Thursday, July 9, 2015

Two Sides

I get self-conscious sometimes about the clutter that so frequently litters the backgrounds of my images. Since the beginning, I've maintained that I like pictures that look like they were taken in spaces that occupy the real world, and not abstract studios. And I genuinely do feel that way, but in the back of my mind I worry if that's not just an excuse for me not having more professional habits.

The clutter is distracting at times, and not always aesthetically pleasing, but I don't have the patience to clear out a work space every time I take a picture, considering that this is the home that I inhabit - it's bound to look lived in. I don't really have enough space to set aside an empty corner to use as a photo studio. And besides, the construction of this building is atrocious, and I find that when I do clear the clutter away, the emptiness just emphasizes how crooked the doors and walls and floors and ceilings are, and that's frustrating in a completely different way.

On the other hand, I want to improve my photography, and produce images that are more flawless, so that more people can admire them and recognize me as a serious photographer. To that end, I'd also love to buy some nicer lenses, and maybe some lighting equipment that I could learn to use, but I'm poor, and photography is not a cheap hobby.

I know what they say - and I'll be the first person to agree - that the talent exists in the photographer, and not the equipment he's using. The same is true of musicians. And I think I've taken enough remarkable pictures with the cheap equipment I own to prove that. But I wonder if there isn't a point at which it's like you're filtering your talent through a cheap lens, and it would just be represented that much better if you had a clearer one.

But equipment is only one of many improvements I suppose I could make. Still, it's one that's pretty straightforward. It's times like these that I resent being self-taught. Which is another thing. I feel so disconnected from any kind of photographic (or modeling) community. Communication with fans on photo sharing sites rarely goes beyond the superficial level, and all the other photographers seem like isolated pockets, absorbed in their own work, with no talk of craft - not boring stuff like what gear they have or what filters they use in Photoshop, but things like how do you find your models, what's it like working with them, where do you scout locations, etc.

I imagine it's even worse being a nude/erotic photographer, because everybody just assumes you're a pervert who shoots porn. Without disparaging the human sexual impulse, I want to be taken seriously, to the point that people want to join me and help me and work together with me to create beautiful art - but not people who are simply perverts looking for ways to get around the normal social prohibitions against promiscuity. "Oh, it's art, so it's okay". I mean the people who share a genuine interest in art with me, even if it's of the erotic variety. Maybe another big problem I have is that I live in the middle of nowhere. But it's not a simple matter for me (mainly due to my anxiety) to just pull up my roots and move to New York or L.A., or what have you. As much as I might dream about it...


  1. Very nice. I like both sides! An interesting variation on the picture to the right (interesting to me, anyway) would be if your erection was peeking its head out beyond the curve of your body. I've always found shots like that, whether of me or others, particularly stimulating.

    I've always liked your natural, lived-in backgrounds. I really enjoy their homey, casual feel; it's almost as if I'm visiting with a friend and just hanging out.

    I know what you mean about equipment versus the photographer. There is certainly truth to the idea that the photographer matters more, but good equipment is always beneficial, and especially so to a skilled photographer like yourself. I like to take bird photos, and I'm thinking of buying a Canon 400 mm prime telephoto lens – not the big 2.8 version, but the modest 5.4 one. Buying that, and the camera to go with it, would cost quite a bit, but I'm thinking of doing it sometime this summer. I think you also use Canon. What lens do you use most often?

  2. Yeah, I bought a Canon (XSi model) after I lost my point-and-shoot camera at Burning Man (a good seven years ago), and it was one of the best investments I've made photography-wise. On the other hand, I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that I still use my kit lens (18-55mm) almost exclusively. It may not be a high quality lens, but it's very versatile. I'd like to get something better, but I'm pretty attached to the zoom, and I don't really have hundreds (let alone thousands) of dollars to spend on something like that.

    I also bought the "nifty fifty" (a notoriously cheap 50mm prime), but I rarely ever use it because I find the narrow angle of view to be extremely prohibitive for the kind of photography I like and am used to taking. I considered getting a 24 or 28mm prime in the past (more on that here:, but I have yet to commit to shelling out the cash for something I don't even know I'm going to like or use that much...

  3. I mean, I could save up the money if I knew exactly what I wanted, but as it stands, it's too much of a gamble for those kinds of prices...

  4. Oh, I know exactly what you mean. I've given thought to buying a Canon MP-E 65mm macro, because I like close-up shots of insects, but it's quite pricey and not something you can use for other types of shots. I may give it a try, however, because our local (sort of, lol) photo shop rents all kinds of equipment. I can rent the lens for a weekend and try it out, and then decide if I want to buy it or not. Maybe there's a photo shop near you that has rentals as well.

    I have a 105mm Nikon lens for insect photography. It gives great results, which is why I'm interested in a prime telephoto lens for birds. On the other hand, most of my photography is done with a Canon Powershot SX50. It gives very nice results, and is so versatile with its wide zoom range that it's ridiculous. It's really something how the quality of cameras has increased so much during the digital revolution. It's always tempting to think of getting additional lenses, but I think the zoom lens you have now gives you excellent results and the versatility you need for you work.

  5. It'd be nice to have a macro lens, for those times that come up every so often that I want to photograph something small or really close up - the lenses I have are terrible for closeup shots, I actually have to get out my smartphone in those cases. But It's not something I do often enough to warrant spending hundreds of dollars just to have a lens for that. Maybe if I started selling my photos or something, I could afford it, but that raises a whole host of other issues...