An Interesting Session of Portraits

Note that some images in the post and video link below might be considered Not Safe For Work (NSFW).

On Friday, August 28, I had the pleasure of doing my second session with Deanna Deadly. She is a wonderfully versatile model and performer. Prior to the session I told her that I wanted to try to do three things, natural light portraits with minimal makeup, additions to the black dress series, and some photographs with distressed makeup.

We began making photographs and worked through the first two concepts. These were fairly basic and ideas I had done with many others, well within our comfort zones. I had her do some more extreme, artistic makeup and made some photographs in that then asked her to change it so it looked messy. It wasn't easy getting it to look right but I feel she figured it out well. We again started to make pictures using light and lenses that distorted her face further and with some incredible goth music playing. Her performance abilities kicked in and she displayed very dark and strong emotions. Some of it could have been quite frightening if we weren't having so much fun creating this mood. It was somewhat uncomfortable making and editing this series. I wasn't sure that I should even share the work, that people might misunderstand the intent and what we were trying to create. I realize that I had to show these and hope it leads to some useful discussion.

Part of the reason I decided to share this was a video posted on the Maine Media Workshops' Vimeo page. The interview with Connie Imboden, the amazing instructor from the first Maine Media class I attended in 2013, contains some discussion about her fantastic work and the dark mood in many recent photographs. It is worth watching to hear her thoughts on creativity and intuitive seeing.

To see all of the photographs above, click on the right or left side of the displayed image and it will scroll.

Another Summer Class at the Maine Media Workshops

For the third year, I participated in a class at the Maine Media Workshops, in Rockport, Maine. This year's session was "The Portrait as Doorway to Creativity" with Sean Kernan. He came to photography from the theater and uses many interesting exercises to open creativity and interpersonal skills.

We had the opportunity to photograph fellow students, professional models, and a stranger of our choosing. The above image is of Michaela, the Sous Chef in the campus kitchen, my "stranger". She has a wonderful story and I feel thrilled to have had the opportunity to be the first this summer to photograph her. The ten of us in the class worked well together and were open and honest on comments on the work we produced. 

Since back I've been continuing my study of portraiture, something I hope to do even more.

To see all of the photographs above, click on the right or left side of the displayed image and it will scroll.

Upcoming Exhibits

I have had the honor of having a few photographs accepted into two local area exhibits.

Hanging now through November 14 in the Transformations Gallery at the Old Franklin School in Metuchen is Inspirational Women in History. This exhibit is an interesting mix of media and styles with images of women who inspire each artist. Each of us included a statement about our work and subjects. There will be a reception on October 11, 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm.

On view from August 27 through September 15 at the Barron Arts Center in Woodbridge is The Figure, A Look at our Ever Varied Humanity. This exhibit shows work by a variety of artists, again in many media, of the human figure. The reception will be August 27 from 7:00 pm until 9:00 pm.


Portraits are, in and of themselves, a unique art form. Prior to the mid-1800's, when the photographic portrait became practical, they had to be painted. Multiple, long sessions were required, with the subject sitting still, to capture their likeness. Although photography made the process easier and shorter, quality portraiture is still not easy to achieve. 

I have done some portrait sessions and don't feel that they resulted in my best work. As part of my art photography, I will do some portraiture of the models I hire. Recently, a couple of these really excited me.

In March, Erica Jay was the model for a portrait lighting session I did for some of the members of the St. Veronica's Guild, a photography group that meets at Metuchen's St. Luke's Church. Prior to that we did a private session that resulted in a portrait I submitted to a group project on Facebook. At the Metuchen Junebug ArtFest last night, a woman walked by and told me she was able to feel the emotion Erica put forth. I was a bit surprised and pleased that this image could bring out that kind of feeling.

This next one, of Inna, was made near the end of another private session. She had been traveling and worked with me before heading home. The clothing had been worn as part of my Black Dress series. I had her pose on this sofa and, as I usually do, used my one Westcott Ice Light, to illuminate her. When I processed this I was immediately drawn in, again to the feeling of the moment.

One final note, there is much software advertised that will "improve" portraits. I'm not a fan of retouching, and certainly not skin smoothing. I'm not saying these don't have a place, but I limit my retouching to temporary elements like scratches and other temporary blemishes. Anything permanent, stays!

I'll be back on the sidewalk for Junebug again on June 26 and will be wandering around photographing the events of the evenings on June 1 and 19.

More Abstractions

At one point I was doing a lot of imagery that abstracted the body. With the new lenses I've begun exploring that again. Last week I wound up doing three private studio sessions. Each provided some interesting possibilities in this area.

Hex Hypoxia

Theresa Manchester

Katya Zvantseva who was 33 weeks pregnant.

Over the next two weeks I have three more sessions scheduled, the last of 2014.

An amazing day

Yesterday was the most amazing day in my photography life.

Currently the PhotoPlus Expo is on at the Javitz Center in New York City. The Palm Springs Photo Festival runs a series of portfolio reviews. This year for the first time they had a day for beginning professionals. I had 5 reviews with a variety of people in the business with many good comments and suggestions. I'll be reviewing my notes and see which of those might make sense for me.

In the Zeiss booth at the 2014 PhotoPlus Expo the morning after the Maine Media Workshop/B&H Party. Photo courtesy of Zeiss.

In the Zeiss booth at the 2014 PhotoPlus Expo the morning after the Maine Media Workshop/B&H Party. Photo courtesy of Zeiss.

In the evening I attended the Maine Media Workshops/B&H party. As part of this they announced the winner of the MMW/Zeiss Precision Image Competition. I was honored with that award for 2014. I can not express how incredible this is and how it validated my work, as well as the entire field of art nude photography. I can't wait until tomorrow when I get to use them for the first time.

One week to go!

One week from today will be the craziest pre-PhotoPlus Expo day ever. I am participating in the Beginning Pro Portfolio Review event sponsored by the Palm Springs Photo Festival. After that is the Maine Media Workshops/B&H reception at which they will announce the winner of the Precision Imaging Competition sponsored by the Workshops and Zeiss. I am entered in the contest where the first prize is a scholarship to a class in Maine in 2015 and a set of five Zeiss lenses. Needless to say, I'll have much to say after it is all over :-)