Friday, December 11, 2015

Photo Friday: Risqué Business

This post is not safe for work. I just thought that I'd put that up front.

I've been shooting photographs for decades, and for the majority of them, I've focused on social events with friends, attractions and vacation spots, and the photos that I use for this blog.

On the artsy side, I have done some creative photos, those that take some forethought and planning, before I press the shutter release, and are manipulated, later, with my photo-editing software.

I have shot photos in all kinds of weather, from cloudless, sunshine-filled, summer days, to raging winter blizzards. About 90 percent of the time,  I have my camera close by, hopeful that I don't miss a moment that I want to capture forever.

I recently read that the best way to improve your photography is to try different things, to not stick with what is familiar. Different genres of photography will get you to think about different aspects: depth of field, shutter speed, light conditions, and subject matter—still versus moving, posed versus candid.

I have wanted to try so many different styles of photography, and there are so many that I have yet to try. But one of the genres of photography that I have experimented with over the past couple of years is one that I am still a long way from mastering, but I can definitely see improvement with my work.

It's one of the genres that my wife isn't keen on. After all, I'm spending time with someone who is wearing few, if any clothes. Many times, I'm telling this person what to do, how to move, and to stay still while I focus my attention on them, through a camera lens.

It's not the genre that she hates the most: that one still involves a model, and, surprisingly, the model is fully clothed. She doesn't like the model shoots where the model is dressed for a theme, doing overly contrived, clichéd, and, in her opinion, demeaning poses.

After a couple of those shoots, I tend to agree. And so, I've declined invitations to shoots where the model is dressed as a superhero, or in a Hallowe'en costume, or in anything that can be perceived, no matter how remotely, as a form of cultural appropriation.

"I'd rather they wear nothing at all," she said.

I can't believe she said that.

The trouble in pursuing this genre of photography is that it creates its own challenge in that I can't easily share it. It's not safe for work. Some people find it offensive or inappropriate for this sort of blog. I want to keep The Brown Knowser as a blog that is suitable for everyone. I don't want to post anything that I wouldn't want my kids to see.

In the past, I have shared some photos that have shown nudity or implied nudity. In my opinion (and it is my blog, after all), the nude photo was subtle: seemingly, a wisp of smoke. Smoke with a nipple. The implied nude, I think, was playful. The model was covering herself, playing with a camera that another photographer had brought to the shoot.

Both shots were some of my favourite photos that I have taken for a model shoot. I also find that in shooting this type of nude model, it is clearly a form of art and not some sort of perverted fetish.

I like this genre and have no plans to stop. I still have a lot to learn, after all. At all of these events, I have had to borrow lighting equipment, have had help setting the light levels, and have used other photographers' studios or rented settings. Eventually, I would like to own my own equipment and perhaps build my own studio, and have all the knowledge and confidence to use the lighting without help.

The last shoot that I attended, I came close to controlling the lights. The host of the event rented a house in the country and brought a single soft box. She helped me carry the lights into the various rooms and adjust the initial height and angle, and get the initial light-balance settings. Once I took a few test shots, with the model, the host left me alone to work with the model.

In some cases, I adjusted the lights as we shifted in the room—the most-challenging shots were in a bathroom, where I positioned the light so that I could straddle the tub and shoot the model from above.

In a bedroom, I moved and reset the light as my subject moved around the bed. The entire wall, directly behind me, was floor-to-ceiling glass, and as the sun moved in and out of sun, through the leafless trees, other challenges of shadows forced me to think more and adjust the soft box, accordingly.

As our session was closing, and we had moved to the living room, which also had a wall of glass, we abandoned the soft box altogether, and I was back to using natural light.

All of the ideas for location and poses, though, were up to me. I was in the director's chair, so to speak.

It was my favourite model shoot, to date. The model, Olivia Preston, was a pro who needed no direction once I told her what I was looking for. She was accommodating in agreeing to pose in a filled bathtub (who doesn't like a bubble bath?). She chatted with me through the whole shoot, talking about many different subjects, asking as many (or more) questions as I asked her. She had a great sense of humour, wasn't afraid to smile for the camera or even break out in a laugh, and on occasion, make a funny face.

She was great to work with. She travels all over North America for work, but if she ever comes back to Ottawa, I'll definitely sign up for that shoot.

You can see my work with her in my 500px album. Remember, though, that it's not safe for work.

For this Photo Friday, I've decided to share some of my work with Olivia. Though it's still not safe for work, it is only implied nudity.

Meaning, she's showing no naughty bits.

What do you think? Is this sort of photography suitable for The Brown Knowser? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

Happy Friday!

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