So Long Studio

DSCF1342(Starting with an image of my daughter Maggie at Venice Beach, no studio needed!)

I’m writing this in the final few days of cleaning out my studio and moving everything back to my house.  It’s been a year since I had 24 hr access to a shared space in a fashion house startup in Tempe and I thought I would share some of the ups and downs, what I thought I would get out of it and the reality.

In 2016 I had a string of music video shoots and had germs of ideas for web series.  It seemed like having a space and employees and being a full business was the next step.  The opportunity came to have a former tv studio in the basement of a new fashion startup- potential to do work with designers, stylists, all sorts of industry types.  I hadn’t shot fashion in a few years but knew I could do the sort of weirder fashion that everyone says they like but no one will pay for.

One of the two managers of the space already knew a photographer, so I was brought in as the video guy, which wasn’t much of a significant difference except I wasn’t allowed to teach photography classes in the classrooms, which is something I’ve successfully done for 10 years.  The photography classes that were supposed to be offered never came about, making my inability to teach a topic because someone else was gonna do it pointless.  This was probably the first sign it wasn’t going to be a great fit.

The first 6 months of being in the studio meant a lot of clean up, painting, model shoots, filming myself, meeting new people and generally having a great time.  There were even a couple paid opportunities though nowhere near what I imagined.  Many scenarios involved me being recommended as  videographer to a company or person who didn’t have any interest in creative stuff, they were looking for a commercial for their video screens or whatever.

I think during this time I made pretty creative use of the studio- playing more with colored backdrops that we could totally trash, lasers, smoke machines, sets, nudes.  Since many of the models I like to work with are out-of-state, I thought it would be just as easy to bring people here and shoot in the studio all set up instead of my traveling, renting a car, booking a place, dealing with strict time limits etc.

Unfortunately there’s only a few people I shoot with regularly in the Phoenix metro, and when I looked into shooting with agency models I found out pretty fast that I’d be asked to do a bunch of trade and within a tight creative box.  Also I only ended up bringing a couple of my favorite model/ actress collaborators, and after I put a guest room in to do it more frequently, my sister moved in and STILL hasn’t left.

By the time summer hit, a variety of things changed.

I had started an art gallery job that, while it doesn’t pay much, was super convenient for me- 1 mile from my house and I do a lot of my computer work there (including writing this).

My car air conditioner died and the car itself was leaking oil, neither of which have been fixed, but that meant I wasn’t driving into Tempe if I didn’t have to.

I had a couple jobs through the studio that turned out to be a lot more trouble than they were worth, involving missed payments and chaos.

People in the building were asking me to come lecture for free and also to do big slideshow presentations etc.

Adobe was sending me to San Diego Comic Con to give a panel on their new mo-cap animation software, and the fashion head said it wasn’t going to be mentioned in the studio newsletter since it wasn’t fashion related.  That might not sound like a big deal but to me it was like “a cool thing that is related to the businesses here”.

By the end of the summer, I came to a few conclusions of what was working out and what wasn’t- based on

A. what I wanted to do

B. what I had an audience for

C. what people would pay for

D. what companies supported me

…and what I ended up with was

trippy Instant Film

Character Animator

dark video stuff

stuff I do with my daughter Maggie

stuff I shoot with like 6 specific models

As far as poppy, bright fashion stuff goes- I think there’s a lot of it out there, and people who build their entire portfolios around it, with Halloween masks and children’s toys etc.  And I think tonally it’s not something I want to pursue and I don’t think what audience I have is into.

But here’s the thing about that list- I don’t need a studio for any of it.  Or to be more specific, I don’t need a studio shared with others, where I have to drive a distance and deal with ASU traffic and pay for parking to get walked in on by a tour group and have $50 insurance come out of my account every month while owing a large $ of services to the building manager.

Oh, I’m not happy that I quit all my local art center teaching so I could schedule classes for a company that wouldn’t let me teach what I successfully teach and whose signup process is so difficult to understand that customers told me they couldn’t do it.

So it’s a mix of disappointment and relief that I’m moving all the stuff back to my 10×10 backyard workshop and in a couple weeks, room that my sister is soon to be vacating.  I still don’t know and don’t care about anything involving fashion and it seems the feeling is mutual.

But in the end – the aesthetic of Primordial Creative is to be very organic, even when glitchy; to have some involvement of the elements or nature, not be in some controlled box.

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Patreon vs Tumblr For The Soul Of The Art Nude Photographer

Patreon! Tumblr! Where can or should an artist who photographs nudes share their work? Is censored images on instagram or Facebook good enough? How does one honor the actual work? I do what I can to address the considerations of the art nude/ fashion nude photographer in these 5 brief minutes!

Help support the creative work of our studio at http://www.patreon.com/davidmiller and check out our photography tutorials at http//www.skillshare.com/r/davidmiller

Primordial Creative is now on Patreon!

The last 2 months I’ve been doing a lot of my posting on Patreon.  For those unfamiliar, Patreon is where fans of creators subscribe at various reward tiers for exclusive content.  I have found it’s a good compromise for my 18+ work since Tumblr has essentially ceased functioning as an arts site and Facebook/ Instagram only allows censored material.

To give you an idea of what is actually over there, in the past month I’ve released photo sets with Cacia Zoo, Alina Lee/ Thumbelina, and a bunch of people from my previous LA trips.

 

FullSizeRender 23.jpg

Currently I’m doing 2 PG sets and 2 18+ sets a month, and any previous 18+ videos shot with models are only available through Patreon.  My tutorials on Skillshare and Udemy will also be available for subscribers.

Though Primordial Creative works in a variety of genres, I’ve built this Patreon around the photos and videos I’ve done with some of the best models around for the last 7 years including brand new work.  The reward tiers include:

-photosets and video art pieces, PG + uncensored, with accompanying explainer videos where I tell you how it was all made

-my tutorials that I create for teaching pay sites Skillshare and Udemy, covering the Adobe Creative Suite, video editing, animation, sound design and more.

-mailed one-of-a-kind instax and limited edition printed zines

-name in the credits of video art pieces

-PDF copies of my e-books “Capturing The Face” and “Secretly”

There’s a lot of exclusive stuff there so anyone interested in helping support the Primordial Creative cause I highly encourage you to check you my Patreon page!

Maggie without a plan

Over the years my photography has gotten more and more focused around a plan – booking studio time, working with booked models or paying clients, even basing my own family photography around trips to exotic locations in the Southwest or Alaska or Hawaii or Mexico. It has been a long time where I just went out with the camera and shot stuff without a plan.

Tonight, on a routine trip to McDonald's with the kids, the sun hit just right and my daughter Maggie's hair was just the right combination of wild and fashionable.

I feel like to get good at a creative medium, or keep up one's chops, it's important to work at it during "off" time- like an illustrator who sketches while watching tv. Shot with the Fuji X-T2 and 35mm 1.4 lens.

Surreal Pop with Gel Lighting Techniques

One of my favorite ways to get the kind of surreal pop I love in my photography is to use the simple combination of colored gels and LED lights.  Here we look at a few ways to use gels and why they are a valuable addition to any art and portrait photographer’s toolkit.

All images in this video shot with the Fuji X-T2 and the Fuji Neo Classic Instax Mini 90, models include Shasta Wonder, Kaila Stone, Mckenzie Eckels, and L. Shima.

Bernardo – new video art with Meredith Adelaide

Some video pieces grow out of a plan, and others form organically; “Bernardo” is definitely one of the latter.  I had shot with artist Meredith Adelaide, and it went so well we scheduled another day the following week.  I had used up my more fully fleshed out concepts on our first day, so we ended up visiting the Phoenix Art Museum and shooting around the Salt River based on 2 ultra-basic FX ideas I had written in my notes (“light painting in firefly room” and “hovering with trampoline”).  There was a random encounter with a frog at the Salt River that seemed to shape the experience- Meredith randomly dubbed him “Bernardo”, and somehow he ended up being the focus of this particular video art piece.     A random encounter between a woman and a frog leads to a cosmic experience for both.  Filmed on the Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera> and effects in Adobe After Effects.

Surreal Video Effects in Adobe Premiere – A Skillshare Class

The Surrealists of the early 20th Century have always been huge influences on my work- I think when I first learned about Man Ray in my photography class, I thought “…friend!” in that pseudo-horror movie way.  As I graduated into making video work I wanted to express myself in a similar way as my photography, and learned a handful of techniques that are not too dissimilar from what those Surrealist innovators were doing when they dipped their hands on filmmaking.

“Get Surreal In Adobe Premiere” is a Skillshare class I created that shows how to emulate the Surrealists using Premiere’s tools.  The trailer is above, and the full class is over here!  I’m proud to be part of Skillshare’s phalanx of amazing teachers creating small, project-oriented online classes.