Category Archives: Photograpic Process

Dealing with the process of the photographic process

The Moment Of Vision

I often see a vision that becomes quite sensual to me, a beautiful man, standing naked, in the shadows of the room. I watch the light play on his skin in the darkness as only the shape of his figure is outlined by the highlights across his sensuous skin as he moves about in that darkness, lit only by a streetlight, faint, dim, dappled with emotion, spilling through the window. He subtly moves to expose the youthful shape of his abs, not well defined, but in the darkness I have felt their tightness, another shift and I recognize the powerful contour of his arms filled with tension. As he turns toward the window I recognize the flatness of his chest muscles as they ripple from the darkness yet the highlights expose a supple softness of his skin that I want to reach out, touch, caress. It transports me to a timeless place when I was young and suddenly the vitality of my own youth comes flooding back. He is unaware I am watching him so intently as I am inspired by this remarkable moment as if suspended in time. How do I bring this into the studio? How do I reveal my own thoughts, feelings and the emotions that overwhelm me? I am utterly entranced by the sensation of this remarkable beauty and merely desire to bask in it for an eternity, but know this moment is fleeting, and soon he will dress and go home. The essence of that moment lingers on however fleeting it may have been, savoring it, reliving it, playing it over in my head as it dances through my thoughts for days to come.

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.

The Exhaustion of Joyous Occasions

As much as I tried yesterday I could not find a half hour of time to even get on my computer.  It was Montana State vs Montana Grizzlies, Brawl Of The Wild Game at Montana State in Bozeman.  The biggest game of the season, the Grizzles being the underdog ranked #7 in the nation against the #1 FCS team.  Needless to say it was an upset and the Griz beat the Bobcats 36-10.  Since the game was in Bozeman, Glenn planned a party in the studio to watch it on television.  So my day began with a breakdown of all my lighting equipment and hauling to the basement.

I also had a later afternoon wedding I was booked to shoot.  It was an all day process of prepping and shooting that from early afternoon through the reception late last night.  I love weddings, but they a tremendous amount of work for a photographer.  The process of preparations takes several days leading up to the wedding as well as becomes all-consuming on the day of the event.  My process and approach for weddings is much the same as my process for nudes.  I like to get to know the couple so we all become comfortable with each other and I just become a part of the wedding party.  I love candidly shooting all day as events unfold.  I approach it as an insider documentary style and get great results because most of it becomes very candid and allows everyone to just naturally become who they are as if I am not even present.  I completely engage and interact as a participant instead of as a casual observer hired in from the outside.  I then put the entire wedding together as a series of slideshows put to music that becomes the couple’s remembrance of the day.  Most often when they come back to the studio to see the final presentation both the bride and groom are so deeply moved by the presentation, they become weepy.  I have so intimately entered their world and captured the essence of who they actually are and often capture things they were completely unaware of happing around them.

My approach to the wedding as well as all photography is to first assess the natural light and merely enhance what it already there.  And yes this becomes quite a challenge with weddings because you are constantly bouncing around from space to space throughout the day.  The bride’s chamber, the groom’s chamber, hair salons, the church, the altar, and the reception hall.  I typically will go to all the locations days ahead and test shoot so I know specifically what I am dealing with.  This is one process that doesn’t get easier with each wedding because each one is in a different location or space and each wedding is uniquely its own.  There is absolutely no formula to follow.  Yes the sequence of events are the same, and I know better what to look for, but they are never consistent.  I love weddings for this reason.  It’s like highly emotional theatrical events that unfold before your eyes that you become caught up in.  Some one said to me last night, you have one of the best jobs in the world getting to shoot people at their greatest moments of joy.  I paused and thought about it for a moment and replied, absolutely it is one of the pleasures of my life.

But by the end of the day, I am utterly exhausted.  I feel like I have poured my entire soul into the day.  I often don’t realize the soreness until I collapse on the sofa at home, then it settles in and I can barely move.  They have always exhausted me, even when I was younger.  I realize I had been working for 8 hours solid with very little breaks, yet I feel elated because the images I saw though out the day were so beautiful.  This was my last big event I must shoot of the year and know I can now begin to focus on my naked men.  But today is a day of recovery, very little of anything else.  I am scheduling a massage for the afternoon and nothing else.  I will sit with the kitties in the widow and watch it snow outside.

Elements Of Design

It’s so beautiful out already this morning; the leaves on my giant willow trees in the back yard are beginning to yellow and slowly falling creating a carpet of yellow along the ditch banks. I see the skies begin to clear with some patches of blue. If the sun comes out it’s going to create a brilliant glow that will radiate through out the house. This would be a perfect morning for some beautiful photographs, but I have no one lined up. Thor and I a have been putting so much time into the website that I we have neglected shooting anything new in the past couple of weeks. I am writing early today, even before coffee, because I want to get out and work on the yard today. I have the new deer fence about half way done on the other side of the house, so today’s goal is to get out and finish the fence and start thinking about how to design a gate. For those of you who know me, you know I don’t do anything simple and every element of my life is personally designed.

For those who have been to the studio you know exactly what I mean. The whole house is completely off center, with so many angles and pitches and textures. Everything is about function and has been created for a specific purpose. The pitch in the main room, where I shoot, was set up so that I would have beautiful natural light that would face to the north at a specific angle exposing the sky without ever allowing direct light into the actual room. With the vaulted ceilings, needing the height for lighting equipment to be raised on stands and booms, the whole pitch of the room had to be offset to thirds. See the rule of thirds I use for photography even plays into my design of the house. Because the pitch of the room is offset to the lesser third on the northern side, it creates that effect with the northern skylights. As I was designing the space, I hired a draftsman who could do the drawings of what I envisioned in my head. I defied his rules of logic and he kept moving the lines back to center. Then we hired a structural engineer who told us how to make it happen. The house is very unique and totally matches my personality. It has the balance and flow of a beautiful painting. I design from my heart and often defy what is logical, it becomes more about an expression of emotion and feelings the space evokes. My yard is becoming the same way. The fence is designed for the practical purpose of keeping the deer out, but allowing the small critters that inhabit the yard like my kitties a freedom and flexibility to move through it, and since one of them is deaf, a quick escape from dogs that come upon her unaware. The yard is small so it needs to have a feeling of being open and not restricted. The fence is becoming like these beautiful little trellises that I will also be able to plant and grow climbing flowering vines. And the rough-cut cedar gives it a weight and texture. This year was about creating a rough outline of the garden, next year will be about sculpting it. So since I have no models lined up for this beautiful Sunday morning I am heading out the garden to enjoy another fall day.

Maintaining the Artistic Integrity

Are you getting tired of hearing about the website yet??? It’s all I can think about anymore and seems to consume my every thought. The process is as frustrating as it is exhilarating. I am not a techno geek and am more of a goal-oriented guy so when I hit a block, become very frustrated. There are so many settings and possibilities for options that I just don’t grasp and I can waste hours on one thing that turns out to be so simple. Julian who helped us set up the system seems to have abandoned us and we are left to flounder as we learn and try to figure it out. On the other side, we are making major leaps every day. We are finally loading the galleries today and I think the overall look and functionality if very impressive.

The fun part is that I have continued shooting through out this web process and had two shoots the other day, both vastly different, which means I had to reconfigure the set up and lighting scheme for the studio. The studio just seems to become a hubbub of activity constantly now. The shooting is becoming more focused as I now have a cleaner vision of what I want and need. I have been mostly working with subjects I have worked with in the past, so it’s easier to jump right in and get going. I am still maintaining and need to keep my focus on the original integrity of where I began this process and have not deviated from that, but the images are improving with each session and subsequent shoot.

Many years ago I only dreamed of being in a place like this and now here I am in the middle of it all and things are coming together. Having the assistants is making a huge difference in how I create. It’s actually allowing me to focus on my process as they work through so much of the detail and I get to jump in and oversee it for maintaining the artistic integrity.

Don’t worry I will be back to some of my interesting stories soon, once we get this thing rolling and I can begin to focus on other things.