Melissa from July, Part One – Artistic Nudes

The second set from my vacation time.  I was able to shoot with Melissa Troutt again in mid July.  We’d planned some more outdoor work, but the weather did not cooperate as rain filled much of the day.  The rain was needed after several dry weeks, so I’m not going to complain about it so hopefully Melissa and I can do more outdoors next time that she’s in the area.  Trapped indoors by the weather, we decided to go in an artistic direction for the shoot and then finished with more glamour styled images.

The only problem in working with Melissa is that you get so many great photos that it’s hard to pick the best.  So I’m going to split them up a bit.  This first set will consist of what I’d consider the more artistic nudes while the second set will consist of the more glamour styled images.

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A Couple Shoot

A bit behind due to some good (vacation) and bad (loss of a family member and health scare with another who’s now fine).  While on vacation I managed a few shoots and some images of those are coming beginning tonight.  I did a couples shoot with a local model (which is a rare thing) and her boyfriend.  She’s still fairly new and this was the first time he’d ever modeled.  Overall I think they came out pretty nice.

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A Few Thoughts on A Loss

This post is more personal and has little to do with photography.  For those here for just photography related subjects you may safely skip it.

Death is the one thing that I think defines humanity more than any other.  Alone among the inhabitants of our planet we are aware of our own mortality.  Animals feel fear of the things such as predators that may hurt or kill them, but only humanity is aware that we will never avoid every ill and someday we will die.

The reason that I think death defines us is because much of what we do is a degree a defiance of the inevitability of it.  We know that we cannot live forever, but we insist on creating, learning, and building.  We build friendships and love each other though we know that some day the loss of some of those we care for will leave us with an absence and the pain that comes from knowing a part of our life is now gone forever.  We know that the joys of the time we have together will more than compensate for the loss we may someday feel.

We also strive against this inevitability by creation.  People have children in part as a way to pass part of themselves on to the future.  Most of us try to leave the world improved in our time on it so that those who come after we are gone will benefit from the work we’ve done.  Artists create works of art do try to capture the world as it is or how we wish it to be for the future.  We all wish to leave something behind when we pass on as a marker on the world that we existed and that our time here mattered.  My personal photography is partly an attempt to capture the vitality and beauty of life knowing that it is a precious gift that should be cherished.

An uncle passed away a few days ago and I write this after attending his funeral earlier tonight.  He was a good man and lived a long and good life.  The funeral home was filled with his family, friends, and the friends of his children and grandchildren tonight.  When I say it was filled, I do mean that almost the entire chapel was full.  In the end that is perhaps the best indicator of the value of a life.

I grew up very religious, but have lost some of my faith through the slings and briars of life.  I still believe that something awaits us beyond this life and do believe that he is in a better place beyond the pain and suffering of life.  That said, I think when one is gone and is missed and loved and remembered in the hearts of those he touched in life, then one has truly cheated death by living on with those who remain.

So to my uncle I big a fond adieu and the thanks that I had the chance to know him in this life.  I also have the knowledge that I am a better person for having him in my family and knowing him.

Why Do I Photograph Nudes?

I’m currently in the middle of a run of shoots.  For some reason my artistic nude work tends to mostly come in clusters and I’m currently in the middle of a busy stretch of time.  I just came back from a short vacation and while out of town I took the opportunity to connect with a model I’d worked with a number of years ago and shoot with her. Later in the day for lunch I met a friend and the topic of my photography came up.  A question that I get often from friends came up, so let me answer the question here.  What follows is my answer to why do I photograph nudes?

I live in a rural area in East Tennessee, a place that I think by most standards would be considered conservative.  It’s a good place, with a lot of things to recommend it, but as a place to work in artistic nude photography, it’s not the center of any universe.  Doing nude photography here is hard under the best of circumstances because of the lack of good models open to nude work and a pervasive belief by so many people that nudity = sex and taking photos of nudes = porn. The later concern is not just around here though. Americans in general seem to have a bit of a general love/hate relationship with nudity, but here it’s probably worse than many places.

I’ve been asked a couple of times by close friends, ones I trust, if I worry about any repercussions from the photographic work that I do. Photography isn’t my main source of making a living, the job that pays the mortgage as I often refer to it, but more of a side job or hobby.  I enjoy my “real” job. I’m good at it and I feel it lets me make the world a better place. I know that going to a job you enjoy every day is a blessing and do not discount how lucky I am to have found that. It’s not a job where my photographic work would be a direct threat to my employment, but I know there could be those there who would be offended or somehow see it as wrong given how easily many are offended. It’s the main reason I started working under the alias of Candid Vision instead of my real name shortly after I began to work with the female nude as my primary subject of interest. I don’t hide what I do, but at the same time I don’t put a sign on my office door either.

Why do I shoot nudes? It’s because ultimately I’m drawn to the female form. That’s been the case honestly for as long as I remember. Even before I was old enough to really understand sex, something about the female shape intrigued me. When I began to start working in photography, I was instantly drawn to the female nude as a subject. In some ways it felt that I found a part of my life that had always been missing, the ability to express the artistic view of how I’ve always seen the body of a woman.

I don’t go as far as many and claim that there is no sexual aspect to the female nude.  I think that sexuality can be present in an artistic photo and that you can have female nudes with elements of sexuality and eroticism that are not trashy or pornographic.  The approach is that you treat those elements with respect toward the model and the viewer where it makes up part of the photo and not the sole purpose of the photo.  I recently took some photos that I think capture this balance and will post them soon.

Ultimately I think that there is something in many people, myself included, that draws us to working with the human nude either as models, photographers, painters, or some other form of artist.  I think we share a sense that general society’s view of nudity is missing something.  Something seems lacking in the traditional view that being nude should be reserved for specific circumstances such as our most intimate partners which leads many to the lesson that is that there is something wrong or shameful about the human body. We do not see the human body as something to be ashamed about, but something wonderful to be cherished and explored.

I’ve known models who dealt with hostility from friends, family, and romantic partners over posing nude and some stopped working because of it.  But for many something deep inside us drives us to work with the nude figure either posing nude or capture the nude form in paint or on camera.  These two groups form a symbiotic relationship as the artist needs the model to pose as much as the model needs the artist to capture them.  If I may borrow from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, this need is a higher level construct.  It is not a basic need like food or security, or friendship, but tied into esteem and self-actualization. It’s a part of what I need as a person to feel completed.  It overrides these other concerns and the opinions of those who may disapprove of my work.  That is why I shoot nudes.

East Tennessee Weather

East Tennessee weather is really quite interesting in the spring.  For example Saturday evening a model and I were out into the foothills on a shoot until within a few minutes of darkness setting in.  I wore a t-shirt and she posed nude and neither of us got cold (at least until she got into the cold mountain runoff water).  Today it was snowing when I went to lunch.  The high Saturday was a bit over 70.  The high today I don’t think made it to 40.

In any case after a long time off, partly by choice and partly from outside issues, I’ve finally gotten been able to get back into shooting.  I worked with three models over the last week, two new ones and a welcome repeat of one of the first models that I worked with after getting serious, the above mentioned Saturday trip with Melissa.  Some thoughts on the sessions and photos will be coming soon, but it feels nice to be back into shooting again.

Hello? Are you There?

It’s been about four months since my big manifesto post and I’ve not posted anything since.  I felt I probably should explain a bit.  After that manifesto I first took some time off to kind of clear my head.  As I said in that manifesto I was going to look at moving back toward artistic nude style work.  I’d learned pretty early that the number of models in this area willing and comfortable doing nudes is limited.  I knew this change of focus would reduce my pool of potential models and was okay with that. 

The problem has been that I’ve just had an amazing number of shoots not come to pass over the last two months.  I’ve had many shoots scheduled since the first of December and not a one of them came to pass.  In truth though I’ve had more frustrations than good results since back in May of last year.  That’s not to say I haven’t had some great experiences and worked with some great models, but those unfortunately have been few and far between.

Monday a model that I’d scheduled to shoot with didn’t show up with no warning and no reply to my query to her.  It’s left me frustrated and for the first time a little angry.  Usually I shrug and write it off as a lesson learned about the model, but for some reason this one irritated me more than normal.  There was nothing special about the model and she didn’t seem more talented or more beautiful and there is

My initial thought when writing this was to post her profiles to warn others, but that fell like being petty.  In the end I’m just going to chalk it up as another flaky model and move on.

If you’re a model in East Tennessee or coming through East Tennessee who is interested or poses nude and is reliable enough to actually show up and interested in working together let me know.  I’m beginning to wonder if anyone like that actually exists anymore.

Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going?

I’ve not posted in a while, once since August 1 and that was almost a test post on something just too odd not to share.  What’s even more unusual is that I’ve not shot that much over the last month.  In fact unless a possible shoot on the 30th comes about, I will not have taken a single photograph this month.  In fact I’ve only done one shoot since that last entry and that one was just a few days later.  It was a great shoot with two models that I’ve worked with before, though not together.  I enjoyed it and got some great photos from it.

I fully expected to take a pause for a bit after that shoot as I had a trip out of town followed by a very hectic period in my “real” job.  I figured that I’d be back well before the end of the month.  Then, some things happened.  Some were related to photography and some related to my personal life.  There were broken promises and lies.  There was even a bit of betrayal.  There had been some good things for me this summer, but also a few painful ones and some stressful moments.

Finally I’d just reached a point where picking up the camera didn’t seem like the most fun idea.  In fact I struggled through to finish processing photos that I still owed some models from the last few weeks because I just didn’t have any enthusiasm.  It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy photography, it was more like I just wasn’t enjoying what I was doing.

I’ve not enjoyed my work as much this year.  I’ve shot more than ever and accomplished some ideas that I’ve wanted to do.  The problem is that most of the best work from this summer I couldn’t show here because when I started I made the decision to keep the site PG-13.  I don’t think that was a good choice.  I do all kinds or work, but I came into photography from sketching and drawing nudes and truly that’s where my interest lies.  I might get paid more to take a senior photo type portrait, but in the end I want to create art that I’m proud of and my passion there truly lies in the nude.  By denying those on this site, I think I’m leaving out an important part of myself and my work.

In the end I decided to take some time off.  One good thing about the fact that I don’t make my living as a photographer is that I have that option, to just not do it for a while.  It helps to clear the mind and I’ve done it before.  The last time I did it I decided to focus more on my non-nude work.  I think I may have gone too far in that direction though.  Go to Hugh MacLeod’s page about his book Ignore Everyone: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity (which I have sitting next to me half read right now and recommend).  Read item #7 under Keep Your Day Job (it’s number eight in the book) on the Sex & Cash theory.  In short you have two kinds of work, the sexy, creative kind (sex) and the kind that pays the bills (cash).  I have a good full time job that gives me a bit of both.  I do other side work for the cash part.  I need photography to feed that creative side.

So I’m going to change my direction a bit.

  • I’m going to focus more on nude work, especially artistic nudes, but will still will do the other things.  I’m looking for balance.
  • I’m going to contact some models that I enjoyed working with and not worked with in a while
  • I’m going to go back to some projects that I’d put on hold waiting for people who didn’t deliver
  • I’m going to ignore the assholes

This web site isn’t going away.  I’m not sure where it will end up right now.  It may lose the PG-13 rating and start showing more skin.  I have another domain name that I picked up for one of the projects I abandoned when the model I’d hoped to work with it on basically bailed on me after rescheduling more times that I ever should have put up with.  It might become the nude site and I leave this one PG-13.  This is a work in progress, but I don’t think things are going to be quiet or boring for a while.

It’s Going to be an Odd Day

Your know it’s going to be an odd day when you get home from work and at the house next door you see two people standing on the roof of the storage shed with a bow shooting at a target a lot closer to the house than I’d ever feel comfortable with.  I’m just glad I had a garage between me and them.  The aluminum ladder was a particularly nice touch.

Back to August

It’s been a rough week.  My trip out of town at the end of last week was a littel more stressful than one would like and then I come back and almost immediately have a family emergency to deal with.  Everything is fine now, but I think I’ve undone all the stress relief the vacation brought me.

I did have a nice shoot with a model today that I’d rescheduled with after we’d had to postpone a few months back.  Not much that I’ll be able to post to the blog as I’m trying to keep it PG-13 and most of the work were nudes, but I’ll probably have something.  Of course between the vacation and other events of the week I’m quite a bit behind on my photos, including shoots that I did while on my vacation, but should be able to get some things online later in the week.

Is Living up to a Commitment Too Much to Ask?

Sorry, but I need to vent here.  I had a location for a shoot this afternoon where I’m staying for a few days.  When I’d booked it three weeks ago, I specifically asked permission to use it for some photography and made no secret about the type of photography that I do.  I checked in yesterday and asked a few questions so my shoot would be as smooth as possible and cause no disruptions.

So this morning I get a knock on my door from the owner and he’s decided that he’s not comfortable with the shoot.  I respect that this is his place and if he’s not comfortable with this type of work I can respect, if not agree, with that.  But the time to tell me this is not three hours before the shoot, but when I booked or at least a few days before.  It put me in a rather bad spot with little hope of finding an alternative spot and if I did, a significant chance that I’d never get in touch with everyone involved in time.  We finally come to an agreement where he grudgingly lets me do the shoot as planned so long as I promised to be discreet (as though I planned to have naked women dancing next to the road) and not mention the place in any way.  So I will not mention the place with the photos.  Or anywhere else including to friends.

I understand that not everyone approves of nude and lingerie type photography, but I also think one should live up to an agreement once it’s made.  Keeping your word is an old fashion value too.


Just because it’s going to be that kind of day, one of the models didn’t show up, no warning and no contact, just didn’t show up after sending me an email late last night confirming she’d be here.  I understand that a model working TF* flakes out once in a while, but why would a model being paid not show up?  So I had to dump my idea and improvise on the fly along with the crap from this morning.  It’s days like this that make me want to put all my photography stuff up on eBay and start painting mountains.