In The Beginning

I have begun communication and submission to people I like, admire, and trust to give me a critical analysis of my work and images. It’s really time to begin building a portfolio and get my name out into this sort of market. So if anyone is interested in helping me with this process, let me know. I have begun writing stories about the various people I have worked with and I am exploring their meaning to me. I did not come into this process with any sort of formal training or schooling. I bought my first camera in 1997 and took a 10-week summer intensive crash course at the Rocky Mountain School Of Photography on the techniques of exposing, processing, and printing black and white film. We also learned the correct exposure of color slide. I did not know if I really had any kind of aptitude for it, but I was filled with a passion to explore myself and the environment that surrounded me. I am not sure if I was well liked in my school because I was always so unconventional in my choices and how I approached my subjects. I tended to photograph things that were taboo; like transformations of drag queens. Everyone looked at my work and responded with a grimace. In this way I really didn’t get any positive feedback and didn’t really know if I was actually progressing with the process and therefore most of my images have been hidden and tucked away. It felt like the learning curve was steep and I floundered considerably along the way. There was much more stuff merely thrown out and discarded than actually used. I remember a quote from someone that says it takes 10 years for a photographer to actually gain control of their craft. Well here I am some 14 years later and I feel like I have better control of creating the vision I see when I approach the subject. My studio is littered with many books on any kind of subject regarding the process of photography, art and artists. I learn by what I see in others and voraciously consume information about their processes and how they come into their own process. I then assimilate it and make it my own. I love the process of learning and so my process is ever evolving. I know what it is that I am drawn to in an image, but I don’t necessarily know if it makes the images good or not. We all seem to have different taste and style so the choices become subjective. I now have thousands of images from the past 10 years of doing this sort of stuff. I am slowly sifting though and trying to figure it out. At the rate I am going with this project and my current rate of production it seems I would have 10 years of images to display one per day at a time. It’s now time to begin looking at the over-view of my body of work and begin to narrow it down into what could become an interesting portfolio. I am very unfocused in this manner. I was drawn to certain images for certain reasons when I was creating them and thought they were very good at the time, but do not know if they stand the test of time. It feels like most of the journey has become about overcoming my own shame and feelings of internalized homophobia and so each one seems to be a step in that direction. I began by shooting straight men naked because they were easy to work with and the process becomes an evolution of revelation. The process always begins as a portrait of the face and then subtly begin to strip away to what was hidden. In the beginning I had a great fear of shooting gay men, because I thought they would find what I was doing perverse in some self absorbed sort of way. The process of course, was always searching for what was actually hidden within myself as well. Was it desire that drew me into the subjects? Most defiantly so! For what drives this type of imagery if the viewer cannot feel the photographer’s impulse? Light becomes my touch of the skin as the camera caresses its remarkable beauty. And ultimately my objective is beauty; to create a legacy of sensual sensation that I have felt and known. I am afraid the older I get the more I may feel the loss of that impulse. Desire is not as strong as in was in my youth. It has changed as I have changed and the environment I belong also changes. I also fear that my work may lose its allure if I become or take it to a commercial level; one of the reasons I remain hidden in Montana. This project is becoming a fine balancing act of being true to myself and creating what is meaningful to me and without becoming lost in the process. I fear losing it all without connection to any kind of meaning. I wonder how many artists are out there creating vibrant and extraordinary visions that are never discovered. The family comes in after they are dead and it all gets swept away to a landfill, never to be seen. Perhaps I have become to narcissistic to think my images are of any value or good. It is time to find out.

One thought on “In The Beginning

  1. BDSpellman

    >So I was right in sensing fear during our shoot. Oh Terry, what can I say. I only bite when asked. That said, I hope you are able to work through your own fear of rejection–for that is what I sense in your words in this "issue" of the blog. I have been collecting images of males, clothed and unclad, for over thirty years, and your work is the best I've ever seen. Not only that, but you have a distinctive "look" or "style" that makes me say, when I'm going through the RB thumbnails, "That's one of Terry's." I'm never mistaken. Surely your experience with Red Bubble is confirming that. You are producing true art, I have no doubt in my mind about that. Go for it, my friend, and you'll see that the world that matters will embrace you and your work.


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