on someone who is never going to arrive and who will not call to let me know she is never going to arrive.  The total disregard for what goes into my preparation for a session is something I have never been able to comprehend in such people. But it happens, and it happens frequently.  Sometimes I have built a set specifically for that session and then will have to break it down to make room for a portrait sitting or a publicity shoot that does not involve that set at all.  Hence, all of my effort and time with that particular potential model was in vain. Other times I could have definitely photographed another available model but instead I planned on photographing the unreliable model whom I did not know was unreliable until her behavior proved her to be merely a "no-show".  Thus there is no creation of new work that day, only wasted time expended waiting on a person who lacks regard for simple courtesy and common civility. And I have to keep waiting past the appointed time on the possibility she is simply running late. My first "no-show" of a model occurred in 1972 with a woman I had scheduled for portraits only.  This was several years before I began photographing nudes other than my girlfriend, and as such the topic of nudity never even entered the discussion for her posing for me.  She was a college classmate. My girlfriend and I had shown her some examples of my photography and asked if she would sit for some portraits to be done outdoors in exchange for her choice of photographs from all that I shot of her.  We agreed to meet at a certain time on a Saturday afternoon and she never showed up.  Later she gave us the excuse that she had been sick. That type of rude behavior has never stopped to the present day.

In the past I have occasionally used classified ads in local publications to look for women who wish to pose for my fine-art photography.  In addition to the cost of advertising, which is expensive, I then have to endure the numerous crank calls, the purely inquisitive calls, the morally outraged calls from persons who have never even viewed my work, and the people who are intrigued by the idea of modeling for me but who ultimately only really want to claim later to their friends that they almost posed and had actually spoken to me about it.  In terms of the crank calls, that is more or less to be expected from some immature kids who stumble upon the ads.  But what is most disappointing is that I get them from adults too.  They seem to often come from people at a workplace who are doing it with their friends around or who are trying to somehow set someone up so that I will call her back when she in reality has no knowledge whatsoever about why I am calling her to "return" her telephone call. Obviously, these are pathetic people who must have rather sad, dreary lives to need to try to amuse themselves in this puerile way. But, again, it is my time that is being used up by such imbecility.  

When pleasant people are found and sessions are completed there are hours devoted to the actual photography.  If shooting on location there is the travel time to get there and return.  Sometimes in advance preparation I have driven for hours searching for locations that might be used. Gasoline is not free. Location work is seldom simple.  I have to contend with weather, insects, reptiles, stray people who do not approve of what we are doing and in some instances may have the authority to curtail my session, and there can always be the uncertainty of encountering some maladjusted moron or even a gang of troublemakers who could stumble upon us in seemingly the proverbial middle of nowhere.  I pride myself on being extremely cautious and have to date avoided any serious problems, but uncertainty, if not actual danger, always looms when leaving the confines of my secure studio to photograph models in the vast outdoors.  My experience and expertise with location photography was not acquired overnight. There is considerable preparation time that goes into each location session which leads to an enjoyable, pleasant, often fun experience for my models.  

There is equipment to be bought and maintained and eventually replaced.  Cameras, lenses, tripods, filters, studio lighting and light stands and backdrops and props. There is film, photographic paper, chemicals for processing film and paper, oil paints.  Utility bills for water and electricity. The darkroom equipment such as enlargers, lenses for the enlargers, easels, timer, sinks, developing tanks, reels, refrigerator to store film and paper, paper trimmers, dry mounting press, mounting materials, sheets of rag board, mat cutter.  And the space (real estate) to contain these items. There are taxes, accountants, insurance, and attorneys.  There is record-keeping and website construction and maintenance which takes enormous time.  There is the scanning of photographs and the uploading to my site. There is replying to e-mails, some of which are from non-serious people but which seem plausible.  There is the cost for web hosting. There is the cost of purchasing my domain name.  Not the least among these expenses is the compensation to my models. 

Somewhere in this entire mix lies personal creativity.  I strongly feel it is worth something.  I think my
photography makes a statement as individual as I am a person. I believe I have created a body of
work that represents a breaking of barriers in the Southern history of photography that dates back to
the early 1970s. I consider myself a pioneer in fine art nude photography in the Deep South. And all of
the production of that imagery is done by hand using traditional photography processes. The physical
act of creating a print in a darkroom can be extremely tedious and time intensive.  What follows is a
brief overview of that process:

Before a print can be produced the film has to be processed. I do that by hand usually one or two rolls
at a time in a tank. That takes me one to two hours to process.  I must first mix the dried chemicals
with water.  Then I make a working solution from that stock. I slowly filter my working solutions to have them as pure as I can. After the film is developed and fixed I allow a generous wash time to remove
traces of residual chemicals. When the film has dried I make contact proof sheets which is another
darkroom process involving chemicals and a wash cycle. I study the proofs to see if there is a particular
image that I feel I want to enlarge and possibly turn into a print I will display.  Here there are many
false starts.  What I think looks satisfactory in the proof sheet stage may not hold its appeal after initial
test prints have been made.  All of that has taken time and materials.  When I do find an image that
keeps its appeal to me there are a myriad of decisions to make determining its final appearance. On the
market there are various photographic papers with varying surface textures, contrast grades, degrees of
tonality.  There are paper developers and toners which can affect the final "look" of the image. It may
take me hours, days, or weeks of experimentation and testing to arrive at what I feel is the right
combination of these materials that gives me the result I am seeking for a particular image.  Again,
contrary to what some people may imagine, I do not just walk into my darkroom, push a button or two,
and emerge in a few moments with a finished print, one which I then immediately sell before returning
to the same darkroom to push the few buttons again to repeat the cycle. If only it were so simple. . .


 

CONTINUE