Fine Art – mindset & expectations (Part3)

Wife assists

My wife helping a model in the middle of a set.

In this last installment I’m going to discuss each person involved in the process of creating fine art nudes.  As you would expect, this includes the model and photographer.  But I’m going to include the ones equally important to the success of a great set of pictures.  The model’s husband, boyfriend, parents, friends, and even the photographer’s wife or girlfriend.

Of course, there is no way I can solve the contrasting elements of jealousy, religious upbringing, or other emotions that are unique to each participant in a shoot.  I’m not a psychologist by any means.  Just an observer sharing what I’ve seen.  If some morsel of this article opens the door to better understanding at some level then it was worth it.

Before I get started I’ll explain my situation.  It’s important to know where I’m coming from because it will reflect in what I’m imparting.

I’ve been shooting for almost five years, and for the first two my wife of 30 years, Linda, wasn’t thrilled with the possibilities of me shooting nudes or even implied.  No specific reasons, but I’m going to guess on some here.  (note:she has read this and confirmed her side)

Possibly some misunderstanding that some women don’t mind being in front of a camera naked.  She felt she’d never want to so why would another woman?  Or she was afraid of what her family would think of her for letting me do that form of photography?  Three things I’m sure of.  She trusted me 100% and knows I love her with every fiber of my being.  And there was zero chance of me running off with someone.  A stable and loving relationship full of trust is a great place to start.

One day, before I was allowed to shoot implied, I was asked to do a shoot with a young woman I’d shot many times before.  This was a shoot specifically for her new husband and she only wanted to wear her veil.  I asked Linda what she wanted me to do and we eventually agreed she would actually help me with the shoot.  You see, she’s a very good photographer herself.  So, she helped and found out that the model was very comfortable, the pictures turned out great, and it wasn’t any different from any other shoot.  The model even used 6 of Linda’s pictures for her book!  From then on my wife has been my biggest fan and more supportive than I could have ever imagined.

The model

As a model, you are the one who feels the pressure from friends and family.  They either support you or they don’t.  And there isn’t much you can do about that either way.  Often they don’t understand what the art is all about.  Remember, a good number of people don’t see the art in the lighting and lines of a good artistically done nude.  They think Playboy right away.  Some will always see a dandelion as a weed and others see it as a wish.  Art isn’t for everyone.

Here’s where you find out who feels you need to live up to their standards.  And think that you should not always do what makes you happy or fits your life goals and dreams if it is counter to their beliefs and wishes.  There won’t be anything you can do to change their minds very often.  Avoid arguments of course…those never solve anything.  Sometimes the support comes later.  Once you are actually portrayed in some great art and show them that it’s beautiful and not porn they may change their tune.  People tend to expect the worst and will build it up to be far worse in their own mind than it is.

Some families are very close and if artistic nudes will cause problems it may be better to hold off and slowly get people to warm up to it.  Frankly, I feel that if anyone should support your goals and interests it should be the family.

It’s very important to never do anything to prove something to someone else.  Even more so to rebel against anyone.  Dig deep into your goal for modeling, artistic nudes or otherwise, and make sure it is totally for you and no one else.  The art won’t flow well if there is anger or grudges or an agenda other than satisfaction for yourself.

The photographer

Wife assisting

Here’s Linda once again helping two models get into position for the shot.

I will admit, I felt a little strange the first few times I was shooting nudes.  Nothing sexual by ANY means, but just the difference in capturing skin instead of clothing was new to me.  Of course, lighting it to get the fine lines, get shadows to appear in strategic places, and just having a model naked took some getting used to.  By the 3rd or 4th shoot it was just as typical and comfortable as any other shoot.  So I went through that little transition.

My wife, Linda, is very supportive and, of course, has seen the creations from those shoots and now totally understands what my goals are.  I do consider myself very lucky to have such an understanding wife who allows me to explore my artistic side.

Others are not as fortunate and their significant other isn’t as understanding.  They just can’t get past the idea of their husband or boyfriend seeing all sorts of naked women.  That, and the fear of what others might think of HER when they find out she let you take pictures of nude women.

You can’t tell someone they need to support you.  They have to want to on their own.  Some ways to help them feel better about the idea might be:

  • do some implied work the same way you would do an artistic nude.  Darker with plenty of shadows covering the three private areas.  Do them well.  Then use them as an example of what you’d like to create.
  • have your wife or significant other assist you on a nude shoot.  She can be the one who helps the model with hair and move elbows and getting the tilt of the head just right.  When she sees you doing exactly the same things you do for any shoot she may see that it’s not a big deal.
  • make sure that, after every shoot, artistic nude or otherwise, that you spend a good amount of time with your wife or s.o. so they don’t feel neglected.  This is a great idea no matter what you shoot.
  • spend a lot of time talking with her about exactly what you want to accomplish.  Get some art books with examples and see if she sees the beauty.  Without the support of your significant other you can’t be creative.  And doing it behind her back is wrong on every level.  Don’t ever, EVER do that or you will lose her trust and respect…probably forever.

Of course, if you have a history of shooting ‘not so classy’ work its harder to explain why you want to suddenly shoot classic artistic nude work.  If you are getting into this genre to see naked girls…well, please stop right here.  You aren’t who this is written for.  Wrong reasons!!

The significant other

Your husband or boyfriend wants to shoot nude models.  If there was ever a situation that seemed threatening, this would be up near the top of the list.  You need to have a talk with him about anything you have on your mind.  Communication is the key to all good relationships and more so on this topic.  Ask questions.  Be honest with your feelings.  Being supportive has to come from your heart, not your head.  Be open-minded and ask to see examples of what he plans to create.  Ultimately, you don’t have to agree with or support your partner.

You might agree on a slow process to allow him to move in that direction in steps.  Maybe help out with a few shoots and see just how professional the shoot is.  Set rules that you both agree on.  For example, the model wears a robe when not actually posing.  And the photographer looking away while the model gets into position.  Whatever makes you more comfortable with the shoots should always be acceptable to your partner.  Just communicate.

One last thing

I’ve noticed something interesting about jealousy.  When I meet a couple where one is overly jealous, it usually indicates that person actually is at more risk of leaving a relationship than the partner who isn’t jealous.  Jealously usually stems from, but not limited to, two things.  Not feeling secure in a relationship.  And not having that emotional bond and trust in the partner that is very much required in a stable relationship.

Always, always communicate!!

Back to part 1

Back to part 2

Fine art – shoot day (Part2)

The mind set

Lurking in the back of your mind is always that ‘taught’ idea that nudity is bad. Sinful in some way. Even the most carefree among us knows that little feeling tugging at us when we are naked, even to get into the shower. It’s there and to acknowledge it and know that it’s just an embedded notion is important for some people.

There are two forms of Fine Art Nudes. Society has drawn the line for us. Oddly it’s as simple as nipples and vaginas. One form of fine art, and what I shoot most, shows very little in the way of actual nudity, based on society’s opinion. A shot like this for example shows no more than a bikini, yet it is obviously nude modeling.



Note that, for some people the simple lack of strings showing that there IS a bikini is objectionable.  Those are the few that see something evil or nasty instead of the beauty of the skin tones, fine lines and curves, and often mood and emotion.  Most of the time, any reluctance of a model to do fine art is based on what others may think of him or her if they posed like this.  It’s a valid concern.  Without a supporting spouse or significant other, moving forward is nearly impossible.  More on this in part 3.

The second form of fine art is full nudity, where we cross society’s lines and open the body to a more free form of expression.  Often this form alludes to a bit more confidence and allows for more freedom of expression because there isn’t a need to cover certain body parts.  In both cases the same basic beauty and art are present of course.

Here is where you do have a choice of how far you want to go as a model.  And this usually depends on your life goals.  If you are a teacher you probably wouldn’t want to go beyond the implied most certainly, as an example.  And maybe avoid this form of expression all together.  If one of my images ever cost someone their job, career, or significant other, I would be devastated.  This is a life choice that, unfortunately, could be a limiting factor in your future life so consider it carefully.  I’ve found those that display full nudity are super confident and will never care what others think and aren’t worried about it getting in the way of their careers.

The Studio

So, what is it like in the studio the day of the shoot?  If you’ve never done fine art before it’s always a bit stressful to start.  Nervousness about the whole process.  That little nagging feeling about being nude in front of a stranger.
Well, here’s how a shoot usually goes.  First we will do some shooting with a simple top just to get you comfortable with the music, lights flashing, the sound of my voice directing you, we’ll go over some modeling tips and basically spend the first 30 minutes warming up.  It’s an important time to get into the creative groove.

You’ll find a large changing room for makeup, changing, and in the event you end up covered in baby oil there’s even a shower.  That’s your room for the shoot.  Most notably, there are robes.  You are welcome to wear a robe when we aren’t actually shooting.  While doing light tests, or discussing the next pose, you can wear a robe if that is more comfortable for you.  You will find a very creative, yet focused, environment once we start shooting.  Especially with the fine art.  Getting the lighting exactly right and getting every detail of your pose right is key.


You will be comfortable in no time and excited about what we are shooting.  You’ll also find I put my camera down unless you are in position and we are ready to catch the look.  After 3-6 different looks or poses we’ll be done.  Exhausted.  And 3 or 4 hours went by yet it will seem like just 1.  And in the case of those who did fine art nudes for the first time, they wonder what they were nervous about in the first place.


So, that’s what it’s like from the models point of view.  Based on my observations and conversations.

Next part I’ll discuss the complications of model’s and photographer’s significant others and the huddles that often need to be overcome for everyone to be happy.  It’s about communication and understanding.

Continue to Part 3

Go check out part 1

Fine art – my perspective (Part1)

The human form

I’ll start by clearing up the basics.  Fine art nudes is an art form.  It has nothing to do with sex, exhibitionism, or voyeurism.  It does not degrade, sensationalize, or prey upon any gender.  The confusion comes from those that use the term ‘fine art’ as a gateway to shoot what is very obviously not art at all.  I’ve met people who can ramble on for a while about the fine lines and subtle tones of an art piece and I’ve met people who look at the same piece, tilt their head and say ‘cute’.  Everyone sees art differently and in my experience it’s not something you learn.  You either like it, love it, or don’t see it.  I have never seen a ‘face palm’ with a shocked expression and exclamation of “NOW I SEE IT!”



Model: Marcela Zuniga

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved the graceful clean lines formed by the human body.  Whether it is that of a soft beautiful female or a muscle filled shot of a male.  All shapes, sizes, and ages.  More recently very fit females have come to have the best of both soft lines as well as shadow from evident muscles.  All beautiful, especially in the right light.

I’m sure there was a time in my life that I was taught to consider any form of nakedness as inappropriate.  That is not a natural reaction, we are taught that nakedness is a sin somehow.  Later in life, as we start to rebel, question, and venture out with our minds, and especially when we discover art, we then discover the beauty of the human body.  And that it is not inappropriate to view them as the forms of art that they are.

I’m fortunate to have a very understanding and loving wife who understands my need to create.  She trusts that models will be treated with respect and that the only goal is the finished project.  That trust, from a partner, is important yet rare.  I will discuss that in another installment of this series.

The introduction


Model: Marcela Zuniga

When a model contacts me about creating some art I, of course, browse through  his or her images.  My mind immediately starts considering the options of what poses and lighting would work best for their body shape and attributes.  I begin to imagine what the end result may be based on past experience as well as my ever present checklist of images I’d like to create.

I’ll chat a bit to make sure the model understands the art we will create will involve nudity.  I always feel a little creepy in that part of the conversation because of that early teaching that nudity is inappropriate and here I am talking to someone I’ve likely never met about shedding their clothes for my camera.

It is ultimately important that they are fully comfortable with what we will be doing.  Most often I’ve found the promise of what may be created is a strong motivation to many to push themselves beyond their normal boundaries.  And, to date, everyone has been very pleased with our results.

Parts 2 and 3
In the next installments I will cover the trust issues of significant others in your life if you want to shoot fine art and just how a professional shoot works with nudity.


Style is the key to success

In any profession that has a creative element, the only road to success is having a style of your own.  Without it, you are like the 98% that have no style and compete strictly on price and quantity. Although this is true with many professions we’ll talk about photography…naturally.

IMG_0520-EditFirst let me qualify the term success.  To some it’s a comfortable living (or lavish) from the income of selling your art or services.  To some it’s the feeling of being creative.  Where money isn’t the driving force.  Of course, both are admirable excuses to getting out of bed and making things happen today.

Those with no style will tell you things like, “I like to get it perfect in the camera.”, or “I never retouch my photos”.  What they are really saying is, “I don’t want a unique style, that takes work and a lot of learning.”   They are usually the same people who compete at the low end of the pricing scale because their work looks exactly like everyone else’s.  The only reason they sell their product is because it’s cheaper than the next guys.

So, what is this thing called STYLE and were can I buy some.

Yeah, sorry, that’s just not going to happen.  First, you really do need to get away from thinking your camera has the ability to make a perfect picture.  I do know a few unique wedding photographers who have some amazing glass and know exactly how to get a fairly perfect shot pretty often.  But, they take those same shots day after day.  And they still warm them up, crop them, or do some other things to make them ‘theirs’.

Figure it’s going to take a year or more for your style to develop.  That will include a lot of ‘out of box’ experiences.  You need to venture into the world of Lightroom and Photoshop and have a good computer system to let you work without a lot of updates and delays.  And a comfortable chair.  Some good music.  Turn off your Facebook and be ready to focus.  There are plenty of great videos on how to do pretty much everything with any program.  In Adobe’s case their site has plenty and you can subscribe to for very well made and detailed videos on everything.  Creative Live is also a wonderful source for learning.

With all this learning you’ll be doing you might be asking yourself, how does THIS give me a style of my own.  If I’m learning all the same things as everyone else how does that make me unique and give me…my style?  This is the interesting part.  It’s a bit like walking into a kitchen full of every kind of food.  If you go to make a meat loaf the chances are very good that your meat loaf will taste very different than the last 10 people who made one.  Same ingredients.  But different results.  Here is where the YOU comes into the mix and creates a style.

Once you learn dodge and burn, layers, masking, building your own actions, and probably hundreds of other little nuances of Photoshop and Lightroom, you will start mixing them and applying them the way YOU love the look.  You will learn just how much contrast or blend of color you like and after a while you will do the same thing to the next and the next and the next.  Without specifically working on building your style you are doing just that.  No two people will do exactly the same things to any given picture and the results may or may not look close in the end.  They will never look identical.  Ever.

Don’t think you are done.  Once you have a style and if it’s one that sells, you may even build that into an action so it’s one button to adjust that shot the way you love it.  And for many, that is the end.  They won’t go farther because, well, they have found their success in the popularity of THAT style that is uniquely theirs.  From a business stand point this is fine.  Some famous greeting card artists and photographers like Andy Silvers and Ansel Adams have very specific styles that I can point to and tell you who did it.  That made them a nice living.

Those of us who see the success as what we can create art wise will probably never stop tweaking with our style by learning more all the time.  Just like how every friend and experience changes our personality just a bit and how we see life, every new thing you learn on your camera, or a software package will change, ever so slightly, your style.

Style is good.  Style is something you can’t buy.  Style takes a long time to create.  Style will be who you are and no one can take that away from you.  If you want people to point at your work and that, ‘Hey, that’s a shot by (insert name here)!’ then you’ll be glad you took the time to develop your style.

Enjoy life…even that will reflect in your style!




Wet studio option

Shooting in a pool is fun and often rewarding, especially if you shoot at night and have the lighting right.  Water spray behind the model with a Speed Light hitting her from behind through the sparkling water is wonderful.  But pools are not often available.  And I’ve often wondered what it would be like to have studio lighting safely around a pool and have total control.  Indoor pools are even less available.  Sooooo..


Unretouched shot. Concept just to see how white would reflect.

One day I was helping Linda with some grocery shopping, now thinking of ice cream cones and pork chops, and I spied a display of lawn fun for the kids.  Yeah, you can even buy motor oil in grocery stores these days.  My mind is never far from photographic opportunities so when I spotted a rather large blow up pool I just had to investigate.

Last summer I looked for a pool that was inflatable yet tall enough to immerse a model.  No luck.  Now I’m looking at one that is exactly what I was hoping to find.  If I’d had one built for the studio this would be exactly the size.  Perfection!


Fits perfectly in my studio giving me plenty of room for lights and positions to shoot.

I picked one up and set it up on the patio.  I didn’t want to fill the thing in the studio and find out it wasn’t going to hold the water.  Not good.  So, filled it up and sure enough, it started bending on one side a bit and eventually let some water out.  While draining it some I found the maximum fill line….about 6 inches below where I had filled it.  Manuals?  Who needs manuals?


So, next was to test out the sump pump.  You need one of these to drain it from the studio.  Mine needed work and after some poking at it I got it to work smoothly.  Dropped it into the pool and it sucked all the water out about as fast as it filled it.  About 25 minutes each way.


Another ‘as shot’ just to get the concept down.

Now, to actually use it.  I planned to shoot with a black sheet in it and then a white sheet so I could see how the water reflected and what options worked best.

On the black I used only Speed Lights around the pool for both safety and to keep the lighting more specular with smaller points to reflect off the water.  On the white I assumed this wasn’t really an option and I was right.  Almost no reflection when shooting at a low angle.  With white I found shooting straight down worked best AND I used studio lighting.  BUT, the lighting was attached to the beam above with zero chance to fall into the water.  If I’d wanted other studio lighting around the pool that ran from AC I would have run an extension cord from the ground fault outlet outside since that is designed to save lives with electricity around water.  SAFETY ALWAYS FIRST!

So, setting it up and taking it down hasn’t really been a problem.  I use a battery operated inflator so even that part was just a bit time consuming but painless.  Other than the models freezing their bottoms everything has worked as I expected.  (and models in discomfort often have better expressions anyhow, so hey, win-win)  Now to fine tune the angles and lighting to get as much effect from having water as possible.

Oh, and bringing in the hose with a sprayer to make it rain or mist around the model was also tried and should work well in future projects.

Thank you Alanna and Cassandra for humoring this old artist.  Your goose bumps needed a workout anyhow.


After over four years of various photographic ventures into everything from weddings to babies to families to fashion I’ve come to the cross roads on just exactly how I want my photography, and hence, the rest of my life, to play out.  And it’s not any of those.

I am totally in love with the fine art aspect of what photography can be.  There are plenty of photographers out there that shoot all those other things and a few that devote their craft to the fine arts.  I have the pleasure of going in whatever direction my heart and mind want to go.  I should add that I have the most beautiful and understanding wife any artist could have.  She wants me to be as happy as possible in my pursuits in the fall of my life.  I love her so.  Thank you Linda!

So, to make it more clear as to my direction I have changed the name of my ‘business’ from Dave Kelley Photography to Dave Kelley Artistics.  The second being far less likely to be asked to shoot babies, puppies, or kids.  I love them all, I just don’t find any satisfaction in photographing them.

If you are looking for a great photographer for more common work check out these folks.



That leaves me with time to continue to learn about all of the tools I use to create my art.  I’m a geek, so learning what I can about cameras and lighting makes my mouth water of course, and learning more about Photoshop, Lightroom, and now Final Cut Pro for artistic videos, I’m pretty much in geek heaven.  My shooting schedule will go from ‘hey, let’s shoot’ to a far more idea based approach.  As I come up with ideas that intrigue me I’ll plan them out and find models that fit the look and make it happen.

I don’t really consider what I do a business.  I am open for hire but only if I’m in control of the art created.  Otherwise I will make available my art for purchase as I create it.  Luckily I’ve had a lot of interest in people wanting my art on their walls.

So there you have it.  A new name to signify the new direction.

My work will be edgier, probably a bit darker, and all over the board from vintage, to nudes, to cosplay, and even some short videos with either music or editorial or documentary feels to them.  Whatever interests me.

If you want to model for one of my projects feel free to let me know.  Understand that artistic work may very well include nude or semi nude poses.  The finished product is always classy and edgy and rarely actually shows more than a basic bikini, but when I’m creating it’s important that the model is 100% comfortable with whatever we come up with.

I want to thank those who have encouraged me, and worked with me as a model, makeup artist, or hair stylist.  Your art is most certainly main ingredients in anything I’ve done or will do.


Model of perfection

As I’ve stated many times here, I am an artist first and photographer second.  But I certainly don’t work alone.  Models bring me their talents in the form of poses and of course the beauty their DNA has given them.

The most important part of being a successful model actually comes from a mind set more than anything else.  Even more important than DNA.Thinker 2.0IMG_9743-Edit

A model that is confident in herself is 90% of the way to perfection.  Knowing her beauty, what angles look best, knowing how to move between shots and just how much, makes her a work of art before the camera is pointed her way.  That self confidence is key.  This is especially true in models who shoot implied nude or artistic nude.  When there is nothing to hide behind, nothing to pose against, it’s just her and a blank white studio, it could be very scary.  If the confidence is there, it’s easily seen because there is no hesitation, just a desire to give the best performance.

Another key ingredient is trust.  Total and complete trust in the photographer and support staff.  Trust that we are all there for the same thing.  The perfect images.  Without the trust no amount of confidence can overcome the moment of mediocrety.  A lack of trust can actually sand down the confidence until it’s impossible to continue.

Self confidence AND trust.

Yet another mark of a perfect model is one that is always, and I mean ALWAYS, thinking about how she looks to the camera.  She’s always considering that angle.

When I have a model standing sideways to me and I ask them to spread their legs a bit more, a good model will step forward with one foot instead of actually spreading her legs more.  She knows that it’s from MY vantage point I need her legs to move apart.  This tells me she is thinking about what she looks like to me…very important.

I feel every model should have the confidence in her own beauty to do whatever modeling she wants.  This doesn’t mean she has to model nude, but she should have enough self confidence, enough self esteem, to be able to do that if she wanted to.  Even in runway modeling the same extreme self confidence needs to be there.

The trust issue is a little harder when it’s a first time shooting with a photographer.  That trust comes with time and more often with the first good shots.  The trust will show in the finished work.

IMG_4564-EditSo, in a nut shell, modeling has very little to do with what dress you wear or how white your smile is.  It’s work, hard work, and rewarding work, when it’s done to perfection.

When a model comes to a shoot with me I always hope that she’s confident in herself, in the work will will accomplish, and be comfortable enough to do it all naturally and have fun with it.

I’m always asking everyone on set if they are having fun.  It’s not really a question as it is a reminder.  We’ve heard all our lives that if we are doing something we love it’s not work.  We should all be enjoying the shoot and getting the art we expected…or better yet, better than we imagined.

So, come prepared with plenty of self confidence.  And trust this photographer that if you work with me we’ll get some great art out of the shoot.

Off the reservation

I don’t want your money.

Not the most profitable way to run a business.  But if I were to take people’s money they would probably expect something in return.  Therefore I would have to create pictures I don’t necessarily want to create.  (Hence the particular image…’confined and restricted’.)

confined beauty

model: Lydia Martinez

That has become unacceptable to me .  I love to shoot, and I love changing those shots into my style of art.  With that and learning new skills to create with and teaching others what I’ve learned, I’m following what I love most in life.

We all hope there comes a time in our lives where we can do what we love and not one other thing…well, except taking out the garbage maybe.  I’m there.

Someday I hope to be good enough with my art that people might want to put it on their wall.  Or other photographers use it for inspiration for their own work.  I’m working on a body scape book so maybe I’ll generate a little income from that.  But frankly, the joy of knowing someone is enjoying my art is infinitely more important to me.

For the models and hair stylists and makeup artist and designers who have and will be working with me, thank you!  Without your talents and ideas my art would be very limited indeed.  Thank you all and I hope we work together for many years to come.  I assume you are wanting the same outcome…art.

The other part of photography I truly love is showing others what I may have learned that may enhance their experience.  One on one workshops are amazing and I love the personal sharing that comes with that.

So, bottom line is…

If you come to me and want a family shoot, or a baby, or a dog, of senior pictures, or a wedding, or your gold fish shot, don’t be offended if I thank you for thinking of me but I decline.  It’s not personal, it’s just not what I do.

I hope you all get to that point in your life where you can let your heart lead you to your joys and leave logic and the need to make money behind.  Meanwhile, if you have any ideas for creating some art with me, most certainly chat with me about it.  THAT is what I do!

Have an amazing life!!

Slight course correction

The life of an artist is constantly changing.  Art is a reflection of feelings and desire.   Those are required to create art.  The art created under yesterday’s sun was wonderful.  But today the air seems fresher, the flowers more fragrant, and the sun just a little brighter.  Art will change with the new day.

I started doing photography as just something to do after I retired.  I fell in love with it, and I sucked at it.  Then I started playing, learning, enjoying what I could create, and everything started changing.  It’s not just something to do anymore.  It’s something I HAVE to do!  The joy of sitting back after a special shot comes to life and feeling it stir my heart is like a drug.  A runner’s high.

Some might say I still suck at it.  Don’t care.  I love it.

But, as I said, the life of an artist is always changing.  My love for the art is over powering any desire to do photography that others want.  I don’t feel I have to do weddings, family pictures, or any of the ‘typical’ photography.  I just want to create.  Make my art.  Learn.  Excel.  Grow.

So, don’t be shocked when I turn down the opportunity to shoot, even for money.  If it’s an artistic project you are bringing to me I’ll have a rate but at least I’ll be loving it because it’s art.  If it’s anything else I do know some of the best photographers in Arizona and can get you connected for what you want.

That leaves me to my final point.

If you want to model for me.

To be totally creative requires a model or models that are totally comfortable with everything.  Looks that are not flattering, or pretty.  Dark, bright, colorful, black and white, implied, nude, no makeup, outlandish makeup, whatever comes to mind or what idea is being created at the time.  So, if you are someone who enjoys my art and wants to be a part of it, keep in mind that I expect you to be comfortable with whatever we need to do for any given concept.  It’s always classy of course, but I need a canvas that has no limits.

It’s okay, go into the light!

Before we were born we saw light.  It was pink and out of focus, but it was there.  We’ve had light all around us and for most people it’s all about being able to just see in the dark, or it comes from the sky, or we flip a switch and we can see.  It’s as natural as breathing and we take it for granted the same way.

Photography is all about the light.  All photography uses it…great photography manipulates it, paints with it, makes us see what the photographer, what the artist, wants us to see.

IMG_8176-1It could be as simple as a black photo with a hint of an eye showing.  It often uses light to draw lines with the shadows to bring out a shape, a form, or lack of one.  Light is the essence of the art of photography.

If it’s a bride we can wash her in warm pastels or put a baby in beautiful sunshine.  Endless options.

When I have the opportunity to share my knowledge of photography I always show how everything I do revolves around the light.  Studio lighting, location lighting for day and night, and playing with the light in all situations.  I often find myself stepping back and wondering just how I can use the light I have to make this into an interesting picture.  It’s not like a math problem to me.  There are no rules.  Actually, there are plenty of rules and I break them every chance I get because I ignore them.  Knowing your lights, modifiers, and gear to a degree where you just know what they can do is all you ever need.  I light a subject with my gut more than my brain.  What is going to make the shot just crawl off the page and grab you by the ears!  Okay, maybe not that strong, but keep your eye on the shot and wonder.

So many people take pictures that are, well, just pictures.  Selfies, but using a photographer.  Sorry, but yuck.

If people look at a picture and they are moved by it.  If they wonder what the person is thinking in the picture.  If they feel what the subject is feeling then I think it was worth the time, the thought, or gut, that went into it.

When someone sees a picture I’ve taken of a nude or implied subject and the response is ‘that’s hot’ then they aren’t seeing what I intended at all.

I’m thinking that great photography is broken down into two groups.  People who know how to use the light to paint an amazing picture with their camera, and those that know enough about art to appreciate it for the art that it is.

If you are a photographer – know every aspect of lighting.  Period.  And you will be amazing!