Friday, November 27, 2009

Inspiration: Bob Carlos Clarke

I have long been a fan of Bob Carlos Clarke's work but was mainly familiar with his latter work especially the 2003 book Shooting Sex and his wonderful portraits of objects he found in the Thames. However, last year I discovered his early, long out of print book Obsession in my favorite used book shop in Saugerties, New York. I was amazed at the work, the toned black and white photos, the elaborate photo collages, every page was a feast for the eyes. I remember saying to myself " why haven't I seen this before?" and then I came to the photo titled Vampirella and I realized I had seen many of these images before when I was very young. I remember the image from one of my Dad's magazines, I think it might have been OUI which he had a collection of (a google search has revealed a 1983 issue featuring Bob's work).  As soon as I saw the images in Obsession it all came back to me, stnading in my Dad's study looking at the pages in awe of these images that were unlike anything I had ever seen before or would probably see again until over twenty years later.

Since I purchased Obsession I have been trying to mimmick the toning and photo-montage techniques that Bob employed using photoshop. This photo is my most successful to date. I would like to try making a Gum Dichromate print out of this or perhaps printing it to canvas and then painting over it.

Getting back to Bob, I am curious as to why the majority of his early work is nearly impossible to find anywhere, maybe I should inquire with his estate. I do wish more were familiar with his wonderful work.  

Monday, June 29, 2009

The peel session - behind the scenes and every shot in under a minute

The peel session from Matthew McMullen Smith on Vimeo.

The idea for the shoot came from my Art Director friend Amelia Tubb to cover model's faces with liquid latex; "basically I want to get them pulling it off their faces like they are pulling it off their skin".

I was extremely terrified and excited to do this shoot. None of us had any idea if this would work or what the results would be. My worst fear was the models ripping their eyebrows off or worse!

Crystal Truehart, Jena Mroz, and Samantha Fox endured three hours and numerous coats of liquid latex before peeling it off. Poor Samantha had her mouth covered in latex so she couldn't even talk for like an hour! I think we effectively waxed Jena's back! We have over 900 photos to sort through!

The video starts off with a little behind the scenes footage of the girls having their makeup done but keep watching to see every shot of the day in under a minute.

For anybody interested the lighting setup was an AB800 with 22" Beauty Dish as the key on a boom just in front and above the models head, another AB800 on a boom in back of the model with a 40 degree grid aimed at the seamless, both were at 1/2 power. A speedotron pack and head with a 10 degree grid was to camera left, positioned to just feather the side of the model, some shots had a yellow, blue or red gel. A large white v-card was to camera right, it was used as a straight bounce but on some shots I put a Nikon SB-800 on the ground with a gel and bounced off the flat. Finally there was a ABR800 ringlight on the camera at 1/16 power to add a little extra "pop". One of the more complicated setups I've used in a while. I felt like Lionel Deluy with all those lights!

Thanks to all the models and makeup artist Leyda Quintero for all your hard work and enthusiasm on the shoot. Jewelry provided by Tom Binns.

Music: NIN Ghosts VII

Monday, June 15, 2009

Limited Edition 11"x 14" prints of the photos featured in B&W Magazine for sale

After many inquiries, the Excellence Award winning photographs featured in Black & White Special Edition #68 will be offered for sale. First editions will be limited to 20, signed and numbered handmade 11" x 14" archival inkjet prints on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta 325 paper, matted and mounted on 16" x 20" board. Please visit http://pa.photoshelter.com/c/mcmullensmith/gallery/B-W-Portfolio/G0000xigXqs_MQ9o/ to view and/or purchase the photographs.








Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's all about the photo...that's it

It's all about the single photograph in the end, whether it's from a well planned project or a shot that just happened, only the singular image will remain. When I see a photo hung on a wall I don't ask myself " was this part of a series?", "what was in the frame before or after?", I don't demand to see the contact sheet. I look at the photograph and appreciate it for what it is.

It's hard to decide what "the shot" is and it's especially hard in today's digital world to toss away the rest when "the shot" is selected. I can understand holding onto various photos from a shoot with the idea of possibly compositing them together, "I like her arm her but her expression is wrong," etc., but after all that is it worth keeping the rest?

I constantly go through my hard drives looking through catalogs of photos weeding out the duds. I hope others do the same, I can only imagine in ten or twenty years we'll start to see retrospectives where we get to troll through a photographers hard-drive to view the detritus of his or her career. It may prove insightful to some but in the end, is it not the final image that will stay with us?

One of the reasons I love film is it automatically makes you edit your work, to look for the shot in the roll or rolls of film and print it. Sure, you could do all of them and today, scan all of them, but it's time consuming and there's something about film that just let's you know you found the one. Maybe it's because I know I have the neg and can go back at any time if I change my mind. Maybe it's because, unlike digital, I did not take a gazillion shots and can easily find the best in the meager selection.

The photo above is "the shot" from a roll of film I just developed. I was experimenting with pushing some old FujiFilm Pro 400H to 800, shooting a bunch of random stuff over a few days. On this particular day I was waiting for a bus in the rain on my way to a Marilyn Minter artist's talk downtown. There was something about the way Josie was holding her umbrella, the droplets formin on the top and the light that just screamed out "get out your camera and shot this". I pulled it out, waited for the right moment and took two shots just before our bus arrived. I shot wide open and aimed for the top of the umbrella so the droplets would be in sharp focus.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Black & White Magazine Special Issue 68 Cover and TOC

I was trying to finally put something up on my main site to promote my Excellence Award in B&W Magazine's 2009 Portfolio Contest by "faking" a cover. I became increasingly frustrated trying to match the fonts so I hopped over to their site to grab the proper logo and lo and behold they have the cover of B&W Special Issue 68 on the site already, that's not my photo but I do get four pages starting on page 58. I have to say I'm still floored when I look at all of the names in the table of contents and especially that I am one of fifteen chosen for an Excellence Award. Look for B&W Special Issue 68 at your favorite news stand the first week of June.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I really wish Jörg Colberg would allow comments on his blog

Maybe I should have asked him why he doesn't while I was at the "Blogging in the Photography Community" panel at NYPH '09. Maybe I should have just said something to him period but to be honest I've only recently began reading Conscientious and I don't really know much about him or his view yet but after reading his review of the NYPH 09 exhibits this morning I get the feeling we think very much alike.

This morning he posted a long and truthful critique of the exhibits at the 2009 New York Photo Festival and I think everything he said was spot on. In fact, over the weekend I posted a comment on Heather Morton's site about how disappointed I was with the festival and I was asked by Ronit Novak to elaborate on what I thought was wrong with this year's festival. In an effort to avoid posting a five paragraph comment on HMAB I carefully whittled down my observations into a few fine points, focusing in on William Ewing's selections but if I had written out my entire thoughts they would be very much the same as Jorg's.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lens, a new photojournalism blog at NY Times

Lens launched on Friday but is featured on the Times homepage today.
"Lens will be a showcase for the work of Times photographers, but it will also highlight the best images from other newspapers, magazines, news organizations and picture agencies, and from around the Web. It will point readers in the direction of important books, galleries and museum exhibitions. And it will draw on The Times’s own pictorial archive, numbering in the millions of images and going back to the early 20th century."

Very exciting and a wonderful, understated design that really helps the imagery pop off the page, er, screen. Bravo.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Black & White Magazine Excellence Award Winner

A little over a week ago I received a brief email from Black & White Magazine informing me that my work was chosen for an Excellence Award for their 2009 Portfolio Contest. Only 15 winners are chosen out of 837 entries, I have to admit I was floored. To be honest I had nearly forgotten about the contest and thought I had been passed over yet again which made the email and my subsequent reaction (I was literally jumping around my apartment and squealing like a little girl) so thrilling. I only wish I knew which photos they will print and I hope I get a Portfolio Spotlight in a future issue.

Special Issue #68 will be out the first week of June. I'm thinking about throwing a little party in early June to celebrate.

"Kira's Back" was one of the many photos submitted and regardless of whether it's printed or not is one of my favorites, all of the photos are on my Photoshelter site.

Oh, and a big thanks to Paolo Mastrangelo for helping me edit the portfolios.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Goodbye Portfolio

So long Portfolio, the only business/money magazine I ever liked. Media Bistro has the most in-depth info so far. Too bad a money magazine with style can't survive.

Dzul Dance and a new promo card

Been busy creating some new work and trying to get some...well...new work, the paid kind.

I did a wonderful shoot with few of the dancers from Dzul Dance last month and I'm very happy and excited about the results. This image will be used by Dzul Dance to promote their upcoming shows in Millbrook, NY.

I finally decided on a new promo card design which I had printed by the wonderful people at Modern Postcard. If you need to have some postcards made and image quality is of the utmost importance you can't do better than Modern Postcard, I can't say enough good things about the quality of their product and fantastic customer service. I will start mailing these out this week.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

The simple joys of simple photography

A little over a week ago I went out for some late night shooting around my neighborhood in upstate New York. After walking around for nearly an hour and only taking one photo I was about to give up on getting a really great shot, you know that shot that gives you butterflies you know it's so good—I know I can't expect that every time but I'm always hopeful. The whole night I kept noticing the moon peeking behind the clouds over the river but I didn't come across a good scene to shoot it in unless I pointed the camera skyward but that's against what I want to capture so I was patient, I knew something would reveal itself to me. As I was circling back to my house I decided to walk further up the street past my house to where the street started to ascend up a hill and there I saw it, the moon peeking behind the clouds and the trailer home of a neighbor illuminated by a street lamp. I bracketed three four minute exposures (shot with Kodak Portra 160NC), one at f11 (which was more like three minutes since I had to get out of the way of a pickup truck), one at f8 and a final exposure at f16 which I left for an additional minute, again for a passing truck but on the opposite side of the road (covered the lens with my hand). All three exposures worked but the f8 won out. I'm considering cloning out the bright orange light peeking below the trees on the left but for now I'm leaving it as-is and enjoying the fruits of pure, simple photography.

Friday, March 20, 2009

What you see is what you get

Which one of your paintings do you consider to be the best?

The one I'm working on now.

What is the message behind all this imagery?

What you see is what you get.

-Mati Klarwein from www.matiklarweinart.com

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Smoke fantasia

I am working on a photo essay inspired by my smoke series. I have been patiently seeking out night scenes around my house in upstate NY and these are the first two compositions. Although I am very happy with the mood of the first scene I was underexposed by a stop, I may try and shoot it again this week after the rain on Thursday.
I envision these as the first and last shots in the story, I already have the figures ready for the third scene but I haven't decided on a scene yet. I'm about to head out and finish off a roll of Porta 160 so I can develop it tomorrow before I head back upstate.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Terry Richardson’s Shoot With Natasa Vojnovic


Purple #11 from Purple Magazine on Vimeo.

Watching this makes me think twice (again!) about selling my Contax G2 kit. What's that flash he's using?

I used to hate, hate, hate Terry's work but now I really appreciate what he does. I can't think of any other photographer whose work I can identify right away. People easily dismiss his point and shoot style and talk as if anybody could take his photos but take Terry out of the equation and you wouldn't have his photographs. He brings something out of his subjects that no other photographer can.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I suck at photoshop

While working on my latest composite I was curious to see if there were any new techniques for creating believable drop shadows, especially when there are cross shadows and complex angles. Nope, there isn't, in fact I'm going to let all you newbs in on a secret, PS hasn't changed much since version 5.5, sure, they added a few cool new filters and adjustment tools but the majority of features that any seasoned photochopper uses has been there for ten years or more. So, next time Adobe comes out with a shiny new version go buy yourself a new lens instead.

During my search I came across the seamingly popular You Suck at Photoshop series by Donnie Hoyle on You Tube. At first I was like, is this dude drunk casting with photoshop, what's with all the attitude and self pity but after going back to the early episodes (i started at the next to last episode) I realized this is his schtick. Personally i could have done well without the side story but aside from that these are some good tutorials on basic photoshop techniques.

Friday, March 13, 2009

OPUS 40


Upstate in Saugerties, NY there is an amazing piece of sculpture named Opus 40, a former quarry turned into an immense construction of finely fitted stone created over 37 years by Harvey Fite. It is truly unlike anything else in the world and I highly reccomend visiting. The huge monlith in the center brings to mind thoughts of ancient pagan ceremonies but this is a contemporary work.

About two years ago I visited opus 40 for the first time and I shot about two rolls of film. As I was walking around I kept thinking it would be a great location for a photoshoot, they allow weddings on the site and there is lodging available as well so I can't imagine they would be adverse for a small fee. I could probably do some discreet shooting with one model using natural light and fill flash but I'd really love to play up that pagan feel with a real spectacle.

So until I can find the time to do either I will be content with this photoshop composition.

Lesons learned so far from shooting long exposures at night

For these photos I'm shooting Kodak Portra 160NC.

A two minute exposure at F16 on well lit city street is about perfect but you should double or triple that time or lower the aperture one or two stops when shooting on a sparsely lit small town/country road, even with a bright moon.

Lesson learned? Bracket. Even if it's freezing and you're under dressed for the weather and maybe a little scared some dude will come barreling out their house with a shotgun asking what the hell you are doing standing in front of their house with a camera at 1 in the morning, you should bracket that shot because you never know if you may see it again.

I'll post some samples after I scan them this weekend.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The excitement of film

Nothing excites me more than developing a roll of film, whether it's a roll of black and white I'm developing in my bathroom or a roll of chrome developed at Duggal. It's like Christmas morning! I'm going to pick up the roll of mostly night shots I made last week, I have no idea if any of them were exposed properly but that's part of the thrill. If at least one photo out of the 15 frames worked it's a success in my book.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I am Matthew McMullen Smith, I am a ______ Photographer


In going through the process of putting together a more robust portfolio site I have been putting my work through a battery of reviews, categorizing and whittling them down to the best photos. It's no easy task.

One of the biggest hurdles for any photographer is defining what they do. I am trying to define what I do and keep the commas and slashes to a minimum. I decided it would be a good exercise to look at the photographers I admire and look at the type of work I'd like to do.

Although there are many photographers that excel in various subjects most photographers define their craft within a few relatable categories. Albert Watson is a great example, he is a portrait photographer but he can also shoot fashion, documentary style and conceptual work with ease. One the other hand Nigel Parry is a portrait photographer, period, he shoots editorial, advertising and personal work but it is all portraiture. Another photographer I admire is Phil Toledano. I have no idea how to categorize him, he's primarily a conceptual photographer that works within themes or projects much like I do but he has shot fashion and editorial work. I like how he splits his work into two piles on his site, projects and commissions, this works for him and regardless of which set you look at you understand that he is not photographing places, things or people but ideas.

So where does this leave me? I have a few projects or series, Smoke, Sweat, Bicycles and a few others that are too incomplete to consider now, I have a strong collection of portraits, some beauty, various nudes, some travel and street photography. Apart from a small handful everyting is personal. Everybody I show my work to says I should do fashion, which is great, I love fashion, it inspires me more than any other work but I haven't shot any real fashion work. In the end the portfolio needs to reflect the type of work I want to do. I need to define what I do by eliminating what I don't do, I'm not a photojournlist, I'm not a documentary photographer, I don't shoot sports, weddings, children's portraits, engagement photos (vomit!), pet portraits or landscapes. I want to shoot conceptual, portraits, fashion, still life and fine art nudes, take out still life and i think I have a description except the still life part, I have some but not enough to show in a serious way.

I am Matthew McMullen Smith, I am a conceptual, portrait, fashion and fine art nude Photographer.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hey, Hot Shot! PDN's 30 photographers to watch in 2009

This week PDN revealed the 30 photographers to watch in 2009. I am happy they stopped calling it 30 under 30 since there are so many emerging and new photographers over 30. Check out the gallery on the PDN site but go to A Photo Editor for a much more useful breakdown of the talent by state/country and speciality.

A few photographers whose work I really like are: Julian Faulhaber, Alejandro Chaskielberg, and Lucas Foglia, check them out.

I'm excited because Jen Bekman's Hey, Hot Shot! 2009 contest has begun. I learnt of this contest after the submission date last year and have been patiently waiting for it to return. If you want to get some exposure or be part of 20x20 you must enter this contest.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Smoke series slideshow for the Palm Springs Photo Festival

video
I finally finished my slideshow for the free Palm Springs Photo Festival Slideshow Contest last night, I am so proud of the results I decided to share it with everyone.

I was going to get into a boring and verbose explaination of how I came to create the final show but I decided to simplify and cut to the chase. I used Boinx Software's FotoMagico, I must say I was a little skeptical considering the combination of company and product name but must say this app rocks! FotoMagico provided me with the exact tools I was looking for with an easy to use but robust user interface. If you want to create killer slideshows with panning and zooming and lots of other neat transitions check this software out. It's built for Mac with Aperture and Lightroom plug-ins for the Pro version, what more can you ask for?

Music: Elvis by Alpha, from the amazing Stargazing CD.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Two takes on the same photo

I really can't decide which version I like better.

Meanwhile, the entry deadline for the Palm Springs Slide show contest has been extended, which is great because I haven't finished mine yet.

Words of encouragement for the day:

Realign your focus
Trust in yourself to handle the challenges that come along
Become resourceful
Bring something unique to the table and look for ways to grow
Network, network, network


courtesy of An Art Producer's blog.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Art of the Composite

If given the choice between taking a photo on location over making a composite I'd say I prefer the former over the latter, but taking photos on location, especially if they are elaborate, takes a lot of time, money and manpower. There are many variables that can go wrong or not go according to plan and if you are shooting for yourself on a shoestring budget, can't afford those highboys, a water truck and a permit to shut down a street, you need to start looking at making composites.

I never took composites very seriously. I naively thought every professional photograph I had ever seen, unless it looked unbelievable had to have been taken in one shot or maybe a couple but the subject and the background had to all be there because it looked so darned believable. Man was I wrong. A great majority of the photos used in commercial advertising and editorial today is comprised of numerous shots, sometimes taken in various locations, brought together through skill and the magic of photoshop.

I want to start taking the Smoke series out of the studio and onto the streets, landscapes and other interiors. Although I'm sure I can achieve the photos easily with a few assistants, it's cold out now and I'm impatient so I started making some composites using existing studio shots with some photos I took walking around NoLita after the rain one evening last week.

I think the most successful composites are those that start with a concrete idea before execution but I don't think these are half bad. I definitely chose the exterior shots with care, making sure there was no traffic or pedestrians and paying attention to the light, focus and depth of field. In the future I plan to carry a tripod so I can work at a lower ISO and play with the focus and depth of field more.

I would love to hear some feedback on these images.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Annie, Annie, Annie....

Maybe it's very embarrassing blunders such as this that's forcing Annie Liebovitz to pawn her negatives. There is something oddly comforting in learning even those seemingly at the top of the game are struggling these days, however, I don't find it comforting that nobody noticed Sam Mendez was wearing a wool jacket on his left side only before this picture was taken.

Over at aphotoeditor.com today there is a brief snippet from a post on Brazen Careerist about how to build a career as an artist. I prefer this snippet over the one he chose:

3. Real artists will make art no matter what.
You do not need a studio, or a desk, or peace and quiet. Really. Because making art comes from a place that you cannot stop. People who need to make art make art no matter what.

Bravo.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Umm, this is awkward, but would you mind...

Over at my second favorite photography blog, aphotoeditor.com, sorry, Amy Stein's blog is still my favorite, there is an infuriating post about how Getty is bullying photographers into paying back an accounting oversight after they took over Mediavast. This is very similar to Microsoft's latest ploy of asking laid off employees to repay overpaid severance packages. I can't tell which is worse, asking photographers to pay back royalties that they would have earned outright had Getty not bought out Mediavast or employees, unexpectedly laid off and facing one of the worse employment markets in decades, being asked to repay a multi-bilion dollar corporation. Why can't either one of these companies suck it up, they made the blunder, are they that hard up? Getty either really needs to hire better proof readers or they really need to squeeze that extra 10% out of their contributors.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Free Slide Show Contest at Palm Springs Photo Festival

I can't make it out to the Palm Springs Photo Festival this year but I still have a chance of getting some exposure from 2,693 miles away and it's free! I even checked around for any fine print to see if they will own my images or soul but I couldn't find any language of the sort. It's pretty simple send them a slideshow, less than three minutes with music and they will choose four finalists a night to present on a large screen at The Palm Springs Art Museum. If you can't make a slide show, just send them a folder of images and some music and they will make one for you, you can even FTP the files to them! Each night a winner will be chosen from the four presented and a Grand Prize winner will be chosen and win a CANON Professional Pixma Printer among other goodies. Check out the contest details here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Zach Arias - Transform



I thought I was the only person that had these thoughts.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Revamping my website part 2 - Photoshelter reads my mind

Today I was pleasantly surprised by an email from Photoshelter listing many of the new features of the site including a very informative survey of art buyers about what they like and don't like in portfolio websites. This is the kind of information I need and it confirmed a lot of what I had already thought and shed some light on other things I have not given much thought to or even considered at all. Now, this survey leans a little towards the side of stock photography, whether it be rights-managed or royalty-free, but there is still a heckuva lot of information here regardless of what your audience is and if you want photo editors looking at your work you don't want to turn them off, right?

I might as well mention here that the survey in the end is a sales pitch to try Photoshelter's new custom portfolio hosting. That being said, they are allowing non-members to get a copy of the 22-page survey in exchange for your email address by going here.

I must admit I am seriously considering the Photoshelter portfolio route, although I'm a very competent web designer and developer I don't want to spend all of my time designing, building and maintaining a portfolio site especially if I start taking some of wht's in this survey seriously. Now that I'v discovered the export to photoshelter plug-in for Lightroom I'm feeling more inclined to upgrade my account but $300 a year is a big step up from what I pend on my site currently.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Revamping my website, improving my marketing and making the most of what I have


Lately I have been thinking I need to revamp my website, mcmullensmith.com. Although I am very happy with it and worked hard to design and write the code, I feel it's not telling the whole story.

I pretty much have a rotating gallery of recent work or work I am most proud of and little else aside from a bio and basic contact information. Most friends that look at my site say it's great but one pointed out a flaw a few months ago, she said there's nothing but naked ladies and one black man, which was an exaggeration since many of the ladies were fully clothed. But that did point out a big problem, although I do a lot of nude work I don't want to be pigeon holed into just that, I love doing portraiture and beauty, I'm also starting to get into still life, travel and landscape photography and my dream would be fashion editorial but I'm not conveying that.

I'm also not displaying bodies of work as a whole. I like to work in series, it's my way of pretending I'm a real artist, and I should be displaying the work as a whole, not disjointed, scattered among other photos. Albert Watson scrambles up the work on his site, which I find irritating, don't get me started on the awful navigation but I like to see the photographs from a series paired together, not strewn about.

The big impetus to the revamping was a portrait session last week. I have spent the past year exploring figure studies and other subjects and have shot very little portraiture. I would like to change that and having a site that screams "I shoot nudes!" isn't going to help.

Anyway, I'm going to start the process of reworking my site, I want to keep the general design the same and break the work down into subjects and series. I also want to make better use of some of the online services I use such as Photoshelter and Flickr.

My first step will be looking at, again, photographer sites I think are successful and take notes on what I like/don't like with each site. In all honesty I modeled my site like Matthew Rolston's but what works for Mr. Rolston may not work for me and I bet he's not banking on or getting any business from his site, I mean, right? I'll have to investigate this....

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The camera of my dreams

Recently a Pentax Digital 645 Camera has been recurring in my dreams, always a different scenario but the same camera. Now, I know Pentax had announced a digital 645 a few years back and it looked like it might have been a reality when the prototype was displayed at Photonika in 2007 but was dismayed to learn the project was scrapped last year. A few things about my drems are odd; I haven't thought of the Pentax 645 Digital since I read the little blurb of it's demise over six months ago and I really never spent any time looking into the specifications of the camera other than it was a 645 Digital using a 31mp Kodak sensor and would ship with a 55mm lens. The camera in my dreams isn't quite that camera, it was more like a classic Pentax 645 manual focus with a digital back but it was one whole unit, the camera had a very classic feel to it. However ti did have a feature I thought was incredible, the sensor could be upgraded later. Ihave since learned this was a rumored feature.

I don't know what this dream means. Do I desire this imaginary Pentax 645D? Do I desire a digital medium format? Well, yes I do. However, I don't find what camera makers such as Hasselblad and Mamiya are making desirable. I want a digital medium format that feels and performs like my beloved Mamiya 645 Pro, it's simple, it has manual focus, it's modular and I can use it with or without a grip. I hate auto focus and I hate manually focussing with auto focus lenses even more since there is no prism. What's going on?

Maybe it's my Mamiya getting back at me, seeping into my subconcious. I took her out and put rolls of Portra 160 in the two backs and two spare magazines in preperation for a shoot but I never picked her up. I did feel bad and yearned to shoot with her so I decided not to leave her in the studio locked away for weeks at a time and brought her home. I still haven't shot anything. She was probably jealous that I took the FujiFilm S5 pro with me this weekend and not her. Why did you take me out of the studio just to leave me behind on a long weekend? I need to get back home and show her some love, maybe I'll finally take some photos on the east river or those night photos I keep saying I'll do.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Breaking in

Last year around this time I first had the idea to create a blog so I could document my successes and failures as I tried to make the career in photography I want. I decided my portfolio was not where I wanted it to be and put the idea on the shelf until now. Now as I have a portfolio of work I feel very proud of I will start to take some serious steps to get my foot in the door. I will write about every little detail both good and bad as I try to make my dreams come true. My first step is to design and print a postcard and mail them to the growing list of galleries, art directors and photo editors I hope will appreciate my images.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

At least I'm not looking at porn.

Why is it that when I should be doing something constructive like actual work or getting some sleep I obsessively read A Photo Editor's blog? Am I gaining anything by it or just procrastinating? At least I'm not looking at porn.

Oh, and here's a photo. Enjoy.

It was never my intention to be different...

When I started creating these images I had stopped looking at what other people were doing and just started doing (OK, I can't help but reference my idols but I stopped looking at what was trendy). The first photo was almost an accident, I was trying to go for a mixture between my Shrouded Figure photo that sold at Take Home a Nude and Albert Watson's photo Leslie Weiner, Yohji Yamamoto, London 1989. Problem was the fabric was too light so I cut it and started playing with it. As we were shooting the makeup artist remarked that it looked like smoke, I think I grumbled in agreement but still wasn't sure if I had anything worth keeping.

Later when i got home I started to look through the photos and the smoke look started to become more and more apparent. I quickly set up a black piece of foam core, two Nikon Speedlights, an incense burner and using what I remembered from an article on how to shoot smoke I had read in some amateur photo magazine while killing time at a Barnes and Noble I began to shoot whisps of smoke. Once I had shot nearly a hundred images I went about the task of constructing the first image. I had no idea what to expect but as I started to layer the first images of smoke over the original photos of the model I knew I was onto somehting very cool.

Since that first shoot I have been exploring the use of different fabrics, lighting and setups to see where I can push and pull this idea. My next challenge is to take them outside.

Light painting with Jeff K

Back in December I tried some light painting for the first time with a young model named Jeff. I am very pleased with the results and look forward to more light painting experiments. I recently read on Strobist about using the iPhone as a small soft box and some photographers using cell phones for light paining. For my light painting experiment I used the small mag lite I always carry in my camera bag.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The upward energy

This past Sunday I took part in a really cool happening at the MoMa. Hundreds of people gathered in the Atrium where Pipilotti Rist's Pour Your Body Out was installed to take a yoga class. It was really amazing to be in a chair pose and see all these hands in the air while the mesmerizing video was playing on the walls. At times I really wish I had brought a camera with me or at the very least kept my iPhone with me during the class but I'm really happy not to have distracted myself from being in the moment.

The class was led by Elena Brower from Virayoga and she spoke before the class of the upward energy of the city. I could really relate to what she was saying and I feel that upward energy is represented by the smoke and fabrics in my new series. As the weather begins to warm up I hope to take the series outside—I just need to figure out how to suspend the fabric. Maybe I can harness that upward energy.