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!
I’ve not forgotten you, I promise.
Life in DC has been a chore to set up, what with networking and learning my way around. Luckily for me, I’ve secured some future shoots, and even have an opportunity to get some work exhibited in a couple galleries…fingers crossed on that.
This truly is a beautiful place, full of even more beautiful people. It’s tempting to ape The Sartorialist and just go out and shoot random strangers just to show that fashion, in its many forms, is just as strong in our nation’s capital as it is up the coast in NYC.
I may just do that, actually. Not to copy so much as to share. The Metro area is remarkable on its own, and certainly deserves some praise for all the colors, the looks and the styles openly available, without being exceedingly pretentious on its own.
I hope this week, wherever you are, starts off wonderfully…
In the meantime, here’s an earlier shot of one of my favorite models to work with…
As today is a big and busy day here for me in the DC Metro area, I decided to keep today’s post light and use the space to wish Happy Birthday to one of my favorite models, Val Renee.
May the coming year be everything you want it to be and more…
We’ll be back on track with the blog tomorrow, so whatever you do, make sure it’s amazing.
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.
So, after going on about W Magazine not having any models of color on their covers, I open up my mailbox yesterday and see the above. Guess that’ll show me, huh?
But…it’s Beyonce. Beyonce is always on a cover of a magazine somewhere (end whining.)
Now I don’t have anything against the woman personally, but I don’t know if you can call it diversity for W when the last person of color on the cover was Rhianna in February 2010. Yes, yes, I know…it’s nitpicking in many ways, and as I had mentioned in the previous blog, there is an overall lack of supermodels on the cover of fashion magazines anymore, but still.
In moments like this, I wonder how Edward Enninful feels, that is, if he feels anything at all about the issue, but I certainly suspect he does.
I guess you have to pick your spots where you can find them, right?
Of course, it’s pointless then to mention that Beyonce didn’t have the sole distinction of making the cover of this month’s W Magazine alone. It was actually a split issue, with the other cover model being Christina Aguilera.
Yes, I suppose it is nitpicking indeed.
Next week, we will be shifting slightly away from fashion and talking about the coming advent of HDSLR photography. It could be that gone are the days when a photographer looks for “the moment”, because he will be preoccupied with shooting HD video instead of still images.
It’s an interesting, and potentially frightening concept. But then change and evolution have always been frightening to a certain extent.
Have a good weekend, everyone…
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 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.
As I was working on the blog that was supposed to appear in this place yesterday, I got a call from someone very close. Now I’m used to getting calls from her pretty much every day, and usually I pick right up. However, it had been storming out, and the call never came through for me to hear it.
On the surface, that wasn’t a big deal, because I’d always call back and she what she wanted. When I rang her back, the voice on the other end didn’t sound like it always did. It was groggy, and the speech was labored at best.
Something was clearly wrong.
In a tone that screamed of being medicated, she told me how during a drive on one of the state roads, she became momentarily distracted, causing her to lose control of her car, flipping it a number of times before it crashed into a pole.
My heart sank, and to be honest with you, I hadn’t felt that helpless in a very long time.
When a thousand thoughts rushed through your head all at once, it’s very hard to think about what exactly to say, or more importantly, the right thing to say at that moment. If I could fly, I would have darted out of my patio like Superman and been there in an instant…but it’s never that easy.
Due to the amount of pain medication she was under, she couldn’t tell me exactly which hospital to come to, but to not worry about it, but how could I not? Turns out she was being released soon, which is always a good sign. She told me not to worry and that she’d call me as soon as she could.
Back at the ranch, I found myself slumped in my chair, with a desire to do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Before I could wallow any further, I got a text message from her with a picture attached. Because of the storms in the area affecting everything, it was difficult to get the picture downloaded, but once it did, it was like a ton of bricks came down on my chest with all the force of an elbow drop from the late Randy Savage.
It was a picture she took in the hospital.
The lower portion of her face was a grotesque mixture of black and purple, with her bottom lip nearly three times its normal size. Instantly my mind took me all the way back to 2005, the first time I saw her getting on the C Route bus from campus back to the apartment complex we both lived in. The first time I ever saw her, I was absolutely captivated by her look. Her eyes were like tractor beams, I could never turn away. Her body far exceeded any idol or statue ever carved. It was perfect in my mind as she was perfect.
Somehow we struck up a friendship, and reasonably, I was smitten. How could I not be? I had begged and begged her to shoot with me as the year progressed, but she was never all that into it. Towards the end of the school year, we’d progressively drifted apart from one another until a blow-up over what seems like nothing caused us to not speak anymore.
Then in 2010, roughly four years from when I saw her last, we randomly saw each other again, and it was like none of the arguments ever happened. We were two people with wildly different experiences meeting for what felt like the first time. We started hanging out more, and she took an interest in seeing my work. She decided then that finally, she wanted to shoot.
Now this was someone who had zero experience in front of a camera, at least in the photographic sense, but in our two shoots, I think we put together some amazing stuff (you be the judge). Not only did the shoots go well, but I felt it improved her self-image quite a bit, which only encouraged her to want to shoot more.
We were supposed to be shooting today. Her name is Rachel.
As she sits, surrounded by family and loved ones, let today serve as a tribute to one of the most beautiful women I have ever had the fortune of knowing, let alone the honor of shooting. Look at her face as I do, and know that it’ll be that way once again.
Be safe out there.
As we move towards the long holiday, I’ll be trying to finish up the model tribute posts. I think next week, we’ll move to working on some photographer tributes, and then there will be a bit of a change in things, as we shift focus some to include reviews, critiques and some other things that I think you readers will enjoy.
In the meantime, if you have any feedback, ideas or if you would like to submit a guest post, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.