Archive for April 2008

As I wrote at the end of my most recent blog post last Thursday, the model M__ had just arrived for a visit to New York and I had agreed to host her while she was here on her first visit to the city. This morning she left and is now in California. As I had predicted when I last wrote, the days she was here were fun.

M__ worked with other photographers in different parts of the city, but before she arrived she had set aside Monday of this week as a day to work with me. As Monday was a rainy and chilly day here in New York, we had no choice but to work in my makeshift home studio – and I readily admit that I’m still very much a novice when it comes to studio work. Still, it is something different from working outdoors and possesses different challenges.

Among the things that M__ had brought with her was an object that she had bought on a recent trip to Egypt: a reddish scarf decorated with silvery ornaments (for lack of a better term in my vocabulary). As this seemed like an interesting type of prop that I had never used before, I decided to spend most of my time photographing M__using it – first with a light gray background and then with a black background. I thought that the Middle Eastern item would go well with M__’s somewhat exotic look.

As my readers here should know, I use film exclusively for my serious work. However, I do like to make some color photos with my pocket digital camera to get some quick feedback as well as to post work here from new photo sessions. You can see some of these color images of Maria here now, but don’t hold your breath when it comes to seeing the film. (Including the seven rolls of M__, I now have 52 rolls of film to develop – plus 25 from Tibet to file!)

One of the things I need to get over when doing studio work is the typical ‘model standing in front of the camera’ kind of shot. There are some horizontally oriented studio images here, and it was M__’s idea to try them. We managed to get her stretched out on the black backdrop by putting together a couple of chairs beneath it (basically, covering the chairs with the backdrop.)

Another thing I tried for the first time was mounting one of the lights on the boom arm that’s part of my lighting kit. I’d used the boom once before for suspending some fabric, but this was the first time that I used it to have the light facing downward from above the model. You can see one of these photos (without the Egyptian scarf) here, too. I think this set-up has the potential for dramatic imagery.

As for M__’s sightseeing, I took her to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Brooklyn Heights promenade. We later walked over the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan, where we visited the World Trade Center site, waited for two mintutes on line at the Empire State Building (before finding out that the wait to go to the observation tower was too long), walked through Times Square and Rockefeller Center, the lobby of the famed Waldork-Astoria hotel and then the great expanse of Grand Central Station. We also visited Central Park another day (where M__ noted at least one good spot for a nude photo) and had dinner Monday night at a kosher deli on Kings Highway here in Brooklyn – to try to give her a fuller New York City experience. That’s her in a photo with the triple decker sandwich she ordered.

Like I said, she’s in California now, continuing her US tour. If you’re a photographer in an area that she’ll be passing through, I highly recommend working with her. She’s a great model and a lot of fun to work with.

As for me, having M__ here as my guest for six nights, I am going to miss her. Even though I had worked with her last summer, I had still thought of her mostly as a friend of my friend Alex Ingram in Scotland. I think I can safely say that she’s now my own friend, too. I hope she returns to New York sometime soon.

At the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

On the Brooklyn Bridge
In Central Park
With those sandwiches at the deli

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Maja Sashek Photos
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I like to tell people now and then that I used to be a professional boxer. That’s right, it’s true: I got paid for putting things in boxes (among other tasks). I did that while working in the summer of 1979 at a textile factory located in a loft building at the corner of Broadway and Franklin Street in lower Manhattan.

Of course, when one hears “professional boxer,” one thinks of a guy in a ring (or as Gorilla Monsoon used to call it, “the squared circle”) trying to beat his opponent’s brains out – not someone standing over a counter putting pillow covers destined for JC Penney into boxes (as I did).

On the other hand, what about “professional model”? Someone who gets paid to wear clothing (or in the case of nude models, nothing) for the purpose of being photographed, drawn or seen in some way by others – right??? Well, I can honestly say that I was a professional model in the meaning of the term that I just described. I even got paid an hourly rate.

“Okay, okay. There’s got to be a catch,” I can hear you saying. Well, I admit it. There is a catch: I only did it for one hour.

In the summer of 1978, when I was all of 19 years old, I had a job working for a promotional firm on West 39 Street in midtown Manhattan. I was basically a gofer, as I recall (I can tell an amusing story about making the coffee every morning), and one time I was told to assist in making a small catalog for some camping gear the company was promoting. One of the things I remember that we had to do was to steam out the wrinkles in some of the bags to be photographed for the catalog - and we didn’t do a very good job of it, looking at the photos now.

A more interesting thing I was asked to do was to model a rain poncho – and hey, who was I to turn down an offer like that? I really don’t remember much from the photo shoot, other than that I got to take an hour off of work to go to the studio – and that I got paid $25 as a modeling fee, in addition to my regular salary. (So, I like to say that as a professional model I got paid $25 an hour – but I only did it for one hour.)

I still have two copies of the eight-page catalog and the photo above is scanned from its back page. The guy on the right is Wayne, one of the people I worked with at the firm. The pretty boys in the middle were hired from a modeling agency (and I have no idea what they got paid).

The guy on the left, of course, sporting the rain poncho and looking a bit like Jesus (or so I thought back then) is me.

And that, my friends, is the story of my career as a professional model. Like I said, that was in 1978. Little did I know at the time that being a professional boxer was just a year into my future.

In more recent news, I drove to Kennedy Airport after worked today and picked up my friend, the beautiful model Maria Eriksson from the UK. She’ll be staying with me here for almost a week. This is Maria’s first visit to New York and though she’ll be doing some modeling (including getting in front of my camera), I’ll also be leading her on a sightseeing tour around town.

It should be fun.

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I just took a look at my photography resume. This is something that mostly lists the exhibition and publication of my photography, plus things like awards and prizes that my photos have earned.

The last publication of my work was September of last year, with my eight-page feature in the premiere issue of Carrie Leigh’s NUDE magazine. That was less than a year ago, which is not too bad.

Exhibitions, though, are another story. The last time one of my photos was up on a wall somewhere for the public to see was in 2005, at the Community Zoe exhibit in Flagstaff, Arizona. That’s a long time ago – and the last time one was in a juried show was some years even further back.

Thankfully, that should be changing in several months. A number of weeks ago, I happened to notice (probably through something I saw in Camera Arts magazine) that the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado, was having a call for work for an exhibition titled The Artful Nude. The juror was to be Kim Weston, grandson of the great Edward Weston and someone noted for his art nude work, too.

Well, I thought, this is something so obviously up my alley that I just have to submit some photos. Naturally, I nearly missed the April 8 deadline for on-line submission, but on that last day (even though I wasn’t feeling that well) I did send through five images along with my credit card number to pay the submission fee and also to become a member of the Center.

It’s a good thing I did find the time to sit down in front of my computer that day, as I found out a few days ago that my work was selected to be in the exhibition. According to the message I received, over 1,650 photos were submitted but only 54 were chosen. Not only that, I’m one of only four photographers to have two photos included in the show!

So, as you can imagine, I’m feeling pretty pleased right now.
As for the two photos chosen, you can see them here with this posting – and they were made under very different circumstances. The one at the top was made on a private photo shoot with a model at a ranch outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1998. The other photo was made the following year at a glamour-type group photo shoot in (of all places!) New Jersey.

Despite these differences, both images share one thing: they were both made late in the day with the sun very low in the sky, close to horizon. In the New Mexico image, the sun was behind me, and I chose to use it to project the model’s shadow on the wall of the adobe-style building. The model herself put her hand to her face to shield her eyes from the sun – and it looked so good to me that I just asked her to keep it there.

In the other image, the sun was not behind me but behind the model. This is something I like to do if I can, as I love the halo effect that appears around the model’s frame when this is done. I also like the way that she appears to be rising from the field of grass here, like the ancient goddess Demeter rising from the earth.

Fortunately, I’ve got both of these images printed (and matted) in both the 11x14 and 16x20 inch sizes. (Two of the five images I submitted were made during the past two years and have not yet been printed.) So, I’ll try to send in the bigger prints for the exhibition.

The show itself will be on the wall at the Center for Fine Art Photography from July 11 to August 9. The reception for the show will be held on Friday, August 1, from 6 to 9 pm at the Center, located at 400 North College Avenue in Fort Collins. I’m thinking of attending, but I haven’t yet decided.

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Slagjana Cvetkovska Photos

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I returned home to New York this morning following several days in Las Vegas visiting family. The trip was actually somewhat in jeopardy on Friday, my departure day, as I spent quite a few hours that morning in the emergency room of a hospital here. As I wrote last week, I had not been feeling my best, and while I had definitely started feeling better for several days last week, that progress came crashing to an end Thursday night and Friday morning. Not wanting to take a chance of being stuck in a metal cylinder at 35,000 feet for over five hours Friday night while sick, I decided to go the emergency room. The prognosis was that I was able to travel – so I did.

Photographically, the highlight of my time in Las Vegas was going out on Sunday with my friend Terrell Neasley’s Las Vegas Art Model’s Group. As Terrell likes my photography, I thought I’d go out and lend whatever expertise and information I could that I’ve gathered in over a dozen years of photographing art nudes. At first I wasn’t going to bring a camera with me, both to lighten the load I’d need to schlep with me through the airports and to not take away any photo time from the participants who’d signed up. Terrell convinced me to bring it along and I’m glad I did, as these were the first outdoor nude photos I’d made since July of last year and the first in Nevada since 2006. I think that just getting out was good for me, considering how I'd been feeling.

Working with one model and a bunch of other photographers is never easy, so I decided to limit my camera time, though I did still shoot three rolls of BW 220 film. Having been at group shoot situations before, I know how difficult it can be to break away from the group to try something different, but I tried to do this at times and tried to encourage those there to do the same. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with starting out photographing models in a group, but eventually the time comes when it’s necessary to try to doing something more individual – even if it’s within a group situation.

The model, by the way, was a young woman with reddish hair and very beautiful eyes named Lydia. Perhaps I’ll be able to work with her again some time. As for the three rolls of film – well, they’ll have to wait until I develop the six rolls of Carlotta, which will have to wait until I develop the 36 from Southeast Asia, which will have to ….. (Will I ever have enough time to get caught up???)

To read about the event from Terrell’s point of view, read his blog posting here.


I don’t normally write about the cars that I rent, but this trip was something different. Perhaps because my flight’s departure was delayed on Friday and arrived late into Las Vegas, most or all of the compact cars (the type of car I ask for) at the car rental agency were gone. So, I ended up driving around for four days in an Infiniti M35. I’m not normally impressed by such things, but I have to say that this was a very nice car, with beautiful leather seats and an engine that I could feel the power in when I stepped on the accelerator. (I am not used to coasting uphill for significant distances!)

The most unusual thing about this car was the ignition key. It didn’t have one. Instead, the entire remote control slides into the dashboard. I had never ever seen such a thing before, so I had to get out of the car and ask for help when I first got it and then had to call the emergency road service phone number the next morning just to find out how to start the engine!

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Dragana Chuprina Photos

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It’s been almost a week since my last posting, so I thought I’d better write something tonight.

To be honest, I have not felt that well for much of the past week, with Friday and Monday being particularly tough days – and yesterday and today I even wore a heart monitor. I have felt better the last couple of days (following three visits to two doctors, with another visit tomorrow) so I do feel like I’m on the mend, but as it’s getting late and I’m feeling kind of tired, I’ll keep this posting brief and hold off on my intended subject for a while longer.

I will say that I felt well enough on Saturday to meet and have lunch with Stephanie Anne, an attractive art model who lives in New York and who I hope to work with sometime this year.

Last but certainly not least, the photos I’m posting are of Iris Dassault, made during my visit to Michigan last summer. I hope to work with her again sometime this year, too.

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Profilot e izbrisan po baranje na Katerina K.
This profile has been removed at the request of the model

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I had one of my most successful art nude photo sessions in June 2006, working with a model in the Nevada desert outside of Las Vegas. I really came back with a high percentage of keepers. (Five of the six most popular photos in my gallery at Deviant Art are from that one day, for example.) Maybe it was the location that was so great. Maybe I just felt very creative that day.

I can say with certainty, though, that much of the day’s success was due to the model I worked with, Carlotta Champagne. I’d wanted to work with her for some time, having been very impressed with the photos I’d seen of her. Having finally gotten to work with her and having seen the results, I of course wanted to do so again.

That finally happened last night. Carlotta is in New York for a couple of days, so she came over to work with me in my home studio set-up. This was the first time I’ve worked with a model since July of last year – eight months ago – and the first time that I’ve worked in my ‘studio’ in about a year and a half.

Whenever I work with a model after a long hiatus, I normally begin things by doing the tried and true. Last night was no exception, as I began working with Carlotta against a black background. Eventually, though, I began experimenting a bit, taping up a white piece of fabric (normally used to wrap around a model) on the backdrop holders’ crossbar to serve as a diffuse backdrop. I then placed one or both lights behind the fabric to illuminate it from behind.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the results of this photo session with Carlotta. Hopefully one day I (and you) will, but it’ll be a while. As I think I’ve written here already, I’ve already got 36 rolls from my trip to Southeast Asia to develop and file – and I probably won’t get started on that in earnest until I’ve finished filing most of the 25 rolls from Tibet that I still have to do!

For now, we’ll have to suffice with a few of the photos I made with my pocket digital camera last night. Some of these, as you can see, are just for fun – and I will say that Carlotta is a very pleasant person to work with (in addition to her having a great figure). It may be a while until I see the yesterday’s results, but I’m sure that I’ll want to work with her yet a third time.

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Maja Sashek Photos

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