Posts tagged “Art

Just Another Nude Year (NSFW)

So here we are, at the close of another year, the first for the PopLifePhotography blog. To be fair, it wasn’t a full year, but, in the short time of this blog, we were able to cover a number of things without becoming overly repetitious or bland. To he honest with you, there still isn’t a true direction to this blog as yet. We’re still trying different ideas, different paths, all while sharing some of our work, along with opinions and views that stretch a little outside of the box.

Despite all the inconsistencies, breasts and objective opinionating (is that even a word?), we’ve managed to build a loyal readership, albeit small. We’re sure that number would have grown had there been a little more consistency, and not a giant dead spot between July and now (save for a couple tidbits here and there). Regardless to all of that, we’re going to make 2012 better than the one before. The hope is that soon we’ll bring on additional writers, and make this blog a much more open area for discussion and exhibition. Some of that has been stalled, some of it is still in the works, but you can be assured that whatever we do, it won’t be boring.

But let’s not sit here and pontificate on what could be, let’s send this year off with the bang it deserves.

Today is about our favorite model, Hollis Ireland. As mentioned in one of the earlier blogs, we’ve been able to witness the blossoming of this model over the years, and had the unique pleasure of being there at the start of her career as a nude model.

Years later, as you can see, she is better than ever, and recently we had the honor of shooting with her again. For us, the shoot, albeit brief and impromptu turned out to be one of the best we’ve had since PopLifePhotography started in 2006. Her skills and talents as a model have grown exponentially, and she just has the sort of figure that any photographer would kill to shoot with.

Her beauty and sensuality on camera are only matched by her quick wit and sheer intellect, something that in the modeling game places her light years above some of her competition. If she were only a few inches taller, it would be a guarantee that you would be seeing her on the runways of fashion week as opposed to the pages of this humble little blog.

To give a bit of insight into what we were doing here, it has always been our opinion that Hollis has classical chiseled features, something that would be akin to a marbled statue. The idea here was to keep the shoot as simple as possible by really focusing on the art aspect of nude photography. In short, Hollis Ireland was going to be our sculpture.

Using only two lights: a high key spotlight and a wider, brighter umbrella-diffused light, Hollis was asked to be more statuesque in her poses, of which she did an excellent job. By putting her against a neutral background, we were able to shoot her in monochrome using timed exposures (averaging 1/4 to 1 seconds, which is dangerous if the model can’t hold still). The result comes out in striking lines and a tone that leaves each of her curves looking as if they were carved from a slab of marble. We simply couldn’t have been happier with the final results, which, due to her amazing porcelain-like skin only needed minor amounts of post work.

So, as we say goodbye to 2011 and hello to 2012 (could it be our last year??), take some time to enjoy some highlights of our shoot with Hollis Ireland. I can promise you, you’ll be glad you did.

Happy New Year, everyone!

(P.S. if you like Hollis, be sure to like her Facebook fan page and visit her personal blog on Tumblr!)

Hollis Ireland


Well Hello, Nurse: Sex and Cinema, Revisited

Anyone with a pulse knows that sex sells.

However recently, in the world of posters advertising mainstream films, that adage is hitting closer and closer to home. Earlier you may remember that I wrote about one of the theatrical posters for the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, with star Rooney Mara standing topless, embraced by co-star Daniel Craig. I thought that was a bold and daring shot, especially from a photography standpoint. Some of you agreed, while others thought it was pandering, with nudity for the sake of nudity.

So here we have an early theatrical poster for Nurse 3-D, a film scheduled for release in 2012 (principal photography doesn’t start until September). The star of the film, Paz De La Huerta – of Boardwalk Empire fame – is depicted as you see above, bloodied and sinister looking.

She’s also completely nude. So nude that if you take a closer look at the photo, you can see a light tuft of pubic hair.

This is a film that will be distributed wide by Lionsgate. Looking into it more, the shot, which first debuted in a recent issue of V Magazine, is the brainchild of Lionsgate Marketing Officer Tim Palen, who, I was not surprised to discover, designed some of the awesome posters for the annual blood drives sponsored by the Saw franchise, a few of which I’ll post here.


The images and design are all striking in their own right, and it is clear to see the level of influence that has carried over to the Nurse 3-D poster.

Now of course, it’s highly unlikely that this is the final poster that you’ll see in theaters, but it seems that there has been a shift in marketing where now sex must sell as all costs, and the mandate is clear that almost nothing is left to the imagination anymore.

Personally, the shot is amazing. It’s an instant souffle of sex and violence all wrapped in a pretty package. With the stark lighting and the off-white background, the look is almost saccharine in nature. With a start as strong as this, I’m very interested to see where they go next with the posters for this film. Nurse 3-D is certainly a horror film with a twist to it, and regardless as to the quality of the film itself, the ad campaign will be sure to turn more heads than stomachs.

As we proceed…

Pistol Series

Last couple days have been busy ones. Still busy, really.

I got the news that when I make the move to DC in just over a week, I’ll have a job to go to, which is nice. The process of settling in will have an effect on my photo work, to be sure. It’s going to take some time to get acclimated to the area, and even more time to find a new group of models to work with.

No big deal really.

Leaving Bloomington, I realize there were some amazing times with amazing models here. This is the place where my talent was developed, and where I helped to develop talents. I’ve loved, laughed and created beautiful images for some or all to see.

The crowning achievement would have to have been getting my work displayed in the Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show, and actually coming away with Gallery Viewer’s Choice. Honestly, for someone who does this for the sheer fun of it, there can be no better honor.

Now it’s a bit premature to write an elegy for my time here, but this is what has been on my mind, and it helps to remind me of the journey ahead and the good times to come. In the meantime, enjoy the above piece, shot a few years ago, during one of my earliest shoots.

Brings back memories.

The future will have you seeing RED.

Depending on who you ask, this is the future of photography.

The EPIC M, by RED, comes in a package one third the size of a RED ONE, carrying with it a 5K Mysterium-X™ sensor and a 27 layer ASIC, the most advanced processor of its type in the world, enabling EPIC to capture up to 120 frames per second, each frame at full 14MP resolution. EPIC both a Digital Still & Motion Camera, and that is what could be what changes everything…again.

Photography, over the years, has gone through a recent evolution. With digital becoming the standard that is wiping out the use of film, just about anyone with money and adequate desire can become a photographer. Now don’t get me wrong, this is an absolutely good thing. I have always been of the mind that photography should be something you do, as opposed to who you are. For far too long, photographers have tried to maintain this aura of superiority because they were this guild of magicians with their control of apertures, f-stops and light metering that regular people could never really understand.

Then came the advent of the digital camera.

All of a sudden everyone (including myself) were becoming camera enthusiasts, and while there was and still is push back from pro shooters, the walls were thinning and from it came a new cadre of photographers who were making images just as good because their cameras were doing much of the heavy lifting for them. All these shooters had to do was capture the same thing as the pros…the moment.

Capturing the “moment” is something that auto setting cannot compensate for. It’s the thing that truly separates the pro from the consumer. That one image, culled from shooting multiple images, and in the case of model photography, it’s achieved by knowing your subject, working with your subject to put together that one in a hundred shot that will grace portfolios, magazine covers or billboards.

Well, cameras like the EPIC M will change that.

Now to be sure, DSLRs have been moving towards more hybrid action between motion and still; even the most entry level of Canon Rebel series cameras have HD camcorder ability. But not like what you’re getting with the EPIC M on the professional end. Now the impetus doesn’t have to be on getting the “moment” shot, because technically, you can just take this camera and do a motion shoot on a set, and an EDITOR can go through the footage and pull out an extremely hi-res frame and there you go. Folks, this camera shoots at 128 fps, something that practically guarantees than any single frame will generate a shot just as good as anything that can be shot on a still camera.

(c) 2011 Vincent Laforet

Have a look at that shot.

This is a frame grab from a video shot at 96 fps on an EPIC M by photographer Vincent Laforet. Look at the depth and definition, something that would only seem to come from a still camera. Laforet wrote about his experience with the EPIC M, and he feels this has the potential to cause radical change within photography.

Now make no mistake, still photography certainly isn’t going away, not by a longshot, but think about the implications for commercial photography. Consider how this camera could be used at weddings, where a photographer would simply need to just take sweeping shots of the scenery and then go back over the video and pluck choice frame grabs later on.

What this also means is that now the relationship between photographer and editor will take an even more dramatic turn. Instead of using an editor to retouch photos, now you can use an editor to help you select the shot from the video footage. The possibilities are many, and once again, the paradigm is shifting.

Welcome to the future.

For more on the RED EPIC M, visit their Web site.

For an interview with Vincent Laforet on the convergence that will come with cameras like the EPIC M, visit APhotoEditor.

Is there a Golden Age for anything anymore?

Some thoughts as I wait to begin my day…

Soon, I’ll be uprooting from my friendly, yet bland Indiana confines to restart things in the D.C. Metro area. An exciting proposition, especially after seeing the vibrant arts community, and some of the local photo galleries.

While by day, my endeavors are in the realms of public relations and publicity, photography is my everything after, and following the events of the past year, is no longer just a pastime hobby for me. So to be able to go somewhere where I will be able to do what I love to do and have an audience for it will be exactly what I need, when I need it.

Going to Church

Going to Church by William Johnson

But it has me thinking: could we ever be heading towards another “golden age” of something? Something in this case being art, fashion or photography? Sure, those are broad, yet related categories, but the reason I mention this is because I think about Harlem in the early ’30’s, or even Tin Pan Alley where writers and artists all from different places came to one area and through either convenience or happenstance collaborated and made things that resonate to this day.

Now that creating images via a multitude of mediums is not only possible but easily shared, is there still a true value? In 40 years from now, will people be looking at the work we do and think, “I wish I could have been there; seen them do that”? Maybe it doesn’t work that way.

I can’t imagine that when great things were happening at a different time, that there was a thought that the time would be immortalized as a golden age, or anything of the sort. In the end, you just produce and then keep producing. Certainly an errant thought to have at 8:49 on a Thursday morning.


“If a girl is very dark, they say no…”

As if we needed a reminder, racism in fashion is still very much alive and well.

In an article printed in the Daily Mail yesterday, columnist Liz Jones exposes what many in the fashion industry already knew: Black models are, for the most part, considered undesirable for runway and print work. While this is not completely new information, it’s disappointing that in 2011, this still has to be an issue.

And it’s a glaring one.

Like searching for a raisin in a bowl of rice

Thinking critically, the idea that black models are having trouble finding work or are being deemed unacceptable really puts a shine on yesterday’s post where the subject was on transgendered and androgynous models finding success within the industry. To put it bluntly, a man who is masquerading as a woman seems to be getting more work than black women who are…well…women.

Certainly, that’s a broad take on the issue, and I’m not asserting that fashion houses and magazines would rather hire a man who passes for a woman over an actual woman, just because he’s white. That would make things too simplistic, and why do that when there are fashion insiders who will lay it on the table openly? Take for example, supermodel legend Naomi Campbell’s former agent Carole White who, when interviewed by Jones for the Daily Mail story, said:

“At the high end, it is slightly better now. But in the mid-range — the catalogues, the e-commerce websites — it is difficult. They want girls who are ethnic, but light-skinned girls. If a girl is very dark, they say no.” Carole says the problem stems from the influential fashion capitals of Milan and Paris. ‘There, they absolutely don’t want black girls. A black model has to be a real star before you can take her there. They only take a black girl when the biz is buzzing about her.”

A real star. Like Beyonce or Rhianna, who have appeared on the covers of magazines such as Vogue. But what about some of the other publications out there. Personally, I subscribe to three fashion magazines: Vogue US, W Magazine and V Magazine. After reading the Daily Mail story, I went over to my subscription pile and had a look for myself, because I wanted to be sure.

Of the three magazines, Vogue US featured two Black women on the cover over the course of the past year: Halle Berry on the cover of the vaunted September 2010 issue, and Rhianna, who made the cover in April 2011. Neither women are models, but rather, celebrities, which gibe with White’s account. Looking at V Magazine, only one woman of color graced the cover over the past year, hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj, who again, is a celebrity and not a model herself. What struck me as the mostpeculiar is W Magazine, who had no models or celebrities of color on their covers, and the reason that’s so peculiar to me is that the current Fashion Director of W is a Black man by the name of Edward Enninful. (Named in the Daily Mail article as one of the major Black players in the fashion scene along with make-up artist Pat McGrath and models Jourdan Dunn, Liya Kebede and Joan Smalls.)

Now in the interest of fairness, none of these magazines are currently featuring models of any color on their covers. This is mainly due to the fact that with the industry in such dire shape, it’s far more important to have celebrities grace the covers so that sales can be supported. I can’t argue much with that. However, upon opening the pages to some of the print advertisements, it is clear that there is a marked dearth of models of color in those ads.

In the Daily Mail article, White also pinpoints photographers, saying a lot of them “don’t know how to light a black girl.” While I’m not currently shooting fashion for any big agency, house or publication, I certainly know how to light a woman of color. And if that is the case, why is that photographer being given the opportunity to do such high-profile work?

What’s clear by reading that article, and others, such as one which appeared on Jezebel, talking about how the last Fashion Week in New York City was “the whitest Fashion Week in years.” From the article:

“New York fashion week featured 137 designer runway shows and presentations, and 5,269 different fall outfits were presented to the world’s retailers and press. Of those 5,269 looks, 4,468 — an overwhelming 84.8% — were modeled by white women. 801 of those looks were given to models who aren’t white. Black models were used 384 times. Asian models were used 323 times. Non-white Latina models were used 79 times. Models of other races only made it onto the runways of New York City — one of the most racially diverse places on this planet — 15 times.”

Staggering numbers. But then again, who are the purveyors of fashion, more specifically, Haute Couture? Affluent White people. If it is that the numbers skew in that direction, then one could argue that the models we see in the ads and on the runways are simply a reflection of the buying market. Someone would argue that, and they would do it in the hopes that it would make sense and subsequently make everything alright. But that’s lip service. Just like it’s lip service when a fashion magazine will put out an issue devoted to full-figured models. It’s all lip service.

I love all models. Fat Models, Thin Models, Black Models, White Models, Asian Models, Hispanic Models…you bring them, and I’ll shoot them. And I’ll also know that no matter how sexy, how well-lit and beautiful the shots are, in many corners of the fashion world…it wouldn’t even be close to good enough.

A pity.


Fashion’s desirable ambiguity.

The paradigm is changing.

This morning I came across an article at the Huffington Post which linked to a Vogue Italia article on rising fashion model Valentijn De Hingh. Certainly fitting the image of today’s supermodel, upon first glance, there’s not much that’s overly remarkable about her, outside of the fact that she has a striking image, and as such, it’s a no-brainer that she’s a model. However, to know Valentijn is to know that she was a he.

The subject of a nine-year documentary on transgendered children, which aired on Dutch television in 2007, Valentijn subsequently received a sex change and moved onto a career as a model, scoring spots on the runways of Maison Martin Margiela and Comme des Garcons (which, incidentally is French for “just like boys”.

Lea T

Stefano Moro for the New York Times

Valentijn is certainly not alone on the runway. With a slightly higher profile, transgender model Lea T has been garnering notices and working with some of the best known fashion houses such as Givenchy. Given the way in which fashion literally sets trends by being shocking, knowing that transgendered models are not only working, but working for established names isn’t all that shocking.

Add to the mix the phenomenon that is Andrej Pejic, a male model whose gender bending style has had him model a variety of looks for an even wider variety of houses.

Kate Moss

Kate Moss

When you think about it, it’s clearly not a big deal that this is happening, and to be honest, it really isn’t. But what it does do in my mind as a photographer, is bring into question the idea and concept of the model. Now you have models who are generally all-purpose, be it runway or print. The classic image of models had drifted to one where the thinner you were, the more work you would get. Kate Moss made her career off of having the body of a 12 year-old boy, so why would it be a surprise that eventually you would have a male model ape the look of a waifish female model who is aping a young boy.

It makes no sense, because it makes perfect sense.

At PopLife, we have always celebrated the image of the curvy female model, but there have been instances where thinner models simply made more sense to shoot. The image carries it’s own connotation, and while I personally don’t shoot male models, it’s not an issue of discrimination as it is personal preference. Fashion, however, can always be far more accommodating, as it should be.

Fashion, if it isn’t anything else, is a constant work-in-progress. It moves, it evolves and it transforms. Having transgendered, or gender-bending models seems like a natural progression, and an accepted one at that. Certainly none of the names I mentioned came first in this way; for that, you’d have to look at April Ashley, one of the first transgendered models who gained a good amount of success, which included gracing the pages of Vogue UK. But what makes this all a curiosity is what fashion makes of the model, or more importantly, the emphasis of what is more important, the model or the design.

Andrej Pejic

Andrej Pejic

Certainly the reason you have runway shows is so that new designs from houses are shown off. Technically who is wearing the design shouldn’t matter. By their very definition, a model is pretty much a fancy clothes hanger. Whose to say that in a few years, instead of transgendered models, or androgynous boys, there won’t just be androids? Because it’s pretty easy to see things go that way, which in turn could quite possibly mean the death of the supermodel, both male and female.

Yes, fashion is indeed an evolution. Wait long enough, and it may evolve right past you.

The Girl With The Dragon Nipple Piercing

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Poster

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Poster

As I was doing my daily rounds of site reading, I came across this theatrical poster for the upcoming U.S. version of Steig Larsson’s first book in his Millennium Series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Of course, what is remarkable about this poster is the fact that the lead actress, Rooney Mara, is topless, showing off her pierced (which she specifically got for her role as heroine Lisbeth Salander) nipples posing with co-star Daniel Craig. As a photo, it’s certainly pretty compelling stuff. The lighting is bold, the expressions stark with a slight hint of ambiguity. The way in which the two hold each other expresses both defiance and protection.

In short, it’s an amazing shot.

What’s even more amazing about it is that it was even made for distribution. Looking around the Web, there have been reports that this version of the poster has made it into theaters, slightly altered with a yellow crime scene-style tape over her breasts saying “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” (It releases in December). In a modern day where most movie posters are Photoshopped one-offs with floating heads, a shot like this really tells the viewer they’re in for something different.

Even the original Swedish version of the films, starring Noomi Rapace had less than exciting theatrical posters, guilty of the same lame design and Photoshop aesthetics that have made movie posters pretty much become a lost and lagging art form. Of course, one could argue that a poster with nudity and stark design would be right up the alley of an artist like David Fincher, it certainly gives me a good amount of hope that the art form of the movie poster isn’t quite dead yet.

It remains to be see whether shots like this will be a one of a kind effort, or if the possibility that filmmakers will want to start ensuring that the marketing of their films take more risks in order to show audiences that their latest opus is far more than a weekend at Disneyland.

The U.S. Version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is scheduled for release on December 26, 2011. Here’s a peek at the teaser trailer:

Taking the show on the road…



And we’re back.

The last few days have been spent in the Washington DC Metro area. An amazing place, to be sure, with a collection of people, places and things that have to be seen to believed. Considered by outsiders to be a place where it’s all politics all the time, there’s truly more than meets the eye for the uninitiated.

From Adam’s Morgan to Dupont Circle, there are delights for everyone, but more importantly, plenty of photo galleries that display some of the finest shots from some of the best photographers on the globe. In less than a month, PopLifePhotography will be relocating to DC, and I couldn’t be more excited. Just having a chance to get out and see that there is a thriving community of art, especially photography, makes the decision to relocate even better.

Indiana has been home for pretty much all my life, but the time to move is now, and it makes me feel good to know that there are some fantastic places display my work and appreciate the work of others. In my short amount of investigating, one place caught my interest, and seems like the perfect place to have some work displayed.

MOCA DC, located on 1054 31st St NW, is a venue designed “for artists who otherwise would have a hard time showing their work.” For a low yearly membership fee, photographers have the freedom to have their work featured in a number of shows, as well as studio services and other amenities that are meant to foster collaboration and a sense of belonging between artists, which is remarkable in and of itself.

They’re also known as one of the most nude-friendly galleries in the District, so that is always a plus for fellow nude photographers.

I think I will be debuting the above piece, titled “Temptress” at MOCA in July. A small piece I constructed last year, I was waiting to see how “Obscenity” would do at the Kinsey Juried Art Show. Just this past Thursday, while in DC, I found out just how well it actually did.

ObscenityIn an early morning email sent from the Institute, I was informed that “Obscenity”, featuring the lovely London Andrews, won the 2011 Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show’s Gallery Visitor’s Choice Award. The votes were taken from museum patrons during the opening night reception on May 20. I hadn’t heard anything, so I figured I hadn’t won, so to hear it weeks later was an amazing and humbling surprise. While I thought I had a nice piece on my hands, to have it voted by the viewing public as their favorite, well…to me, that’s better than winning Best In Show, but hey, I’ll take praise where I can get it.

Provided that the piece doesn’t sell while at the Grunwald Gallery of Art (formerly SoFA Gallery), I will take that piece on the road and see if I can’t get it displayed in other shows, including ones held by MOCA DC.

In the meantime, there’s lots to do, including some last minute photoshoots before its Moving Day.


The Heat is On: Profiling Walter Iooss, Jr.

Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./SI

Of course that can have a number of connotations as we enter this week. The almost oppressive heat that is sweeping the country in the wake of one of the dampest springs on record nationwide, the news of embattled Ohio State University head football coach Jim Tressel’s resignation or a discussion about the beginning of the NBA Finals this week.

The Miami Heat begin the final stretch of their possible championship run (of course the Dallas Mavericks have something to say about that) tonight. No matter how you feel, you can be sure this will be one of the better NBA Finals that we’ve seen in some time. Personally, I have no dog in this hunt as my underachieving Knicks will be watching the Finals from the same place as everyone else…at home.

Picture by Walter IoossThe reason I mention sports in today’s post is not just to talk about the Finals, but to highlight the work of a fellow photographer as I kick off a retrospective of photographers PopLifePhotography are crazy about. For as long as I can remember, Walter Iooss, Jr. has been one of the most prolific sports photographers out there. A master of the classic image, Iooss has been delivering insane images to readers of Sports Illustrated since his first picture was used for cover of SI in 1963 at the age of 20.

Iooss has been an indelible part of sports photography in a way that many sports icons have. In fact, one would argue that there has been intrinsic connection between photographer and athlete in the way that the photographer freezes the feat of the athlete which, while great, fantastic and amazing, often happens in the blink of an eye. The photographer takes that moment and makes it immortal. No one has done that as well and as long as Walter Iooss, Jr.

One of his biggest projects as a sports photographer was that of working with NBA legend Michael Jordan. Some of the work they did together became the stuff of photographic legend. With his signature moves and seeming ability to take flight, Iooss covered Jordan much like someone would cover Superman: Images in flight, hanging in the air for what seems like an eternity, helping to boost an athlete into iconic immortality.

Photo: Walter Iooss, Jr/SI

In addition to his sports exploits, Iooss has also added to his own iconic status with his work as photographer for SI’s vaunted swimsuit issue, where he has worked with just about every iconic model you can think of from Cheryl Tiegs to Tyra Banks. One of my favorite SI Swimsuit photos is one he did of Kathy Ireland a picture that was without a doubt instrumental to my youth.

Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./SI

His ability to capture the perfect moment with the perfect subjects has always made him a personal favorite of mine.

This year, Iooss has released Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Heaven, a collection of some of his best work as SI Swimsuit photographer. You can order the book from Amazon here.