Thursday, July 29, 2010

Introducing "The Sessions on West Hall"

Here’s a small sampling of the new work I’ve shot over the past six weeks. As the title suggests, these images will be part of a collection I’m calling “The Sessions on West Hall”.

The collection will show the figure in more of an environmental perspective than my past work has. In truth, I’ve been working in this direction since last year without being fully aware of it. Even more remarkable is the shooting location is so versatile that much of the work shot there will fall under already existing projects and genres I’ve been shooting for years. The only real difference between the new and old work is the light source; nothing but old Sol himself.

Actually, there is another difference: these sessions drug me out of my 2010 winter and spring funk, and into the light again. I’ve approached the work with a renewed sense of direction, vigor, and purpose. I’ve enjoyed shooting this work in ways I haven’t for a long time. Simply put, I’m happy.

As always, I’m curious to hear from you. Speak up and let me know what you think.


Over the past couple of weeks, I've spent lots of time editing images from the recent sessions. I’ve also been busy planning more sessions at other locations around Savannah, including my own home.

I’ve used my home as a working studio before, but never with window light. The living room of the house is large enough to do portrait and bodyscape work with studio lights, but as is the norm in such a space, the low ceiling is problematic. The saving grace is the large picture window that spans 4/5 of the room. A few weeks back, a friend came over and we tested the window light in various locations throughout the house. The results are promising. Even though the living room window faces west, the two thickly leaved and gigantic magnolia tress in our front yard shade the window nicely. The end result is window light that I think will work very well on the nude form.

Our front door and hallway also provide a softly diffused light that should be excellent for portrait and upper torso work. At a minimum, it’s worth a try.

Check back often and please stay in touch. There are more beautiful and wonderful things to come.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Patience, Patience, Patience


Unfortunately, I don’t have too much to report, photographically speaking. Nor do I have any new images to show. Here’s one with Anna from my 2008 project titled Contre La Lumiere.

I’ve been working on improving my digital workflow. Mostly, I’ve been trying to smooth out some kinks associated with how I store and handle image files which are in process or are finished and ready for output. Lucky for me, something that appears to be workable has emerged.

On paper, it looks quite cumbersome. But when applied, I think it will work; after all, it’s little more than one or two slight modifications to what I was already doing when I shot a mix of film and digital. Considering the thousands of images I’ve shot in my recent sessions, I’ll have ample opportunity to put it to the test.

However, the real post production work will have to wait until early next week. My wife is returning home tomorrow from an extended trip abroad and our goddaughter is arriving for a few days visit. For those reasons, it’s unlikely I’ll have another update here for at least a week.

In the film processing area at the darkroom where I used to do my work, there was a sign over the sink. It read "Patience, Patience, Patience".

That's what I ask of you now. Know that good and beautiful things are on the horizon.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

And the Angels Did Sing...

The space I’ve been shooting in the past few weeks is, as I’ve written in recent entries, simply gorgeous. And the beauty is not just about the space itself, but the light within it.

This past weekend, I shot there with three models; two during a marathon Saturday session and one during an intensive Sunday afternoon session, with Sunday marking the fourth time working the space. On Saturday, the models worked jointly and separately and at some point in the day, a miracle occurred. The heavens opened and the angels sang.

Perhaps it’s inaccurate to say this burst of creativity only took hold this weekend. Certainly, it was there when I first saw the space, roughly three or four months ago, and it was there during my work with Michelle and Megan. The level of creative energy has been a constant, but this weekend was the first time I was hotly aware of it.

Sunday evening, as I did an initial edit of the day’s images, I began to understand that I’ve created and shot a new and entirely different body of work without any planning or forethought. That makes me one very overwhelmed but very happy photographer. My cumulative efforts in this space have yielded what I feel is my best work in a decade or more. If you’ve read this blog, you know that’s not something I could say if it wasn’t from the heart.

Today’s images are of me working in that beautiful space with Michelle. Friend and photographer Justin Taylor assisted in all of the sessions at this location and shot these at my request. I should mention that the space is also Justin’s home, and had it not been for his and his roommate Eric’s unyielding generosity, none of this new work would have happened.

Wonderful things will follow.


Web Site vs. Blog…

With the realizations mentioned above comes the realization I’ve more or less ignored my website.

The site has been static since early 2009. I had almost settled on letting the site go and allowing this blog to be my primary web presence. However, with representation through Horizon Gallery beginning earlier this year, and the newly created work, I’ve decided it’s time to revamp the site and to find a way to integrate it with this blog.

I’m a bit uncertain as to how to approach the blog side of things. Perhaps the easiest thing to do is to add a link button to the blog on the website home page. If anyone can suggest other ways to merge the two, I’m listening.

Timing on these changes is up in the air as well. I have a huge amount of post work to do. I’m not quite certain yet as to how or when all this will all play out.

I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Happy, Followed by Sad...

 Two with Megan.


Yesterday afternoon, I had quite a pleasant surprise when I received a phone call from New York photographer and blogger Dave Rudin. Dave operates the Figures of Grace blog. He is also one my favorite contemporary photographers working with the nude.

Dave and I have exchanged comments on various topics through our blogs and to connect a voice with the words on the screen was good. We both approach photography from the perspective of the traditionalist, though it must be said Dave is adhering much closer to those roots than my present circumstances allow for me to do. We spent nearly an hour talking everything from galleries to darkrooms. I was reluctant to end the conversation to fulfill a dinner obligation with friends. It was good to hear from him.


The Door Closes a Bit Further…

…for me on film.

In my backyard is a detached storage shed where my larder of film and printing papers were stored in an old upright refrigerator/freezer. During the prior week, while I was out of town on non-photographic business, severe thunderstorms struck the Savannah area, a common occurrence in summer. I’m told power was out for several hours. When I returned home, I stuck my head in the shed and flipped on the light. It worked. Power was restored and my house was cool. It didn’t seem so bad. What I didn’t see was that the breaker to the outlet into which the refrigerator was plugged had tripped.

Fast forward ahead several days; I’m walking by the shed into the back yard when I notice a bad odor coming from the structure. I went in, opened the refrigerator, and recoiled.

In addition to film and paper, food was in the freezer portion of the now warm and stinking appliance. The photo materials in the freezer were saturated with detritus from thawed and rotting food. The materials in the refrigerator portion faired much better, only experiencing warmness.

There was no saving the freezer; rolls and boxes of film along with enveloped packages of paper were destroyed. The experience of cleaning up the mess and throwing it all away was, to say the least unpleasant. Yet as often happens in times of suffering, knowledge was revealed.

I’ve written often of my struggles moving between the film and digital worlds. As I toiled through the foulness in the Savannah summer heat, I began to understand the final reality that my time with film; a time when complete sessions were recorded on film and worked by hand, was over. The financial reality is I can’t afford to set up, run, and maintain a darkroom. Even if I could, the fact remains that other aspects of life simply won’t permit me the time it takes to do it and do it properly.

A long time has passed since I knew I would have to make the transition to digital imaging. The alternative was to end my photography, and obviously, I chose to transition and continue. Still, I held on to all of this stuff for over six years in the hopes I was wrong.

So here I was, sweating and unpleasantly odorous, two trash bags stuffed with sour smelling film and worse smelling pot roast, chicken, and fish, looking at hundreds of undamaged rolls of film and boxes of paper and wondering what in hell to do.

I decided to pass them along to another Savannah photographer and friend who also works with the figure, and shoots only film and can maintain a working darkroom. At least I know everything will go to good use and not wind up in a landfill. But I’m not giving it all away, at least not the film. I’m keeping a handful of each variety.

You know. Just in case.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Quietly Busy Times, Plus a Change of Heart....

Two more from Michelle’s recent window light session.


There’s not really much to report.

The delivery deadline for the American Cancer Society’s local chapter annual art auction, to which I’ve agreed to donate a piece, is looming. I’ve not quite decided which image to send; there are a couple I have in mind, but I’m reserving judgment until the upcoming weekend’s three scheduled sessions are in the books.


Ah, Model Mayhem

I’ve decided to re-do my Model Mayhem profile and portfolio. After my rant here a few months back, I rewrote a good bit of it to reflect my then sullen mood. It was cumbersome, complicated, and quite frankly, off-putting; I suppose something not very different from me at the time. The ‘Profile’ portion revisions are done and the result is a much lighter, friendlier version. Take a read if you like and let me know your thoughts. The actual portfolio updates should happen in a week or two.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Discovering My Independence....

  Here's hoping everyone has a safe and happy July 4th...

 Megan in Studio, 2010
Michelle in Sun, 2010

Creative projects are in full swing, and time for editing and post work suddenly seems in short supply. I’m also reviewing old film prints, particularly the frames and mats they occupy. These newer works will need homes. Evictions may be forthcoming.

I’m continuing to experiment with soft and no focus work and as a part of that, I’m incorporating the infamous LensBaby into the mix; more of those works will follow in forthcoming posts. Until then, here are two from an older session with Megan and a more recent window light session with Michelle.


Nostalgia can grip me from time to time. For those that know me well, this may not be such a surprise, but an experience early last week was. I’ve written often of my struggle with the transition from film to digital. I’m making progress. Last Tuesday was confirmation of that.

I was in Atlanta and went to visit the old photography school and darkroom where I did the bulk of my work during the early portion of the last decade. Change has swept the place; the darkroom, studio, and upper floor classrooms are gone. All that remains are the lower level classrooms and a small gallery space. This was not new; the darkroom and studio spaces closed over five years ago.

What was new was the emotion I felt as I drove in. I took a route I’d not taken in years, and as I drove down the busy streets I found myself missing the long printing sessions with old friends; the midnight munchies with my lab partners, all of us stuffing our faces with smoked salmon burritos, gyros, cheese steak sandwiches, and of course beer. Well, beer for them. I gave up drink long ago.

What I came to realize is that with the transition to digital photography, photography itself has become a very solitary pursuit. And while I still sometimes think I would kill for a whiff of fixer or to feel my fingers slick with developer, I understood with startling clarity what I really miss is the friendships that were made and nurtured in the darkroom.

So the door closes a bit further for me on film, and opens a bit wider for new methods of achieving the same goal. And yes, I’ve made new friends, very good friends, via digital.

Perhaps it's not as different as I thought.


Earlier today, I took a stroll through the local Barnes & Noble Booksellers. I hadn’t been in the store for a few weeks and it was clear there had been a significant reorganization of the store floorplan. In fact, much of it was still in progress.

The shock for me was that the photography books – the anthologies, the portfolio collections, the essays, the biographies – were no longer in the “Art” section. They were in the “Digital Photography” section.

Now “Digital Photography” has long been shelved separately from “Photography.” However, I will readily confess it came as something of a surprise to see the portfolio collections of Imogen Cunningham and Henri Cartier-Bresson shelved alongside works such as “The Photoshop Darkroom”, or “No Plastic Sleeves.” Reality was impressed further upon me when I saw Ansel Adam’s immortal work “The Camera” alongside “Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Photographers.”

Make no mistake; this change pushes my experiences last Tuesday while driving in Atlanta a little further home. And, like much of the digitizing of photography, I understand that retail sales ideals and strategies drove the changes. My head isn't buried that deeply in the sand. But was it really necessary to separate photography from art?