April has been a time of pushing boundaries, taking my existing model photos as far away from regular photography as I can. Xerox Transfer is part of that, in other cases I used whiteout and India ink on skin. Not a big fan of the wax so I’ll probably switch to encaustic which ain’t cheap but looks better in person.
This was shot in my tool shed with a friend, Janette, who I’ve photographed off and on over 4 years. Until now there was very little production on our shoots, but this time I really wanted to make memorable images of the level I do with full time models, LA studios with hair and makeup and bodypaint and wardrobe. The assistant here was my good friend Percolate, who did hair, makeup and wardrobe for this (and another shoot this week with model Aurora O’brien and her horse).
For a long time there was a separation between what I would call “casual shooting,” “family shooting”, and “pro model shooting,” but nowadays I want everything the same high quality level.
It’s been a while since I editioned a new custom View-master set, so I made a new Scream Queens reel with Mosh, Anastasia Arteyeva, Glass Olive, Victoria Elle and Briana Robertson. It’s one of my favorite ways to present work – this “Scream Queens” one has 6 copies in existence and comes with a custom black viewer. For sale on Etsy.
Whenever a known photographer transitions from a brand of gear they are associated with to something new, there’s an audible gasp from the photo community. Scott Kelby released a lengthy explanation of his jump from Nikon to Canon, just as I read some harumphing and murmurs regarding Sebastio Salgado’s transition to Canon digital cameras from his old view camera style. I’m not a known photographer by any means, but I do blog about this stuff, and my personal change has been a positive kick in the pants.
I lived with Nikon gear for 14 years. The first film SLR camera I bought was an N70, and I still have a M90 on a shelf with other useless antique cameras. The first digital camera I got was a kind of Coolpix, and I bought one for my wife later on even as I graduated to the DSLRs in the form of a D200 and a D700.
I can think of two main reasons why people stick with a certain brand:
1. Brand Loyalty
2. “I already have a lot of this kind of stuff so it’d cost too much to start over”
Not much to say on #1, except companies are rarely as loyal to their consumer as consumers are to their companies, so it’s a goofy argument. Service and new products aren’t any cheaper because you’ve been with the company for a decade or longer.
I stuck around for a long time because of #2, but a pair of products- the overpriced D800 and the problematic D600- shook me quite a bit. Then I looked back at my list of cameras- each SLR, DSLR, etc.- and figured out I had to buy new gear with each new camera. Nothing had a straight transition of lens systems, for example, my old film lenses weren’t good enough to take advantage of the D700′s capabilities and the D200 lenses were for a crop sensor. Plus, some of my existing gear still had a good trade-in value at Amazon, offsetting the cost of switching over to something new- the Fuji X series of mirrorless cameras.
I held on to the Nikon stuff for approximately 3 weeks from buying the Fuji system before I realized “I’ll never use this again.”
So yes, it does sound like a bunch of tech talk, but it’s a larger issue of how some things stop working for us in our lives, and how it’s okay to change the way we make art, or live a particular lifestyle.
This video explores judicious use of HDR and Tone Mapping in model photography. I share my preferred method of tone mapping with an image I shot of model Aurora O’brien, and how to avoid exaggerated textures on human skin.
I teach workshops in photography and visual art at several Phoenix-area recreation and art center programs, and I love teaching photography so freakin’ much I’m recording tutorials of some of my techniques. The goal is one tutorial a week so feel free to subscribe to my youtube channel or this blog for more virtual lessons!
Model Aurora O’brien and her horse Faye, styling by Percolate. This was an interesting challenge for the X-E1- animals don’t act on command, and a horse that has a lot of energy isn’t going to stay still for more than a second. Some images, like this one, involved my bright strobe hand held by Percolate, which seemed to be spooking the animal even more. The model Aurora was controlling Faye even as she was modelling but in the end we got some great stuff.