Monday, July 28, 2014

DC Area Workshops August 7 and 10

I have a couple of workshops coming up in the DC Area and would love to see more people come out for them. These are small groups and about individualistic shooting, rather than a big shoot out. The best art is created between model and photographer, and that is the emphasis of these shoots.


Photographed by Brooke Lynn
Saint Merrique and Keira Grant
Rossland, Canada

Thursday, August 7 in the afternoon and evening, I am involved in a beach shoot with a couple other models, on Assateague Island. The other models involved are:
Keira Grant:
St. Merrique
The group is limited to 6 photographers and the $300 fee for the workshop includes all of the models' travel time (rather far from DC and Baltimore) and a full 4+ hours of shooting time in rotation with the four of us models. I have heard about this location and seen images for years, and am excited to finally be able to reach this beautiful beach where I can shoot nude art images without problems. I know the location is a bit of a drive and trek, but this promises to be a wonderful shoot. If interested, contact me at or contact ChipBulgin directly at

David Nonetknowles Photo
Berkeley, CA

 Andrew Kaiser
Portland, OR

Ken Prevette

Monday, July 21, 2014

Underwater Modeling

I love waking up to the sounds a farm. Chirping birds, crowing roosters, an occasional moo, and the soft sound of water being heated for coffee.  This morning I have the pitter patter of small babies accompanying the collection of animal life, and as daybreak turns to day, the sounds amplify with each waking friend and housemate. I am in Marshall, North Carolina, in the home of a couple of friends, and a place currently occupied by several of their friends and their children. Being here has reminded me how incredibly much I enjoy a simple lifestyle with family, young children and friends around, and at the same time, how beautiful my own personal freedom is.

When working, I love the momentum of a busy schedule, driving or taking the train from one great shoot to another, but also sometimes enjoy the relaxed pace of one or two shoots a day. A schedule where I can slowly get prepared for my day of work, or use a long break in the middle of shoots to spend time doing the much needed networking aspect of my job, or have a bit of time at the end of the day where my brain still functions at a capacity to work on my schedule. This bit of the trip has been a relaxed one, with more time to visit some friends I have not seen in several years. After a four hour drive from Atlanta, I ended up north of Asheville, with my friend I met through Couchsurfing on my first road trip through Arkansas many years ago. When I first started traveling as a model, I sometimes used the online community of  Couchsurfing to meet hosts around the US to stay with, while doing my tours in slightly less work-centric parts of the country. I stayed with my friend Tasha and ended up with a place to stay right outside of Asheville when she suggested I might like to hang out on bit of countryside where her father was living. Now Tasha has been living in the area for several years and I can visit both while in town.

I just came from Atlanta, where I spent one full day of shooting. A morning shoot appeared to be on the brink of cancellation, but with the photographer's enthusiasm about working with me, and my hard headedness in regards to letting a little bit of rain deprive me of work, windshield wipers vigorously swishing, I was driving to an outdoors shoot location at 7:30 in the morning. At a local park I met up with a group of four men speaking Chinese, and we hurried along a path to a barn. For a while we were able to work under the protective roof of the barn, but wanting a bit more variety for our photos, I swirled around in the wet, and increasingly wet, grass, water spilling down my face, arms, and every bit of body exposed. Apparently we had set off an alarm when sneaking under the gate before open park hours, and we were told we were not supposed to have come in before 10 am, but at that point, the 10 AM mark had already passed. When I jumped outside to the rain the first time, one man joked that I had learned Chinese, as moments before he had suggested in Chinese to a fellow photographer that I go outside in the rain and grass.

I had a short break between the closure of this shoot and my next, and used the time to find a bit of food, as is quite necessary for an energetic model, and some makeup foundation that I was about to run out of. That required going to the mall, which is one of my least favorite activities. I was able to use a Macy's gift card I received about a year and a half ago and had somehow never used until then (perhaps because I hardly ever go shopping anywhere besides at thrift stores and tend to buy my makeup from other places).

My afternoon shoot was amazing. I have long been fearful about my competency in regards to modeling under water, as my contact lenses and water do not mix well, but I am now completely over that concern. As a model, I never want to commit to a shoot that I am not confident I can do, and do well, so I have always been hesitant about doing underwater shoots. I am always interested in learning new skills and having new experiences with my modeling, but when it comes to someone hiring me for a shoot, I want to be certain we can achieve the goals of the shoot. I had tried underwater photos with a tiny black backdrop floated into the water about 4 years ago at a festival, and with a photographer who was new to underwater photography as well. That shoot lasted about fifteen minutes and gave me the impression I needed much practice before being able to market myself for this kind of shoot. But the other day I showed up at a shoot and was surprised with the pool idea, and I was going to jump headfirst into this project and show I could do this. By jump headfirst, I mean walk gradually into the water then submerge myself by bending my feet and thus lowering myself into the water. I had taken out my contact lenses beforehand, because contact lenses shrivel up like the wicked witch of the west when on my eyes and exposed to water. The day was a bit overcast, and the water certainly not warm, but my momentum with breathing, pushing myself under water, and swimming and posing with my eyes generally open, then returning to the surface for a breath of air once I was able to free my mouth from my hair, kept me going for a long time. The photographer, Perry Julien, used a GoPro with a waterproof casing, and a small weight belt to help keep him from floating to the surface. There was another model with us who joked about her inability to submerge herself and I countered that I could not float unless moving, and proved this to be true when the two of us did back-floats and she floated easily and I had to periodically kick my feet to keep from slipping under the surface. When I was much younger I loved swimming, but grew up and became pool adverse. Perhaps just the need for bikinis or swim suits was the real deterrent.

There was a learning curve with working underwater, but after I figured out some details which do not seem as thought they should be so complicated, but somehow suddenly are when you are used to using one skill set on water, and now have to submerged in water, devoid of oxygen, with chlorine in your eyes, and maintain a pleasant look, there is a switched to be turned in your brain. I spent at least an hour and a half in the pool, with alternating ups and downs to breathe and do photos, and was thoroughly invigorated.

One more skill added to my repertoire - underwater modeling.

Photographed by Perry Julien
Instagram @freespiritsphotography
Models: Keira Grant and Michelle Honeywell

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Amazing location!

The big road trip has begun - correction, my big road trip has begun.
I am currently in a coffee house in Birmingham, Alabama, enjoying my low key day of setting up some shoots for later in August, visiting a friend I have not seen in about two years, and of course a small amount of shooting, even if today was deemed a "day off."

I had a quick shoot in a home which essentially looked like a museum. This man had his own artwork all over the place, and an immense collection of art, antiques, taxidermy and religious art which I suppose still fits under the art category. I had been well warned before entering the masterful collection of items which were combined to create rooms of majestic, and bizarre, grandeur. Life sized statues stood in corners and hung from ceilings; animal skins softened the floors; religious paraphernalia lined cabinets, next to mannequin hands, animal remains, sculptures of friendly creatures. The rooms featured rich colors, with one room boasting reds and yellows with all of the now flattened and trampled upon jungle animals which were reduced to just their gorgeous skins, and combined with deep brown woods which comprised the cabinets. The main room had works reminiscent of the renaissance era, paneling painted with primary colored royalty; plush, pillow clad sofas filled the center of the room, so beautifully decorated that you dared not sit on them.

Unable to resist, I first donned a tough, leather pregnancy mask. The size was about right for my proportions and if being pregnant is anything close to as difficult to maneuver in as this extra, round bulk, then I admire woman who can handle the beginning stages of motherhood. (I am fairly certain true pregnancy is much worse than my temporary costume.) Next my animalistic weirdness emerged when I cloaked myself in a beautiful skin. There was a table with animal feet, which I had to curl under as well, because I was just the right size. I braved the plush couch, to pose with the panel of art behind me, but only after gingerly intertwining my limbs in a seated skeleton. The creepy dolls, and adorably deceased varmints too my attention for a few photos as well. And as tends to happen with this particular photographer friend, and when confronted with so many religious signs, we created our own religious art - a variety which would not meet the approval of my Catholic relatives.

 Photographed by Warren Hukill

Photographed by Edward Badham


My current itinerary includes some extra days off, a huge list of locations, and an abundance of happiness. I would love to meet you in one of these areas, or on a small detour from my route.

July 16 - 17: Birmingham, AL 
July 18 - 20: Atlanta, GA 
July 21 -24: Asheville, NC 
July 25 - 26: Boone, NC 
July 27 - 30: Raleigh, NC 

July 31- Aug 1: Virginia 
August 2 -4: DC 
August 5 - 10: Baltimore 
Aug 11 - 12: Delaware 
Aug 13 - 14: Philadelphia, PA (and surrounding area) 
Aug 15 - 18: Morrisdale/State College, PA 
Aug 22 - 31: NYC (New Jersey/Connecticut) 

September 2 - 4: Albany, NY 
September 5 - 7: Boston (Massachusetts/New Hampshire) 
September 8 - 10: NYC 
Sep 11 - 13: Gettysburg, PA 
September 14 -16: Washington DC/Baltimore
September 17 - 21: Raleigh 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

On Feet

La Coruna, Spain
Los Menhires

Where have your toes been? What ground have they touched? What textures, colors, temperatures, smells have wrapped around them; what places have they been in? Do you take off your shoes when you have a moment in nature, when you might be resting on a rock, watching the waves rock back and forth after a mellow stroll? Do you walk down a beach, street, parking lot, grassy knoll barefoot or keep your soles protected from the world around you, hidden in shoes?

Shoes have their purposes, and there are times when we need to protect ourselves, but whenever it seems appropriate I find myself peeling these constrictive things off my feet. An airplane ride, long bus trip and even occasional car drive merit the removal of my shoes. Going to a place with water flowing certainly has me barefooted. I like to dig into where I am and feel connected; if the roots of our bodies are our feet, the soles of them can be planted firmly into the ground. If making this comparison, perhaps the tendency to be barefooted more often when in nature than on man-made surfaces is a logical extension of the fact that plants do not grow from most man-made materials, and if they do, they usually find the cracks within to begin their life.

The more time we spend with our feet in the elements, the better equipped they become to bearing the conditions. Remove yourself from a shoe protected existence for just a moment and you will find the textures difficult to handle, but spend a bit more time feeling stones and their sharp edges under your skin and you will eventually adjust. Your skin will thicken, perhaps becoming less pretty to a superficial world but your feet will be stronger, and more useful. They will be better for this.

As an art model, I occasionally choose to file down some of my hard earned callouses. Bitter as this may be, I play with the balance between hardened feet which help me when working outdoors - skipping from rock to rock, sliding over gravelly surfaces, dancing around pine needles and thorny plants, and sneaking around broken glass, and my studio work where skin as close to perfect is preferable - skin which has not marred by the effects of too many indulgences and thus cellulite, daily collisions with household objects, scrapes and bruises from moments in nature and hardened, or ugly feet from a low shoe usage existence or walking in abundance in certain shoes. During summer seasons when outside more frequently I away to the side of practical feet rather than flawless, because that is what makes sense. I always have some level of beauty and inability to withstand some elements, because balanced is my preferred way for my feet to be.

 Macchu Picchu, Peru

 The Amazon River, Ecuador

 Outside of Seattle, WA

 La Coruna, Spain fortress

When I travel, most of my photos have me on the other side of the camera, making the photos rather than in them. When working as a model, I am of course always in the photos, as I am not the one taking them. If in a place by myself, putting my feet in the foreground is my way to have photographic proof of my presence. Sometimes my feet are in shoes, sometimes not. I could stand to have a few more snapshots of myself, but have not embraced the concept of "selfies" and am not convinced I need to be in photos of places enough to bother asking someone to take photos for me. Fortunately feet and shoes are almost always photogenic, because even when not, no one can tell.

I leave you with a few images of where my feet, and thus my body, and mind and heart have been.