Category Archives: Artistic Vision

artistic vision

Adaption of a Creative Impetus

I am beginning to feel like Meryl Street in Adaption where her world of reality begins to blur with the fiction of her creation!  Where does one draw the line between themselves and artistic integrity?  I have always been intrigued by the age-old question.  Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?

I have recently reconnected to this project.  Not that it has ever really been out of my sight, but I recently met someone who asked if I had done anything significant with my life.  I wanted to say “Sure a while back I took a year off and created something that I put my entire soul into for the duration of an entire year”.  Creating a body of work that oddly enough still remains online, and even odder thousands of people each month still follow and peruse.  I am still contacted by people, particularly young artists who find my story and imagery inspirational to their own journeys toward creativity.   My heart is and has always been full of passion toward anything creative and I am quick to encourage others to seek their own.   Looking back I see I am one of the most blessed people in the world to be able to pour out my thoughts, feelings, concepts, and ideals (utterly express myself) and still make a living at it.  The project didn’t quite take me in the direction I had planned, but it did increase my notoriety as a seasoned photographer who had an imitative eye and loved to work with light.  To me it has always been about the light.   This work progressed my business in other areas, mainly portraiture, headshots, and other artistic creations.  I began to get work from clients whose talents as Internet escorts I could help bolster their own talents and boost their businesses.  The one thing I can honestly say is that I have laughed a lot over the past couple of years and created or worked on some very imaginative projects.  As usual I digress…

So I wanted to share this project with my new buddy and sent him a link to the site.  He came back somewhat surprised and astonished at the caliber of work.  I then jumped on the site from my cell phone and I began to see how clunky the site was to navigate via hand held devices.  I had not put much work into the site the past few years.  About a year or so ago it crashed. I guess due to neglect, so I had to do some major upgrades to operational platform and system modules and plugins.  I found a new template that would make it more accessible to mobile devices.  I was so busy at the time I never got a chance to actually adapt everything to the new system.   Viewing it I was quite embarrassed.   I have recently caught up with my regular work and decided I would spend a little time adapting it.  Suddenly I am totally falling in love with the whole project again.  I never stopped shooting this sort of work and have a bigger body of work yet unseen.  So here I am back at it again, realizing how much all this sort of free flow spewing from my inner psyche I had missed.  I think I am going to revive the blog, not to an everyday occurrence, but to once a week, after all I do have a life and need to make a living.

As a young lad all fresh faced I used to argue that life imitated art, now as a seasoned fresh faced (no I did not have a facelift) elder I actually see that art imitate life, it’s an expression of life.  So here goes…

A Fresh Approach

Do we really change patterns in our lives or do we just learn to adapt to them. I began this year by coming back to this project I had started two years ago. I’ve decided to read and follow the project on a day-by-day basis, just as I had written it two years ago. I managed to create an index to the year-long project that made it easy to navigate back to the beginning so I can easily find the specific blog and date it was created. What I find ironic is that yesterday I was working on expanding and creating my business website I spent the day working through my catalogs of images and pulling out new images for the expansion. When I  opened yesterday’s blog, two years ago, “Postcards from The Edge” it was about the very same issues I was dealing with then as I was today. The website of course is completed but it took me a year to really make it happen and pull it together. I saw so much doubt in myself as I began to move forward with a project I was not even sure anyone would be interested. Well since the project has grown from a page on blogger to a full website with over 200,000 people looking at it. I also now know the answer to many of the questions I was asking then. Is there really a market for such types of imagery as a viable way to sustain myself? I think not. The internet is already over saturated with this type of photography and the only viable way to access it is to view it on our computers or use it as interesting screen savers for our mobile media devices. I have to say I loved this project and loved devoting a year to it. I had so much personal growth during this creation. It awoke a sleeping passion within and became an amazing means of self-discovery.

I had to take a year off, to realign myself into the reality of the real world, i.e. making a living again. You see I never made any money of this project what-so-ever, other than what was contributed to the fund-raiser to get to Europe, mid-way through the project, and it is actually this much money that was put out to create the website and maintain it for the past year or so. I realize I am still an idealist who has a problem with marketing and submitting myself. But I also never intended to make it commercial from the beginning. I have always felt the expression of our creations is meant to be shared without limitations or compromise. I have recently submitted an art piece, one of my rodeo images, to the local Missoula Art Museum and it is currently on display downtown. It is there with many other artists I have admired and looked up to within my community for decades. I am honored to become a part of this group and to stand equally beside them. I realize that though this project was not a financial success, it still brought me up to a level of respectability within the world I have always longed to reside.

Some of you may be glad to know I am back to this project once again, asking the same questions, searching for the same answers. I probably will not post daily, but will be working on it daily. I have begun first of all to read and clean up the old blog postings, day-by-day. Not to rewrite them, but to clarify what I was trying to say since I was an inexperienced writer when I began the project. It will also keep me focused. Help me clarify what I missed the first time. I am also beginning to go through the old catalogs and clean up and post those images and add them to a new extension of the site that will link the images to my new outsourced printing. Incidentally I have been with this new printer in California, the last six months, who has been turning my images into the most amazing artwork, hence the museum piece. I am still truly amazed to think this stuff has actually come from me. This is actually quite fun. The basic structure is now in place, so I will not have to waste so much time mired in the frustration of trying to figure things out and be able to focus on the creation, which is what brought me here in the first place.

It’s My Turn

The journey seems to continue deeper within myself as this last month I have begun connecting to the community that surrounds me and working with some very astonishing people. I miss the daily blog of coming to this page each day, part of what I have been working on it making to old blog more accessible from different points. I am about 2/3rd of the way through creating galleries of the images month by month. It is amazing to see how much was there and is stirring much emotion, still. There seems to be about 500 people per day still access the two blogs, the original and the new site and I feel it’s becoming something important and worth the time I spend on expanding it’s accessibility.

Part of the month I was going through a phase of questioning the validity of the project and what I was doing, thinking that perhaps these thoughts and images are to remain private. My father has been reading it and expresses concerns about me. He says I am a very strong writer, but I think this is the first time I have really let him in my world. I am somehow glad that he wants to enter in and see what I have become. My relationship with him is important to me and a stronger connection is what I need with him at this stage in my life.

I have been spending more time getting out and meeting new people in my community. Last week I photographed several members of the Imperial Sovereign Court of Montana (royal order of drag impersonators) getting ready for and images of their pageant. I posted them on my Facebook and they were stunning and enlightening. It gave me a stronger bond to my own community that surrounds me and gives me a greater sense of place and home here in Montana. I have also been out meeting, having coffee, and lunch with other members around me. Last night I went out, for a charity show and I finally met Soul Seeker, one of the guys whose manhunt profiles intrigued me into writing a blog about internet cruising sites. It was an amazing moment of coming to flesh of someone who had captivated and inspired me and see the extraordinary intrigue in his eyes, as he seems genuinely pleased to meet me as well. We are so lucky in many ways that we have such an amazing group of people that surround us. Many of us are from Montana, there seems to be such a healthy strength everywhere I look. Most everyone is aware of my project and what I have created and there is a certain pride about it that touches many of them. The project in that sense has become a reflection of my time and era as so many others are also relating to my process.

It seems everything I touch now is about me and I see the world that surround me from a new perspective; unique, unusual, quirky, marvelous. I am finding great delight everywhere I turn my camera. Though the last month has mostly been about me I have been bringing new subjects into the studio and am shooting most everyday. The explorations have been deeper and more personal then I have ever been. There is a truth and honesty others want to share with me and they allow me into vulnerable places. It’s still an explorations and I am not sure if these images will be for exhibition because they seem more raw, I feel more raw, more exposed then ever. Somehow the process of getting to work out there now seems less important then the actually process of creation. It becomes more about who I am, how I have lived my life, and having connected to something beyond what I ever imagined possible.

Creative Photographer Seeking Subjects

I have been working on finishing my final income generating projects for the season this weekend. Spent today working through the images of the last wedding of the year. Next week I am going to begin to organize myself, get the studio cleaned out, to begin shooting again on this Naked Man Project the following week. It’s been several weeks since I have had the opportunity to shoot something creative of this nature. Many of my subjects are students and most of them will be out for break that week. I have not paid a subject for shooting yet, the entire project so far has been done out of pure passion. It becomes an exchange thing where they get images in exchange for working with me. Though the images are for sell on the site, I make a standard agreement with my subjects that if anything of theirs sells they will get a third of the commission from the image or artwork. My standard agreement has always been: one third goes to the studio for supplies and equipment, I take a third, and a third goes to the subject; so it becomes a commission only basis. This is pretty standard for most photographers approaching this type of work. The images are still highly experimental and the whole process actually began as a way for me to test lighting designs or concepts for other paying gigs I was working on at the time. But it seems recently my focus has begun to shift more specifically to shooting this style of image and so I have actively begun seeking subjects. My subjects come from a variety of sources. In the beginning I mostly drew subjects from gay chat rooms or pick-up sites, because first of all most of them already exposed themselves on those sites and I often thought if they are willing to do it there they might be inclined to work with me on some my ideas. But my age becomes the biggest limitation as most of them are exposing themselves there to pick up other hot YOUNG guys and not really interested in the creation of art, silly me to think otherwise, right! So I have completely shifted away from looking there much anymore. Now they mostly become friends that I either meet or run into at social events in the community. Oddly enough, not many people in my community know about my work and what I am doing. Not even in the gay community. And oddly enough more of my subjects are actually straight and not gay at all. Occasionally I will see someone that I think has an alluring quality that draws my attention, an attitude, and a look in their eyes, but I am mostly drawn to personality and I will approach them. I am not really concerned about the physical shape of the person, as I am they will be open to honestly examine and explore their identity with me throughout the process. Most everyone is just an ordinary person you would meet off the street. It’s actually quite remarkable the transformation many of them go through during the process and the qualities they take on in my images, may not be what you would see in them passing them on the street. To me this is what makes the process so utterly fascinating because I believe everyone has something remarkable about themselves, if they are allowed to tap into it. It becomes a new way of seeing ourselves, in a new light, so to speak. But once someone has worked with me. It seems they always want to come back, and this is where the process really become interesting. People are rarely comfortable with the idea of seeing themselves naked the first time. The response is often startling for most everyone who comes in. Often is as startling for me. Each session is as unique as the subject. I do not have a standard formula and the beauty I seek becomes revealed in the moment. So far everyone has been from Montana, mostly drawing from the Missoula area. I am always looking for new subjects and ideas, so if you know of someone wanting to explore some images with me please send me an email. It’s a simple fun process and you do not have to expose it all, you only take it where you are comfortable. Fully clothed is optional after all it’s about you.

A Flicker Of My Past Desire Realized

Last night I watched an old western called Red River directed by Howard Hawk originally released in 1948. It was a John Wayne classic featuring one of the most beautiful men to ever be photographed, Montgomery Cliff. This was his first major feature film and made him an overnight sensation. He was 26 years old at the time of shooting and is just stunning to watch in this old black and white epic. Part of what makes the film so brilliant is the lighting is fantastic though out the film and though I have seen this film a dozen times it still mesmerizes me. After watching it last night I began to see how much of an influence it has had on my style of photography and the development of my approach to lighting. Of course growing up in the west, I identify with the sexual allure of the cowboy, particularly Montgomery Cliff. In this film he embodies it all, handsome, strong yet sensitive, compassionate, and secure in his masculinity. He was my role model and became the one icon I could always look up to because he stirred such strong feelings of desire within me for this sort of male figure and I began to recognize my sexual attraction was definably toward men. There is a very wonderful scene in the film in which he and another wrangler named Cherry admire each other’s guns in a very homoerotic flirtatious manner that is quite suggestive of something other than shooting. He was one of the first movie stars that I found out was gay which deepened my desire. Though he often play emotionally tortured men, his characters seemed to become a mirror of his personal life and struggles which seem to somehow personify everything I felt. Every time I saw him on the screen I become absorbed by the depth and pain he brought to each character. He was a man who was able to tap into this own pain and reveal his very soul for others to see. Few movie stars have brought this much honesty to the screen, except maybe James Dean. This is a quality I strive for in my own imagery, a moment of bearing the humanity of ourselves and exposing who we are in our existence. Cliff is one of the few actors to consistently maintain this intensity making almost every film an instant classic: A Place in the Sun, From Here to Eternity, The Heiress, Raintree Country, Suddenly Last Summer and even the Alfred Hitchcock classic I Confess.

I have often pondered how a young ranch kid like myself was so drawn to work in arts and entertainment. Last night that connection became clear watching Red River, the magic, the beauty, the sexual allure of the American west, my west, stirred my emotions , presented in the flicker of a film and watching Montgomery Cliff enter my universe. I identified with a feeling where anything was possible and knew it was a place I could coexist and where I would be understood and accepted for my difference. Where the tormented soul can reveal itself and become the basis of artistic expression. Monty though you died when I was just a kid, you still live in my heart decades later and stir a desire and passion within me that will never dissipate. You only seem to grow stronger with time as the truth of your worlds real and make believe still haunt me.