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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The beautiful Kerri Taylor

Well, it has been too long since I last posted on this blog, and I apologize to those who follow me. Today, I have the pleasure of featuring a very beautiful model, Kerri Taylor. I have been fortunate to work with her on a couple of occasions and she is consumate professional and brings a lot to the set for any photographer. Please read about and look at some of this very beautiful woman's work. 

1. Kerri, why do you shoot nudes and how did you get started?

A. I shoot nudes because I like to show that you can shoot nude and still be artistic and tasteful :) So many people assume that just because you are a nude model, you are a porn star as well. That is so not true. Artistic nudes are so much different than explicit adult nudes. Nudity doesn’t have to always be sexual. I actually prefer to shoot fetish latex fashion as opposed to nudes. I think shooting just nudes all the time is quite boring for me actually. When I shoot nudes , I prefer cool locations as opposed to regular studio shoots. I like to work with props and have cool locations to work with. Studio work can be very limiting.

I was born in northern NJ. I started out doing acting in B-movies and I met a girl on a set that told me about the OneModelPlace website and I checked it out and started from there. I originally had no intention of ever really modeling as a job, it just seemed like a way to make easy money at the time as a ton of the acting projects I did never came out. So I put a profile and started traveling and going to events and workshops and now I model full time. :)

2. What is your favorite type of shoot and why?

A. I like highly stylized gothic or latex /corsets fetish fashion. I like crazy hair/makeup and crazy outfits. I am much more comfortable in this type of shoot as opposed to a girl next door jeans and t shirt type of thing. I feel really stupid and uncomfortable in random type clothes. I also like cool industrial buildings to shoot against..

3. Who and what have been your influences in modeling?

A. Lets see for art nude models. I adore Katy T. I love her posing and creativity. She is actually a good friend of mine as well :) For fetish models, I love Jade Vixen, Rubberdoll, and Mosh. They are always styled so flawlessly and always have the best wardrobe..

4. What would be your ideal shoot and why?

A. Shooting for a big name magazine again would be nice :) I would like to get in more publications. I actually did a cool commercial for the tribecca film festival in nyc where i was a latex dominatrix alongside a fire breather and a flying hawk :) That was pretty cool.

5. Do you have any favorite artists, photogs or models you admire and why?

A. My favorite photograpers are Lithium Picnic, Alvarado, Michael Rosen, Southbound, etc.. I like photographers who are creative and have really good styling in their work..

Lastly, please share something on a personal level that your fans may not already know about you and any bio info you would like too.

I have five cutie guinea pigs who I adore and I'm addicted to those forensic crime shows on Discovery ID and Cupcake Wars on the Food Channel.

I want to thank Kerri for answering my questions and providing some insight to her and her thoughts on posing nude. I can speak from experience, she is a joy to work with. If you would like to see more of Kerri or book her, please check out the links below. Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

beauty in the mind's eye

It never ceases to amaze me when I photograph women. They are always their own worst critic. I can take a photograph of a beautiful woman and show it to many, many people and many of them will say she is so beautiful, and yet, she doesn't see herself that way. Invariably when I first show women the photographs of themselves, their eyes go right to what they don't like about them self, completely ignoring the rest of the photograph. It seems all to often, many of us focus on what is wrong with ourselves, rather than what is good about ourselves. Beauty, as they say is in the eye of the beholder and many times, we don't behold ourselves in the highest of regard. However, there are many who do hold themselves in high regard and we know who they are.

I suppose, if I had never gotten into photography, I would have studied and focused on psychology. I have spent quite a bit of time studying this fascinating subject as I am always intrigued by what motivates people and causes them to do the things they do. Certainly, in my opinion, a lot of what shapes people's lives is due to how they lived their childhood. How they respond to disapproval, pain, relate to others and how they see themselves is shaped at an early age and often carried forward into adult life and passed on to their children. Many a teenager goes through trying times, trying to increase their acceptance by others and learning to be seen in a positive light and struggle to increase their self esteem.

Peer pressure does a lot to shape the behaviour of not only our youth, but of adults as well. People just naturally want to belong, and to belong means to do what others do. Many people love to be liked and Facebook has exploited these two ideas like no other, with their like button and friends. The things people do and say to be liked are often mesmerizing and I am, to a degree, just as guilty as anyone else in falling prey to these features. We see this all too well in advertising whenever a business wants us to buy their goods and services. I think it all boils down to self esteem and confidence. The opposite, to be an outsider is difficult and sometimes a lonely existance.

I have rambled somewhat away from the title of this post, but I think it illustrates the importance of how one sees the world or sees beauty is determined by how one sees them self. If you have a positive disposition, you have a tendency to identity positive traits in others and associate with others who have a positive outlook as well. This leads me to my discussion of beauty and how it is seen by each and everyone differently. If you have a hard time seeing beauty in yourself, you will have a hard time accepting the beauty others will see in you. We have to discover it inside of ourselves, and more importantly, once we find it, accept and hold onto it dearly.

Beauty is a difficult subject to define, that is why the saying goes, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I think most of what is defined as beauty by each of us is shaped at an early age and by the views of others who have told us something is beautiful, whether it is a piece of music, a picture, literary, culinary or something else that seems to please the senses. Pleasing the senses, seems to be the best definition I can come up with. After all, we are sensory beings and it is through our senses, we try to make sense of the world. We all receive stimulation through the senses and that is how we come to know the world we live in.

It is impossible to erase the knowledge, experiences, perceptions and concepts that have become a part of us and to start over and determine for ourselves what is beautiful. We all live under the influence of our past and the ideas and thoughts we have come into contact via others. I think it is important to realize this in order for any of us to really establish our own identity and find what is inside of us that is our core being. In our mind, we must see ourselves as objectively as possible, accept our faults and cherish our strengths and become the person we want to be without undue outside influence. It is in our own minds, that we must determine our own self worth, have the fortitude to reject the influences of others who are in conflict with this self worth and the courage to be ourselves beyond and in spite of the judgment of others.
If I see myself as beautiful on the inside, as I know I am not physically a pleasing sight on the outside, I can see the beauty in the world and in others. That doesn't mean others will see the beauty in themselves. It is in our minds, the thoughts that will determine our own self worth and see the beauty that is within. If each of us could find all that is good about ourselves within and turn away the negativity of others, often due to the low self esteem of the weak minded, the world will be a much better place. We can, however, help others find their own beauty within and there is no nobler cause than to help others find their own internal beauty. For once it is discovered, it manifests itself throughout that person's being and becomes another beacon of light in an otherwise dark world.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

the motivation...

What motivates each one of us? For some it is for the prize, fame and/or fortune. For others still it comes from within, a need to prove ones self, from pain or anger and for some it is a desire to have a lifestyle of comfort and security. For me, it is for the great photograph. My work is never about me, but rather the simple desire to create a memorable photograph. When I am not photographing, I am pretty much miserable. Even if I am photographing the mundane, it is a real joy to put all of my effort into creating something special even if most of the time it is not.

After spending over 15 years photographing, I think I have learned to light, the nuances of light and to compose a good photograph. I never cease to try and improve my work. If I am not photographing, I am looking at the works of other photographers, both past and present to learn more and in some cases steal their ideas. It has been said, a good artist borrows and a great artist steals and makes it their own. We don't live in a vacuum, we live in a world full of many different viewpoints and to see the viewpoints of others is an opportunity to learn and explore.

In my opinion, to be really good at anything, one must have a passion for it, otherwise you would not be able to withstand the obstacles and heartache that comes with growth and mastering ones craft. Like Clint Eastwood said in one of his famous Dirty Harry movies, "a man has got to know his limitations." One must explore his inner demons and desires to understand his motivations and his willingness to endure the pains and pleasures of what he seeks. One can gain a lot from a mentor or teacher in his chosen field, but at some point, he must break out and carve out his own vision if he or she wants to truly be genuine and unique.

If your motivation comes from outside of you, you will always be at the mercy of others. To truly be exceptional, one must drive oneself from within. Test ones own abilities, explore the unknown and experiment. It is from this desire, that I operate. I need to know the limits of my creativity, the willingness to endure a lack of recognition and the simple desire to be the very best I can be at what I do. It is a struggle at times to the see the work of others, that I deem as mediocre, become so well liked by the uneducated not to take that path to be liked. I must dig in at times, to know that what I do, will mostly be unpopular, yet will be well received by the few who understand the finer details of a good photograph.

When darkness seems to be all around and I need to refocus, I must find the light within to continue the battle, the effort and the desire to create what I envision. It requires a fine balance to take what one has done, has seen in the work of others and to take a little from each to apply it to something new and different. Being a trailblazer is not my goal, if anything, I hope another photographer or artist sees that it is alright to be different and to do your own thing. Ultimately, what sells is often mediocre, but that is what the masses want, but to turn ones back on that requires a deep commitment to ones craft and vision.

I shall continue to go my own way, to be inspired by the greats who have come before me, and the few greats who are working today to create spectacular images. That is my motivation, the next great photograph, the next magical light and composition, the work that requires thought and remains a work that stands alone. Not for any fame or fortune or comfort, but to hopefully inspire the next generation of photographers and artists to seek ever greater heights. It is a never ending struggle, that will continue until the day I can not photograph anymore, to create the next great photograph.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A new direction...

It is no secret, that sex sells. However, today, I take a look at the non nude photograph, near nude and the implied nude. Mystery is always a plus, it always seems to get the viewer to want more, to look a little harder and to use their own imagination. As much as I love the nude, I also love those photographs that leave something to the imagination. Is it really necessary to see all the bits? I think not and this is something that has me pondering my own work and the direction I want to take with it in the future. To really get a top notch nude photograph requires the model be totally comfortable that way or else it will fail.

Not all models are willing to pose nude or feel comfortable totally nude. However, I do think a lot them like to go to the edge of their comfort zone and get as close to it as they can without showing too much. For me, having seen so many nudes, the mystery is gone and I start looking for great lighting, great composition, and emotion and gesture. These are the elements that seem to make a great photograph, not just the skin, beautiful as it is. All these elements are what really makes a photograph sing, not the nudity. I find myself, more and more looking at photographs that show a little less of the bits and feel they can be just as powerful, beautiful and sexy as the nude.

First and foremost, the nude is not about sex or sexy, it is about beauty, especially the beauty of form. When sexiness enters upon a nude photograph it veers off toward the erotic and of course, that is where some want to take it. I for one, have seen many a swimsuit shot or partially clothed model in more provocative poses and photos than in most nudes. It is not the nudity that makes a photo over the top as much as it is the pose, the gestures, the environment and the look on the face that can make the most impact or convey the message in the photograph. It has taken me awhile to appreciate these details and to try and incorporate them into my work beyond just the nude and lighting.

This leads to the most obvious statement, there is so much more to a woman, than her body, mainly it is her heart and mind. To capture her mind, her emotions and her heart is far more important to me now than capturing her physical beauty. It has been my experience, that young women want to be seen as sexy, but they also want to be seen as having a mind and a caring heart too. That is my goal going forward, to capture all of these elements and to show she can be many, many things, not the least of which is alluring, alluring in her mind, body, heart and soul.

Less is more has been a mantra of mine with my photography, not that less clothes makes for a better photograph, but to say more with the least amount of distraction. The pieces of the photograph must all come together to create a singular image. If I had to distill it down to one word, it would have to be confidence. Nothing is more alluring, sexier or downright forthcoming than showing one's confidence. I certainly have confidence in my lighting skills and my skills in composition, but more than anything, I want to show confidence in the model. She is confident in her own presence and rightfully so.

As much as I have been a proponent of nudity and photographing nudes, I now see nudity less as a factor in creating a great photograph of a woman or a man, for those who photograph men. The real power in a photograph, the compelling factor, at least for me, is to show a woman who is in control of herself, vulnerable yet strong and she is comfortable with herself. The power to show who she really is. Raw emotion, thoughtfulness and confidence must all be present. I want to show a woman who looks as though she can be taken, but never will be taken. This is my new direction and I am excited about it. Some things should be left to the imagination, but the message should be clear. She is a confident woman!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

the virtues of the Black and White photograph

I have been photographing now for about 15 years and I would have to say, that about 80 percent of my work has ended up being black and white. I did start out shooting in color, but quickly moved into black and white for its artistic merits. To me, black and white simplifies the photograph and puts the focus on form, light and contrast in the final image. Colors go in and out of style, but black and white remains constant. For me, keeping the composition simple is very important in getting the viewer's eyes to see the important elements in the photograph for which I want to focus the attention on. Color for me is a distraction. Not to say, that colorful images aren't appealing when done well, as any photograph is appealing when done well.

Monochromatic images seem to force the viewer to take a closer look, to give the photograph a little more attention and to focus on the details. I think this is the first virtue of black and white, it draws the viewer in and isn't that what we want as photographers? To get people to take a closer look? I think so. Some folks think if you use big words, speak loudly or say a lot you can have more of an impact. I rather think, speaking a few well chosen words softly or even at a whisper to just one person, has a more meaningful impact. I equate black and white photographs to a whisper of a few well chosen words. It is more personal and lasting to communicate this way. The exact opposite of mainstream media today, to reach as many people as possible with the hope of connecting to a few.

Another virtue of black and white photographs is the ability to keep an image simple. To focus the attention on the subject at hand. Lighting seems to take on a greater importance with the black and white image. Our eyes see and move from dark to light and back to dark and always back to the light. By understanding this concept, one can exploit the power of the b/w image to clarify the intent of the image. Contrast is another aspect that plays an important role in creating a lasting black and white image. To contrast light and dark, will put more emphasis on the light. It is far more evident in this medium and again can be used to bring an element forward in the image. Form also becomes important as the subject or subjects are a little more abstract and the interplay with light creates a melody for the eyes.

It seems all of the great photographs, even today, are done in black and white, then again, I am biased. I think this is because, black and white seems more artistic, and also requires a little more thought from the viewer due to its abstract qualities and ability to simplify the subject matter. Really good black and white photographs are harder to create and require the photographer to have greater skills in an effort to capture the viewers attention. In reality, it is a colorful world, but on an intellectual level, it is more of a black and white world whereby dark and light can take on more abstract meanings. For me, the black and white photograph requires more effort to create, because it requires more thought to process as a creator and more thought for a viewer to see its true meaning and beauty.

As a printer of my own work, one of the great virtues of black and white photographs, is the amount of post processing possibilities that can be done with a good image. Dodging and burning, adjusting the contrast, the selective exposure, toning and final printing all contribute to the final image and require a good understanding of each of these elements and the ability to balance and unite them in the final image. Great black and white photographs make me think about what I am shooting, how I am lighting the subject matter and how the final photograph will look and these are the necessary skills to become a very good photographer. This is why I think many beginning photography courses start out with black and white, it forces us to see, to really see, especially the light.

Finally, I think the greatest virtue of black and white photography, is it forces me as a photographer to really see, not just to look, but to see the light, the subject, the crop, the contrast, the lights, the darks, the shadows and everything that goes into making a great photograph. And a great black and white photograph will also make the viewer see, to hopefully see more that just a print, but something beautiful, compelling and moving. I love the black and white photograph and it appeals to me on an intellectual level, an emotional level and ultimately on a personal level. I strive to reach each person who views my work on those same levels. It must show care and be personal. Long live the black and white photograph!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Editing, what makes a really good photograph!

You have just uploaded or developed hundreds of photos and then the process begins. What has been shot has been shot. Now it is time to comb through the multitude of images and find the gems. Many times, the best shots are fairly obvious and many other times, they are not obvious. The work has to grow on you and you have to look at the images over and over and over. I have picked out shots from the start, only to find out later, in my eyes, it really wasn't that good, however, gut instincts at first glance are quite often on the money. Other times, I have overlooked an image, only to come back to it a later date, and sometimes, that is years later and say wow, how did I miss that?

Ansel Adams was quoted as saying "you are not a true photographer until you have taken 10,000 photographs." And that was from an icon who worked with large format film and that took a lot of time to take that many images. To a large part, I agree with that, though today, with the digital revolution, taking 10,000 photographs can happen in a week for some. I do not think you can put a number on it, but you do have to shoot a lot and look at a lot of photographs to become a very good photographer. Some photographers may take years, and others simply have a knack for having a good eye. So experience, is usually a prerequisite to making really good photographs.

In today's environment, there are so many post processing tools and information on processes available, a drab image can almost always be turned into a pleasing photograph. A pretty picture is not the standard I use for judging photographs. Any photographer worth his salt, needs to understand and perfect lighting and capturing that light. After all photography is about writing with light. After lighting, I think the next most important aspect to a good photograph is an interesting subject. Here is where many photographers distinguish themselves, they can take a drab subject and with the right angle, tonal range, lighting and composition, they can make it interesting. I do think for a photographer to excel, he or she must take a great interest in the subject that is being photographed. It is hard to create something, when you are not to interested in the subject.

Now I have spent a lot of time studying the works of the great photographers who have come before me and a lot of works by contemporary photographers as well. There is quite a bit to be learned from seeing the works of others, but at some point, the photographer has to develop their own style and their own vision. I think this begins when lighting becomes second nature, camera functions too, the photographer can simply focus on creating composition. Rather than getting into the aspects of composition in depth, composition is the artistic part of photography to me. Does the photograph have unity, balance, visual flow, tonal range, line, form and what has the photographer included in the shot and what has been left out. These are personal choices and there simply is no right or wrong answer.

So now the work is sitting before you, for the photographer to evaluate and more importantly to choose. From here on out, I will simply talk about what I do, though others will edit in their own way. To each their own. I first try to get the exposure and tones set close what I feel works for the images, then I look for images that jump out to me, for whatever reason and select those for further viewing and editing. This can be difficult at times, when I have a great shoot and all the images look really good, or most of them anyway. This is the hardest part of the process, especially with a lot of good images, choosing the best ones, but it must be done and it can be a painstakingly slow process. I basically have to whittle the hundreds of shots down to a few. That is step one in a nutshell.

Though I used to shoot film, I have gone to digital and for me there is no going back. The instant feedback, the ability to edit to the smallest detail, to change the look of a hundred photographs with a click and so many other adjustments that can be made and be unmade is simply fantastic to me. I use Adobe Lightroom 4 and a little bit of Photoshop to get my images where I need them to be. Now I try to keep my edits to a minimum and to do so, requires trying to get the shot right in the first place, when you click the shutter, but human error is always going to be a part of the process and having the ability to correct for errors, and sometimes it can not be done, is sometimes a bit of work.

Despite all the powerful tools available for post processing, for me the best images are created before the shutter is ever pressed. It begins with my experience as a photographer and setting up the lighting, second, choosing a interesting subject to me, third, about composing the photograph and fourth, simply having an eye for what looks right to me. It is never about the equipment, mine is pretty basic, has a little to do with post processing, software and printing skills. The best images are from the heart, the mind and the eye. The best shots are 90% mental for me at this point. In the end, the final print has to appeal and touch me personally. Words are inadequate, that is why I am a photographer. I truly enjoy beautiful photographs and capturing beauty, for it is beauty that rules my world. The editing is in my head and in my heart. Cameras, software, and printers are merely tools that allow me to get it out of my head. One thing I have learned, is I can never tell what others will think about my work, but I put it out there for all to see. It is all I want to do.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Figure model search

I take great pride in creating beautiful and artistic black and white photographs of the nude female figure. As such, I am currently looking for a model to work with. I will treat you and photograph you with the utmost respect, sensitivity and admiration you deserve. If you are a woman, who is physically fit, comfortable in your own skin, and would like to be the subject of some beautiful photographs, I am looking to work with you. You must be over 18, confident, and comfortable with being nude. All of the work is focused on the figure (no face shots) and you will be photographed as a woman of beauty. If you are interested or have any questions, please contact me, Chris Henry, by email, with a brief physical description or photograph and your availability. Must live in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. Compensation is negotiable. Serious inquiries only, please. Thank you.