Open Wide–Now Scream

I’m amused at all the candid photos on Facebook that show people with the mouths open as if in surprise. Trendy? A reaction to older, more formal candid shots? There’s even an emoji with mouth open–also surprise. However, there is a big difference between an open mouth and a screaming mouth.

Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream is not expressing surprise or posing for a trendy candid. His scream begins at the toes and literally empties emotion. That scream is a protest.

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My scream photos are also seeking to express something beyond the trendy mouth-open shots. One is taken underwater. The other is reflected in glass. In both cases, I reminded the model of Edvard Munch’s painting and asked for a similar expression. My models did good jobs. And I think nudity, in this case, adds to the sense of vulnerability.

PS It’s also trendy to ask models NOT to express emotion. This school of thought wants to focus on the figure. I think real emotion is expressed by the whole body and sometimes that can be the focus. What do you think?

Click on photos for larger view.

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Show Opening in Fort Collins @ Center for Fine Art Photography

I’m excited to have a piece in the PORTRAITS show opening this Friday at The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The Center has a national reputation. I’ve tried several times to get into one of their shows. This time I’m in the show AND I get to have a portfolio review with Hamidah Glasgow–The Center’s director. Yay!

Show will be up through February. If you’re in Fort Collins, check it out at 400 N. College Ave 80524.

As part of the show, I was asked to write a description of this photo. Here’s what I said:

Marlene lives in Minnesota but loves the South Dakota Prairie. She particularly enjoys visiting an abandoned homestead there. In this photo, she is sitting in front of one of the homestead windows dressed in her petticoat because she wanted to imagine herself living there in a previous life. Her expression is almost distant enough to make that believable.

I like to let my subjects find their own sense of self and place. My challenge is to go to that place with them.

As a published novelist, I like to think I bring a writer’s sensibility to my photography. I believe a good image should stay with the viewer the way a good story does.

However, in a novel, I can slowly build a character and rewrite until it’s right. Not so with photography. That moment when Marlene let herself drift into another time was fleeting. No rewrites, I got it or I didn’t.

I love being challenged to see and think behind the camera. It keeps me fresh and sharp and observant. I came to photography later in life, after writing and teaching, but it has become my first love.

Puzzle of a Good Portrait

I have no idea what makes a good portrait. Natural light is best, I think. Relaxed atmosphere–yes. Bottom line: I know a good portrait when I see it but not one moment before.

I have a friend who has made a business out of portraiture, but even he goes into every session hoping some magic happens. Capturing the essence of a person is like grabbing for fairy dust. Good luck.

That said, here are some recent portraits that I like.

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Karin Rosenthal Class on Cape Cod

If you get a chance to take a class from Karin Rosenthal–DO IT. If you get a chance to take a second class in a different place, DO IT. These are opportunities not to be missed.

I have been fortunate enough to take two classes from her. The latest was on Cape Cod, working mostly in ponds and forests in that area.

Here’s a photo of Rosenthal working with a model next to a lake, typical of one of her classes.

Her classes offer scenery–usually water. Great models. AND more important, a chance to have her critique your photographs. She takes that seriously. Sometimes she can be blunt! She wants nothing but the best to emerge from the photographers that she works with. That is the reason her classes are worthwhile. You grow as a photographer because she cares about photography–hers, yours, everyone’s. That is what makes her a good teacher, a generous one.

She regularly teaches classes in Vermont and on Cape Cod every summer. She is based in Boston. Check her website www.krosenthal.com

Here’s a photo that I took in her class. One of many that I like.

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Photos with Reflections and What Makes Them Work

I’ve been doing a series of these Janus images based on the Janus myth.

 

In ancient Roman religion and mythology, Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions, thence also of gates, doors, doorways, endings and time. He is usually a two-faced god since he looks to the future and the past. The Romans dedicated the month of January to Janus.

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Here’s an example from the Vatican Museum.

In my case, I’m using a reflection in water as the second image. Reflections only work if  they seem to interact with the original image. That means, both images are somehow greater because of the reflection. In this case the interaction is enhanced by the arm–underwater–seemingly touching the reflection. Because the arm is underwater, it’s a bit ethereal. That makes it appear to be halfway between reality and reflection. I think it really adds to the overall composition. This is an image I’m particularly proud of.

Soft, Soft, Soft

soft nudewebThere are some images that are best as hard, finely focused photographs. Some are better soft. In this case, both of these images were deliberately blurred. I like them this way. But I’m not sure I know how to explain it. I simply find them more pleasing somehow. Maybe you have the words to explain it. Leave a comment.

 

Janus Myth–The Challenge

januswebWhile taking a class from Karin Rosenthal ( www.krosenthal.com) I was challenged by her to create a Janus image.

According to the ancient Roman religion, Janus was the god of beginnings and endings. He marked transitions. He was often placed in doorways and always shown as having two faces–one looking backward and one looking forward. We were working with water, so the challenge was to use the water to create that kind of image. I came up with three that I like.

Note that some are more peaceful than others. How would a god of transitions appear to you?

BTW Janus is the god of January.

 

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Karin Rosenthal Class–WOW!

LadyofLakewebTook a class from Karin Rosenthal (www.krosenthal) and wow! I think she is the woman photographer who is doing the most interesting things with nudes and water. Nudes and water–everything I love. I was excited and then found the class extremely challenging. Left thinking, I’d been pushed too far, too fast, and kind of lost my own point of view in the process. A couple of months later, when I had a chance to really work with the images I’d shot there, I suddenly realized I-loved-that-class. I was so much, so fast, I just had to have time to digest. Rosenthal is intense because she really cares about all the images.

This is one that I brought home. And here’s another.

If you have a chance to take a class from her—do it!

Nursing Baby and Color and Limits of Acceptability?

One teacher I work with regularly and another photographer that I admire both feel strongly that color is too graphic for fine art nudes. The teacher would have me believe that the photograph isn’t art unless it’s classically black and white. The photographer friend just likes classic photographs. What can I say? I like color. I like this image in color partly because the background colors are so vivid–the grass and the pond. Also I think it’s warmer and softer more fitting for the subject matter. Black and white begins to feel distant and old-fashioned for me.

Here’s the black and white version.

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Ah, but there’s another problem with this image. What is our tolerance for photos of nursing mothers? I was thinking we’re more OK with fine art nudes than nursing mothers until my husband reminded me that Elle just did a cover photo of a mother nursing her babe. It’s a supermodel mother who looks ten times better than the rest of us when we’re doing the mom-thing but it is probably groundbreaking none the less. AND IT’S IN COLOR!!!

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So here are the questions?

Color or black and white?

Nursing mom is OK? or are we still uptight about that one?

I’m hoping your join in this informal poll by leaving a comment.

Photo Accepted in Poughkeepsie New York Show

It’s been a good year so far–lots of my photos going to shows. Wish I was going with them!!!

This is a photo that I’ve had success with before. It’s been in a couple of previous shows. It was taken in a swimming pool and gets it drama–it’s appearance of walking on water–from the fact that I flipped it. It was actually shot with her laying in the water on her side. See image below. Hope you agree that it’s less dramatic that way. How a photo is presented can make a difference.

I like color photos, in general, but lately I’ve taken some photos that are best in black and white. This one, for example.

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