Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The summer is here

Work, as in modeling, is winding down now. I have 4 more days unless someone decides to run a summer workshop. Otherwise, it will be October when things begin again. Not good financially, but we are trying to make the best of it.

I plan to take advantage of the time off to study my French a little more and to promote my art. I sold a print of one of my new pieces, "Age Knows No Time" to a collector and great photographer as well. That is always validating and sometimes when another photographer buys your work as opposed to a layman, it's even moreso. I found a great print lab in Paris that does archival pigment prints and beautifully! I was a bit worried as they only printed from compressed JPEG files but when I saw the print and on Hahnëmuhle's William Turner paper (one of my favorite textured papers), I was pretty impressed. Here is the image:

 I also sent a promo packet out to a gallery in Montmarte looking for an exhibition opportunity and I have one more I plan to send to. Here's hoping.

That's really it for an update at the moment. Stay cool!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Selfie Generation and when will it end?

This subject has been on my mind since the first "selfie" was taken, probably when Facebook was founded, maybe earlier, not sure. Taking a silly photo of yourself with your smartphone alone or with your partner, friend, child, etc. is fine and I know it's been done for years even with point and shoot film cameras but it's another for the act of taking selfies to have become such an automatic thing that it has left people complete mindless to why they are doing it at all.

Today I became inspired to post about it, in anger, because of a fellow photographer that shared images on Facebook from his trip in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There is a statue of Jesus draped in his robe with his arms extended in the crucifixion pose. Tourists were taking photos of themselves in silly ways with the statue, including in the crucifixion pose. All ages of people, including children were doing this. My photographer friend pointed out exactly my point - 

"Interesting, how photography and social media have changed perception of reality and human behaviours."

Over the last few years, I have also observed this act and have been truly speechless. Just the other day, I went to the Louvre with my husband to see a special exhibit of Vermeer, Valentin de Boulogne and their contemporaries. (Side note - if you are in Paris before May 22, make it a point to get to this exhibit. It's WONDERFUL! )

After seeing the exhibit, I said to my husband that while we were there, we should go see the Mona Lisa. I knew it was mid-afternoon and would be very crowded, but I never saw it in person (it's a copy, by the way, in case anyone thinks it's the original.) When we arrived in the salle, I stopped short of what I saw. Hundreds of people pushing their way up to the very small painting NOT to admire it, but to turn around with their selfie sticks and be sure to get a photo of themselves WITH the painting behind them. After a few snaps. they would happily move on, never once looking at the painting itself! I wondered why. How did the Mona Lisa become such a pop icon, first of all, and taking a picture in front of it does nothing more but prove they saw it...but they didn't see it. Not really. And did they know who DaVinci was?

This happens in every tourist spot all over the world and then there is something even more serious and worse than the autonomous selfie maneuver. People have died taking selfies. A woman posed sexily on train tracks was killed by a train. Two young girls fell into the ocean and drowned going over a cliff with their selfie sticks. Another was decapitated when he wanted to take a selfie with his head out of a car window. For what??

And lastly, there are curators and photography critics that have begun to organize exhibits and give more attention than deserved based around selfies, placing them on a fine art level. So studying art, composition, and form, not to mention those of us that have spent years conveying their art using the self-portrait have become meaningless while a trend becomes more important. 

While I try to search meaning to why people are trying to connect to each other when, in essence, they are doing the opposite, this further explains that the spirit inside of many is disappearing and what will be left will be digital photos of people doing stupid things in the name of social media.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ode to the Pictoralists

Pictorialism, an approach to photography that emphasizes beauty of subject matter, tonality, and composition rather than the documentation of reality.

This has basically been my modus operandi since I abandoned "straight" portrait photography back in the late 1990's but one of the things that the Pictoralists had (or didn't have, depending on point of view) was the original methods of photo making. This included early cameras. glass plates generally coated with photo-sensitive chemicals, slow lenses, etc. While a lot of people today might roll their eyes and say that these things were hindrances, it was these tools and techniques that allowed a couple of things. First, the slowness of the process allowed the photographer to sit and study what he/she wanted before the shutter was even cocked and two, it led to a very specific look that was delicate, graceful and strong at the same time.

The resurgence of these photographic processes happened maybe 10-15 years ago but I have to say I didn't want to get caught up in that endeavor as I didn't have a darkroom anymore and had no desire to set one up. A dedicated space for the large camera format was also something I didn't have so for a long time, I created work with the intent of beauty, composition, fantasy in theme and all of the elements that the Pictoralists included in their photographs but without the famous look. Until now. In strangely stumbling upon an Adobe Photoshop tutorial on YouTube and then playing with the tools further, I have finally begun to get the look I wanted.I posted a couple here recently but I have delved a little deeper since. I am pleased.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


I've noticed I haven't had many posts so far this year and I have 2 thoughts for that - I haven't had a thought I felt worth posting and/or I have been in a bad place in many ways.

The latter is one that I don't even know how to describe. However one of the reasons for where I am in that over the course of the last year, the news of death - I mean death of ones that I knew personally or even just enough to be familiar with has become a weekly and sometimes daily thing. My mother died and now both of my parents are gone. It's surreal to think that I am old enough for that to happen..

I have a great fear of dying. Many people I know tell me that it's useless to worry or fear it because we don't know when it will happen to us and all we can do is live. So why not live for today and not worry about tomorrow? All true words and it is what I do but then I hear of someone dying and there it is in my mind again - oh my god, I am going to die and I can not change that. It's inevitable. And if I am not careful, those thoughts will lead me to have a panic attack.

And then there is the thought that there will be nothing left of me once I am gone. As my husband and a couple of friends that I have are the closest people to me, there will be no legacy to leave with anyone. I never had children.

Will my art become part of MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre or Musee D'Orsay? Doubtful so what will there be? Will there be a history of me? Does it matter?

“Like a wind crying endlessly through the universe, Time carries away the names and the deeds of conquerors and commoners alike. And all that we were, all that remains, is in the memories of those who cared we came this way for a brief moment.”- Harlan Ellison

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Advice for photography professors and students of photography

When I first became interested in being a photographer, I knew it was the human portrait I wanted to focus on.  I knew that what makes a portrait powerful is the communication and interaction that needs to take place between the photographer and her/his subject. It's crucial, especially in a studio environment. I don't know if it's my personality or that I began photographing people in my mid-twenties but I never had a problem asking people if I could photograph them and explain why and what I want to pose them like but that might just be me.

Which brings me to today's blog topic. As an art model, I have rarely posed for photography simply because I always felt it was a conflict of interest since my photographs are of me but over time, and the need for money, I changed my mind - at least in the realm of classes. I still won't pose for other professional or art photographers unless we are collaborating, but when it's for students, I have realized it's not a conflict. They are learning.

 So the last 2 days, I posed for two different photo classes at one graphic arts school and I would like to post my observations.

In a photography studio in a classroom environment, where a model is present, there is something I have noticed. One - the students are understandably shy (even more so if the model is posing nude, which I was.) so they are afraid to approach me at all. Two - they rarely have a clear idea in mind of what they want to photograph nor do they take a minute to think about it when they see me. I imagine with different models, some ideas will spark. 

In two days, each student took turns photographing me. They had to explain to me what they wanted. I am warm and friendly and also since I was nude, I wanted to try and make it less "painful" for them as possible...or so I thought it would be.

Out of 20-25 students, I only posed 4 different ways, basically - curled up for close-up abstracted body parts, me looking dead, me moving around like an animal being caught (not sure what to think of that one) or me completely straight and frontal. I did get asked to dance for movement by one and there was another who projected designs on me. Not one wanted portraits. I posed briefly in a costume and NO ONE wanted to photograph me that way. When I lied down nude looking "dead", however, it was as if the paparazzi was all over me.  

Also, the students were more concerned with shooting fast and playing the image back than they were with connecting to me the model. Ah, the problem with the digital age. But in the end, no one explained much nor directed me but I did get a "thank you".  Luckily, I am so wonderful, that I didn't need any direction, anyway (ha ha ha ha).

Side note: There was the setup. There were 2 backdrops - one white paper one and one blue paper one. OK, not a lot of imagination there but if they were studying light and were just starting out, it's what they need to use. There were many lights ready to use but it seemed harsh monolights that had a change of either cool or warm tones were the only ones used. No one experimented with diffusers or moved around the barn doors to see what the light did.They did move the lights around but it was when the professor suggested they did. I am also not sure if they "saw" what was happening with the light as they moved it back and forth and such. I think more playing should have taken place but, ah, my apologies, I completely digress.

At the end of the classes, I thought to myself that maybe things were not really explained to the students about working with models. Whether I am right about that or not, I want to say here that it is very important that the students are talked to about what a model/photographer relationship consists of. Making a model feel comfortable, conveying clearly what he/she wants the model to do, not be afraid to fix the clothing/hair, etc. and just to be in constant interaction.

I also think that students need inspiration that is not always just the current fashion trend in magazines. I realize that many aspiring photographers want to work for Vogue and the like, but they need to see that some of the greatest fashion photographers were inspired by painters, sculptures and other forms of art. They should look at the photography of Annie Liebovitz, Herb Ritts, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and then even Sara Moon, Helmut Newton and Ellen von Unwerth.  Look at Old and New Masters in painting and study composition and have the students research why they want to photograph people.

My two cents worth as a portrait photographer and a model....

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Spring Equinox/Art through an Open Door

No matter what religion you follow,  Spring has arrived in whatever form you wish to take it. The common denominator here is that it is a time of renewal. I like to take this time to do a mental "spring cleaning" to take stock of where I am and what I can get rid of and what to do to progress next. I can't say the "getting rid of" works all the time. There are some thoughts that are persistent, whether accurate or not and it takes a long time to rid them, if at all.

There is a lot of wheel spinning and getting nowhere but what I have done over the last decade is keep a lookout for a door to enter from the wheel, and there have been doors I have successfully entered into.

Sounds a bit too poetic, huh? No not really. It's like my art. I spent over 2 years working and working on something that I thought was it in terms of ideas. I couldn't come up with anything new and my mind kept going back to the same concepts over and over but the door that I saw was this blog. I began writing about memories and about my past. All of this fueled the work that finally gave me substance and a reason to do. "Rêves et Souvenirs"

I am making more pieces to add to this series but I have also stumbled upon some YouTube Photoshop tutorials that led me to play with an idea that I wanted to try for a long time - creating the look of wet-plate collodion, tintype and other alt-processes that were invented in the 17th and 18th centuries without using the chemistry. Yay. The tutorials, as usual, or a starting off point and if you know Photoshop (or the gist of it), you can elaborate and add your own knowledge to the process...like any other art, of course.

So while I try to find open doors for other things in my life that are hard to get off the wheel for, I will stay here for now.

A new one from "Rêves et Souvenirs" - "Hopeful"
And two alt-process experiments: