Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Invisible Distortion

People say photographs don't lie. Mine do. -David LaChapelle

Digital manipulation in pretty girl photography--well, in photography in general--is probably at an all-time high. After all, it's become rather easy for just about anyone and everyone to learn how to manipulate an image with photo processing tools.

The trick, of course, is to digitally process and enhance an image in ways that appear as if little or no manipulation has taken place. I like to call this, invisible distortion. The degree in which invisible distortion is successfully applied is heavily linked to your viewers' ability to suspend disbelief when it comes to the perceived beauty and allure of your model.

Successfully applying invisible distortion begins in production. That's where an MUA and sometimes others, or the model herself, begins altering the model's appearance: Make-up is applied, hair is coiffed, and wardrobe is selected and the model is dressed. (Assuming wardrobe will be utilized.) Much of this is designed to distort reality.

Meanwhile, the photographer is pre-visualizing the shots, selecting the right place to pose the model, setting lights or preparing to use reflectors, flags, scrims, whatever: All tools designed to modify and/or control the light which, in itself, is a distortion of reality.

The model takes her mark and, with the help of the photographer's direction, assumes a variety of poses and expressions, all of which are adopted to project various emotions or attitudes; in other words, they're designed to convey something to the viewers. Usually and once again, purposeful attempts to distort reality.

So far so good. If you're the shooter in the above detailed scenario, all is well: You and the model are appropriately prepared to capture a big, fat, two-dimensional, visual lie.

But preparing for and capturing a BFTDVL isn't the end of the story. Sometime later, you'll be processing the fruit or your photographic endeavors. Often, this is where as much, or more, skill and knowledge and creative dexterity, coupled with the discriminating applications of digital effects, will make or break your images! (For the purpose of this blog update, a digital effect is any digital manipulation of the original image as recorded by the camera.)

Few parts of this whole process scream, "Amateur" louder than the careless and reckless application of post-production processes. Often-times, obvious shortcomings in production are way more forgivable than gross derelictions of duty in the use of post-processing tools and applications.

As an example, let's look at Public Enemy #1, Photoshop's Gaussian Blur:

Gaussian Blur is a cool tool which, unless OBVIOUSLY used for an OBVIOUSLY ethereal effect, is probably responsible for more "okay" and even "really good" images morphing into garbage. (Man! There was a time I was sooooo guilty of this.) I don't know about any of you but, as I stroll through life, I don't ever seem to encounter people who have synthetic-looking, plastic, lifeless and artificial skin unless, of course, they're wearing some sort of prosthetic device. (And that device's fake "skin" is visible.)

Gaussian Blur, when appropriately and discriminatingly applied, can be a wondrous way to enhance the beauty of models. But grossly over-applying this effect almost always results in amateurish, phony-looking, and, quite frequently, absurdly distorted pictures. The gross, artfully-failed, application of Gaussian Blur only qualifies as invisible distortion to the blind and to those who are seriously and, for the most part, aesthetically-challenged. When GB is crudely and blatantly applied, suspension of disbelief quickly flies out the window.

Here's the deal: Next time you sit down to process some of your worked-hard-for, pretty girl, images, exercise a bit of restraint. Ask yourself one, simple, question: "Does this look really really good or really really phony?" Whenever you can successfully and honestly answer that question correctly, you'll find your images will often spark better responses from their viewers.

The gratuitous eye-candy at the top, pimping her cute but smallish chest puppies in an attempt to distort reality, is Alexa. I shot this last fall or winter, I can't remember exactly when and I'm too lazy to take the time to figure it out.

P.S. If you're interested in learning some effective techniques for lighting and post-processing images of your subjects, techniques that are well-suited to achieving invisible distortion, I recommend adding Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies, by Lee Varis, to your photography library. I own a copy and refer to it often.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Naughty and Perverse Photography

I always thought of photography as a naughty thing to do -- that was one of my favorite things about it, and when I first did it, I felt very perverse. -Diane Arbus

If Ms. Arbus had clairvoyant vision and could somehow have seen the future of photography--specifically, the advent of digital imaging and the far-reaching power of the internet--I wonder if she would have viewed her words as understatements?

Personally, I believe Ms. A was being flippant when she made those observations. But flippant or not, the sheer numbers of photographers and snapshot-shooters shooting "naughty" and "perverse" imagery is staggering. I guess that's what happens when you put cheap, no-brainer, image-capturing technology in the hands of the masses and afford them a high degree of anonymity in both the production and distribution of their images.

Interestingly, some of the major, retail, purveyors of digital, image-capturing, devices--you know, those guys who make a very good living selling that cheap, no-brainer technology to the naughty perverts--seem to be holding on to mores that would seem more appropriate to the era of Diane Arbus and her contemporaries.

Recently, I joined the online affiliate programs of two of the really big, photo-gear, retailers. Initially, they welcomed me with open arms: "Dude! Where ya been? About time you got with the program!" But then, sometime later, they decided to cancel my affiliations with them. Why? Something to do with nude images on my blog. Not porn images but nude images.

Okay, it's their party and they can invite whomever they want. But it still kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

IMHO, if the uber-talented Ms. Arbus were alive today and she authored a blog that included some nude images of beautiful, young, women, I'll bet these online retailers wouldn't have much of a problem enjoying an affiliation with her. After all, she's Diane Arbus, a celebrated photographer. If Diane Arbus wants to photograph and distribute images of naked chicks on the internet, well, she's Diane Arbus.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not comparing myself to Diane Arbus, not even close. But there's still something hypocritical about some companies' potential willingness to partner with celebrated photographers, almost regardless of the content of their images, yet refusing to do the same when it comes to uncelebrated photographers. Seems to me, if you're going to draw a line, a morality line, it should apply to everyone across the board.

Perhaps, with some companies, it does.

Perhaps, with others, it doesn't.

If a photographer of some esteem shoots images that some people might consider pornographic (whatever that is) and you're willing to hook up with them to make a few bucks, but you're not willing to do the same with other photographers because they don't have the same juice as the famous shooters, your a freakin' hypocrite, plain and simple. It seems fairly black-n-white to me. (But then, I'm a kid from the 60s.)

Okay. Maybe I'm being childish, idealistic, and naive. No, not "maybe," I *am* being childish, idealistic, and naive.

We all know that celebrities don't spend the same amount of jail time for the same offenses as us common-folk do. And famous photographers can shoot pretty much anything they want and it's art, pornography included. But if some schlep shoots the same kind of stuff, maybe even shoots it as well as the big-shot-shooter, it is what it is... it's porn.

Oh well. ¡No problemo! I'm just venting-- Screwing with the man, raging against the machine, and all that good shit. Who says free enterprise if free? Damn liars! Its always had strings and compromises and always will. Screw them. I'll buy my stuff from AMAZON.COM. They don't seem to have a problem with pretty girl shooters.

Otay, 'Panky. I'm done with this overdone rant. And yes, I do feel a bit better.

The two pretty girls at the top, seemingly about to get naughty and perverse, are Kayla and Alexa. Shot these pics a few months ago with my naughty and perverse Canon 5D while in a naughty and perverse mood. Had Diane Arbus been on the set with a camera that day, her no doubt superior and possibly naughty and perverse images of Kayla and Alexa might be framed and displayed inside the doors of some major retailers.

Then again, maybe not.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


(Professional) photographers are like hookers: at first we started doing it because we liked it and it felt good, then we kept doing it but only for our friends, and NOW we're still doing it but are charging money for doing it! -Dean Collins

Does any of that sound familiar? It does to me. Except I think Sir Collins left-out the part where we did it/do it only for ourselves and with ourselves.

Hmm... Maybe I shouldn't go there. I might have to rename this post, "Photobaters."

But as a PhotoHooker (and, it seems to me, I'm becoming more and more of one) one of the things I miss is that I seem to shoot less and less for myself and only for myself-- For that 125th of a second of self-induced gratification that feels good only to me. (And doesn't have to feel good to anyone else.)

Yeah. I miss being a Photobater.

I don't know why I shoot less and less for myself. It's not that I have an arrogant attitude about it: You know, where I'm full enough of myself to say, "I get paid to do this. I don't do this for free. Not even for me." Heck. I've shot plenty for free. And, if truth be known, I still do. Yep, I'm still willing to shoot for free. But free isn't really for free. Mostly, it has strings. Personal and private strings. There usually has to be something in it for me. Something other than personal gratification. It might be as simple as being willing to shoot some stuff I haven't shot before only if I can see that, by doing so, I might open up new avenues that will, eventually, bring about new, income-producing opportunities. Of course, that's not really doing it for free. That's shooting seemingly for free but with an agenda. Shooting for free--totally for free--is doing it for the sake of doing it and nothing more.

Somehow, all that doesn't sound very artist-like... or, at least, very photographer-like in the truest sense of being a photographer.

Do hookers enjoy sex less because they're only having sex for the sake of being paid to do it? Do paid photographers enjoy photography less because they're only photographing stuff for the sake of being paid? I don't know. I feel that way sometimes.

But then, why do I spend so much time thinking and talking and reading and learning about photography? Why is it such a big part of my life? Not merely from an occupational perspective, but from an everything perspective. Why does so much of my personal life seem to hinge on things related to photography? Why are so many of my relationships photography-related? At least, in some way.

Photography consumes so much of my life and so much of my time that one would think I'd be even more motivated to go out there and shoot pictures for no other reason than that picture is there and it needs to be captured!

Someone, someone who is close to me, is that way: I don't believe she loves photography more than I do. But she seems more "genuine" and "unconditional" in her love of photography than I am. It is a quality, amongst others, that I admire and love and, I'll admit, I envy about her. She will point a camera and shoot with the least provocation or motivation. She also shoots for pay--yeah, she's a photohooker too--but shooting for pay (or for future pay or career advancement) certainly isn't a requirement when it comes to photo-capturing the world around her.

It is so obvious, to me at least, that there doesn't need to be anything special in it for her other than the joy of pressing a camera to her eye and clicking away. It seems this incredible photographer needs no more reason to shoot beyond her intense love of the craft, as well as the personal and creative satisfaction she experiences while while capturing all that attracts her eye and creatively stirs her curiosity.

There was a time in my life when I was that way. When I was like her when it came to shooting pictures. It's hard to remember now. Fortunately, for me, we're with each other a lot. I'm hoping some of her pure and simple love for photography will rub off on me, re-igniting what I once felt: The burning desire, at least occasionally, to shoot for no other reason than there's a camera in my hands and something in front of me that screams to be photographed.

Today's gratuitous eye-candy is Devin. I shot that image of Devin last year. I'm scheduled to be in Sin City for a few days this week to shoot more of Devin. Hmmm... Vegas in August: Should be about a hundred-and-twenty degrees in the shade while I'm there. Can't wait.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Big-Shot is a Little-Shot That Kept Shooting

Today's title is a quote. I came upon this wonderful quote not too many moments before sitting down to write today's update. The quote is attributed to wedding photographer, Amanda Caldwell.

"A big-shot is a little-shot that kept shooting."

Man! Ain't that the freakin' truth? Shades of "The Little Engine That Could," but aimed at photographers!

It doesn't mean, of course, that simply because you keep shooting you'll end up a big-shot shooter. What it means, at least to me, is that all big-shot shooters started out as little-shot shooters and kept shooting until, eventually, they made it to big-shot-shooter status.

Wow! In that simple axiom lies a lot of truth... and hope!

How many times have you looked at an image, captured by some big-shot photographer, and thought your own stuff is every bit as good as the big-shot's work? Has thinking that way made you feel good about yourself? You know, good about yourself as a photographer? Does it make you feel smugly proud of your big-shot-looking little-shot work? I don't know about any of you but, whenever I start thinking these kinds of thoughts, it makes me feel a bit unappreciated and like I'm being cheated out of something that should be mine. Oh! Pity poor me: Mister Legend in his own mind.

What's worse, thoughts like these sometimes make me feel a little bitter.

But what will self-pity and bitterness--justified or not--do for my career? For anyone's career?

Abso-fucking-lutely nothing! NOTHING! Not a freaking thing!

But if I turn those feelings around and view my own, obviously-biased, self-assessment from the perspective of Ms. Caldwell's quote, it offers a glimmer of hope. Maybe even a bit more than a glimmer.

"A big-shot is a little-shot that kept shooting."

"A big-shot is a little-shot that kept shooting."

"A big-shot is a little-shot that kept shooting."

It's my new photographer's mantra. I'm going to keep telling myself that every time I look at some big-shot's work that, I believe, isn't any better--maybe even not as good--as my own.

"A big-shot is a little-shot that kept shooting."

Yep, that's what I'm going to keep telling myself.

And who knows? Maybe someday someone will be looking at my work while saying to themselves, "A big-shot is a little-shot that kept shooting."

Or, maybe not.

That little-shot-snapped-by-a-little-shot at the top is Faith. MUA was Lilian. I used a pic of Faith because I thought her name is appropriate for this post. Faith's image was faithfully captured with my Canon 5D and an 85mm cyclopean eye. I used three, modified, monolights and a white bounce card to light her.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I, Cyclops

It is essential for the photographer to know the effect of his lenses. The lens is his eye, and it makes or ruins his pictures. -- Bill Brandt

Like the Cyclops of Greek mythology, photographers have only one eye that truly matters! (i.e., while capturing, with film or sensor, the world around them.)

Sure, you might be using two eyes -- the eyes nature gave you -- to select, size up, and artificially light whatever it is you've decided to point your camera at. But when it comes down to those moments, those fractions of a second, when you're actually capturing images, only one eye matters: That cyclopean eye that is your lens.

When we come into this world, nature gives us the skills necessary to use our biological eyes. We don't need to consciously learn or be taught to focus and adjust. We don't need special training to learn how to open and close our pupils, i.e., to adjust our natural apertures for varying intensities of light. And no one has to show us how to adjust our perceptions of color for changes in the light's Kelvin temperatures, whether we're out in bright sunlight, in a room lit with incandescents or fluorescents, or when candles are all we have to light the way.

Some of us, though, decide to become a Cyclops, a photo-Cyclops, when viewing and recording the world around us. Nature, unfortunately, doesn't help us out much when it comes to learning how to become photo-Cyclopes. (Cyclopes, BTW, is the plural of Cyclops... and, yeah, I had to look that up.) Anyway, we need to learn new skills, through practice, study, and trial-and-error, and to effectively observe and record our world with a single eye... and an artificial eye at that!

Fortunately, photo-Cyclopes have many eyes to choose from. And those choices include eyes of varying degrees of quality. It's a no-brainer figuring out the better the photo-cyclopean eye, the better the resulting images will be. That's why I often suggest that shooters upgrade their glass, rather than plunking down their hard-earned bucks for many of the new camera bodies that are routinely dangled, like carrots, in front of the noses of the world's great, camera-consuming, photographer-herds.

What's really cool about all this photo-cyclopean stuff is that PCs (photo-Cyclopes) can decide on being wide-angled PCs in one situation (in order to see and record more of their world in a single image) and then decide on being, say, telephoto-Cyclopes in a different situation. (Zooming in close on their camera-prey from afar... try doing that with your biological eyes!)

Cooler still -- beyond wide-angle cyclopean-eyes and telephoto cyclopean-eyes -- PCs have many, many more choices and selections: Primes and zooms, and from fish-eyes to wide to normal to telephoto to extreme telephoto! That's because different eyes are better suited to different subjects and different situations depending on how an individual PC wishes to record the image. (It also keeps the manufacturers of these cyclopean-eyes realizing profits.) Photo-Cyclopes can also adjust the apertures of their mono-eyed selections in order to reduce or expand the depth of field, i.e., the distance in front of and behind the subject that appears to be in focus. And for fun or effect, PCs can use filters and other accessories in order to produce different sorts of results.

The key, of course, is deciding which cyclopean-eye to use in different situations or when shooting different sorts of subjects. Medium telephoto PSEs (Photo-Cyclopean Eyes) are often preferable when shooting glamour-style, pretty girl pics. These longish PSEs are well-suited for flattening the depth of field, giving the PC better abilities to direct the viewers' attention within the images and to "pop" the subjects from the background.

I know much of this is remedial for most of you. And some of you might be dazzled by my metaphorical abilities, juxtaposing Cyclopes and photographers and lenses and eyes, while others are simply baffled by my bullshit. (I know I often am!) The point I'm making -- and yeah, I do have a point to make -- is that, in my opinion, too many shooters are constantly drooling over newly-released camera bodies when, in fact, they should be drooling over the best in glass and optics! Regrettably, I used to be one of them! A camera-drooler, that is.

Of what use are lens and light to those who lack in mind and sight? -Anonymous

The two-eyed, too-heavily-processed, pretty girl at the top is Lorena. I shot this two or three months ago. Image captured with a Canon 5D with an 85mm photo-cyclopean-eye.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Light is Your God - Models Are Your Goddesses

Yesterday, I went off on an ephemeral, Zen-like, trip about light. I sometimes have days like that. It must have something to do with my Buddha-belly.

Today, after reading a post by Candy, at the Feminism Without Clothes blog, my focus is a bit more grounded. Although there's still some ethereal residue clogging my neural synapses, my brain is focused on the Earth-bound goddesses that grace our viewfinders.

I've worked around a fair number of other photographers. I generally place them into two categories, leastwise, when it comes to pretty girl shooting: Those who objectify models and those who don't. Don't get me wrong. I don't think, for those who seem to objectify models, it's always an indicator of their general attitudes towards women. (I ain't a shrink and I'm not going to pretend I can write, intelligently, about behaviors guided by personal attitudes.)

Some shooters, I believe, take on an objectifying demeanor (with their subjects) because they're uncomfortable photographing babes, naked and otherwise. Others, again IMO, do so because they've shot so many of them it becomes rote and repetitive. (Too often, I fall into the second category.) And, of course, still others are this way because that's simply how they roll.

Of those who don't *seem* to objectify models while they're photographing them, there appears to me to be two sub-categories: Sincere and insincere. You might argue the insincere shooters belong in the same category as those who objectify their models but, for me, writing this update, it's easier to keep those people apart.

Rather than boring everyone by writing a lengthy discourse on each category and sub-category I've listed, let me simply say this: The work that I consider my best work has always resulted when I've NOT objectified the model and when I've been sincere about it.

I know that sounds easy and overly simplistic but, often for me, it's not. I've shot I don't how many pretty girls, probably a thousand or more, and it is so SO easy for me to either objectify the body posing in front of me or for me to go on auto-pilot and snap away while lathering her up with insincere praise. The hardest thing for me to do, especially given the time constraints I'm often faced with while shooting, is to personalize the model and to reach out and attempt to gain honest and sincere rapport with her. When I do, however, the results are almost always much improved from when I don't.

It doesn't matter how effectively and dynamically I light the model, how much attention I pay to detail, or how cleverly creative I think I'm being, when I manage to secure a positive, sensitive, and harmonious model/photographer relationship in that brief time we're working together, the proof is almost always in the pudding.

The smoking (hot) pretty girl at the top is Cytherea. I captured the image about a year or so ago. I'm told Cytherea has quit the biz, has a new man in her life, moved to Utah or Idaho or somewhere like that, and has had a baby. Congratz Cy! I wish you all the best.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Light is God

And God is light. At least, so say many religious folks. And on this subject, I happen to agree with them.

As a photographer, light is everything. It is our God. It is the brush we paint with and the altar at which we pray. It conveys so much! Quite often--more so with people photography--it is the one, single, element of our work that makes our images shine. (Pun intended.)

Light embellishes the story within our images like nothing else: Sometimes with subtlety and nuance, other times quite obviously and with great drama.

If you are a serious photographer and you're not praying at the altar of light, you'll be hard pressed to rise above snapshot-taking status. Sure, it's important to know your camera gear--how to use it and wield it like the photo-equivalent of a Samurai warrior--but knowing your gear and knowing how to use it is only part of the battle. The road to photo-Nirvana is the path of light.

I know I'm sounding like a zealot. And I suppose I am something of a zealot when it comes to the subject of light. Yeah, I spend a fair amount of time keeping up with what's new in the world of photography. And I spend even more time learning how to use the tools of our trade, be it gear or processing software or whatever. But in my heart, I know it's all about the light.

When I was a kid, about ten or eleven, my right eye was seriously injured. It resulted in me having to wear patches over both eyes for months. When your blind for a substantial amount of time, you really learn to appreciate your sight. And you realize, after being deprived of it for some time, that light is everything and darkness sucks. It was soon after this injury--while still having to wear a patch over my right eye for about another year--that my Dad bought me my first camera: a Yashica Penta J, 35mm SLR.

Man, talk about an eye-opening experience! (Not just the return of my eye-sight but the sudden appearance of a camera in my life.)

Suddenly, once again, I could see the world around me. And now, I could capture what I was seeing! As I learned to wield my new, world around me capturing tool, I quickly realized that it was all about the light. Few things, besides photography or (admittedly, though not recommended) temporarily losing your sight, will make you so keenly aware of the light that envelopes our lives.

Okay. I'm done preaching and acting like a Zen-hole. Here's some practical advice: Quit drooling over every new iteration of a camera these companies keep coming out with. You say you're a pretty girl shooter and you've got some spare dough to spend? Spend it where it will do the most good, leastwise in terms of improving your people-shooting skills and knowledge. Spend it on lighting gear. And if you don't have much to spend and can't afford those Hensel or Broncolor lighting instruments, a high-priced beauty dish or that big, super-duper, Chimera softbox, or even an extra Alien Bee to toss into your lighting arsenal, spend it on simpler, inexpensive tools-- Reflectors and modifiers and things that control the light. Then learn how to use this cheap and simple gear. Take the Dean Collins test and use one light source and begin adding reflectors and white cards and flags and panels to make that one light seem like many. Once you can pass that test, repeatedly, your ready to begin adding more tech-gear to your camera and lighting armory.

The pretty girl at the top, almost posing like Venus standing in that big scallop shell, is Charlotte. Three lights--one in front of her and two behind her--as well as some modifiers, reflectors, and controllers, were employed capturing the image. I think those freckles of her's are pretty damn cute. MUA was Lillian. The garish eye makeup was, uhhh... someone else's idea. As a side-note, no gobos were used or injured in the production of this image. And, once again, resolution and image artifacts courtesy of Google.

Monday, August 20, 2007

JC's Girls: The Movie

photography, glamour, models, photos, glamour photos, photo, portfolios, lighting, modeling, fashion, digital photography, photography, glamour photography, fashion models, glamour models, nude, lingerie, boudoir, glamour portfolios, books, white-balance, photography workshops, digital photography, videos, glamour videos, photography videos, photoshop videos, photoshop, glamour photograph, glamour modeling, digital photography tips, glamour photos, portfoliosToday, I spent my afternoon in a screening room on Sunset in Hollywood. I was there to view a nearly-complete cut of my good friend, Bill Day's, new, feature-length, documentary film: "JC's Girls."

If you haven't figured it out already, the "J" and the "C" stands for the initials of that famous carpenter from Nazareth.

All I can say is "Wow!"

Bill has created something truly special. After working on this project for over two years, his documentary chronicling JC's Girls' story is terrific! It has so many elements that makes it wonderfully entertaining: An engaging, off-beat, subject with a sometimes touching, occasionally disturbing, and often-times comedic story-line that, in small, subtle, yet noticeable ways, mirrors some of the important political and religious issues that are playing out in today's world. It has it's share of humor, pathos, love, hate, bigotry, redemption, and inspiration. It's not so much a film that celebrates religion and Christianity... or knocks it. If anything, it celebrates the human spirit, affording the viewers a sneak-peek into the lives of a few, special people who rise above intolerance and hypocrisy and stand by their convictions-- Some of whom you might least expect it from.

Not to be a name-dropper, but I sat in the screening room with my friend, Ramon Menéndez. Ramon is also a good pal of JC's Girl's producer/director. Some of you might remember an award-winning feature-film Ramon wrote and directed back in the late 80's: "Stand and Deliver." Also at the screening was Michael Miner. On Michael's impressive writing resume, along with a bunch of other work, is a little film he penned called, "RoboCop." The documentarys principal character, the beautiful and charismatic, Heather Veitch (pictured), also attended.

JC's Girls tells Heather's story: A one-time glamour model, stripper, and soft-core porn actress who, after pretty much hitting the moral bottom and emotionally struck-hard by the untimely death of one of her erotic-entertainment friends, pursues a personal ministry reaching out to strippers, porn stars, and hookers. But it's a bumpy ride for Heather, the church she attends, her minister, and the girls that make up JC's Girls. And many of those bumps are where you'd least expect them from... or maybe exactly where you'd expect them from, especially if you're as jaded and cynical as I am when it comes to a lot of this stuff.

If you're wondering why I'm writing about JC's Girls on my glamour photography blog it's because I'm proud to say I'm one of the flick's supporting characters. I play me. (How's that for typecasting?) And my role consists of... well, it consists of me being the jaded, cynical, pretty girl shooting photographer who, for some conflicted (and maybe not-so-conflicted) reasons, donates his time and services to the girls' cause. But I'm not exactly Mister Good Guy. I'm sort of the comedy-relief "serpent" to Heather's "Eve" if that makes sense. There's more of me than anyone needs to see in the film, including a bunch of footage where I'm shooting the JC's Girls in my studio, lots of the images I shot of them, and a trip to Las Vegas. (Where I accompanied these holy hotties as, uhhh... sort of--believe it or not--their Sin City spiritual guide and chaperone.) So anyway, yeah, I feel like a star. Maybe I'll get some head-shots and go find an agent?

I'm not sure when Bill's documentary will be finished. I know he's planning to submit it to the Sundance Film Festival and elsewhere so it should be done quite quickly. After it's available, I'll be enthusiastically recommending it to everyone.

A few of Bill's other documentaries include:

Our Land - Nossa Terra - For some, the struggle to preserve the Amazon rain forest is about abstract notions related to global warming and climate change. But for the Kaapor people of the Brazilian Amazon, preserving the rainforest is much more basic. It’s about survival.

Missionary Positions - A multi-award-winning, comic, documentary about two, young, Christian pastors on a Quixotic journey to fight porn. From the Red Light district of Amsterdam to the porn sets of Los Angeles, these two guys are the funniest porn fighters you will ever meet.

Saviors of the Forest - Nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, this comic odyssey follows two "camera guys" into the rain forests of Ecuador in search of the "bad guys" responsible for the destruction of the environment. Is it the loggers? The oil companies? Or two guys with a camera who need to record falling trees for their documentary? Shot in the style of Michael Moore, Daily Variety said the film " as funny and honest an expression of good intentions gone awry as any documentary you're likely to see."

The pretty girl at the top is Heather. Some of my images of Heather and the other JC's Girls have been published in quite a few newspapers and magazines around the world. Heck, Playboy even used some of them! (Sorry about those artifacts in the image. Blame Google. They own Blogger and I'm uploading to their servers. They reduce the file sizes quite a bit.)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Google's Bot is a 'Tard

I'm afraid I'm going to have to rant a bit. This particular rant has nothing to do with photography other than it effects me, a photographer, plus this *is* a photography blog. So, for making you endure a non-photography related rant, I apologize.

Anyway, Google's bot is a 'tard!

There! I've said it again.

Here's what I'm talking about: You might notice that Google AdSense ads appear on this site. But when you sign up for Google's program, there's no way to tell Google what your site is about. No, that would be too easy and might actually involve live human beings! (Other than those, I suppose, who are doing the signing up.) Why doesn't Google use humans to process this information? I'm guessing for the sake of efficiency and because Google is so very, very high-tech in the way they do things.

You see, Google has a bot, i.e., a robotic computer program, that--automatically and all on it's own--crawls the web and looks at its affiliates' sites and decides what those sites are all about. Then, after collecting the data--in the form of often-used keywords--the bot feeds the data to some other program and this program then decides what each site is about and what advertisements would be appropriate to place on each site. Sounds good, no?


There are tons of posts on Google's AdSense forum where various people either ask for help or offer explanations on how to trick the bot into knowing what their sites are actually about. Yep! The tricky bot needs to be tricked.

But it seems the tricky bot isn't duped too easily and, often, people have to jump through keyword hoops of keyword fire to trick the wily bot. All this in hopes of getting Google to actually place content relevant ads on its affiliates' sites. I wonder if the people paying Google to place ads for them realize how difficult it is for their ads to end up placed on sites that, well, that make sense for their placement?

What happens when the wily Google bot can't figure out what a site is about? It places PSAs (Public Service Announcements) for stuff like Katrina Hurricane Relief on the site. Trust me, I know this because I've had those PSAs on this blog many times. You see, even if the tricky bot correctly figures out what a site is about, it's not satisfied to leave things well-enough alone. (Talk about human characteristics!) Nope. It goes out, periodically, and re-figgerz the figgerin' and then, sometimes, changes the ads it decides are relevant. For some odd reason, Google's high-tech approach to this doesn't seem to notice that when people actually click on the ads, because they ARE content relevant, that maybe, just maybe, it has it right. That's why I've had PSA's on my site, intermittently, as the bot first figures what the PGS blog is about (and people begin clicking on the ads) and then, later, decides it doesn't. (And people quit clicking on the ads.) A Doubting Thomas bot! What will they think up next?

Then, other times, the bot gets confused. A confused, doubting bot. (Sheesh! More human characteristics!) Anyway, here's an example: A word I often use on this blog is "shooter," as in Pretty Girl Shooter. Well, that just messes the bot up sometimes and guess what? When it does, Google starts placing ads here that appeal to gun enthusiasts. I guess, more specifically, gun enthusiasts with an interest in shooting pretty girls. Apparently, to Google, there must be a large-enough demographic of gun-toting, pretty girl shooters out there. Enough to warrant content relevant gun ads that might appeal to them, that is.

Okay, I'm done ranting. The pretty girl at the top who, hopefully, no one will decide should be shot... with a gun, that is... is Paola. I shot, I mean I photographed Paola a month or so ago. Easy to look at, ain't she?

BTW, as of today my participation in Google's AdSense program has earned me a whopping $12.22! And those ads, whether they've been content relevant or not, have been appearing on this site for quite a few months. (Google will cut me my first check when my earnings reach a hundred bucks.)

At this rate, I should receive my first check by Christmas, of 2008, and I might be able to comfortably retire off of Google's AdSense program in a century or two.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Pretty Girl Shooter DVD?

I'm discussing producing a Pretty Girl Shooter video, make that a DVD, with a documentary-film production company. If we produce it, the program will be instructional and focused on a lot of things I've talked about here, on the blog. We're looking to produce something that, in addition to its "how to" aspects, will be fairly entertaining. A couple of hot models should certainly help out with that.

We also want to keep the production budget reasonable so the DVD can be offered at a great price. I'll probably be calling in favors for this production. That's one way to keep some of the costs in line. At the same time, we want the program to have good production values and not look like some cheap, shot-from-the-hip, amateurish production. That means we'll have to spend some dough in the right places.

For the past few days, I've been working on an outline for the show. There's a lot of material I'd like to cover but I don't want to overwhelm the viewers or ourselves, the producers.

For instance, we'll probably have to choose between an emphasis either on studio lighting or exterior, natural light. I'm thinking we'll probably focus on studio lighting, although that's not set in concrete. Keeping the production in a studio environment gives us better control over production logistics. But a lot of shooters venture outside, under the sun, and that's important for many. I suppose if we can figure out how to include both, and still not get into a runaway production situation, we'll try to include both.

Lighting and the tools of lighting, whether in the studio or outdoors, will be a major subject in the video as will posing and working with models in general. Makeup, hair, and wardrobe will also be covered. I'm not sure how much the subject of post-production will come into the picture. Certainly, I want to cover this subject to some degree but I don't want a big part of the DVD to become a Photoshop tutorial. (There's plenty of those out there in the marketplace... as if I'm qualified to give one, anyway.) I suppose the best thing will be to cover production techniques that help make the post processing experience more efficient, less difficult, and one that yields better results.

Besides the major subjects I've just mentioned, there's probably a whole lot of other stuff that could be included in the DVD. I'm open to anyone's ideas. If you would like to input or make suggestions or lend us your thoughts, you can do so in the comments section of the blog or by emailing me. Hey! Wouldn't you love to see your name in the "Special Thanks to" part of the credits? Just for providing some good, usable ideas we didn't think of? Well, if so, put your thinking caps on!

The pretty girl at the top is Roxy. MUA was Dehlia. I shot Roxy this past week in the same photo-unfriendly location I shot Victoria. (See previous update.) This time, after extracting Roxy and the hideous sculpture from the white wall, I took a different approach to making a composite image. Eventually, I might become somewhat competent at making these composite images. Or, maybe not. Oh well.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Photo Shelter Hosting "Town Hall" Meetings

A tip of the hat to the Photo Business News & Forum blog for the heads-up on some upcoming, free symposiums, hosted by Photo Shelter and heading for a major metropolitan area (possibly) near you.

If you'd like to register for these free events, you can do so by clicking HERE.

Looks like they're going to be interesting meetings with photo-stellar panelists discussing the business of photography in the digital era. Unless you've been living under a rock, I'm guessing you're aware that the web and digital imaging have probably had the greatest impact on professional and amateur photography since the introduction of SLR cameras.

I've signed myself up for Photo Shelter's Los Angeles area "town hall meeting," and hope nothing gets in the way of my attendance... you know, like work. (It's over a month away and who knows what might end up on my schedule in the next month or so.) That aside, I'm looking forward to attending.

Regarding a more personal and selfish matter, I want to thank all of you who have purchased stuff from Amazon using my affiliates' link. It ain't like I'm getting rich off of it but I am getting paid in Amazon gift certificates and what's better than free books? Okay, maybe there's lots of things better than free books but thanks anyway! The first couple of books I'm planning on purchasing with my gift certificates are Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting, along with Michael Grecco's Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait: The Art of Celebrity and Editorial Photography. I've heard some really good things about both these books. And in case you weren't aware of this, you can purchase plenty of other stuff, other than books, from Amazon. Stuff like photography gear! Yeah baby! Gimme some more gear!

The pretty girl at the top is Victoria. I shot Victoria a few days ago. The location kinda sucked: They had me shooting her in a fairly small room against a white wall with that God-awful sculpture next to her. I decided to try out my skills(?) using PS's extract tool and putting something other than the white wall behind her. I have mixed emotions about the results--I ain't a Photoshop wiz--but I think it looks better than the freakin' white wall. MUA was Dehlia. Image captured with a Canon 5D w/28-135mm IS USM zoom, ISO 100, f/5.6 @ 200. Two lights and a white reflector to light it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Strobes Performing Double-Duty

photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, glamor, photography, glamor, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photographyToday's Strobist features an interesting, "how-to" article titled, Using Specular Reflections as a Background Element. It includes examples of the technique as well as lighting diagrams.

Personally, and although the background thing is a neat trick, I think the title slightly belies a more useful practice: Lighting techniques that allow instruments to perform double-duty.

In my last update, I wrote about using less lights and still achieving effective results. In the Strobist's most recent update, a single light source--in this case, a small, portable, strobe--effectively lights the subject while also providing specular highlights on the background. (As his title proclaims!) It is useful and practical advice for photographers of all levels. But its applications are not limited to small, portable, strobes. In fact, they're mostly drawn from lighting techniques originally developed using lighting sources other than on-camera type strobes.

The reflecting-off-the-BG effect can be just as easily applied by shooters using other lighting gear: Monolights, hot lights, and that sort of stuff. In fact, although the Strobist's site is principally geared towards the use of instruments like Speedlites and other (typically) on-camera strobes, most of the Strobist's advice can be applied to nearly any artificial light source. I'm not trying to lessen the value of the Strobist's articles--small, portable, inexpensive, strobes are his site's hook--but those using other lighting sources should bear in mind that his articles have more universal applications when it comes to lighting people and other subjects.

In my style and genre of photography, I'm fairly confident I could achieve the same (or nearly the same) results I'm getting using small, portable strobes. Sure, there would be production, work flow, and application limitations to deal with but, in most cases, I think I could achieve very similar results. Why don't I routinely use on-camera strobes as off-camera light sources? Mostly, because I don't want to deal with the limitations of less power, slower recycle times, and smaller aperture light sources... that sorta stuff. Do I own any on-camera strobes? Yeah, 4 or 5 of them. Will I ever use them in multiple-light setups? Yep, in situations where it's more practical and convenient for me to do so.

The pretty girl at the top is another image of Aurora from last week's shoot. MUA was Vera. Images of Aurora were captured with a Canon 5D w/ 28-135 IS USM Zoom, ISO 100, f/5.6 @ 125th. Here's the lighting setup, pretty much the same as in my last update, but with the key and fill flipped the other way and, unfortunately, with the umbrella-modified monolight deciding, for whatever reason, not to fire. Because the strobe didn't fire, I had to drive some of the luminosity levels, in post, to better reveal the set. Unfortunately, due to the mis-fired strobe and my heavy-handed PS processing, the contrast in the (below) image is a bit flat. The BG, BTW, is simply dark gray seamless that's been crumpled and then rolled out and hung.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Less Lights Still Make Plenty of Effective Light

photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, glamor, photography, glamor, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photography, glamor, photographyI'm no physicist, far from it. But in my line of work, the thing I count on the most is something I know very little about, leastwise, in terms of what it is and how it makes things visible and affords illumination.

I'm talking about light: That magical, luminous, radiant, energy composed of gazillions and gazillions of photons that go shooting through time and space, seemingly self-propelled at 186,282 mi./sec. in some mysterious way I cannot fathom. But my lack of understanding of this physical phenomenon doesn't prevent me from using it, modifying it, bending it, bouncing it, and, (dare I say?) controlling it for my own, photographic purposes.

One way I'm able to make photographic trickery using this thing that I don't understand is by envisioning it as something other than what it is, i.e., to consider it in terms that I'm able to grasp in a decidedly non-scientific way.

I imagine the photons that make up light as if they are fiery ping pong balls. For example, when I'm employing artificial light sources, I envision the light coming from each source as if they were intense, expanding, fiery, ping pong balls, hurdling out from each source as the strobe fires, growing exponentially larger (yet with less power to illuminate) as it moves further away from that source. And like playing ping pong, I know I can bounce those fireballs off of things, not necessarily off of each other, but off of reflective materials that I set in their paths. I also know that, like in a game of ping pong, those fiery, ping pong balls will bounce predictably.

BTW, if you're thinking I've lost it or I'm currently under the influence of some drug, mind-altering substance, or whatever, you'd be wrong... at least this time you would be. This is simply how I see the light. And it helps me to see it this way so that I'm better able to utilize it in my photography.

photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photographyI was on a set recently and one of the (video's) lighting guys was watching me set up for some shots. He said, "Wow. You're really old school, dude." I asked what he meant, other than I'm old, and he explained that he doesn't often see photographers make much use of reflectors and/or bounce-boards when they're setting up strobes.

"And that's old school?" I asked, a bit skeptically.

"Yep." he said.

"What do they use?" I asked as I set up a big piece of white foamcore, opposite my main light, for some fill.

"Mostly just their lights," he said. "You know, with softboxes and umbrellas and those sorts of things. I don't see them bouncing much light. They mostly use more lights and modify them."

"Hmm..." I thought. "More lights means more unloading and unpacking and setting up and then breaking down and re-packing and re-loading."

Yeah. I'm lazy.

But it reinforced what I already knew: "Why use more lights when less will do?"

Now don't get me wrong. There are times when you need more lights. But then, there are times when you don't. (Please note: When I'm referring to "less will do," I'm talking about lights, as in electrically-powered, artificial, light sources, and not light, as in that magical, radiant, energy.)

I think I'm getting to a point here. I'm just not sure when I'll get there.

Old school or not, it seems to me that too many shooters count on too many lights to do the work that less lights will accomplish. And it can be accomplished by recycling the light already produced and already used in the exposure. (Helped out, of course, by the fact that it's traveling at 186,282 mi./sec. which is virtually instantaneous for photographic purposes.) In other words, by bouncing some of that light back at the target, after it's already made a pass across it, you reduce the number of sources needed. And you accomplish this with reflective materials, like foamcore and other stuff, appropriately placed so that the fiery ping pong balls bounce predictably where you want them to go. What's really cool about recycling (bouncing) light is that it often tends to appear more subtle as it reflects back on the target and then reflects back to your sensor or film emulsion.

The pretty girl in the pics is Aurora. I shot these of Aurora last week. MUA was Vera. The image below shows the lighting setup. Rather than set a light source for fill, as many shooters do, I used reflectors to bounce back some of the light that's already performing other chores in the images. Personally, I like the look of reflected fill light better than using an instrument to provide it. But maybe that's just me?

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Photography Books

photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photographyThe good folks at Amazon love to send me emails with recommended books to purchase. Their suggestions, of course, are often based on purchases I've already made with them. I suppose, in Amazon's mind, if I bought one book on a given subject, I might be interested in just about any book that is similar to the book I've already purchased. That seems logical. And who can argue with Amazon's phenomenal success?

Unfortunately for Amazon, because I bought one book doesn't mean I'm interested in other books that are somewhat similar. If I buy a book as a gift for someone, one that I'm pretty sure will interest whoever I'm buying the book for, it doesn't automatically mean I'm interested in other books that are similar to the book I purchased. Thankfully, Amazon doesn't abuse my email address: They don't get carried away sending me scads of emails with purchase recommendations.

The other day, though, Amazon sent me a book link to a title that has captured my interest and I think I'm going to purchase it. It's called GIRLS, MONEY & SEXY SNAPS: What really happens when a girl strips naked for a photographer?

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, it should be fairly obvious why I might be interested in this book: I make my living shooting girls who strip naked for photographers. And while I could probably write my own book about what really happens (and, dammit, doesn't happen) when girls strip naked for photographers--I've shot many, many of them--this title's description still captures my interest. I wonder if any of you have read this book? If so, I'd love to hear a few words about it in the comments section.

Last week, I was rummaging through my storage room--it's in one of those monthly-fee storage facilities--and I came across a box that contained a bunch of my photography-related books. I hadn't seen them since I gave up the studio. I was pretty jazzed about finding my photo books and I scooped them up and brought them home.

Having, once again, convenient access to my photography books has me thumbing through them regularly... again. It's interesting that the books I've always thought of as the the most useful in my collection still remain, in my mind, the most useful.

Photographing People: Portraits, Fashion, Glamour still tops my list as a creative and practical lighting guide. It's a cool book with tons of great images plus, and this is a big plus, easy-to-understand lighting diagrams and descriptions for each of the images. The book isn't so much for beginners as it it is for those who already have a decent understanding of both studio and location lighting techniques. As such, it doesn't spend time rehashing the basics which many shooters are already aware of, and have gone past, in their photography evolution. Instead, it cuts right to the chase with its diagrams and descriptions of how various shooters achieved the images included in the book. And some of those photographic images are truly outstanding!

Another book I'm quite fond of is Scott Kelby's The Photoshop Book for Digital Photographers. This is a really practical photoshop guide with easy-to-use techniques for improving one's images in post. The edition I have was published before Photoshop CS2 and CS3 were released and, as such, it doesn't include the new tools included in Photoshop's latest iterations of its venerable image processor. (I believe there's a new edition that targets CS2 and maybe even CS3.) But it works for me! I'm a PS/CS user and haven't yet upgraded to either CS2 or CS3.

Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies is another excellent and wonderful guidebook and I refer to it often enough to more than justify its purchase. Personally, though, I prefer books that stick to one subject--like either lighting or post-processing--than books that try to cover too much ground.

I suppose much of the information found in the pages of many "how to" photography books can be located, for free, on the web. But there's something about having actual books in a personal, library that I find more helpful and more satisfying. Personally, I don't think the web will ever fully replace "hard" copies of books, leastwise I hope it never does. Yeah, I have a few e-books on my hard drive but, for whatever reason, they don't seem like much of an exciting part my personal library.

The pretty girl at the top is Aurora who, by the way and just to be a name-dropper, has worked with Markus Klinko & Indrani, a wildly successful photography team whom I'm a big fan of. MUA was Vera. I photographed Aurora this past Sunday and I'll be featuring a few more images from the shoot in upcoming blog updates... I'm pretty happy with some of the images that resulted from my shoot with Aurora.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Same-Old-Shit Blues

photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photography, photographyRecently, on the most excellent Fluffytek Photographic Art blog, the very articulate Lin wrote about whoring one's photographic art for (gasp!) money. I commented thusly: "There's no rule that says artists need to be "starving artists." Yeah, I know you guys aren't starving. But just because you get paid for your artistic endeavors, it doesn't mean you're whoring your art. It simply means others appreciate it and are willing to pay for it."

In response, Lin posed a few questions to me and I thought I'd take a stab at them.

Lin: Do you ever get bored, especially on the days where you do the same thing over and over? Does the passion for your art still wake you up at 5 a.m. and grab you by the balls with the idea for a new style of image?

Jimmy: Truthfully, I have to say no. (To that part about my balls and new ideas.) Curiously, though, I have this constant, nagging feeling that something new, stylistically new, is slowly brewing in my head and will eventually take shape and percolate to the surface. I know there's an idea that's about to burst into my consciousness, leastwise it feels that way. Unfortunately, the sensation is very frustrating. Almost sickeningly frustrating. It's like having photographic blue balls. This thing, this feeling, always seems just out of reach-- invisible, intangible, and almost phantasmagorical. It's like a word or a name or something that's on the tip of my tongue and I can't quite think what it is. It is a sensation that truly sucks. And yes, I'm often bored out of my gourd... young, beautiful, naked models notwithstanding. But it's what I do. And I'll keep doing it as long as someone pays me to do it or until that new, exciting, incredible, fantastic idea finally reveals itself.

Lin: No doubt you shoot some more um... edgy stuff...which really fires your imagination. I'm talking about the photographs you take which really "move" you. We'd love to see them, but I suspect you don't post them on your blog...or if you do, you don't say you had an emotional response to the Art. My question is, do you ever post your more "edgy stuff", and if not why, not ? And do you ever show the new experimental art (which rocks your world) to prospective clients? Or put it on your web site?

Jimmy: Here's where my answer gets even more depressing, at least for me, then what I've already said. I don't shoot much "edgy" stuff these days. The edginess has been beaten out of me. (Leastwise, for now.) When I did try to shoot "edgy," my clients would say things like, "What's with this artsy stuff? What am I supposed to do with this artsy shit?" I would answer with things like, "Did I shoot everything you needed?" And they would say, "Yes, you did." Then I'd sometimes add semi-colorful comments like, "So throw that other stuff in the trash and shut the f__k up! I gave you what you needed." Eventually, I quit shooting that other stuff. I'm generally shooting on someone else's dime and, since I want them to keep writing me checks for my work, I've decided to simply give them what they want and little more. But when that thing I talked about in my first answer finally becomes evident to me, then I'll start shooting it... and posting it. I hope this wasn't too depressing an answer. I know there's a lot of shooters who would love to get paid to shoot what I shoot--the grass is always greener and all that crap--but until I start waking up in the morning feeling like my balls are getting grabbed by what I'm going to shoot, I'll keep doing what I'm doing. I guess I am a whore and I have sold out. (Personal Note: I think I just did something of an about-face on my original comment to your blog update, Lin. Sorry about that.)

The pretty girl at the top is Marie. MUA was Dehlia. I shot Marie the other day. I used the Channel Mixer for the conversion to B&W and then added a bit of sepia with the Photo Filter tool. Whoop-dee-doo! How's that for an exciting, new style? (Not!)