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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What Do You Talk About When You Talk Photography?

This photo was recently in a show at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center. I went to the opening. Didn’t know anyone. That’s not unusual. No problem. It’s always easy to start a conversation with a fellow photographer.

However, halfway into the evening, I noticed that some photographers wanted to talk about equipment. Some want to impress me with the places they’ve been. Some wanted to show me their photos and tell me and how they came to shoot that particular image.

I don’t talk equipment. I have good equipment but . . .

And I’ve been to some cool places but . . .

I enjoyed the photographers who wanted to show me their work. I’m not saying that’s good, bad, or better. That’s just my preference.

The photo shown here was the one in the show. It was taken with pretty standard Nikon equipment in a kind of cool place–off-road in the badlands of South Dakota. More interesting is how I stumbled over the broken bottle and the several ways that I tried to incorporated that bottle into images. Here, I asked my model to look through it. My model was an ex-priest, 72 years old, open, interesting and comfortable in his own skin. That last bit about being comfortable in his own skin has as much to do with the quality of the photo as the lens I was using. Other photographers will argue that with the right equipment you can capture even unwilling subjects and situations. Probably true. Not how I operate.

What do you talk about when you talk about photography?

BTW there was some good work in that show. I was proud to be included.

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.

Downtown Boulder Photo Show–Body Form Show and My Photos

The 2016 Body Form show is an exhibition of fine art nudes from local photographers at the Body Form studio and gallery at 1045 Pearl Street in Boulder on December 2, 3, 4.
The opening is from 6:00 – 10:00 on Friday December 2, with viewing hours from 12:00 – 5:00 on Saturday and Sunday December 3 and 4.

See amazing work from photographers exploring the many different ways of working with the nude; from pure form with unique perspectives to a metaphor of the human experience. All the images in the show were done at the Body Form Photo Workshop, which encourages people to explore their own vision in photography with an emphasis on working with the nude.

Rick Cummings, photographer and director of the Body Form Workshops, says “there seems to be an endless ways to work with the body. I have been photographing nudes since 1988 and I still find new images all the time.”

The Body Form Studio / Gallery is conveniently located in downtown Boulder at 1045 Pearl Street. The opening coincides with the first Friday gallery openings on – December 2 with viewing on Saturday and Sunday December 3 and 4 from 12:00 – 5:00.

For more information please contact Rick Cummings 720-352-4096

As usual I will have several photos in the show. Including these two–

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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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Noon and Midnight

Noon and Midnight are times when most photographers don’t shoot. Midnight is obvious–little light. Noon is avoided because the light is harsh.

However, I like to shoot at noon or near noon when water (ponds, rivers) are involved. The harsh light can sparkle the water and cast shadows that look like night time. Check it out.

Clicking on the images will make them larger.starsbw3smmoonlightwater1sm

Architecture of a Photograph

When it comes to the composition of a photograph, I’m not sure “architecture” is a commonly used word but I think some photographs can only be discussed as being composed of interesting building blocks.

This one, for example has a large block of shadow at the bottom. The stick creates another seeming building block that connects the figure with the shadow. The light on the top of the figure’s head adds interest. Everything seems to work to hold the image together and give it heft.

What do you think?

Shadows are Complicated–Have Own Image

We all know that depending on the angle of the sun, shadows can be elongated or shortened.

Sometimes shadows can multiply or fatten or become the focus. You have to look carefully to see that.

Check out these two images of evening shadows caught on a cloth interacting with the form behind. Nothing simple about them.

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In this one, the shadow seems to walk away from the actual person casting that shadow.

 

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In this one, the shadow seems to be holding the cloth rather than the other way around.

Keep your eyes open. Notice shadows!!!!

Put Model in a Sack—Lots of Fun

Sometimes shooting in a studio can begin to seem same-old, same-old. Change the lighting, change the pose but it’s still a studio shot. However, if you add a new element like a sack make of stretchy cloth—-fun begins to happen. I think this one looks like marble carved as an abstract. Too abstract? The point is to still have a figure in the photo. Love to hear your opinion.