Figuring This Out
I've spent a while in the creative (I hesitate to use the word "artistic") wilderness trying to come up with a good answer to a question like: "What the fuck are you trying to do with your photography?" Sometimes people ask me this and seemingly expect an answer. Usually I respond with something about aesthetics mumble mumble.
I took my first photos on a decent camera around 1979, and bought my first camera (either an AE-1 or a T70, can't remember now) in 1986, but it wasn't until 2008 that I started photographing models. Maybe I should have started doing that sooner, as aside from a few things like auroras and assorted oddball opportunities, photographing people is the thing that motivates me to use a camera now. I started shooting nudes in 2009 and I discovered Zivity, and so began the "good old days." I shot around 15 sets, half of which were editorial picks; I was shooting twice a week, sometimes, with a full time job. This included shooting gobs of film for various reasons and developing and scanning it at home. I loved shooting the type of work that Zivity wanted.
Then, as Bill Murray says in Stripes, "Depression set in." Literally. I stopped handing in shoots; I stopped editing. Then I stopped working any day job at all, and eventually, having nowhere to go, I moved to Alaska near family for a 4 year stint as a very unemployed cabin hermit, punctuated by a couple of abortive attempts to get back to work in the tech world. Eventually as I was nearing a decision about whether to find a "life" on Social Security disability (anxiety was completely ruling my life), I had another couple of great recruiting opportunities, that I followed up, and in a couple of months I did actually have a great job back in the Bay Area, back with my old braha running on all cylinders again. It was a very strange thing but also a wonderful thing.
Anyway, what does this all have to do with Figuring It Out?
Well, what am I going to do with my photography for now? After putting some effort back into it, especially since last November, I've come to some conclusions:
Because I like it so much, I'm going to keep shooting "Zivity" sets: Female models in sets of roughly 8-30 photos, clothed or not or in between (it actually doesn't matter). This is the "fun" goal. Aesthetics, personality, environment, storytelling, mise en scene, et cetera are the things I used to pay careful attention to and I don't intend to do any differently. Better, if possible. Of course there's no Zivity any more, so I don't know what I'm going to do with these, although I do have the Patreon. But it's a creative outlet first, and anything else, I'll worry about later.
I want to create alternative/historical process photography. A friend of mine got me hooked on this. This is probably the "art" goal. It turns out that the large volume of photographs created in (1) is helpful in finding good images for (2), so this dovetails nicely. I've been working on salt and albumen prints. I also want to do color gum bichromate. Maybe some crappy gallery will have mercy on me and show some of these some day, should I not suck forever.
Themes. There are some models that I work with or that I would like to work with who might not find (1) very interesting, but I wouldn't find looking for "the pose" for (2) that interesting either. So I need a few other orthogonal ideas to pursue that aren't "sets" per (1) but that give me the opportunity to take enough photographs that I can settle down on some looks and poses that I like.
I know this still doesn't sound like much of a plan.
Whatever. It's my party.
Casey and Leela
Looks like I'm shooting again! Wow. A lot of 2018 went by without me taking any photographs of humans. Or taking many photographs at all for that matter.
I visited everyone's favorite couple at their pad in Daly City late in 2018 and took a bunch of fun photos for the "family album." I've had more shoots with Leela than with any other model -- actually, she's a great friend who happens to enjoy making photos. She's always up for up for something sexy and silly and she's always full of ideas and spontaneity. I don't want to sound weirdly bubbly, but I love it and I always working with her and hubby Casey, and hanging out afterward.
Here she's posing with Casey for Instax Mini in front of their "honeymoon" wall. We had just started to shoot and we couldn't quite get the right vibe until she put on the sunglasses. Then the magic happened!