One of my favorite lighting setups is short lighting, and Ivy Sublime demonstrates why.
This is Azlan. Azlan was a large, older, scuffed up former stray who decided he really, really didn’t want to be outdoors anymore. He loved laps, being pet, and sleeping on your chest, which was hella inconvenient when you wanted to so something as mundane as breathe while you slept. Many a nap was interrupted by me gasping for air while this bruiser of a cat purred inches from your face.
Azlan wasn’t with us long – a disease that hides dormant in felines took him from us several months after we brought him home – but what a lovely few months those were. As you can see from his face he had a hard life, but the end of it was filled with warmth and love.
Rui exudes class and grace does she not?
I rambled a bit about my hobby in a previous post and wanted to expound about it a bit more. When people find out what I do for fun they naturally have questions. Most of those questions, oddly enough, focus on what I plan to do with the photos I take. When I tell them “not a dang thing,” the reactions range from incredulity to jaw-dropping incredulity. After all, there has got to be some ulterior motive at play.
“So do you try to get them published?”
“Do you exhibit them?”
“Sometimes. When invited to.”
“Do you sell them?”
“So you just…take pictures. Of nude women. Just because.”
I think the incredulity is driven by two things. First, the “nude women” thing. After all, there are tons of subjects a hobbyist could turn their cameras towards, such as still lifes or bugs or birds or food or landscapes or astrophotography or pets. Does it have to be nude women!?
But…why not nude women? The nude form has been celebrated in art for millennia. but nude art does not have to cater to The Male Gaze. The challenge I set for myself artistically is avoiding “the gaze” entirely. Asexual or not, there is a lot of conditioning and programming I’ve been subjected to over five decades and it isn’t easy to avoid all the visual tropes.
Secondly, it is the thought that somebody would spend so much time on something so specific, so dang odd, with no expectation or reward.
To which I say: have you ever met a golfer?
Hobbies are not rational activities. A typical golfer will spend thousands on clubs alone and untold, but significant, amounts for clothing, greens fees, golf course memberships, and frequently whole vacations, all in support of their hobby and without ever once going pro. And yet, few would dare to suggest that they should go pro, because otherwise what’s the point of investing all the time, money, and effort?
I think the difference is that photography is viewed as both a hobby and a commodity. People sell photos. They have photos published. Therefore, if you’re good enough either should be attainable, if not outright desirable.
But I certainly don’t care about such things and I feel that most photographers (or golfers, or model train enthusiasts, or bonsai cultivators) don’t either. Hobbies are hobbies. They don’t need a purpose to flourish.
So for anyone who asks: nope, my interest in art nude photography doesn’t extend past personal growth and artistic development.
Harrow is the most photogenic of all of our furry overlords.
Jen is another friend turned subject. What can I say? I have cool friends.
I’m gutted that the airbnb person who rented out this place in Charlotte no longer does so, because these windows were so much fun.
I think Emily speaks for us all.
The “World’s Best Asexual Art Nude Photographer” may be a title that I’ve given myself in jest, but there is a kernel of truth at the heart of it. I am asexual and it has an oversized impact on who I am as a photographer. It drives how I work, the type of work that I do, the environment I create, the language I use, and the value I attach to art, consent, and boundaries.
But what does it mean to you, as a potential artistic collaborator?
It means that the nude form does not have the effect on me that it does on your typical cis male photographer. No sexual attraction towards the subject means nothing to get in the way of the work. Let’s unpack that a bit more.
It means that there is no “mission creep.” If we set out to do a fashion shoot, it doesn’t turn into an implied shoot. If we’re shooting implied, you won’t be asked to do “just one” nude snap. If we’re doing fine art or fashion nudes, you won’t be asked to do any erotica or spread leg shots (not an option anyway!).
If you ask mid-session course correction, brace to be turned down. I am a big believer in integrity and I don’t ever want to have it said that I agreed to do one thing and ended up going beyond established boundaries.
It means is that I’m not there for anything but the work. I’m not some creepy, socially inept, slavering GWC (“guy with camera”) looking for a way to turn a $500 camera into an excuse to get women to take their clothes off. I am definitely not looking to date you, become friends with benefits, or ask you to join my MLM network (ick…this sentence makes me want to shower).
It means I’m looking for collaborators, not “just” models. Asexuality in this photographer means that artistically my visual vocabulary isn’t as refined as someone who spends their day thinking about how to present someone in the most sensual way possible. I just don’t have the inner fantasy life that allows me to pre-visualize every aspect of a shoot. I compensate for this by trying to create an environment where the subject is driving the train. Y’all are the ones doing all the hard work; shouldn’t you have an oversized say in what is being created?
Yes, (he says with tongue firmly planted in cheek) I’m looking for models who are Power Bottoms.
It means I’m doing my damndest to create a safe space. A benefit of being asexual is that being anywhere near your personal space is anathema to me. I also present as a cis white male and asexuality isn’t exactly the most visible community on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, so a healthy degree of skepticism about the above will not hurt my feelings in the least! References will enthusiastically be provided upon request.
It means that bringing a friend, spouse, partner, or chaperone along is not only welcome, but encouraged. There are some creepy ass fucks out there and models need to be careful about walking into situations where they’re a) at their most vulnerable, while b) alone.
Finally, it means that there are genres or concepts I will not shoot. My asexuality is why I won’t shoot boudoir, for example, or high-concept fashion and fantasy. I admire the fuck out of photographers like Lillian Liu, but I also know that that style of photography requires a level of imagination and post-shoot creativity I do not and likely cannot possess.
I’ll stick with my Newtonian (as in Helmut) aesthetic, thanks!
So why do you do it? That’s a damn good question! There is no short and simple answer, so I’ll unpack that in a later post.
Just Another Entry in my Cats Hiding in Plain Sight Oeuvre.