Saturday, December 15, 2012

Why We Have Guns...

Why do we have guns?  I’m not talking about hunting.  Not talking about fending off the robber or rapist.  That has always been a distraction as to why we have guns in the US.  Sure... those are all good reasons to possess a firearm.  But in the United States the reason we have a guns is not for personal protection or a sport.  No, the reason we have guns is to shoot the government.  Or actually more artfully put... to keep the government from shooting us.

History is clear, governments will eventually turn on the populace.  They will enslave their citizens and remove all freedoms.  This tendency isn’t some antiquated norm that society has grown out of.  It’s right there everyday.  Under the noblest of banners.  Protection, security, equality.  These are the terms used to extort your liberty from you.  Because how can you be against protecting the children?  How can you be against securing the nation?  How can you deny another man his “equality”?

Our founders knew of this eventuality.  They understood that the best way to retard the inevitable was to make it clear that governments did not have the right to disarm the people.  Militia’s rather than be maintained now... are abdicated (foolishly) to the Federal government alone.  State militia’s exist but only under limited scope and at the ultimate direction of the Federal government.

You see militia’s were to fend off more than just advancing nations, marauders and pirates.  They were to fend off tyranny.  Our own government tyranny.  The firearm is the ultimate check and balance weighted against an ever growing, ever reaching, ever encompassing federal government.  Governments turn on their people.  But first they must disarm them.


In the beginning they will pick the “low hanging” fruit.  “Assault Weapons” which is a media code word used to stir emotion rather than reason.  Next it will be all guns with high capacity magazines.  Then voluntary buybacks.  Finally door to door confiscation once those few who still have guns are demonized as treasonous conspirators by a willing media accomplice.

Why have high capacity magazines and assault weapons?  Who needs those?  In order to fulfill the admonition of the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution we must be able to raise arms effectively against Tyranny.  No one thinks we need to have tanks and missiles.  Tyranny isn’t put down by heavy weapons.  But it is assumed that some kind of arms parity must exist.  The general arms of the day and times.  These days the arms are semi auto pistols, shotguns and rifles.  A good way to look at it is if you can find it in the armory of your local Sheriff’s office or Police Department it deserves to be in the hands of the citizens as well.  

Again, no one is suggestion civilians have grenades, rocket launchers or depleted uranium ammunition.  But we must have a level of parity to remain that constant threat to tyranny.  This parity ensures to Tyranny that it will at its best inflict mutually destruction on all of us and at worse be vanquished and another government installed.  

Politicians and judges are not keen on this undeniable truth.  They do not often reference this reality.  They prefer to couch the arguments of gun ownership in terms of personal protection from robbers and attackers.  Sports and heritage.  Rare is the politician that salutes the 2nd amendment for what it is... the ultimate check on his and his colleagues power to limit liberty.

When understood from this important angle it’s easy to extrapolate that one of the many reasons the US has remained as free as it is, for as long as it has, is because of the threat of violence to the government from its people.  It’s not hyperbole or bombast to suggest that without the 2nd Amendment and an armed populace that our past might look more like China, Russia or Germany or maybe even Saudi Arabia.

If you look at the atrocities endured in these countries and inflicted on others by these countries it is easy to see that living ones life at the pleasure of Tyranny and government costs way more of those lives than does the cost of civilian on civilian gun crime.


Knowing this doesn’t lessen the tragedy of the Connecticut shootings, or just a few months earlier the Colorado theater shootings.  Knowing this isn’t supposed to provide comfort to grieving parents and friends.  Knowing this provides the proper perspective in which to view these events.  It provides understanding that, like many choices, is not a perfect solution.  I’d like to say the US is different.  We won’t experience freedomless tyranny and the guns are not necessary.  But there is no evidence for that.  Rather the evidence is to the contrary.  That we are at tyranny’s door.  History gives a clear picture of where we are headed.  It’s not conspiracy theory.  It’s not an overstatement.  Our guns in civilian hands has always and hopefully will always provide a needed service to all of us as the last and best defense against the loss of our liberty and freedom.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Everything you need to know... and teach.



Everything you need to know... and teach.

--

“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.” - Tecumseh

________

And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Luke 6:31

________

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sometimes I worry I'm a little to close to the fire.

In the past few weeks I have been sending out DMCA notices left and right.  Several each day.  I knew going in that some of my models would have an appeal to crowd of people that don't share the values I do.  Having to go to these websites and serve these notices has me a bit reflective.

Add to that the fact that I was researching a photographer today and Google lead me to this website purporting to be from the group "Anonymous". (The site doesn't read like it was done by hackers... in terms of being "doxed" it is a pretty sophomoric effort.)  I really had to put some words down about child modeling.  My path keeps meeting it.  And I don't like it.

The following was posted at this blogs Facebook page.

I found this website while backgrounding some people.  I must say that someone has done their homework.

And while I agree with the general stance that child modeling is wrong.  I think a full vetting of what we are talking about is appropriate.

I'm a photographer.  I have been for 15 years.  Many years ago a person sent me an image of a model and said I should photograph her.  I had no idea what her website was.  To my surprise it was a child modeling website.  NOW... this photo sent to me could have been found in any magazine or website.  It was not in any way risque and the model was no longer a child.  Rather she was likely 16 or 17.  The general age when girls start to model.  But the website I found of her photos likely dated back to when she was 9 or 10 years old.

This one photo introduced me to very strange world.  One I am not at all comfortable with.  One full of success and unfortunately exploitation.

You see I have worked with many child models once they reach a legitimate modeling age.  My photos have given models the opportunity to shed their past and integrate with MAINSTREAM modeling opportunities.   I worked with the model known as "Play Kitty" when she was 18 or 19 years old.

Over the years I've been sent many images by fans saying you must work with these models.  In most circumstances I've been very disappointed with what I have found.  Obvious exploitation and  manipulation.  The owners of these websites and creators of these photos are catering to pedophiles.  There is no other way to look at it.  The photos style, wardrobe and surroundings do not mimic what is normal, what is acceptable for a child.  12 year olds don't play dress up with suggestive lingerie.  And if they ever did it wasn't done with the understood ends of being sold to the public.

The "art" stipulations that these websites stay safe under are purposefully broad.  They must be because we do not want to dissuade legitimate artists and harass them for their legitimate work.

I've seen individual states in the US try to combat these online sites but usually end up making too broad a law that is likely Unconstitutional.

That is why sites like this are so important.  But with this "importance" comes responsibility.

I don't suggest you post the names of the parents that allow their children to be exploited online.  But I think it is VERY important to note that the best line of defense against child exploitation isn't Anonymous, or Law Enforcement... it is the parents.

More should be seen on the blog and facebook page here about the responsibility of parents.

Second... if you are going to be "real" about this industry you have to understand that not every culture is like the US, UK and Canada.  What we consider an adult in the US is not the same in other places.  Just because your 16/17 year old can't make a rational decision and you can't conceive of a son or daughter at that age able to make adult decisions... doesn't mean there isn't a culture somewhere that does.  I don't think a soul would disagree with me when I say we extend childhood as long as possible in the USA.  For better... and worse.

There are efforts underway with organizations that would love to see YOUTH made illegal.  Not to get too feminist here... but if it were left to some every part of pubescent girls body would be illegal to show or talk about.  From a purely artistic stand point youth has forever been a major subject.  Its loss, its wonder, its innocence.  It's innocence has chiefly been depicted by nudity.  This is not nor has it ever been legitimately seen as exploitation of children.

And that is where these exploitation websites stand to do the most damage to artists... to legitimate artful endeavors.   By walking the line and exploiting the law, these websites coax politicians into doing too much and catching legitimate art in the net cast to catch "child modeling agencies".

We all agree that children, 1-13/14 should not be exploited for monetary gain, or any age for that matter.  This doesn't mean that children should not model.  This doesn't man that a legitimate work of art that depicts children in situations that are normal to childhood or are artful derivations of childhood are not to be sold and do not have value.  What this means is that using these same "art" exemptions to exploit children is wrong.  It deserves exposure.

But those that do the exposing have a responsibility to be sure of their charges, clear in their efforts and concise in their scope.  Steering clear of what has come to be known as Pedo-Hysteria or the act of accusation and insult in an effort to cover up ones own insecurities and fears.  This is not a victim centered reaction.  It's a selfish reaction.

So again... I support the shaming of those that exploit children.  But only when it is done with legitimate ends in mind and with a limited and accurate scope. And only when the effort is obviously child centered and not solely about punishment or extortion.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's time for Vol 9!

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Enjoy another great Tatyana set and one of my favorite sets of anonymous nudes!  I wish I could tell you who it was... but I'm sworn to secrecy!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stand back... models rant.

I'll be brief...

It's be great if just once I found a model that could take her career as seriously as I take mine.  I know that bird is the rarest of all.  A model aged female that is also "model" attractive.

Generally being model hot means getting yer arse kissed on a regular basis.  People letting you pass on mistakes and other oops-es.

So I get that being a hot teenager to early twenties isn't the best environment to find the picture of professionalism... but hey...  I can still ask.  I can still dream.


Vol 7 Taisia Kharlamova and Gina C.

You're gonna' want to buy this one...


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Friday, October 5, 2012

Vol 5 is ONLINE!

Vol 5 is now ready!  This is a great issue.  Two of my favorite models.  Sherri and Naomi.  Plus a new face for many of my fans.  Skylar!

A must have.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

A word on Resolution... (the pixel kind)

The amount of detail I show in my eBooks is not a randomly arrived at conclusion.

I have had a few complaints.  Out of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of downloads some fans have called into question the "size" of the photos.

I pick a size that generally will accomplish three things.  1. Fit the screen of the average computer.  2. Be a manageable size in terms of dealing with over 100 photos at a time.  3.  Is manageable in terms of a download.

As you will see the photo fits the screen.  I am usually around 650 to 700 on the longest side.


Some of you want resolution that will let you check for ticks!  Zoom in on a freckle.

That's not the intent of my work.  I don't take a photo for you to zoom in to the pixel.  I take it for you to see the whole photo.

But as many of you already know I take customer service VERY seriously.  If you want large resolution pictures.  I want to provide them for you.

But it will cost you more.

I feel the size photo for the price I charge is fair.

If you want larger photos you can contact me many ways.  I will do all I can to help you.  But... it is important for you to know that I think the size I provide for the money I charge IS the proper balance.

Thank you so much for supporting my art.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Vol 3 Available! Artist's Favorites, Taisia, and MORE

This volume has some of my favorite photos.  It also has the most beautiful model in the world... well one of the most beautiful... Taisia Kharlamova.  And many more models.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Need YOUR HELP... Free Stuff

The first fan to give me a solution that works gets the next 4 eBooks for free!

Vol III is ready.

I need a digital content download solution like e-junkie or payloadz that doesn't involve me having to do anything with PayPal.  NO PayPal.

You find me a way to upload the content and sell it to my patrons without the use of either PayPal or having my own merchant account and you get the next 4 eBooks for free.

Contact me via the website.

www.photo-journey.biz


Monday, August 27, 2012

New Models Read HERE...

I have below a "tutorial," if you will, about professional modeling.

 Young/New models have so many misconceptions about what it is to "model". How to model. What a model does. The details... I've selected several videos that show a behind the scenes look. I selected these because of the statement they make on being empowered and feminine. The statement they make on trust and bond between photographer and model. The statement they make on all the hard work and extra details that are not shown in the photograph.

 But before we get to that we have to start at the beginning.

 If you want to be a model that means you want a job. A JOB requires professionalism. Professionalism requires timeliness, attention to detail, communication and preparation.

  Timeliness: Normally a lot of time and money are involved in any photo session. Sometimes tens of thousands of dollars. Being late to a shoot isn't just unprofessional... it is costly. It shows total disrespect for other professionals. No-Showing is the ultimate form of unprofessional behavior.

  Detail: Your skin, hair, body, nails all must be in a state of top performance. Just like a race car driver expects all the parts to work in the race car, so does a photographer/client expect a model's parts to be in detailed order. Further, this attention to detail is also important in your business dealings.

  Communication: If you can not commit to returning every email in 24 hours you might consider another line of work. Communication is very important. It builds trust and confidence. As well, your ability to communicate your needs to a photographer/client is VERY important. Being scared or timid about mentioning certain limitations or boundaries before a shoot is unprofessional. Telling a photographer you actually are NOT comfortable doing sheer lingerie after the shoot has started is unprofessional. And costly.

  Preparation: An unprepared model is an unprofessional model. Your gear, your equipment (YOU), your business should all be in prepared order before you show up to a shoot. Skin clear, body fit and well rested. You need to be able to perform at your maximum potential. Photographers/clients are not paying you for a service. Rather they are buying a result. You must meet or exceed expectations.

 If you have confidence that you can be professional, timely, detailed, prepared and communicate effectively... then read on!

  You need to be realistic. Model ≠ Pretty

 There are several types of models.

  Fashion models make lots of money. They walk runways and sell clothes.

  Commercial models make the most money on average and sell everything!

 There is also Art modeling where you collaborate with a photographer to create a piece of art. This is the highest form of modeling. Because you and the photographer create 100% of the value. No mobile phone. No blue jeans. No sports drink. No added value.

 If you are 5'5" tall (or less) you will NOT be a fashion model. No matter what a local small agency tells you. No matter how pretty your face it will not happen. Fashion models are clothes hangers. They are a certain size.

 The good news is that there is almost no height standard for commercial models. But your body must be in proportion. Now... does this mean that at 5'5" you will never get fashion work? No... but it does mean you will not make a living at it.

Many models (most models) freelance.  Meaning they book some of their own work.  If not all.  An agency is a nice thing to have.  Often you can have two or three.  But more and more models are booking their own work. For more info go here: http://selfmademodel.com/buynow.php

Just like a princess's clothes don't make you a princess... well a model agency doesn't make you a professional model.  There are tons of agencies out there.  Most are total wastes of your time and money. Working as a professional model making a significant portion of your income makes you a model... at least in my eyes.

 Finally... Nudity. To some extent all models show skin and display character, themes and ideas that are not how they behave on a daily basis. Models are actors. If you can not come to terms with acting like a diva, slut, tramp, princess, harlot or whatever the work calls for then you might want to consider other work. Dressing up like a princess doesn't make you a princess. Nor does dressing like a slut make you a slut.

 Decide early what your boundaries are. Stick to them. But understand that your mental hang ups are not helping you professionally. If you are scared of what the folks back home might think, modeling might not be for you. That said... ignoring the consequences of your actions is equally unprofessional. Only you can decide your comfort zone and boundaries. Be honest with yourself. The Business IS what the Business IS. It will not change for you.



This video of Emma Watson demonstrates her moving from pose to pose, following direction from the photographer, and some great dramatic "hard" poses.  Oh... and Emma is cute as hell!



Adriana Lima is a Goddess.  Let's just be clear about that!  This a GQ magazine shoot.  Noteworthy in this video is the professional nature Adriana displays.  She is totally nude but 100% focused on the shoot.  No less than 6 others are present and she isn't phased.  Adriana also demonstrates some great soft poses and a few more provocative ones.  Also noteworthy is the fact that there was no real "nudity" in the GQ calendar.  No nips, butts or Vajayjay.  Was it because Adriana spent the whole shoot fidgeting with her hair, bottoms, palm leaves in order to cover up?  Or was it because Adriana is a professional and has a contract that details the outcome of the shoot and what the public sees!  Hand's can't cover nipples near as well as contracts can!!!





This time a Pirelli Calendar shoot.  Gisele talks about pushing herself to give the photographer what he wants.  It's about trusting professionals to do their jobs.  Lots of great hard poses here.  Dramatic.




Here we have Miranda Kerr modeling the Cotton line for Victoria's Secret.  This is a bit of a "commercial" more than a how to...  But take note of the soft poses and all the production going into this shoot.  Victoria's Secret has a unique style.




One of my favorite videos.  This Pirelli Calendar really shows the importance of the photographer/model relationship and how trust is everything.  All the poses here are organic and natural.  No hard poses.  For models struggling with "nudity" issues pay particular attention to the photographer and model interviews.  For the models this is feminine and EMPOWERING.  That's right.  They don't feel cheap or exploited.  They feel powerful.  In control.  Dominant.  Not all the things society has branded the nude female form.

If you are a new model or considering it as a profession this will help you.  I will leave you with a few cautions.

1.  Check references.  Professionals don't bring boyfriends to photoshoots.  If you are booking your own work you have a professional responsibility for your own safety.  You can't do a good job modeling if you are not comfortable.

2.  All agencies are businesses.  Businesses are designed to look out for the business's interests first.  Not yours!!!  Small agencies will tell you what you want to hear to keep you on the roster.  Keep that in mind.

3.  Commercial models can and do work as nude models.  But it is limited and select work.  Agencies will try to keep you from very lucrative and artistically satisfying work.  Don't let them.  But be selective and discuss boundaries and limits with clients/photographers ahead of time.

4.  Under 18 models should in most cases avoid any work involving nudity.  There are exceptions.  Nudity under 18 is not illegal in most places.  But... it is very frowned on if not done in a very professional way.  Trust is a major factor in this type of work.  Many in our culture believe that pubescent nudity under the age of 18 is defacto pornography.  This type of backward thinking has no artistic precedent and is a relatively new social construction.

Good luck!

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's HERE!

The new website is finally up.

Stay tuned to the eBook's tab.  New eBooks to buy in about a week!

www.photo-journey.biz

You will see Karina Terebun, Tatiana G., Taisia Kharlamova, Brittany Marie Guzik, Sherri Chanel, Phoebe Crinch, and many more models!  eBooks will be updated regularly!  And as always... donations of any size are welcome.

Ben

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Not far now...

In the next week or so a new web site will appear.

With it the opportunity to buy eBooks of my photography in a simpler format than Blurb.  And not as expensive.

FINALLY the Tatiana G., Karina Terebun and Taya Kharlomova shoots will be released over time.

Not far now!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Many of you have noticed that "artsale" is no more.

It was never what I wanted it to be.  It was my attempt to cobble together pieces of what I want.

This month we should see my new website.  Work is under way to make it a lot cleaner and easier to understand.

Stay Tuned!


Friday, June 22, 2012

Great Photoshoot!

I'm just getting to some photos from this past weekend.  I had a successful shoot with Skylar.

You would not believe her age if I told you.  She is very tall and mature for her age.  This was her first shoot ever.  She went from shy and reserved to almost PRO in about an hour.


Mom and dad were perfect.  There... but never interfering or interjecting.   Perfect.

I'll be scheduling Skylar again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

There is a new website being built.

I have a new website being built to make things a bit more organized and customer friendly.

Stay posted.  I hope to have it up and running in about 30 days.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Apparently... the question on your mind.

I am asked many different questions about my work.  But lately a couple of questions seem to come up more than others.  As an aside I think the number 1 question by non industry types is how can I be around such beauty and control myself.  Now that I think about it... maybe that question IS illustrative of the larger issue at hand.

Yes, I am well aware of the previous "careers" many of my models have had.  Thank you for your concern.  I've been doing this for years.  I don't work with any model... of any age... I have not explored their background.  I will not call names here or point to specifics but I am aware that some of the models I have worked with have had "questionable" careers prior to my working with them.

Some of the models worked in an industry that often can be seen as exploitation.  Especially for those models that started at a very young age.  I don't agree with Child Modeling for the internet.  I wish it did not exist.  I believe some of it is illegal.  And the rest of it is just in bad taste and can be exploitative.  Teen "Glamour" Modeling for the internet I don't care much for either.  Teen Glamour isn't exploiting these models but some of it is in bad taste and IS exploiting the work of pioneer photographers like Jock Sturges, Ellen Von Unworth and David Hamilton, to name only a few.

These legitimate pioneers risk(ed) the quality of their lives, families and their careers.  They dared show us, or rather remind us, what we all know inside.  There is beauty in nudity.  Nudity of any age.  What is more, that the sexuality of young women is not the work of Satan but rather of God.  It can be admired.  It can be opined.  It can be aesthetically pleasing.  And... it can be recorded and shared.

The Teen Glamour nipple-slip business is art by its most basic definition.  Just like the low level human instinct it is created to quell it is a simplistic lower art form.  But art it is.  And that is where its commonality with the great pioneers ends.

Ignorance is the only reason to fear nudity at any age.  What is more dangerous to children?  Any hour you pick of MTV or David Hamilton's "Laura"?  What is actually obscene the work of Sally Mann or Toddlers in Tiaras?  Who contributes more to our cultural cannon Perez Hilton and TMZ stalking the low hem and plunging neck lines of young celebrities or Ellen Von Unworth's early nudes of an "under age" Adriana Lima?

It is my goal to contribute to a body of work that is judged on its artistic merit not the age of the model or the amount of cleavage, pubic area and buttocks exposed.  To this end... once again I says YES I know the history of some of my models.  When I worked with the first model who was once a "Teen Internet Model" I was impressed by this young woman's professionalism and energy.  She was prompt with all her email responses.  She was on time to the shoot.  She was prepared and she contributed more than a pose and a smile!

I wondered if this was a fluke.  At this point I had been working about 7 years as a wanna be photographer.  I had experienced the "model boom" that the interwebz gave us in the late '90s.  Garage Glamour, OMP, South East Model Index and countless other attempts to hook up models with photographers.  Or... wannabes like me with wannabe models.  This young model taught me that age did not have a causal relationship to model tardiness, no-shows and poor modeling craft.

A few years later I contacted two other web models to work with me.  I did my normal research and found that photographers who worked with them highly recommended these two sisters.  Again, the two sisters were more professional and better at their craft than models older than they.  It was certain.  The web models have better experience and understanding of a professional commercial relationship than most other models.

That's it.  That's my secret.  I work with professional models.  Professional by the only standards that matter.  They have talent at their craft and they understand a commercial professional relationship.  Sure, the exception makes the rule.  I have had models of all kinds behave unprofessionally.  But my experience suggests and my last shoot in the Ukraine proves that former/current webmodels are a legitimate and fruitful source of talent.

As well, if I can create with them a level of work that stands in stark contrast to their earlier work.  Something that isn't exploiting or obvious.  Something that is a contribution to a historical cannon of work rather than a fleeting homage to man's baser instincts... then I think I have given the model something much more valuable than payment for a job well done.  I contributed to the model's professional legitimacy.  In some small way distancing her from a "career" that was questionable at best.

I don't think of myself as some kind of White Knight or Hero.  Saving these models from a life of exploitation.  The truth is we don't know the dynamics at work in these models lives and too many assumptions are harmful.  Further, these models give me much more than I give them.  I'm the lucky one.  I'm the one who has a permanent catalog of adventures and stories, traveling all over the world in search of beauty.

My working with these models is in no way an affirmation of their previous work.  Rather it's a small step to get out from under it.  But all that is secondary to creating something beautiful and enjoyable.

Now you know.  There is nothing sinister here.  I'm not hiding anything.  This is an endeavor to create something beautiful.  Maybe pay my credit cards off and buy an extra lens or two.  It's no more complicated than that.  Since my craft isn't prose let me answer you this way...  How can I control myself when I am around so much beauty?  The same way every other professional photographer does.  By being professional!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

If you want to buy my books at iTunes rather than Blurb...  YOU CAN!

Buy My Books!



Monday, May 21, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

NEVER Fly Polish Air/LOT

JFK ---- > Warsaw  5+ hours late

Warsaw ----> Odessa 1 hour late

Warsaw ----> JFK  2 hours late

3 out of 4 connections delayed.

LOT/Polish Airlines is a poorly run airline.  They left me stranded at JFK for hours until I could track someone down who could help me after missing my Charlotte connection.

Don't fly LOT.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Я не понимаю

The stress level leading up to this trip was almost unbearable. There were to be 4 models... Taya, Karisha, Tatyana and Mika. Taya canceled first. She very professionally declined my offer about two months before the shoot. (She had previously accepted.) Karisha on April 4th confirmed she would participate. I never heard from her again...

 I invested, my patrons invested, a great deal of money in this venture. The lion's share going towards flying Tatyana and her Mother to Odessa. My main line of communication with Tatyana was via her social networking page. Not my favorite way to communicate. And... wouldn't you know when it came time to book flights from Vladivostok to Odessa her page goes down. It had been down before. She is dealing with trolls, stalkers and trouble-makers. Now the timing was such that I needed to book tickets and I could not get final confirmation. Sure... she had confirmed at least three times prior. But you want that extra sense of security before you drop $3000.00 on plane tickets and accommodations for a teenage model.

 A few days later I receive a message from Tatyana saying everything was OK and that she would have her page down a few days more. Flash forward to my departure. I left Charlotte, NC airport very excited Everything was in order. My only real stress level was did I bring too much US cash. Exchanging it would be easy but costly. Minutes before I departed for JFK I received a text from Tatyana that all was well and they were off to the Airport in Vladivostok. Beginning an endless flight to Moscow and then enduring a 6 hour layover with one more 3.5 hour flight to Odessa before their trip ended. I arrived at JFK with about three hours to spare. I checked emails and made a few unrelated business phone calls about purchasing some guns for the gunstore I own and about a recurring payroll issue.


An hour or so before departure our plane is rolled into position. 15 minutes before boarding the Polish Airlines staff, in very broken English, tell us that we will be delayed 1 hour for repairs. 1.5 hours later we begin boarding. 30 mins later we start to taxi. Just under 4 hours later we finally take off for Warsaw Poland... NEVER fly Polish Air... and depart anywhere but from NYC if you value your time.

 I was able to get out a few emails via my iPhone to all interested parties that I would be late arriving and I would check in when I could. I missed my Odessa connecting flight by 3 hours. I was booked into the Warsaw Airport Courtyard Marriott. A VERY nice, clean, affordable hotel. Too bad you have to fly LOT to get to it!

 The next AM I few for Odessa. But only after another delay of 45 mins to wait for passengers in transit to Odessa. Never again Polish Airlines... never again. One day and One hour late I arrive in Odessa. Waiting just on the other side of a brief trip through customs was Aleksey of the apartment service holding a sign "Odessa Group LLC". All was well.

 Aleksey informed me that Tatyana and her mother arrived on time at 12:45 am and had spent the night in my apartment because of a misunderstanding as to when they would arrive. A short bumpy drive to the Arkadia district of Odessa later and I was standing under a partially renovated 20+ story building located immediatly next to the Russian Embassy/Consulate. As it turns out from my room you could see a party being held at the embassy. It's a Russian holiday month. In fact, Tatyana missed no school for this trip because of the Russian holiday.
Tatyana and her mother were no where to be found. They needed to be moved from my apartment to theirs. I assumed they were shopping or at the beach. I later found out they were in the City Center getting chemical burns to Tatyana's scalp because of some bootleg Odessa hair salon's crap coloring products. Tatyana was very worried I would be upset. No need to be upset when you have hired Odessa's best Make Up Artist.

The day's shoot that I was supposed to have 24 hours to prepare for would start in 30 mins. Dasha (make up artist), Mika and the new replacement model Natasha were waiting somewhere in Arkadia for my call with directions. One problem... the Interwebz in my apartment were down. No way to Skype Dasha to say I'm "here" and you need to come to 5 Genuezskaya Street. So I pack up from my apartment and go to Tatyana's hoping she has internet. Her apartments internet was working. I call Dasha via Skype and try to convey where I am. She is having trouble understanding me. She hands the phone to Mika who also speaks English... no good. Mika can't understand my several attempts at "5 Genuezskaya". I was begining to wonder how I would find some random Ukrainian and via sign language explain how he/she needed to tell my friends on the phone where we are!!! But... I remembered you can SMS text from Skype. So Skyped a text to Dasha. She was less than 10 mins away sitting at a cafe. Hugs, kisses and laughs were exchanged and the photoshoots that had been LONG in the making finally started.


Two hours later we wrapped up. Tatyana's mom had called to say they were on their way. And in short order I met such a lovely angel. Tatyana is petite. She has pale flawless skin and the darkest brown eyes. A soft melodic voice that betrayed a little nerves. The nerves gave way to laughs as Dasha related my saga of delays and mis-ques to Tatyana and mom. Tomorrow we would start at 3pm. A few "dobrays" and "dasvidaniyas" and we parted company.

 ______________________

 The Tatyana shoot is one of the best most productive photo sessions I have ever had. I've been a photographer for 15 years. I've worked with models who have been in Vogue, Abercrombie and Fitch, Playboy, etc etc. Tatyanna is one of the best. And we don't even speak the same fucking language!
She moves flawlessly from pose to pose. She takes my direction better than most models who speak English. She is aware of the camera. Where it is pointing. How it is positioned. She is aware of the lighting. I could not have asked one more thing of her.
We shot for three days. Over 1700 photos. This work will make
my last work in Odessa look like amature night with a disposable camera. I wish I could post it all immediately. But God's will and Commerce must be done... I am planing on reworking my entire website. Make it more customer friendly. Easier to navigate. So while I am editing photos... I'm also building a new website.

 _______________________ 

It's 12:34 am in Warsaw Poland... More than 12 hours ago I saw Tatyana and her mother off at the Odessa Ukraine Airport. 3 hours ago she said she and mom were settled in Moscow waiting 6 hours for the 9 hour flight back home.
Obviously I am impressed with this young lady. She renews my faith in what can be done with art. How we can communicate easier with art than we can with words. She is a serious model who I would give my highest recommend. We will be working together again. When? Not soon enough... Not nearly soon enough.





Monday, May 7, 2012

Horizon

Never Fly LOT airlines... and meeting a NEW model.

We will start with the new model. Tatyana is from Russia. A fan of my work turned me on to her. And... I am ever so grateful he did. The work we have produced so far has been amazing. Some of my best. Tatyana requires little direction. She is full of personality. And cute as can be. Very petite. I also worked with Natasha for the first time. Natasha and Mika (who you will remember) posed together for some amazingly HOT photos. And Mika... what can i say about Mika other than she is one of the best models I have ever worked with. I get more quality photos from her than any model in a long long time.
NOW... on to Polish Airlines... The plane arrived at the gate two hours before the flight. 20 mins before boarding they tell us there is a maintenance issue that will delay us an hour. We board an hour and 20 mins later. We taxi for 25 mins at JFK and then are parked for 3+ hours. My attempts to shave an hour or two off of my first flight over the pond ended up adding an hour compared to my last trip to the Ukraine via Istanbul. When we get to Warsaw Poland I have of course missed my flight into Odessa. The ticket agents LOT (polish air) sent to assist us with our missed connections were under prepared and over whelmed. Yelling and screaming of course broke out several times. The airline puts me up in Warsaw for a night. (I had planed to stay a night anyway on my way back home...) The next morning my flight to Odessa is delayed 45 mins while we wait for OTHER late flights to land so their customers can board our plane to Odessa. A nightmare. I was 27 hours late to Odessa. Just like last time I got off the plane and almost immediately started shooting. I hate that. I need some time to decompress!
MIKA

Friday, April 27, 2012

Slings and Arrows

Models... Grrrrrrrrrrr! Stay Tuned. Finger's crossed. Good Karma Appreciated.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

And it's booked...


A wonderful photographic journey awaits me in Odessa. All but one model is behaving wonderfully.

Flights are set, accommodations set. I'll arrive and scout some locations on day one. Then it's four days of shooting.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Just like October... it comes down to the wire.


I know why so many photographers refuse to work with young models.

I know.

Here we are weeks from shooting and models that you have spoken to 10 times just fall off the face of the earth.

I'm going crazy!

I know that in other parts of the world business is done differently. But my Odessa contact is as professional as anyone I have ever dealt with in the US. It's just young models. 3 weeks til the shutter snaps and I have to track them down and beg them to answer simple messages!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

These photos better look like god-damn Herb Ritz and Ellen Von Unworth had a baby that married Sante D'Orazio and that kid studied under fucking Bruce Weber!!!!!!

I'm going to have a drink now...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Donations and contributions


There have been some very generous fans of my work who are going to receive some great access from my trip to Odessa in May.

I can't thank these donors enough. There is no way I could make it happen without you.

I promise to bring back some great shots. Some great stories. And some great behind the scenes footage.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Look Out. Gray is at it again...

Like hot girls gettin' it on? What about guns and 'splosions..?

Like a little taste of dubstep to get you going?

Then I am your new best friend.




graysprovocation.com/ <--- not at all safe for work.

Friday, March 9, 2012

lost... now found

Once lost photos of Brittany have now been recovered from an old hard drive. This 2008 shoot was our first.

While the "books" are a bit expensive, because of sheer number of pages, the Ebook is VERY reasonable.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A pause for humanity...

This is where I had a post for the Kony 2012 campaign.

Until I hear more about the recent troubles and understand where and what the support given to the Kony 2012 cause is concentrated I and withdrawing my support. Having said that... the premise of this cause is to help the people how have suffered at the hands of Joseph Kony. I invite you to learn about the situation in Uganda and other parts of Africa.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Bad with the Good...

It has been brought to my attention that someone continues to try to undermine my work in Odessa.

Shortly after my return I was informed by my friends in Odessa someone was contacting them telling strange lies about me. I know who this person is. He isn't well. I think this guy truly means well. But because of certain conditions isn't fit to make proper judgments.

I of course contacted all evolved and put the whole thing to rest. No real harm done I thought. Now I have been shown where my name is being trashed again. Seriously... where do people get this stuff. I think the latest fabrication is that there is a restraining order from one of the Guzik girls on me. If the insinuation were not so serious this would be funny. The Guziks and I maintain our professional relationship. I think the world of the whole family.

To my fans. Do not come to my aid on message boards. Simple direct my attention to any conversations about me. I will take care of it. The more public the argument the more it hurts the cause of working with quality talent.

To whoever continues to attack me... Please stop. I assume you have an interest in the models. So do I. I have a stellar reputation that I have built over the past 15 years. I am professional. I am responsible. I don't know of any model that would claim otherwise. This includes Karina, Taya, Sherri and Brittany. AS well as scores of other models I have worked with over the years.

I am so thankful for those that are interested in my work. I am pleased to be able to work with models that interest their fans. But fantastic claims don't do any of us any good.

Please don't harass the models. It makes my job infinitely harder and it causes the models undue stress. Also... if someone doesn't like my work just let that go. Do not make excuses for it. Don't defend me on message boards. Arguing on the Internet is rarely a good idea because there can be no winner. Only losers.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bookstore...

Just a reminder about the three books...

Check'em out.

http://www.blurb.com/user/store/bencook2

Gina Update at "artsale".


I am very happy with the second update of model Gina.

This model is one of my favorites. She photographs perfectly!

What a muse!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Coming Together


My next trip to the Ukraine is shaping up to be very productive. I'm working with a couple of the same models and booking some new talent.

Stay tuned for more info and updates!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When the mood strikes...

I revisit photo shoots for years. Going over old shoots looking for Gems.

I often miss the best photos because I was looking for something specific while editing. Or I was in a specific mood while shooting and was NOT in that mood while editing.

These shots of a great young model are a great example. I love these. They glow with intensity. Very feminine and very bold. There is emotion here.

Yet I skipped these for over a year. Why... I don't have a great answer. I just know I love these photos now.




Sunday, February 5, 2012

New Sherri Model Book on the Shelf.


For those that are Benefactors at my website the new Sherri book is out and ready for delivery or download.

This is the complete shoot from 8/22/11. In all over 30 photos.

The ebook is a great choice for those that are not fanatics about Sherri. But for the real fan this is a great buy.

This book will be open to the public some time next week. But for now, my sight members have exclusive first look!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Updates


I've been working on a work around for the password protected areas because they can't download. I hope to have something soon.

There will be a new book soon.

I'm in communication with all parties in Odessa for another trip.

And... I'm trying to salvage a hard drive that could have some great photos on it.

Thanks again for all your support!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Website UP!

Ok... at this point I think it is official.

The website is up.

artsale.squarespace.com

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Givin' it away!


Seems my images were quite the hit for the collectors that just wanted small size photos. I shrunk the previews so it's hardly worth the "free" download.

But the true fan that understands these models don't work for free and hotels, gas and plane tix are not free either can still of course purchase the photos at normal resolution and quality.

I expect to have a second donor side gallery up soon. As well as a "members only" blog for those that are interested in my work on a level beyond mere collection.

In this private blog I will post behind the scenes info about shoots, potential models and travel plans. Things a public blog would normally be void of.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A visit from the Muse...



I'm not sure what I did to deserve it... but I have had two great model experiences in a row. I worked with Pro-model Gina this week. Gina is a veteran of NYC runways and fashion shows. I say "veteran" but she hasn't even seen her 17th birthday!

It was a fun shoot. I can't wait to schedule with her again. VERY professional. Very prepared.

Gina is also versatile. She can look 12 or 24. Sweet or sensual.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Wait Is OVER... New Webpage.


I waited for over 6 months for a website solution that was supposed to be perfect. Everything I wanted. At this point I have sent two emails to the developer and I have not heard back. Terribly unprofessional.

So once again I have built my own website.

artsale.squarespace.com

There are many levels of patronage. The public can buy my work in my public portfolio. By buying that work you will be moved to the next level of patronage.

There are 3 levels after "public".

The "Donor" level is for the occasional fan. Someone who buys my work but isn't really into updates, behind the scenes info, etc.

"Sustainer" level patrons will see more galleries, larger previews, video of photos shoots.

Finally there is a "Benefactor" level. This level is reserved for patrons that contribute directly to my work. Examples are buying entire photos sessions, donating to up coming shoots and/or contributing in ways that move my artistic vision forward. Benefactors have a direct line of communication with me about up coming photo shoots, models and themes.

No matter your level of patronage your continued support is VERY much appreciated.

I am not a webmaster. I am building the website by hand. Expect updates and changes. Your feed back is also very much welcome.