Category Archives: Technical

The technical aspects of the photographic process


I was a bit premature in my longing for spring and the garden because yesterday we had a terrible storm blow through Missoula and about shut the city down.  We ended up pulling all our UPS drivers in early because it was so bad, something I have never seen us do in all the time I have worked there.

Writing the blog this year, somehow, seems easier.  It flows easier as I feel I am better able to connect with my thoughts.  Those first blogs were a labor and often took hours to write and edit.  But I did not have much writing experience so I mostly just wrote what came into my head.  I am beginning to systematically rework this site.  I’ve been shutting down galleries that have broken links.  A while back I reorganized the structure of it and so if you find a link that goes nowhere, not to worry it should be fixed soon.  I am also going through my catalogs of images, cleaning up and reorganizing some of them to create new galleries.  I have a bunch of new models and many images that have never been shown and will try to add new ones each week.

Yesterday I added Seth; these are some of the latest images I have worked on.  Seth had a very hard angular body and expression and I designed the light to reflect his personality.  I particular love the lighting on this series.  The light sources are very narrow and sharp, with a tight focus.  In fact it was so tight I had a hard time keeping him in the channel of light I created.  In many ways I think these are some of the most exciting images because they have a very commercial feel to them.  Seth had a great deal of modeling experience and was easy to direct.  The lighting concept was to use one very strong key light coming in from a higher angle from the left.  I did add a little bit of fill light and slight sculpting from the right, but it is so subtle that it’s barely perceptible.  You will see it more so in some of the later images then the first.  The black and white images in this series where from a 2nd shoot several months later.  I know these would be black and white and lit Seth more bringing softer lights in from both sides to accentuate more the textures of his skin and torso.  I also envisioned these images would undergo some processing in the conversion to black and white or desaturation.  I tend to not do a lot of processing with my images, but I also knew these would look a little better if I flattened the tonal curves just a bit.  I see my subjects as lighting test and experiments and constantly and tweaking and adjusting the lighting and the subject during the shoot.

I Can’t Take It With Me

I saw the University production of You Can’t Take It With You last night. The play was written in 1936 and won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1937. It’s about a woman, from an eccentric family of contented misfits that live life to it’s fullest, falling in love with a man, from a ridged tight wound capitalist family and clash of the two ideals. The play is still quite brilliant and seemed completely relevant to where we reside within our modern culture and what is happening in the current recession. But ultimately the play, for me becomes a complete summation of this Naked Man Project, all that I have been working toward and writing about the entire year. Ultimately revealing that we must seize the talents and gifts we are giving in this life and appreciate and enjoy those things we cherish most. In the end of the play the grandfather character states that so many people are never capable of doing what they dream. They become stuck in their lives, sometimes not by choice and then life goes so quickly that suddenly they wake up too late realizing the lives they thought they lived really have little meaning to what they have actually set out to accomplish. Dreams of youth pass compromised, left in the closet to be forgotten or ignored. The play suggests perhaps it time to clean those things stowed in our closets, reconnect to those lost dreams we have forgotten, and once again live our dreams because life is too short to let the simple pleasures pass without engaging them.

This has certainly been a year for me to get back in touch with my own idealistic dreams from youth and allowing those creative dreams to prosper. I certainly began the year in a different place then what I will end it. I have faced a lot of fears and anxieties and over come so many of the obstacles that held me back. One of my greatest fears was being able to express my appreciation for beauty of the naked male in a place like Montana. Previously feeling a certain amount of shame in my process, I keep it hidden in a place of security, veiled in secrecy, remaining in that metaphorical closet, yet knowing in my heart what my desire was, but to afraid to reveal it. Now I will end this year, content, sharing my secret obsession for beauty and art. I began the year thinking I was too old to be vibrant or have anything to offer in a modern culture based on the modern media of the Internet. Yet the vitality of my life and expression seems to have moved so many others and have found a niche following which now seems to flourish. With the modern recession it feels like we live in a dark time were we are discouraged to be in touch with ourselves. What is happening within our environment is stifling to so many that as a culture we are becoming weary and more often depressed. Last year I lived in fear of my world collapsing and it felt like it was a struggle just to maintain my existence. So I took this year off to focus on my creative process and myself and to truly follow my passion. This year I have not made any more money, but I have not lost any more money either, always in past spending a great deal of money to make money, mostly all that going to others. In so many ways it becomes a wash with nothing gained but ending up right where I started. At least this year I have lived the life of my dreams and followed my heart and so far it has been one of the greatest adventures of my life. Perhaps it’s time to examine your own dreams, remember things forgotten, that has been put far back in your own closets, and makes a leap. There is no time like the present. You have nothing to lose and perhaps you might just discover something about yourself you thought was once lost.

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.

Moving Ahead

It feels remarkable to finally have some time to focus on things that most interest me now.  I just need to process this wedding and then the remainder of the year will be working full force on The Naked Man Project website.  It feels like we are finally beginning to tame the beast of understanding how the project functions internally.  New artists have been submitting works and I have been building galleries for them.  The first one should be up in the next couple of days and I have to say for the first time in months, I am quite excited by the prospects of potentially where this project can go.  There are so dang many talented people out there that have been hidden or that very few people know.  I feel like I have finally found my place and am creating a place of expression for artist wanting to deal with identity and the nude male.  This vision that I have been dreaming of all year now becomes a reality.  There are still people commenting on the old Blogger blog and I would encourage everyone to now move or begin posting in the new blog.  I cannot transfer your comments and I would love all that you are saying to become a part of the permanent record of what this project is becoming.  I have always seen myself as a collective artist and strongly believe in art as collaboration.  This includes feedback from both artist and non-artist.   If it stirs a feeling or emotion and it is worth documenting or expressing your opinion.   I know this sometimes takes a lot of time to log in and do, but it becomes worthwhile and meaningful to others.  It is our goal to have everything cleaned up and the site fully functional, with most of the bugs worked out and formally release the site, on December 1st.  My goal then for the month of December is the begin opening up all the galleries, and get the featured artist section completely functional.   I then want to close out this year by getting back into the studio and shooting new works.  I began shooting some new stuff last week and it has a fascinating new edge to it.  Then in January, I want to begin working on reviving the old Man Art with its original creators to build a social network, that was the original source that inspired me to ultimately begin this project in the first place, and build a home for fearless creative expression.  This is only the first phase in something remarkable about to emerge.

Navigating the Labyrinth

Made a huge leap with the website yesterday and last night.  We have finally been able to connect it to RSS to create feeds and social links.  We have also linked to Google Analytics so we can see how people are using the site.  These were the last major missing pieces to this labyrinth of a project.  Now I can begin to focus my energy more on the content and less on the structure, and I can openly release the site and begin promoting it.

I am still missing the splash page and can’t seem to figure out how to add it with this Joomla 1.7 system.  Each day we get closer.  The blog section is now completed with links to feed.  If you are currently using the old RSS feeds, please convert them over to the new site as I would like to close down the other blog.  The new site has a very good search engine that enables one to find almost any post instantly.  Danny has been working diligently on breaking all the past blogs into topics that can now be accessed from the list on the left hand side of the panel.  We will begin to focus more of our energy on creating a monthly gallery of the past blog images so they may be readily browsed.  Then I will create a master list of titles that can also be indexed and will become searchable.  It’s amazing to think I have created so much text in such a relatively short period of time!  It suddenly has become a massive body of work for someone who is not a ‘writer’ to have created bit by bit.  I wish I had created this website first – it was my intent to create it much sooner – but I just couldn’t figure it out.  Now it has taken ten weeks to get this whole thing up and running as it is.  My total cost on the project so far has been $135.00 for the entire site.  But the learning curve has taken a lot of time and effort and trial and error to understand its dynamics and functionality.  Although very technical, it has also been extremely creative to figure out.  Once I begin to add the content to the site I will begin to market myself as an artist, collaborate with other like-minded artists, and begin recruiting new models to become subjects for my various studies.  So far, being in Montana, I have had great difficulty gaining the credibility to be taken seriously by potential subjects.  “You want me to what?????” is the common response.  There always seems to have been a sense of perversity surrounding the idea of men exposing themselves nude, or partially nude, that has been the source of greatest resistance.  It is the process of establishing myself with quality tangible images that I believe will make me more accessible.  After all, it is about creating the images, and my connection to the subjects, that brought me to this sort of creation in the first place.