Tuesday, February 20, 2018

365 Anniversary

Ten years ago today, I started my 365 Daily Nudes project - which launched my nude and erotic photography hobby in earnest - with this picture. It's not a spectacular picture by any means, but it's noteworthy on account of the milestone it represents. Let me give you some background. It was less than a year after I'd discovered that nudism was a thing (after a passing comment half meant in jest inspired me to do some internet research), elevating my lifelong periodic secret naked bedroom and backyard trysts into a full-blown lifestyle. My New Years Resolution for 2008 was to spend more time in the nude. I didn't have a lot of varied opportunities, but even just lounging around at home without clothes on in a semi-regular fashion was enough of a novelty at the time.

Enter popular photo-sharing site Flickr. I was reminiscing over some teenage webcam photos I'd shot for my girlfriend years earlier, when I came to the conclusion that it'd be a shame to keep them to myself and not share them with the world. The Flickr community was very receptive, and kindled my inspiration as a photographer. A little thing called The 365 Project (also under various aliases) - in which you would commit to taking and sharing one photo a day for a whole year - was pretty popular among photographers there, looking to showcase their talents, as well as earn experience and grow as artists. I wanted in. But, naturally, I wanted to put my own spin on the project - making it a whole year of daily nude self-portraits!

Sadly, I was not able to complete the project, due to a freak accident in which I lost my camera (and all the photos I'd taken throughout the week) near the end of a road trip to the Burning Man festival. Losing my camera - and more importantly, all those once-in-a-lifetime pictures I'd taken - crushed my enthusiasm for the project. But I did eventually recover my passion for photography, and consoled myself by purchasing my first ever dSLR camera. It made me feel that much closer to being a professional photographer, and I consider it one of the best decisions of my life (even as new phone camera technology is beginning to surpass my now decade-old dSLR). Ten years later, and here I am!

In the lead-up to 2018, I'd begun debating in my head the merits of embarking on another 365 Project, to honor the first. I told myself I had no need of taking pictures every day anymore - what can become, if you properly commit to it, something akin to a full-time job. On the other hand, my skills have improved enormously, both as a photographer and as a model, and I have more tools at my disposal (not just my trusty dSLR, but also now a highly convenient mobile phone, complete with video recording capabilities). Wouldn't a project done now yield riper fruit? On top of it all, I've just this past year moved back into a house after living in an uninspiring apartment building for many years.

So I've come to a bit of a compromise. Photography now, to me, is more than just "spray 'n' pray" - taking a handful of shots and working with what I get. The workflow involves a lot more creative preparation, post-processing, and academic analysis (i.e., I like to use photos to illustrate the "essays" I write). So, instead of taking one photo every day - since inspiration flows more readily some days than others, and I don't want to stifle that (plus, it gives me a break every once in awhile, when the juices aren't flowing) - I've chosen instead to prepare one post for this blog to be published per day until the end of the year, each one accompanied by some sort of photo (ideally of me), or video (recalling that other daily nude project I embarked on a couple years after the first), that is in some way relevant to the themes of this blog (mainly nudity, eroticism, and gender experimentation) - a bit of a cornucopia of daily delights.

I didn't want to announce this project on January 1 because I wanted to try it out for a bit before committing to it, but here we are almost two months into the year, and I'm ready to make it official. I've had no shortage of creativity so far - in fact, for most of this time I've had posts prepared days in advance to give me a nice buffer (so I can put the necessary time in to make each one the best it can be, and to keep me covered in case of vacation or other distractions). It's still early in the year, but I have yet to find myself roaming around wondering, "what kind of photo should I take today?" just to get the daily allotment in. I've got so many ideas swimming around in my head, I can't even keep up with them all! So let's hope this trend continues.

This isn't the first time I've revisited the image that started it all. But comparing this image to the original is enlightening. Back then, I was a greenhorn. A fish out of water. Now, I have a better camera, more experience (both as a photographer and as a model), and the determination and confidence to set up a good shot and not settle for whatever I can get in a few snaps. Knowing what I'm capable of - of the great shots I've taken in the past - allows me to feel justified in raising my standards, without fear of wasting my time on a fruitless effort. I couldn't do this without having that kind of experience. Of course, being able to get those great shots is no doubt itself a function of the experience I've acquired, in conjunction with the technical aid of my superior equipment. Although I'm a firm believer that a photographer's most important tool is the one that sits between his ears, I must concede that you can achieve greater results when you're spending less time and energy generating frustration with a stubborn tool that you have to wrestle with in order to get anything even halfway decent...

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