We at recently conducted an interview with photographer & fellow member . We are conducting this interview series in the hopes they will be a benefit to our members, providing insight into how other people approach their work.
Nude-Form Question 1: Let's start off by telling something that you'd like us to know about yourself?
FrancoisDeWynter answer: Hmmmmm. Well, I have been a professional photographer for less than eight years. It wasn’t until the summer of 2002 that I actually owned a camera – a digital camera at that – so I have had no formal training. Most of my professional life I ran global IT organizations.
Q2: What attracted you to the photographic medium?
Answer: When I was seven, I found my way into my uncle’s basement where there was a store house of old magazines. In one I discovered a photo by Eugene Smith. His photo is still burned in my memory. From that day, I was fascinated by photography.
In 2002, I reached a point in my life that was brutally painful – a 6.5 year relationship with a woman I loved deeply ended. My life exploded. Nothing I did – not even writing poetry – alleviated the pain. With the words of Janis Ian’s "Tea and Sympathy" www.lyricstime.com/janis-ian-t… racing through my memory I created a photographic series using antique china. I called it “Tea and Sympathy”. I just wanted to understand my sadness and my grief. For some reason, when words failed, the camera did not. My life changed that day.
Q3: What do you like to do in the rare moments you have free time?
Answer: LOL…. I do photography.
Q4: LOL. I meant do you like to do in your free time OTHER THAN photography?
Answer: Other than photography……. I love old movies – especially film noir – so I indulge in that. I work out everyday as well – great stress relief. I love to listen to music as well.
Q5: Do you partake in any other creative endeavors?
Answer: Indeed I do. I write extensively – poetry, short stories. I also play the 12 string guitar – I have since I was 18.
Q6: 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: There have been so many…… On assignment in Honduras we crossed a river – there are no bridges where we were, just concrete slabs under the water. Well, the concrete had been swept away and one of our vehicles, a Nissan van not sold in the US, became trapped in the soft silt under the river. Needless to say, we had to push it out and I – of course – managed to get behind the drive wheel. From my shoulders to the top of my feet I was covered in brown, thick, silt. Everyone laughed. You can imagine – I wear black ALL the time – how I looked – brown on the front and black on the back. LOL….
Q7: 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: Stay on you side of the line. There is a tendency for inhibitions to drop and for familiarity to create circumstances that always end with pain for everyone involved. Turn away when she or he undresses. No matter how well you know the model. Give space and keep your distance.
Q8: What do you feel are your strengths?
Answer: I hate questions like this…. LOL…. I am creative, insightful, passionate, flexible, and very intelligent. With five college degrees, you can say I learn quickly and easily. I can size up a situation quickly and come up with a solution to a problem that is unique. Convention and habit rarely get in my way. I require little sleep and my stamina on assignment is legendary in our company.
Five degrees?! Wow, color me impressed.
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 have a bad habit of expecting everyone around me to keep up with me. Few can and I often get frustrated when people can’t keep up or when there needs are more, well, traditional. I am working on this. Promise. Also, I am a “big picture” person. Most of the people around me are detail oriented. Nothing frustrates me more than long conversations that focus on details. This is very bad and I am working on that as well.
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: There have been many. In 2002 a 6.5 year relationship with a woman ended and when it did my entire life imploded with it. I had finally had enough – all I had ever wanted to be was an artist – from the time I was four – and that was not acceptable for a family of engineers and toolmakers. I had spent 22 years in the corporate world and could not recall a moment when I was happy or smiled despite a huge income and first class everything. I had long been plagued by anorexia and from 2000 to 2002 it had nearly killed me three times. The fourth time as I lay on the floor dying, I wanted more than anything else to understand my sadness and my grief. That was when I created the series “Tea and Sympathy” I mentioned in the answer to another question. Somehow when the dawn came I was still alive. I knew then that if I went back to who and what I had been all my life, it would kill me.
I can’t tell you I am free of anorexia. I never will be. But I am happy and every day is filled with incredible moments and I am finally who I was always meant to be.
Q11: If given a choice between listening to Beatles music OR Elvis, which would you choose?
Answer: Eh, how about an old Paul Simon?
LOL. I'll let you get away w/ this one! *shakes finger at you w/ righteous indignation like Bill O'Reilly*
Q12: Any nuggets of wisdom you'd like to share w/ models working w/ you?
Answer: I'm laid back. Just be yourself.
Q13: 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: Being creative was never a problem. Learning all the technology required to be a pro in a very short time was. Remember, I had never had a photography course. I knew nothing except how to turn the camera on. Since I am not in my early 20s, people assumed – and still assume – I had been doing photography my entire life. That is a LOT of pressure. I forced myself to learn as fast as I could – what else could I do?
Q14: What is the proudest moment you've experienced as a photographer?
Answer: Digital Camera World published one of my first photos of a model – a portrait of a woman named Tracy. I was on assignment for a local newspaper when I met her. She didn’t think she was beautiful. When she saw the portrait, she cried. When Digital Camera World published it, I was ecstatic – for her and for me.
Q15: Leaving out specifically who or any other identifying characteristics, ever have any shoot ideas pitched where you were like "hum, no chance in hell is that going to happen"?
Answer: Indeed. It involved a model who escorted by her husband who was, well, pimping her. There were a LOT of ideas that never went anywhere in that shoot.
Q16: Tell us the story behind your FrancoisDeWynter username?
Answer: Generally I am very shy and introspective. I attended an all male private high school - you can imagine what that was like..... raging testosterone everywhere. I sat in the back of the room generally and since I was in the gifted section the debate was always intense. It seems I had a habit of waiting until the key moment in a debate and then I would attack like a bird of prey.
So I became Falcon, the bird of prey.
In college, the eye disease from which I suffer (essentially no functional irises means I am always the equivalent of snow blind and now I see almost no color in the day time) I started staying up all nyght to study, and given my eyes problems, I was more comfortable. My roommate walked in one afternoon and said "Where's the night falcon?" The new name stuck. I later changes the name from "night falcon" to "NyghtFalcon."
Q17: Who are some visual artists you admire, whether they be here on or elsewhere?
Answer: George Hurrell, Eugene Smith, Rembrandt, Penn to name a few.
Q18: Who is your favorite cartoon character?
Answer: Drawing a blank on that one. Sorry.
Q19: Who would win in a 3-way fight: pirates, ninjas, or robots? Most importantly, how do they win?
Answer: Ninjas of course. The ability to be in clear sight and not be seen means they can take out their enemies quickly.
Q20: What's your favorite movie? Any reason why it’s your favorite?
Answer: "The Sand Pebbles" www.amazon.com/Sand-Pebbles-Tw… with Candice Bergen and Steve McQueen. Its a powerful statement about the search for meaning and the ultimate futility of human existence. Great movie.
Q21: What's your favorite book & tell us about it?
Answer: Arthur Koestler’s "Darkness at Noon" www.amazon.com/Darkness-at-Noo… . While I had read "the Iliad" www.amazon.com/Iliad-Penguin-C… and "the Odyssey" www.amazon.com/Odyssey-Robert-… at 7, Darkness at Noon totally changed the way I saw the world. Over the course of my life I find myself coming back to the core ideas of that book over and over.
Q22: For the benefit of those who haven't read the book, could you elaborate more about "Darkness at Noon" & its themes?
Answer: Arthur Koestler had been a communist in the 30s. Many prominent intellectuals saw communism as a legitimate response to Nazi Germany. In a book called “The God That Failed” many of the same intellectuals detailed their loss of faith in communism. Koestler was one.
“Darkness at Noon” centers around the persecution trials that followed the Second World War in Russia. Rubashov, the main character, is himself not a real character but rather the confluence of several Bolsheviks killed by Stalin. The book explores a number of themes – among them the violence caused by institutionalized truth (“absolute truth murders absolutely”), the shift that occurs when a revolution ends and how events are re-interpreted, a blistering critique of politics in general, and most of all, loss of innocence. Rubashov ultimately confesses to crimes against the Revolution (the book ends with an incredible description of a bullet penetrating his head) though he is innocent. Why? Because the infallibility that once allowed him to be a Bolshevik, the same truth that allowed him to murder without conscience, is now lost. He sees that the Revolution – this or any other – cannot succeed and that in the end he and not the revolution bears full responsibility for every death and every decision.
Beyond the book itself and all I learned from it, beyond the way it opened my eyes, it lead to my reading Camus, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein… and in fact it lead to the whole of the NyghtFalcon methodology. Every aspect of what we teach our photographers (we train each and every one of them even if they have been pros for some time) can be traced to this tradition.
Q23: Anything else that you'd like to add or ask us here at Nude-Form?
Answer: Well, more of our work can be viewed here - www.nyghtofthesoul.com/FAN/ind… - I appreciate the oppurtunity.
We're going to close by thanking you for your time & allowing us to pick your brain. Keep up the great work.
If anyone in Nude-Form land wishes to be considered for a future interview, you are encouraged to private message the group directly & we'll look into the matter. It does not matter if you're mainly a model or a photographer or both. Everyone has a different perspective.