This collection of images is a celebration of beauty. It attempts not only to explore what beauty means to the models and photographer, but to challenge the viewer’s preconceptions of beauty. Challenging expectations is a delicate undertaking: I want the viewer to contemplate the unpredictable nature of the photographs, but not to feel disoriented. This exhibit is not intended to be a technical tour de force; composition and emotion are more important to me than documenting details. Nor are the images intended to be realistic or flattering. To me, beauty is a marriage of nature and social symbolism.
I’ve taken this task seriously and shared the burden with my models. Together, we have agonized over details. We went through physical contortions to produce particular poses and position the camera. We have endured the cold and wet, as well as some magnificent natural scenery. We hope you enjoy the portfolio we have assembled.
- Model Hope on roof of abandoned Buddhist Monastery near Asheville, North Carolina, USA. Shot on a foggy morning with available light.
- Model Hope on river rocks, Eastern Tennessee. There was a long drive and short hike to get to this area of unspoiled nature. A student of art, she has a knack for interesting compositions.
- Hope in a field near Asheville North Carolina, late afternoon, available light. I asked Hope to explore the field and mostly ignore the camera. We shot the monastery, field, the river, and waterfall sequences over a three day period near Asheville North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee. Hope is local to these parts and serves as the guide, driver, and location expert. Well worth the distance traveled, we drove mountain roads, hiked a steep trail, and climbed a cliff to get to the perfect spots. Our shooting time was uninterrupted. While hiking, we encountering perhaps two other parties over three days.
- Jackie on rocks overlooking Santa Fe New Mexico. Jackie is no stranger to figure modeling in challenging weather. A dedicated model, she braved freezing temperatures. Near the end of the mountain session, it began to snow. There were always clothes nearby, we kept moving as much as possible, and we took frequent breaks for her to warm up. In the mountain images I used a restricted color palette to make the model and the earth similar in tone and color. The highly textured scene on the medium format camera presents an abundant opportunity for visual exploration.
- Jackie at the river’s edge, under the shadow of a bridge to produce a silhouette, this model demonstrates her athletic prowess.. With less wind, and afternoon temperatures in the upper thirties Fahrenheit (About 3 degrees Celsius), this location was more tolerable.
- Tess Irah at Botany Bay nature preserve. A desolate strand of sand between the river and ocean near Edisto Island, South Carolina. Uprooted trees populate this section of beach.
- Emily on “bridge to nowhere,” an unfinished bridge to a housing development that ran out of building funds right after the thoroughfare was built. In some shots you can see white paint has rubbed off onto the model’s skin. I liked this effect. Afternoon sun, available light.
- Emily in field at sunset. At the end of the bridge (previous series) is the land on which a housing development might have been built. Cranes from an industrial complex are visible in the distance.
- Emily, in the studio, blue mood. Subsequent images: pink mood, on white tile board.
- Narza alone in the studio, photographed with Mamiya/Leaf camera. Working with the Mamiya RZ, a manual focus, top viewfinder camera, is a slower, more contemplative process. The pace is one or two shots per minute rather than rapid fire. The camera is large and must be tripod mounted. This yields a different kind of posing. It places limits on both model and photographer in terms of maneuverability and spontaneity, but these limits evoke poses that would not otherwise have occurred. From constraint comes creativity.
- Narza and Tess, exploring depth of field. Working with two models, one with light skin, the other dark, is an opportunity to set up additional dichotomies. In these images are a contrast between light and dark, a contrast of scale, and a contrast of focused and blurry. A bright ball of light on the background provides a central compositional element.
- Working with a circle, each model is photographed from high above. It is a simple but unusual posing exercise. Depth is no longer distance on the floor, but elevation from a ladder. This gives the choice of extending limbs or compressing them with foreshortening perspective.
- Narza and Tess strike floor poses with a contrast of overlapping light and dark skin. This series further explores symmetry and asymmetry between the two models. On page 52, which may initially appear asymmetrical, I sense a form of radial/rotational symmetry.
- With Tess and Narza posing on an elevated platform we have an unusual angle of view, photographed from floor level. Subtle blue and green tones gently cool the shadows of these images. Soft warm highlights push the figures forward from their backgrounds.
- A tight crop with the intention of reducing the composition to lines with only one face as a point of reference. I asked Tess to compress her limbs as much as possible, and Narza to provide a foreground.
- Tess time-lapse exposures. These images are created with exposures that last for approximately thirty seconds. The exposure begins with a flash of light and crisp focus. The remainder of the exposure is with continuous “hot” colored lights. During this second part of the exposure, the lens is thrown out of focus. The result is a soft, wax-like appearance. In instances where Tess struck a second pose, a ghostlike doppelganger appears. The working process is highly collaborative, requiring us to synchronize our actions. The effect is also unpredictable, similar to flinging paint at a canvas, we have only a general idea what the result will look like.
- Rope series, Sarah, Tess. To many viewers, a flowing line symbolizes continuity. These ropes do not restrain the subject but act as intertwined companions.