder to get a guy to do a shoot with a girlfriend or wife. The woman is always game- it tends to be the guy who is apprehensive. Guys tend to not like having their performance documented. I actually had a few shoots not materialize because the guy got cold feet. It was something that was a bit frustrating at first- getting guy/girl shoots was something that I really wanted to add to my portfolio for a couple of reasons. One reason was aesthetic- I wanted some balance, since a lot of girl/girl looked unbalanced. The most important reason was that I knew that once either a woman and/or couple viewed my portfolio, and saw some images like that, then they would be inspired to try it as well. Which is exactly what happened. People don't always know what they want until they see it. Not everyone has the imagination to envision possibilities, nor do they necessarily want to be the first to try something new. But when they see a good example of how it will turn out- it definitely breaks the ice. That's how I wound up doing so much erotic photography in general. It's a domino effect. When people see my work, they often get a very visceral reaction- "Oh, I want to be involved in that!".
Regarding whether an image is art or porn, "I know it when I see it" is a complete cop-out. That is what stupid and unoriginal people say when they can’t construct a proper thought, retort or even a sentence. Simplifying it into a label just avoids the effort of actually thinking about it. Instead of debating whether a work is artistic or pornographic, a more meaningful and honest question would be: What or how do I feel about that photograph, and why? It is possible for sexual activity to be artfully portrayed. Erotica represents human sexuality in a way that makes the mind think, as opposed to pornography’s objective- whose usual sole concern is not being artistic or creative, but in making money from an audience.
This image is from a shoot with a model who goes by the moniker PXE. It's pronounced pixie, which is fitting due not only to her petite size, but her squeaky voice. Her voice is a dead ringer for Carol Kane's voice (from Taxi). She's definitely one of a kind- a fascinating person, capable of switching back and forth between a bubbly cartoon character and and intense sexual persona.