Shooting in Phoenix with Plush

Going back to my time in Arizona late last year for today. A few days before I left for the trip, I got a message from Plush who I’d worked with while in Phoenix back in 2012 right before leaving Phoenix on that trip. She’d moved from Phoenix right before my less than successful summer trip, but was visiting the city again at the same time I’d be there. I only took a couple of days in Phoenix this trip, and the schedules worked out that all three shoots in the city were the same day.

I’d had a late night before, so getting up early for my shoot with Plush took a little effort and even than a little coffee. I also found that the batteries for my flash had been left in my hotel the night before and so I had to make a quick walking trek to a nearby grocery store to buy batteries. After several days at higher elevations it did feel nice to walk outside without a jacket for a couple of days.


With my time constraints we didn’t have the chance to get outside for this shoot and so worked out of my hotel room. I enjoyed working with Plush again and she’s developed as a model in the last year. We started with a glamour set in lingerie, before moving to a bit more casually sexy outfit. You can see some more from this set in the member’s area.Plush-2013-11-12-235

We wrapped up with some art nude styled images taking advantage of an interesting wall hanging with some nice texture to it. Also tried an interesting concept here with some shallow depth of field. I like how they came out as seen in the photo below. Also more from these two groups in the member’s area.Plush-2013-11-12-288

More with Melissa Jean

At the end of the shoot with Melissa Jean we tried something with some cloth that had caught my eye in the studio. There’s an assistance off screen blowing air at Melissa giving the movement here in her hair and the cloth. I like the way this cloth catches light in these photos and it’s already inspired another concept I hope to work in soon. For now here’s a few more from that shoot.

Melissa-Jean-2013-11-03-52 Melissa-Jean-2013-11-03-55


Again you can see more of these and others with Melissa in the members area.

Horseshoe Bend

One last photo for now from my trip to Arizona. Near Page, Arizona there’s an interesting meander in the Colorado river name Horseshoe Bed. It’s about five miles downstream of Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell and a probably just over a mile round trip hike off US Route 89. Like the slot canyons in the area, this is best photographed when the sun is high in the sky. I was limited on time as I had spend much of the morning and midday in slot canyons around Page and had to be in Phoenix early in the evening.

This worked nicely as while this is a lovely spot, it doesn’t require a lot of time to view. It’s a stunning view and the photos don’t really show how wide of a scene it is. Here’s my photo showing the bend assembled from several smaller images.


Light Painting with Leanne in Phoenix

Earlier I posted a few photos done in the fading light near Phoenix. After the sun set and the darkness came in, we switched to something more along the lines of light painting. Here instead of using a traditional flashlight, I used a headlamp that I’d brought for the hike out in the dark. It worked great as a bright small light source to light up Leanne and the area around her and leaving the desert around her in darkness for contrast. These are close to the same area as the last photos.

Leanne Leanne LeanneAfter we finished the photos, she and I donned headlamps and prepared to head back to my car. This meant a short hike back through the area we knew might have those annoying little cacti in there. So we carefully made our way to the nearest trail with neither us of being stuck. Once there we checked each other’s feet. Leanne had avoided further cactus, she’d gotten one on her flip flop earlier. I on the other hand had four of the tiny little balls of potential pain stick to the sole of my shoe. I’d chosen not to wear hiking boots and instead had on only my trail running shoes which the spines would have gone through with no problem. Thankfully all had stuck in the thick soles and were easy to remove before heading back to the car. In short, those little cacti are evil.

Leanne was my last shoot in Phoenix. I left the city the next morning and in doing so went from a temperatures near eighty when I arrived at the Phoenix airport to barely above forty degree when I landed in Nashville. A nice trip and enjoyable one. I’m hoping that my schedule will take me out west again next year and we’ll see if I can make my way back into the desert again.

If you’d like to see more from this shoot, please visit the members area.

In a Studio Melissa Jean

Sometimes the hardest part of a shoot is scheduling. When Melissa Jean came through the area in early November the two problems I had were my pending trip to Arizona that I was finishing getting ready for and a location. Normally when shooting inside I work out of my home. In a few cases I’ll work at a hotel or the model’s home. In this case I was able to rent a studio at a very reasonable rate from a photographer in Knoxville. We started with some lingerie photos before moving into glamour styled nudes.Melissa-Jean-2013-11-03-3Melissa-Jean-2013-11-03-12

Melissa had brought a shawl with her and it brought to mind a spaghetti western outfit. There was a suitable cowboy hat lying around the studio so we did a little with that idea and I think it came out well.


As always I also worked in some art nude styled work. Most were more traditional black and white styled images, but I really loved this one that we did during that group in color. I love her pose and expression here. The really intense eye contact works wonderfully and Melissa just exudes such an intense expression here.


As always, you can see more from the shoot on in the members area.

A First Beginning

Once upon a time it seemed during almost every shoot the model would ask me some version of, “How did you get started in photography?” I rarely hear it anymore. I assume that’s because I’ve been working long enough now that how I started seems less interesting than what we’re going to do that day. Also possible that I’ve just gotten so much better at small talk during shoots that models don’t need to go to their standard bag of questions to fill the silence.

I bought my first digital camera embarrassingly early. That camera was little more than a toy and useful only for taking photos for web pages when speeds were measured in bits per second and not megabits per second. I came into photography through art. I started drawing and painting the nude, and then thought of photographing the nude. Moving to nude photography took a while. Finding models became the hardest challenge to working often enough to build my skills. I first photographed a nude in 2005, a female friend who was mostly just curious what it would be like to see herself nude in a photo. This was before everyone had cellphones to text naked pictures to each other making it a more unique experience then. I hired a professional model for a shoot later in the year, but my inexperience really showed there.

After a few more attempts that came to nothing as I moved through early 2006. Late in the spring I connected with a model traveling through the area and scheduled a shoot. She also introduced me to a friend also traveling through the area at the same time. In the end things worked out where one model would come through and we’d work one on one, the second model would arrive and I’d work with the pair, and I’d finish working solo with the second model for a while.

The circumstances for the shoot weren’t the best. I was scheduled to close on a house a couple of days before the scheduled shoot and really had no alternate plan had the house closing been delayed. Most of my belongings were in a storage shed so the only lighting I had available was a single halogen work light bought to use when renovating the house. The house had last been renovated in the 1970s and the color choices reflected that. On the day of the shoot I had only a couple of chairs for furniture and wifi had been installed late the day before. Most of the shoot took place in an empty room that’s now my bedroom.

I mainly remember being really nervous before the shoot working with both models. The first model was okay to work with, but the second model really taught me a lot about working with a model and getting good results. I learned more during that one day of photography working with these two models than any other single day I’ve had with a camera. While I had little idea what I was doing,  that second model in particular was wonderful to work with and really taught me a lot about how to work with a model. That second model was Melissa Troutt. It was the first time I worked with her. While it would be several years before we’d work together again, a quick search of this site will show how much we’ve worked together over the years.

Melissa was great, but there’s little I look at from that shoot today without cringing at the mistakes I made. Here Melissa demonstrates why you should always make sure models are well fed before starting the shoot.


There are a few gems scattered in there though. Melissa probably deserves most of the credit for those, but I do think the idea to shoot some images using candlelight worked well. A good example below and this is a lighting I need to try again sometime. It’s also been a while now since I’ve had the chance to work with Melissa, and I hope that we can work together again soon.


Thanks to those of you that stuck around and read through these last few days. As I get to the end you might wonder what the point of this was? I’m hoping as I move into 2014 that I’m making the same jump I did in those times documented today or yesterday. A moment when I can move to a better level of work and one day look back as a similar transition point. In the last few days posts I’ve documented some of those moments along the way from the past. On Monday and Tuesday I touched on some frustrations from the last year and thoughts on where I want to go moving into 2014. Wednesday I looked at the worst stretch of my photography time. One Thursday I looked at the stretch that broke that frustration and titled it a new beginning. Today I looked back at my first beginning.

Later this morning comes my first real attempt in this direction in a shoot that will push me outside my comfort zone. The results will either be amazing or a mess. It makes me a little nervous, but I think that’s a good thing. Even if it doesn’t work, then I’ll learn from it and can take that forward and try again as I explore some new areas in photography. There will still be photos like you’ve seen in the past here, but expect some new things to show up in the future.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled post programming.

The New Beginning

History is much easier to write in the past tense. Sounds obvious, but I mean that events that leave a mark often do not seem so until reflected upon after the fact. I left off in yesterday’s post at what turned out to be a turning point for me, though I didn’t know it at the time. As the middle of March 2010 arrived I knew I was really frustrated after dealing with some personal issues and  a lot of canceled or flaked shoots over the last months. So these three shoots The first of those three ended up postponing until the following Sunday putting all three shots over the course of a single week. That week turned out to be a large step into my current photography.

First of the three came Ms. Rebel, a fairly local model out of Knoxville. It’s the only time we worked together and honestly it wasn’t my most inspired shoot since I was coming off such a long gap. If I’m honest I don’t think I really expected her to show up until I got a text from her that morning that she was on her way. I hadn’t planned a lot for the shoot, and didn’t have a great plan before she arrived. I played it by ear and was nowhere as good at that as I am now. Overall though we had a good shoot. Working with her helped me get back into the routine and thought process before my later shoots that week. The photo below is of her amazing seascape chest tattoo. It’s still one of the best works that I’ve seen.


Originally I had two shoots scheduled for the late in the week, one on Thursday and the second on Friday. A week or so before the shoots the Thursday model asked to move our shoot to Saturday, which turned out to work better for me so I ended up with Friday and Saturday shoots.

The Friday shoot came with Laura New. We headed to a place that’s become one of my favorite shooting locations over time. I’d hiked there a time or two, and the thoughts of the locations to photograph held great possibilities in the late winter/early spring transition. Having not shot nudes outside before, we began with some work with her in a white dress. The photo below of Laura on a rock next to a small rapid was my favorite of the shoot and a print of photo hung on my wall for a time.


Laura was really the first time I’d photographed a model outdoors for a lengthy period of time. We got a lot of good images that day. It was early enough that while some green showed,much of the bare winter landscape still prevailed. In spots there was a lush green carpet of plant life, but feet away would have passed for mid winter. Another shot I like from this shoot is this one of her posed on a tall rock. You can see some greenery jsut behind the rock, but the trees in the background are still bare.


The shoot made for a long day, but a good learning experience. I learned on the fly to balance the changing natural light and a model both in outfits and nude. We worked in a number of locations, each a little different. Not all went well. We were caught by onlookers once with her nude, and almost caught several other times. As it ended I walked away happy with the images and feeling I’d learned a lot in a short period of time.

I also remember being completely exhausted and sore when getting back home at the end of the day. I’d started hiking the year before, but done little over the winter undoing much of that gain of endurance. I spent much of the coming summer slowly getting back into some shape. Now I do longer hikes than that day carrying more weight just to unwind after a hard week. You can also read a post written nearer the shoot along with a second with more photos.

Saturday came the last of these three shoots with Melissa Troutt. I’d worked with her once several years before when I just started out. After she arrived  we had a wonderful artistic click almost from the start. She seemed to understand what I had in mind and how to help get there. We did a little indoor work before heading out to a location because of concerns about the weather. After the day before, I chose a less ambitious hike for this shoot. We made a short though slightly strenuous trail that ended with of a wonderful waterfall. We got to the waterfall, but started in the area around it. This early photo from that day still is one of my favorite photos that I’ve taken of Melissa.


I love the expression and pose of her on the log. I remember enjoying the way she got involved in the shoot, not just reacting, but looking for ways to make better photos. We only worked the one spot around the falls, but there was plenty of variety for a long shoot. We didn’t end until we were stumbled across by some surprised onlookers. Again no problem, but with that and the lowering light deep in these woods, we did wrap up the shoot. The biggest lesson of the two days I learned the lesson to be more careful in the future was learned.

Another shot of her on the falls itself. Posts and photos posted nearer to the shoot can be found here and here.


The experiences reworked my thoughts on photography. I felt energized and ready to work harder to get better. This blog began to become more active after those shoots. I still had a number of flakes and cancellations over the next months, but more good shoots. Somewhere along the way I began to feel like I had an idea of what I was doing and began to wnat more. I already could produce good photos with models as experienced and talented and Laura and Melissa, but began to get better results with everyone. In retrospect I think that the end of 2009 and early 2010 was a dip, a sort of plateau I had to get across to get better and start getting the results I wanted. Thanks to Ms. Rebel, Laua, and Melissa, I did get there to where I couldn’t imagine the last few years without photography.

This was the only time I worked with both Ms. Rebel and Laura New. Ms. Rebel appears to no longer model. Laura still works, but I think no longer does nude work like that here. Melissa and I have worked together many times since this shoot, and I’ve come to see her as both a muse and a friend.

Tomorrow to wrap up this week I’m going to take a look a bit further back to 2006 and one of the first real shoots I had with professional models and wrap up this little series.

The End of a Phase

I took the photo below in early August 2009. The models are Candle Boxx  on the left and Kimberly Marvel on the right with a light bulb in her mouth. The two had driven up from Atlanta for the shoot. It was the last photo of the day, the end of a final comic theme around the two playing at trying (badly) to fix a problem of a blown light bulb. We ended with this Uncle Fester inspired solution. Not a great concept, but fun and they did it well. I enjoyed shooting with them on it and do like the humor in the final photo here.


I wouldn’t take another photo of a model for about seven months.

Right after this shoot a lot happened. A long term, and often tempestuous, relationship came to a final and unpleasant end. As that fell apart, two people I’d put a lot of trust in screwed me over to their own benefit. All three were involved in my photography. Some people leave a mark on your life when they leave it. Others leave a scar. After those moments, I just didn’t want anything to do with photography for a while.

I started trying to come back toward the end of the year, but shoots kept falling though (a few legitimately, but mostly just flaking models). The trend and my frustration built early in 2010. I reached the point I begun to consider if the frustration was worth it. I got as far as gathering my gear and considering putting it onto eBay and stopping completely. How close I came to that is hard to say. At the time it felt like a close thing, a near decision. Looking back I have trouble believing I would have done it, but time changes perception. Photography wasn’t as much a part of my life then as it’s become today. I don’t really know. Even if I had quite then, I think I’d likely taken up a camera again at some point. Probably I came closer to quitting model photography than I did giving up on photography completely. I do think I was close to giving it up.

As 2012 moved into mid February I’d seen little other than frustration in my attempts at scheduling shoots. Probably a few more negative experiences would have pushed me over the edge. As the end of February arrived I had set up shoots for March with three models. One I’d not worked with before, one I’d worked with early in my photographic career, and the third had been one I’d spoken with a few times, but shoots never worked out. Three shoots in March, and all three worked out well. I do wonder if they had fallen through if that might have been the push to

As part of it I also decided to look at something different and work on shooting outdoors. I’d started hiking the year before, the first step in the long road to getting into good shape. I’d even done one swimsuit shoot outside in 2009 and had found a couple of locations I thought it would be interesting to work with a model. One at a waterfall and the other with some great rock formations around. To those shoots, and why I think they kept me from quitting, I’ll speak more tomorrow.


Closing with another photo from that shoot with Kimberly and Candle. I’d worked with each model individually once before this shoot. I worked with Kimberly again in the spring of 2011 in a nice outdoor shoot. I believe she’s semi-retired now. Candle is still a very active working model and still as talented. Why I’ve not worked with her since this shoot given she lives only a few hours away I can’t really answer and need to try to remedy sometime soon.