We at had the pleasure of interviewing the intrepid . Our aim with this interview series is to provide insight in how other people approach their work but also allowing us in getting to know our fellow group members. Below is interview.
Nude-Form Question #1: Let's start by telling something that you'd like us to know about yourself?
arealitystudios Answer: Hmmm...starting with tough questions already!? Well, I'm a pretty nice guy if that counts for anything. I have a weakness for both Muppet's and Westerns. I love living downtown in a good size city and yet I love nature as well. I think life is at its best when things that don't always fit together somehow work.
Q2: What attracted you to the photographic medium?
I've always loved art but I never felt I was any good at drawing or painting. I'm also a bit of a nerd. I think photography is a wonderful melding of being artistic but you can also play a little bit of a mad scientist; experimenting with different chemistry, learning to use new tools, pushing the envelope from both an artistic and a technical point of view. I think the best photographers find a way to do both.
I've also long been in love with the way photography can so quickly change people's perceptions about things, maybe more then other artistic mediums can. Whether we are talking political, social, or even moral perceptions photography has the power to educate. When you see a photograph, whether you like it or not, or whether you agree with what it is saying or not, you are forced to come to terms with the fact that some small part of that image is real. That is a powerful thing when you think about it.
Take Robert Mapplethorpe www.mapplethorpe.org/ for example. When he photographed S&M practices in the gay community a lot of people had a huge problem with his work. Some found it sick, disgusting, perverted, you name it. Others thought the work was beautiful and powerful. However, no matter what side of the fence you stood on it made you realize that these kinds of things were going on around you regardless. It made you think about your neighbors and members of your family. In that sense it was very eye opening.
Q3: What do you like to do in the rare moments you have free time?
Answer: I'm not sure I ever really have free time. If I'm not at work or I'm not taking pictures I'm usually developing film. Hanging out in the darkroom is really what I consider "me" time. It's very relaxing, kind of like doing yoga only a bit more mental and a little less physical.
I also like to read. I enjoy non-fiction and historical biographies.
Q4: Do you partake in any other creative endeavors?
I'm starting to teach myself film making but who knows where I will ultimately go with that. One of my favorite photographers is Man Ray www.manraytrust.com/ and he made a lot of short films during his time as a photographer. I'd like to emulate that a little bit on my own.
Q5: Work long enough in this business, you're bound to experience some comedic episodes even if its only funny in hindsight. Would you be willing to share us one of yours that happened during a shoot?
Answer: During one of my very first shoots I was photographing a model and I had my back to the ocean. This particular model had driven about two hours to come down and work with me and I managed to take about two frames before a rather large wave got me, tossed me around a bit, ruined my camera, and left me gasping for air. The model was just standing there naked on the beach looking on in absolute horror.
I felt bad after that episode. The poor model drove so far and my camera was ruined right then and there. I never heard from this particular girl again and I couldn’t help but ask myself if this was something I should really be doing. It was all really embarrassing. Thankfully I decided to give it another go in the end and here I am today.
Q6: For the sake of this question, we'll take for granted that "respecting the model as a human being" is the unspoken first piece of advice. What other advice would you give another photographer, perhaps working w/ their first nude model?
Answer: Work with people you find you have a connection with. Chances are if you wouldn't enjoy drinking a pint of beer with the model then the pictures aren't going to be very good. Whether or not your model is of a certain age, or body type, or whatever is really very secondary compared to that.
Q7: What do you feel are your strengths?
Answer: I'm willing to click the shutter even if I'm not entirely sure the images are going to be good. In other words, I like to experiment. Believe it or not but most of the time I fail. I don't think it much matters though. Nobody has to see the failures but me and I'm willing to take a hard look and learn from them.
Q8: Please tell us your thought processes on choosing a model (I mean besides the look)?
Answer: If a person is willing to take off their clothes and let me take a photograph then I want to work with them. I mean ultimately it takes a special kind of individual to be willing to do that. How much we get done and what the final results are will be determined by our chemistry. It also certainly helps if they have a sense of adventure and aren't afraid of getting a little dirty, cold, wet, or whatever else the elements throw at us.
The best models are the ones who subscribe to the philosophy that if you aren't suffering at least a little bit then you probably aren't making art worth doing.
Q9: Anyone willing to take a critical look at themselves will admit they have areas where they can improve? Please tell us a couple of yours?
Answer: I think my sense of color could use some improvement. I also would like to learn more about photo shop. Even though I don't shoot with a digital camera very often I recognize that it can be a powerful tool for image makers. I don’t want to sound all doom and gloom but there will probably come a day when I can’t afford to shoot film anymore. I don’t think film is going to go away but I don’t’ think it is going to get more expensive. I’m prepared to go digital in the event that happens and I’m ok with that but when that day arrives I’d like to be a bit more skilled in the medium.
Q10: We each have a defining moment in our life, sometimes we have more than one. It changes us from who we were to who we became afterwards. Please tell us yours & how it changed you.
Answer: Getting an SLR at the age of 16 for my birthday was a pretty good one. I had no idea more than fifteen years later I'd still be using that same camera every so often. Moving to Oregon three years ago was also very eye opening. I grew up in California and though I still consider California home in a lot of ways living in Oregon taught me how to really love life.
Q11: If given a choice between listening to Beatles music OR Elvis, which would you choose?
Answer: Yikes!! That is a really hard one. I'm going to have to say the Beatles but I do that with a lot of hesitation. I think The Beatles do have a bigger volume of music with more variety then Elvis does.
Q12: Pretend you see a prospective subject out & about in town that you want to work w/ ("model" is such a loaded term). How would you approach them to let them know you're serious about working w/ them yet at the same time w/o "I'm a photographer & want to work w/ you" being a cheesie pickup line?
Answer: This question reminds me of one of the biggest regrets of my entire life. Years ago I was on a bus heading to a morning college class. It was a very hot summer day and I think most of the other students were skipping class because the bus was nearly empty.
There was a girl on the bus though who looked to be in her early 20's. She was wearing a tank top and had a really lovely figure. What was really remarkable about her however is that she had a surgical scar going from her collar bone straight down on her chest to below her navel. She seemed to wear the scar with such pride, wearing this relatively skimpy outfit and putting this gigantic scar on full view.
I wanted to photographer her like you would not believe. The bus ride was about 45 minutes long and I agonized over it the entire ride. In the end I chickened out. I guess this is a round about way of saying that I don't normally walk up to people on the street. I'm too much of a wimp.
Q13: Any nuggets of wisdom you'd like to share w/ the models who work w/ you?
Answer: Be yourself. I’ve worked with a lot of people with all types of personalities and the best models are the ones who love themselves and don’t try to be someone they aren’t.
Q14: What are the most common set of difficulties you've experienced as a photographer? How are you working to overcome them or how DID you overcome those trials?
Answer: Finding the time to make art is always a challenge. A lot of times the people around you don’t understand the drive and don’t get why it is important. I’ll be the first to admit that it would be really easy to just hang out with my friends every weekend instead of spending the time alone doing art but its something I need in my life. Sometimes people take that really personally but they shouldn’t.
Q15: What is the proudest moment you've experienced as a photographer?
Answer: This past year I donated a piece to the Cascade Aids Project www.cascadeaids.org/ , a non-profit group that helps both children and adults living with AIDS to get medical care, counseling, etc. The piece sold at a live auction for a really good sum of money, all of which went to the non-profit.
It felt really good using my art to help a good cause.
Q16: If budget & personnel were not an issue, loosely describe your dream shoot (or concept)?
Answer: I've always wanted to take a train from Portland Oregon to Portland Maine taking pictures on the train the entire way. I think that would be really cool having an entire series of images taken on a train. Granted because I'd want to do nudes I think I'd need the entire train to myself.
Q17: Leaving out specifically who or any other identifying characteristics, ever have any shoot ideas pitched where you were like "uhm, no chance in hell is that going to happen"?
Answer: Chances are if it involves caution tape I'm probably going to say no.
Q18: If you were dictator-king & could change anything about photography, modeling, or the industry itself, what would you change?
Answer: I would just make sure all that I governed understood that my government would respect free speech no matter what. I think we all believe in that ideal but as soon as someone says something or shows something that we don't like our first instinct is to ban it. Free speech and free expression is hard. In fact it is REALLY hard. Even in the United States where the 1st amendment is supposedly our highest ideal we often rush to give up on it.
But as is the case most of the time, the hardest thing is often the most important thing.
Q19: Who are some visual artists you admire, whether they be here on or elsewhere? The answer need not be limited to the photographic medium either.
Answer: My absolute favorite photographer is Bill Brandt www.billbrandt.com/ . His work was very eclectic in subject matter and yet very consistent in tone and impact. Of particular interest to me was a series he did of women using a really inexpensive camera with a fixed wide angle lens in nearly empty rooms all round London. The images are quite and almost sad yet very dignifying of his subjects. It was actually this body of work that first inspired me to shoot nudes.
I’ve also recently started studying the work of Andrew Wyeth www.andrewwyeth.com/ . I saw a group of his paintings in Seattle and was just blown away. His primary medium is water color and the amount of detail and emotion he is able to create in his portraits is just unreal – particularly in the eyes.
Q20: Favorite cartoon character?
Gonzo from the Muppet's was really awesome. He was always experimenting as an artist too even though nobody ever understood him. When I was a kid I considered Optimus Prime to be my moral compass.
Q21: Who would win in a 3-way fight: pirates, ninjas, or robots? Most importantly, how do they win?
Answer: Again with the hard stuff! Hahaha.
I’m going to go with Robots. I think defeating the pirates would be easy just by possessing superior technology. The ninjas might be tougher but I’m going to assume these particular robots are going to be resistant to common weapons like blades and throwing stars. If the ninjas cheat a little and steal some of the robots’ high tech gear they might have a chance but that’s a stretch.
Q22: Favorite movie? Any reason why its your favorite?
Answer: When I was a kid I loved all the Star Trek films. Star Wars too, but I liked Star Trek a little better. Now days I understand that it is all pretty campy but they still have a special place in my heart.
As an adult I think the German film "Wings of Desire" www.amazon.com/Wings-Desire-Cr… is perhaps one of the most visually striking films of all time. More recently I enjoyed "Children of Men" www.amazon.com/Children-Men-Wi… , both for its technical achievements and for its willingness to ask really hard questions about humanity.
There is also a great documentary out there called "Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollack" www.amazon.com/Who-Jackson-Pol… ? Trust me, for anyone who is an artist or involved in the art world in any way this one is a must see. It will make you laugh and it will piss you off at the same time.
Q23: What's your favorite book & tell us about it?
Answer: "Art and Fear" www.amazon.com/Art-Fear-Observ… . I think this book should be required reading for anyone who wants to make art in any medium. It’s a very quick read and I tend to thumb through it at least once every couple of years and still learn something new every time.
Q24: Anything else that you'd like to add or ask us here at Nude-Form?
Answer: Can I re-think that whole pirates vs. ninjas vs. robots question? I starting to hesitate and lean toward ninjas...
Q25: I'll give (ninjas winning the fight) to as long as you tell me how?
Answer: Well in that case, just to be a pain in the butt I'm going to say Wizards would beat them all. Old gray bearded Wizards who can shoot lightning bolts from their finger tips disrupting the robots' electrical systems and scaring the crap out of the ninjas.
So there! :-P
Thanks you for taking the time to answer our many questions. Keep up the great work & best of luck to you in the future.
For those that are interested (or are new & have not had an oppurtunity to read them), here is a list of our past interviews. We hope they're illuminating.
Beyond that if anyone in land wishes to have something asked on a regular basis (it could be photo/art related or not), you are encouraged to note us. The same applies if you wish to be interviewed (it saves me the energy in thinking who I should pitch the offer to & whatnot). It doesn't matter if you're mainly a model or a photographer, we're interested in a variety of perspectives for this series.
Have a great day everyone & don't be shy in providing feedback. We here at Nude-Form freely admit we're comment whores. (said w/ a touch of sarcasm)