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