Tuesday, May 31, 2011

For The Love Of Art

Modeling for love.
Nasty Habits
On Sunday I had the pleasure of working with Conundra and Pearl together (how lucky am I?), two amazing and talented people that not only am I very fond of as friends, their attitude is nothing short of inspiring. We all know our current weather forecasting is hit or miss at best, but when I saw the conditions this morning were going to be cold and windy I was really bummed. When I voiced my disappointment to Conundra her response was ...so what, doesn't matter, we're going to make amazing images. 

Not to spill anything personal here but a few short weeks ago Conundra had a PICC line inserted, a final stage of treatment for an issue she's been having to deal with for quite some time. It's visible on several of our photos from Sunday. This would no doubt curb the activities for many of us, particularly when it comes to meandering naked through abandoned buildings in the desert on a cold and windy day, well, not this Muse!
Some of my favorite images from our previous shoot last August.
Names & Places
A genuine love for what we do is what it's all about.   
I've Got A Dream
I'll be doing more features this year on all the amazing models I've gotten to work with, I've been quite blessed.
Pillars Of Creation

To A Skylark
Conundra chose this verse to accompany the above photo:

"We look before and after,
and pine for what is not:
our sincerest laughter
with some pain is fraught;
our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought

Yet, if we could scorn
hate and pride and fear
if we were things born
not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we should ever come near"
- Percy Bysshe Shelley

Sweet Slumber
"But before all else a work of art is the creation of love. Love for the subject first and for the medium second. Love is the fundamental necessity underlying the need to create, underlying the emotion that gives it form, and from which grows the unfinished product that is presented to the world. Love is the general criterion by which the rare photograph is judged. It must contain it to be not less than the best of which the photographer is capable." - Eliot Porter

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Growing Pains

From my first shoot with Pearl, May '08
Skool's Out
We took a circular route through The Mojave National Preserve, beginning the day at the Evening Star Mine where I had mistakenly assumed there would be morning light, another lesson learned, don't assume the place you choose to start isn't backed by a huge mountain directly to the east. Growing pains! Luckily for me Pearl liked the photos enough to shoot with me again a few weeks later. 
By The Light Of Day
In the morning light right next to a foot path, never assume that since you are out in the desert there are not other people around. Shortly after this photo was taken a couple who had been camping out there walked right by us, we hadn't seen or heard them until they were just a few feet away.
Wait No More
I was loving the images we were creating and started working with Pearl semi regularly, I felt she had a look that worked really well with my style, plus she loves the desert!
More than a Muse, over the last couple of years she's been sounding board for ideas, (more like co-conspirator lol) but more importantly and also unfortunately for her, she's had to listen to me as I carry on a virtual love hate relationship with my work, and I can be a whiner! But I'm probably in good company when I admit going through growing pains, I doubt there's an artist out there that doesn't struggle a few days, or more a month questioning their work.
Desert Moon
I'm in a constant state of trying to improve, I read and study books and techniques, I'm basically trying everything I can think of to elevate my work.
Nature's Breath
Is it more growing pains when we self criticize or when we long to do better?
Ain't That Simple

A Finer Day
I feel better about my work then at any point in the past but still I know I have a long way to go.
Celebrate The Day
Kevin Russo was definitely on to something when he said... "In order to be a successful Photographer, you must possess both Vision and Focus neither of which have anything to do with your eyes."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shannon Donovan-Littleton

“It seems that different people have an idea of what I am, and what I should be. And then there's me.” ~Ani Difranco
It is a pleasure for me to feature a cyberfriend, abstract & digital artist, writer extraordinaire, extreme weather maven, closet cultural anthropologist, Gemini and pizza lover, the awesome Shannon Donovan-Littleton. (please visit her blog)
I've known Shannon, online since late 2008, I think I may have first found her on RedBubble then later on FaceBook, or visa-versa, who remembers the details? It was her prose that really got to me though, and recently she has been posting what she refers to as "snippets" (...what I call 'teasers') from a soon to be published work.

Over the last couple of years Shannon has been kind enough to allow me to pair some of her prose with my images, which in my world adds an amazing dimension to the imagery, here is the latest example...

The Witness
"What is it about you...precious soul....
that compels me to crave to swim in your veins. 
To taste your skin and giggle in your lungs. 
To be naked in the summer of your warm breath. 
And to die happily in the gaze of your every aching sunset..." 
(excerpt from the Epilogue, 'The Fabler's Muse' (05-2011))

And from an earlier work...

A Yearning Air
Wind tossed and pierced pure
descending down from heavenly realms,
to where you last left me blooming,
and where want begins to whisper again.

My wandering comfort now lies within,
the timeless and allegorical lines,
we gingerly scribed upon the rocks,
and where in pure delight,
our dwelling time pulsed.

The mesquite whispers warmly here.
Casting their blessings through my hair,
and knowing pure love,
is the deepest practice we manifest;
and with which I am now satiated.

My innermost nest now rests,
while you are buoyant and away.
My heart pirouettes with incredible visions,
of our warm shared breath,
that fed us abundantly for a while..
And if this isn't enough talent... Shannon is my 'go to' desert meteorologist, it's true! When planning my weekend excursions I count on her for weather reports to the areas I plan on shooting, and more then once have made adjustments to my routes based on her expert advice. 
Sundown's Dream
This is just a small sample of Shannon's incredible art...
Queen Of Hearts

Bella's Butterflies

Mardi Gras
...also Photography
Cover Me
Shannon describes herself: "Abstract and digital artist.... soaring through cosmic recursive fractal flames, liquified plug-ins, and ambient orgasms, Loves road trips and collecting body jewelry, Can't live without an IPod, naps, and a charcoal erasure...."  

Reminds me of a great quote... "If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera." ~Lewis Wickes Hine

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

William Mortensen

William Herbert Mortensen (1897 - 1965)
Since discovering Mortensen several years ago and reading about his life and subsequent journey into obscurity, he has been a major influence for me. Although most of his work has been lost, the images that did survive are a tribute to his genius, in his book "Mortensen on the Negative" he wrote; "Dedicated to the real photographers of the world - to those who, with their second-hand equipment and their makeshift darkrooms, are today fighting their solitary battles with their recalcitrant medium, not for money or for glory, but because they would rather make pictures than anything else in the world." ~ William Mortensen, Simon and Schuster, 1940.
The Model
"The Model" is Myrdith Monaghan, William Mortensen's second wife. 

During my search for more information I came across a very informative, insightful and biographical look into his life in an article written by J. Stephen Gillette, one of his former photography students. In the article he recalls an episode when he first arrived at Mortensen's School of Photography: 

"The second day of school we had a model- and she was naked! Plus, I was supposed to photograph her. Here I was a kid from Nebraska, only 16 years old, and had never before seen a naked lady. This had to be the most difficult day of my young life. Looking back, I guess the gods were on my side that day because it was also the first time this model had ever appeared naked before a camera."

"Mr. Mortensen realized the difficulty and the uncomfortable position we were both in and explained that nakedness is an awkward situation. It is like being in a dark room without any clothes and suddenly the lights come on and there is a stranger of the opposite sex looking at you. Nudity on the other hand is a beautiful situation. It's like skinny-dipping with your friends on a beautiful summer day at your favorite swimming hole. We talked at great length about the beautiful nudes done by the great artists of the world. Before long, the model and I were very comfortable with our newfound situations."

Nude With Peacock
"Mortensen was considered an anachronism in photography, an outsider in a field that rejected the theatrical set-ups, retouching and strong imaginative subject matter. Ansel Adams, high priest of the straight print, described Mortensen as both "the devil" and "the anti-Christ." Historians seem to have sided with Adams, as there are few mentions of Mortensen in most of the major photo histories." ~ Cary Loren
In his book "The Model - - A Book on the Problems of Posing" Mortensen wrote;
“To be sure, emotion is frequently the thing that is expressed in a picture - and this fact is, no doubt, the cause of the tendency to over-emphasize the importance of emotion as a pictorial element. Emotion may be expressed, or the utter lack of it may be expressed ; but the only important fact is that of expression. Thoughts and emotions cannot be photographed, despite the protestations of some mystically minded portraitists. What can be photographed are the physical manifestations of thoughts and emotions. Physical fact is ultimately the sole pictorial material. But expression is not achieved by the unselective recording of the physical fact. For, ultimately, these physical manifestations of thoughts and emotions are not actually clearly marked or differentiated.”

During the 1920's Mortensen took still photographs on movie sets for the Hollywood film industry, instead of using the big 8 x 10 inch camera he would crawl around the set with a small camera and take pictures during the actual filming. This had never been done before and the photographs were so successful that Cecil B. DeMille had albums of these magnificent stills made up and had them sent to libraries around the world. One was accepted by the Vatican.
Nude In Desert
Also during this time in the 20's he took thousands of nudes, of them, a mere half dozen survived because some time later, in a self-critical frenzy, he destroyed the lot. Even later, as his health no doubt began to fail and the prevailing opinion of his work was negative at the time, Mortensen must have felt his work would never be appreciated and I believe even more was lost around the time of his death.
Venus and Vulcan
"Photography, like any other art, is a form of communication. The artist is not blowing bubbles for his own gratification, but is speaking a language, is telling somebody something. Three corollaries are derived from this proposition.
a. As a language, art fails unless it is clear and unequivocal in saying what it means.
b. Ideas may be communicated, not things.
c. Art expresses itself, as all languages do, in terms of symbols."
William Mortensen, "Venus and Vulcan 5. A Manifesto and a Prophecy," Camera Craft 41, no. 6 (July 1934)

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I recently joined a group on DeviantArt called Derelict-Nudes started by two amazing artists from the UK Mark Varley and Heather Morris, today I'd like to feature some of their work together, enjoy!



Back In B & W


All images are © Copyright, Mark Varley, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Andrew Paul Gettler

September 25, 1975 - May 10, 2011
I met Andrew while he was living in southern California, Andrew was a thoughtful and genuine person, he had a contagious smile and kind heart and he was as creative as the day is long.
Symbol II
Roots 02
Mask I
 There were many sides to Andrew's work, from his 'creature fotography' to still life, and from beautiful family portraits to product design, digital graphics to macro photography his talent was huge.
Nude Photography 101
Puppet Show
Strongest Soldier
Extremely talented and creative, Andrew was an Artist, it was an honor and pleasure to know him, albeit briefly. The images I've posted here are but a very small sample of his incredible body of work, Andrew will be missed dearly by both his friends and fans.

Andrew posted the following poem in July, 2007 that he said he had written "long ago":

Final Goodbye

by *littlegett

I looked inside my minds eye
To find a creature deep inside
Fierce and brutal with claws and fangs
It screams, snarls, howls and bangs
It’s only your imagination
He told me at the train station
But I’ve seen it before
And I’ll see it some more
For this Creature deep inside my own minds eye
For as long as I live it will never die
So say your farewells
Your see-you-later-Mels
For this creature is strong and fierce
Thus it’s black heart I must pierce
No one to remember this name of mine
Not even the one with my last dime
My ashes will blow and scatter
Without one soul to know what matters
Get your priorities straight
For all of you I hate
For this I will leave like a swallow
As it flies with no sorrow

Be at peace Andrew and Zesty Mint.

Friday, May 13, 2011


reducing a thousand words to a title.
Jesus Saves
When I originally posted the above image someone almost immediately asked me why I chose the title "Jesus Saves", and well, if I remember correctly at some point during the shoot  when NevaehLleh and I were talking the subject came up. But this is not the only reason, because to me the pose could be saying 'save me', but I didn't mention that in my explanation, I simply said it was a bit of an inside joke. Then the person asking suggested I change it, because using the subject of a private joke made no sense to anyone but us, in fact, he was "helping me" by pointing out that if my titles made more sense to the viewer, my work would be better received and appreciated. 
Time For Takeout
So that was an interesting thought, in order for my work to have more meaning the title must make sense to anyone who happened to view the image, but I wonder if everyone even reads them. Karen titled the one above and in fact titled 99% of all our images, the titles she came up with are awesome especially the one above!
Life In Paradise
I love titles that have two meanings and I sometimes get lucky and think of one, in the image above, Sunshine In The Desert's pose really says 'life in paradise', even when very few people would know that she is in fact standing near the middle of a place called Paradise Valley.
Waiting On Sundown
While I was editing this image I looking through iTunes for some music, I passed a Brooks & Dunn song called 'Waiting On Sundown', then I glanced at the photo and thought, hmmm, that could be exactly what she is waiting on. So I'm wondering, does the "perfect" title make the image better? Instead of "Jesus Saves" I could have simply called the first image 'color nude on rocks in the desert', but to me, the photo is the message, on the other hand, I could be all wrong.