Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Brussel Sprouts and A Globe

Big suitcases do not pack themselves. Nor is there any magic to figuring out what to bring on a trip that includes 3 weeks in Australia, 2 weeks in Northern California, 2 weeks in Portland and Seattle, almost a week in Los Angeles and 1 week in Central California. This is not my first time to have a mixed weather and wardrobe need trip to pack for, but even as I am going on 5 years living on the road, the task of putting together my suitcases never becomes easier. I need ample wardrobe for some long day bookings in Australia, warm weather clothes for my daily meanderings in hopefully sunny climate, but when I return to the United States, I have a feeling flimsy dresses will leave me shivering and goosebumpy. Also, being around my family requires slightly different clothing than clothing I may wear while feeling gypsy-like, for obvious reasons. 

Yesterday was an errand running day, and today a packing and loose ends sorting day. Blogging will not directly help me decide which pair of shoes, sweater or shirts to pack, but if I sit on my wood floor surrounded by belongings for too long, I may scream. One of the essentials I purchased yesterday was a new palette of makeup, because occasionaly I am allowed to be glamorous and that requires a bit more makeup. The kit with eye shadow I purchased has some great colors, and exactly the blush and bronzer I need, but I do not need to contour my face with a product that smells like chocolate, and no, mascara is never "better than sex" as the container proclaims. And this bright, pink sparkly bag that was a special bonus item is 5000 percent too girly for me.  I understand marketing to girly-girls but this packaging is almost embarassing. I can show you when I'm next in your studio making myself look all fancy.

Right now I have delicious brussel sprouts cooking on the stove, but in two minutes I will eat these tiny orbs of green goodness and get back to work. 

Yesterday I my reward for the hours of checking things off of my "to do list" was a short self-portrait session with globe, brussel sprouts and random items acquired by a model.

Brussel sprout scepter, the world in tiny form, pink girly bag all on a coffee table

 Me on a coffee table, masked by the world, with a bit of guitar peeking out, and a painting of Nettie Harris, Myeand the Moon by Howie Doyle

If I were the queen of strange, the world could be my hat and brussel sprouts my scepter

The fact that I think these items can combine for an acceptable portrait session probably demonstrates my difficulty in packing a bag, because almost anything can become useful...somehow....

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Outdoors...Then the Dog Climbed on me

Photographed by Michael Cordiez

When shooting outdoors in public places, selecting the right location, an early enough time, having a robe that goes on and off quickly, and a fair bit of luck comes into play. Usually the circumstances in which I have faced problems with being seen, have been the shoots where we behaved as though we were actually working in a private environment, simply because the area appeared to be clear of any potential onlookers.  The correct way to shoot in public places is to be cautious and respect that what you are doing may be illegal, therefore is best done in a way not to be caught.

Some photographers who wish to photograph outdoors with a nude model feel they receive less “work” from a model because getting to a good location may take some hiking, waiting for the right moment to shoot, and quick shooting. What is forgotten is that any good model is actively involved in all of this and that time in an environment is absolutely part of the shooting process. A model listens and watches the place to be sure there is no one around, which from a safety standpoint is important as there is always a bit of risk on a public location, a risk which they are often willing to take for an amazing and artistically inspiring “set” to work. But more central to your art is the fact that a great model will be figuring out how to fit into the environment, even while still covered up in their clothes. This thinking will allow a model to move quickly and pose expertly in a short amount of time, minimizing the time visibly nude and maximizing the camera time. Many photographers understand they will likely have less shooting time per hour for many locations, but feel this a fair tradeoff for the great photos they can take. 

I have heard stories of photographers with stopwatches, clicking on and off with disrobing and robing. The idea of this is abhorrent for art shooting – the entire time someone is on a location or arriving to the location with someone, they are working. Their mind is in the project at hand, they are absorbing the location and ideas are beginning to simmer. I have little office job experience, but am realistic about the amount of time spent actively doing an exact job, rather than the necessary lost time in the process, that is life of many of the people I know in mainstream career paths. A model is working the entire time they are with you, and your goals are the same - great photos together wherever you are shooting. Walking around a location to find the best rocks to shoot on, to find that building with the best abandoned equipment, or hiking a bit further to be farther from the road is all part of a shoot and time well spent.


One morning in NYC, Daniel B met Inna B-G and I at a nearby subway station, handed me steaming caffeine in a cup, and we headed over to the Red Hook part of Brooklyn to shoot in the park behind Ikea. The location was deserted and the rising sun just barely above the horizon. He had scouted this secluded place before deciding that we make this our shoot place – always a wise plan for time efficiency, because in the event of too many people and detection, a shoot would suddenly be ended without a suitable back-up plan. For each of several sets, Inna and I quickly disrobed, threw our clothes out of the way and we worked for a handful of minutes before dressing again. The only people around were two dog owners and their dogs, who did not seem as though they would mind our nudity if they stumbled upon it. I had a huge laugh when getting into a pose and one of the dogs came over and started to climb on me. 

 Plus One
Inna  B-G and Myself
Photographed by Daniel Brustein

Inna B-G and Myself
 Photographed by Daniel Brustein

 Photographed by Daniel Brustein

We timed our shooting to do the most visible locations first, while we were certain no one was around, and as the sun rose, we primarily shot on the large chairs behind bushes. At the end, I braved complete visibility on pier structures (every model has their own comfort level and the height and visibility did not appeal to my counterpart), knowing few people were out, and hoping I was adequately far away from the main park that if someone did see me, I could hop down, put on my dress and deny complete nudity. (For NYC, I have a flesh colored thong when I remember this, and am prepared to say I was wearing just that).


Photographed by Staunton Photo

Recently I did have a truly pulse raising experience. The site where the photographer and I worked together was just past a No Trespassing sign near the edge of the shore of a park in Virginia.  No one was on the beach, and we paid little attention to the fact that a ranger could have driven by and spotted us, and at one point a ranger came nearby, flashed their truck lights, and we walked a few yards out of the off-limits location. I had a flimsy white dress to use in the water, and we continued, dressed, for a while before going up to leave. That was when a police truck came, and followed us, until pulling us over. We were given a warning much to my relief, but had to find another place to shoot and were incredibly shaken. The officer did not have to let us off on a warning - we had truly been lucky. The photos we did at a nearby ship dock were beautiful, and a completely different style – not part of our plan, but for outdoors shooting a bit of flexibility is required.

Photographed by Staunton Photo

Monday, October 6, 2014

Simple Living

Across from Ricky's place

I’m on a string of days off from shoots, and am removed from my usual daily existence. As I sit sipping on a cup of coffee in an Asheville bookshop, I realize my hair is messy, my face shinier and my spirits calmer than normal. I spent one night camping on my friend’s plot of land, on a slanted bit of land and woke up crunched near the entrance of the ten, then had a night of quiet and solitude at her father’s home while he was out freezing at a party, and last night I was in the home my friend has been given to use for the winter, where she and another family will make repairs in exchange for lodging. Time without other people around me is extremely precious, but time with loved ones in a situation where conversation is so removed from my daily discussion of my job and art photos is also a much-needed part of my life. I have built my lifestyle around my current job, but recognize even if not working as a model, I am still the same basic person. 

I was to meet up with a friend yesterday morning, but when the clock crossed noon, and morning was over, I decided to find myself a bit of a nature trail to hike on my own before driving to where she lived. I had two hours of walking and reading near a stream before I sought out my friend, which ended in showing up with a few hours to help clean her new home and entertain her housemate’s children. For the next day and night I became the cook for all three hungry families, cleaned a little and found myself with two young shadows.  My time with my friend and her group of families was a reminder of my experience in South America, meeting people and suddenly becoming part of their family. The father of the two boys noted that I was a take -charge woman, which was a change in their consensus central community, and invited me to stay for a while. While I am at home in an environment where simple living is the goal, I recognize that I am a person who likes to feel productive and like I am in forward motion, so a simple life is not one for me. In South America I was contented to care for children, cook and clean, and not push forward with work or excitement on a frequent basis because I was actively working on my Spanish language skills and that was a project. But while in the US, I ultimately prefer the forward moment of being everywhere, even if I sometimes yearn for a small piece of a home for myself.

David and Daniel G

Reading or writing with children by my side is nearly impossible, because I have not learned the art of encouraging children to leave me alone, but at least that means I have adorable photo subjects if I am sneaky enough with my camera. I love portraits of people, but always feel I am invading peoples’ space when I have my camera pointed at them – this is something I will have to overcome if I am to improve as a portrait photographer.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Time... Solitude....

Time seems to move increasingly fast with every year. My theory is that each year becomes a smaller proportion of my overall life, and feels smaller accordingly so. When you are seven years old and have an entire summer laid out ahead of you, those three months are 1/28 of your life, now turn 28 and a full year is 1/28 of your life. Notice how that is exactly the same relative portion?  I have now been back in the United States and modeling for almost as many months as I was gone last year, and once three more weeks pass, I will have been back just as many months as I was away. In just three weeks I will be flying to Australia, then the same amount of time later, I will be returning to the US. 

I spend far too much time looking at my schedule, time which could be spent just living and accepting the amount of work I do or do not have, will or will not have and rolling with my plans. Time is often a conundrum to me, the same amount of time can feel long on occasion, yet can also drag out slowly. And all that likely changes is mind frame and the activities during the time.

I like to work, I love to be busy, but my mind spins in circles when thinking about work. Am I working enough? Too much? What is enough or too much?  As for time off, how much time off is reasonable to schedule for myself, and what is a useful way to spend my precious time off? And why can I justify huge periods of time off, yet not want to stop looking for work and working when in “working mode”? These are some of my own questions that I have begun to find balance in. I avoid scheduling shoots in such a way which will leave me too exhausted to work, because no one likes an exhausted model and I certainly am not interested in making creativity and life more difficult for myself.  But as a freelancer, sometimes we set aside personal days, to find other dates cannot be filled with work and that leaves us with more days without work, which is never helpful. The concern of too many days not working is likely a contributing factor to the rapid pace of my schedule, but I honestly feel I thrive from being busy and in motion.

But sometimes standing still, even if just for a moment, is a necessity. Yes, even an energetic model like myself guiltily hides in a home, on a couch, eating ice cream, and lettuce with hummus and watches too much TV on occasion. Last night I was confronted with the option to go to a camping party with one friend and his group of friends, drink around a campfire, shiver on a hard truck bed in a sleeping bag for the night, and exchange laughter and stories while trying to stay warm. The social aspect sounded fun, but the almost freezing temperature, my back currently yelling in pain and the lure of a semi-warm home, a couch to myself and absolute solitude  won out. I needed this night to myself, a night of talking to nobody, even if I was probably missing out on some great fun.

Fortunately, the previous night I was at another friend’s plot of land with her new community members, sharing stories over a bowl of warm tomato potato soup before climbing a ridge to sleep in a tent, and I will be with these people again tonight,  this time with a couple of bottles of wine. My life is not full on working then seclusion, but I every time I choose to be by myself, I do have to give myself permission to take the “loner” option. 

I'm fairly certain I have had on average one night in a home or hotel room to myself a month this past year, with those the only nights I have gone to bed with a full several hours awake without hearing another human speak to me. My little kid self would proclaim, "that's a lot of time alone, weren't you lonely?" and my adult self would reply, "child, you just wait until you grow up a bit. A little solitude may prove essential."

Friend Tasha and daughter Kalina

Home to some


The first chilly morning on their land

One lives a different life when here
Marshall, NC