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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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

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!!!!

Male Vs Female Models

I’m sometimes asked which I prefer–male models or female models. No preference. No difference in how I work with them. However, it’s almost impossible not to notice that my photographs feature female models much more often than male models. I’ve even been accused of using too many young women in my work. I actually use many models who are in their 30s and 40s. Susie shown here is in her late 50s. Here’s the problem: culturally we seem to be more comfortable with female nudity than male nudity. Full frontal in both cases is cause for many people to suddenly turn on their prude, but male full frontal is ten times more shocking somehow.

That said, I think these examples are equally interesting and serene. Both were shot same day, same pond.

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Mystical Photograph–Such a thing?

Photography balances somewhere between art and science. For a long time, people debated whether or not it was art. Photography was supposedly just the science of capturing images of the real world, it was argued. The art, of course, is in the composition of the photograph. In today’s digital world, the art is often in how the photograph is manipulated. Then this happens . . .

Notice that the reflection shows the face of a very old woman. It is not at all a true reflection of the model’s real face. Water distorts reflections. That’s why water is such an interesting element to add to a photograph, but . . .

I didn’t see this old woman image when I shot this photograph. When I saw it in the captured print, I was startled. How did that happen? I love happy accidents. In this case, it’s almost mythic, mystical. The image seems to ask if this Is a picture of reality or something more?

Our Lady of the Forest

Catching a reflection on the surface of a pond is fun. Capturing both the reflection and the complexity of the pond habitat is better. In fact seeing the depth and living dimensions of the pond in the reflection gives this photograph a mythic quality, I think. Seems like a goddess has paused for a moment amidst the forest world where she lives and rules. Again you have to look carefully to see that reflections can also be windows to what’s beneath the reflection itself.

I like this photo a lot because it does that.

Too Posed VS Just Right

One of the things I try to watch when working with models is the “too posed” shot.

Yes, the model is beautiful and graceful (she’s a dancer, after all ) and, yes, I like the fan of water coming off her hip, BUT this is a bad photograph.

It’s my problem, not the model’s. She is trying too hard to give me something and suddenly “strikes a pose.” If I take the shot, that’s my bad. What I need to do is give better direction. “OK, that’s good, but could you shake it out, relax, and then just be yourself,” is a good example. Or “Just let it happen.” Or “Great, but you’re working too hard. Just be yourself.”

Do whatever you need to do to get to this, which is a much-much better shot in the same situation. This one feels real. It is the way someone would react standing in a waterfall, especially a cold one.

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Abstracted by Water

I love the way water will abstract the body. In this case you can’t really identify the person in what seems to be a portrait. On the plus side, I think that adds universality to the image. I also see depth, mystery, beauty. What do you see?

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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