Q & A ABOUT MY PHOTOGRAPHY…FROM A MAGAZINE INTERVIEW
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SHOOTING THE FEMALE FORM?
I have been working with the female form since the early 90's seriously, I did it occasionally before that with close friends.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START BACK THEN AND WHAT INSPIRES YOU NOW?
I was in college, at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit. I think it all started with one lighting setup and it was going to work best with a figure, that started a series, with the same setup, with different models and as they say the rest is history. Now I am driven to produce images that share the beauty of the female form while expressing what I feel is the essence of the form, a simple nude needs no title it can speak for its self, that is the essence I strive to share with the viewer. In the whole scheme of things my greatest inspiration comes from the appreciation I receive from my models, if I can make their day with beautiful images we created together, I am very happy, it doesn't get much better then that.
WHAT TYPE OF MODELS DO YOU LIKE TO WORK WITH? WHY?
I have worked with all types of models, I feel that there is beauty in everybody, it is just a matter of exploring, we all have our strengths and weakness's when it comes to our bodies. I will usually always give a model a chance if they have the desire, I have often been surprised by results when I had doubts to begin with. I don't usually type cast a particular model for an idea, I prefer to leave expectations at the door and live in the moment, that is where my best work has come from. The most important thing for me is desire, that is one reason I do not like to work with payed models, I want someone on the same page with me, striving to make the most beautiful images we can. It shouldn't be a job, don't get me wrong though I don't besmirch models trying to make a some money as compensation for their time, they just are not what I am usually looking for. And I don't want an actor, at least not an inexperienced actor, I want it to seem authentic. If I can capture that, my work is so much easier. My "ideal model" has the desire to make art, knows what real emotion is, and is able to show it. And very important, that they have an awareness of their body, and how it can be used to express emotion and energy through movement. Dancers make excellent models as they have learned to move with their bodies. It also helps if they bring an open mind with a good imagination and some ideas of their own. Ideas are part and parcel of good creative collaboration, the more the better. A great model you can just turn loose, leaving you to only have to think about seeing rather then spend your time and energy directing. A great model is an artist and talent you don't want to waste, their job is not an easy one, its hard work.
WHAT TYPE OF EQUIPMENT DO YOU USE?
I come from a film and darkroom background in the age before computers, now though I shoot digital with a Canon 5D, and I usually have a 28–70 2.8 lens on it. My post work is done with Photoshop and Lightroom, on Mac computers. Digital has taken all photographers to new heights and that also speaks for digital artists, and photographers still shooting film and working in darkrooms. We have all been pushed, its all good.
DO YOU PREFER STUDIO OR OUTDOOR?
I worked in a large complete studio, we shot primarily advertising, corporate, and annual reports, for 20 years, and by large I mean you could shoot a car in it. The studio is closed now and I'm retired, couldn't have both. I do miss the studio, but I can go either way when shooting, I have always had a lot of good creative fun working at locations with just available light. More and more as my career has progressed, I have been preferring available light, and digital has helped that along. Experience brings the ability to see light and what it will look like in an image, and that makes a huge difference. Whether you're seeing natural light or creating the light with strobe, knowing how light reacts, bends and reflects, and such, not to mention its intensity and color, that is the key. I still have a very nice kit of strobe lighting, if I need it.
WHAT DO YOU THINK SEPARATES NUDE PHOTOGRAPHIC ART FROM PORNOGRAPHY?
My sense is its in the eye of the beholder. That said I tend to view images that are of a sexual nature, with a model making eye contact, inviting arousal, as being more in the pornographic genre. I do like to shoot erotic subjects, situations, but my emphases is to make it beautiful and intriguing, again seeking the essence. Sex as taboo, is a state of mind, not spirit. People try to suppress it, but I think it is really their own feelings they are dealing with. Trying to deny, what they cannot control. I don't have to remind anyone how long "The Nude" has been part of the Art World. Right?...
WHAT KIND OF STATEMENT ARE YOU MAKING IN YOUR WORK AND WHAT DO YOU HOPE OTHERS WILL GET FROM IT?
That the human body is beautiful, and nothing we should be ashamed of, that we should embrace it and accept it. As a subject of art, I cannot get any closer to the truth… that inhibitions pull us down and acceptance lifts us up. We should not be afraid of the inherent beauty we all possess. We are all walking, talking art. I hope in my own way and vision, that stripping it all down to the basic form of a beautiful body without the pretense of fashion and status we will be better human beings. Our fragility is universal, some are just more open to themselves and the world, I cannot help but respect that, I learn from these beautiful souls I've worked with everyday. They are all… my inspiration, without them I could not continue my work, obviously, I hope that shows.
MY FAVORITE GUIDING QUOTE….
"Merely copying the object is not art, What counts is to express the emotion called forth in you, the feeling awakened…."
~ Henri Matisse ~
WHAT WAS THE LARGEST OBSTACLE YOU HAD TO OVERCOME TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
The attitude that I'm wasting time.... The time and perseverance it takes to build trust and acceptance for the work I do. The long and arduous task of finding myself and my own unique vision, and then getting it recognized. I still have a long ways to go, so much more to learn, and so many images waiting. Patience…
Trust me, my camera will love you…
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Some answers edited from the original interview, to update my current status..jy