Self Portrait: Canvas

One must practice one’s craft. Self portraits may be the best way to learn how to photograph people. It’s also a great way to let off steam when subjects are scarce.

Models can be canvases.

Models, I realized, aside from being photogenic people who can project attitude and emotion and throw shapes, are canvases. For this concept I needed a human form and skin for an experiment with “tattoos”. Tattoos were too hard to design on my own so I got a “tribal” design from Adobe’s stock photos.

I don’t like pictures of myself for the most part. I’m not entirely unathletic but I am overweight. Stout. Just turned 44 yesterday, which is to say I don’t have the  burnished complexion of a twenty-something. It took a lot of shots to come up with something that’s not embarrassing and there’s a reason why these photos are from the chest up. The Dad Bod trend didn’t last long enough. Can’t wait ’til I’m buff again.

I did a lot of skin smoothing and editing — a lot — in Lightroom and Photoshop. (The tattoo is photoshopped, although I’d like to do some artful body painting or henna someday.)

A good photographer will capture you at your best if you can relax a little bit just long enough to let out the real you. Just for a moment, however brief. Other than that, it’s all about light and shadow, form and space.

  • Two Alien Bee 1600s
  • Using the kit metal cone thing and grid for the rim light. I still haven’t managed to get that rim light sliver I was looking for.
  • One 24″ Fotodiox Octabox (with a 36″ grid because I’m a doof and ordered the wrong size)
  • Phottix Odin remote trigger
  • Lastolite 5′ x 7′ black/white reversible collapsible backdrop

I can’t decide which ones I like better: color or black and white.



Self Portrait Shoot: In Pursuit of Knowledge


I don’t like pictures of myself. I don’t like taking photos of myself. But I secretly want to be Fashion Santa.

Gotta practice on someone and I’m always available at the drop of a hat. I spend a LOT of my down time watching YouTube videos: photography, studio lighting, reviews, tips and tricks (plus camping, bushcraft skills, mountain biking, snowboarding, skateboarding, making beats).

I like these photos for technical reasons. I wore that hoodie sweater the other day and when I pulled the hood up in the cold I saw the hooded under-lit image in my mind. The mood that was in my head is in the photos.

Photo Dec 22, 1 18 59 PM.jpgThat’s a win, especially considering my set up. In my cluttered living room with a black, wrinkly backdrop draped over the bedroom door.

I ordered an Alien Bee lighting kit on eBay. It would have been so sweet. I had plans, man. The seller had many complications of business and personal natures and ultimately a week or so later – I was starting to think I was getting scammed but that wasn’t the case — let me know that it wasn’t available. I was crestfallen and stressed about the money but It was refunded. The seller had a Murphy’s law kind of week.

A good set of studio strobes would be phenomenal but the truth is I’m not taking enough photos to justify the cost. I took these photos with my Sony speedlights (one firing down through a 24” Octobox and one firing up from the floor with a Magmod grid), fired remotely via Phottix wireless triggers, plus a Last-O-Lite reflector.

That qualifies as a professional setup but lacks the power and action-freezing capabilities of much more powerful and versatile strobes. I want to be able to take that power on the road but it comes with a cost, of course.

I’m having a hell of a time finding anyone to photograph, though. I’m thoroughly frustrated. Craigslist has turned into a complete cesspool. I got really lucky with Audrey the first time I tried that. Model Mayhem … maybe I just need to learn my way around. I guess networking would be more effective.

Ideally, I’d like to have a working relationship. So when I get an idea I can ping someone: “Hey, I have an idea I want to try. You free tomorrow?”

And bing bam boom. Photo magic.

This is an age-old issue with the arts, of course. When you want to do your own thing – chase after your ideas – this is how it goes.

But when you get in the groove … it is so worth it.

Photography: Audrey Escalante

Inside: Regular people; The Hunger; A pro photoshoot; Craigslist is creepy as ****

To quote a sage:

“Everybody wan’ go heav’n. Nobody wan’ dead.” – Screwface

Let me put that in the context of photography:

Everybody wants great, memorable, high quality photos of themselves and their loved ones. Nobody wants to get their picture taken.

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Photography: Hailu Mergia with Low Mentality

Willem Van Haecht to Kunstkamer to Pannini

I need some help from any art connoisseurs or historians.

Twelve years ago I was in the Louvre and saw a few paintings. Paintings full of paintings.It was one of those moments where you tell yourself, “Okay. I’m going to remember this artists name. I’m going to remember. I’m going to remember.”

Then I forgot it by the time I left the museum. I couldn’t sleep last night and something flipped a switch and I decided I was going to figure this out. That’s what I’ve been doing this morning with a documentary about honey badgers on TV in the background.

After lots of googling, I still don’t think I’ve got it — and I don’t really care if I find the actual artist’s works in question — but I’ve found what I needed to find.

“Gallery of the Louvre” by Morse

After flailing around I stumbled across this. (It’s a big file so might take a while to download.)

And that is guy-who-gave-us-the-telegraph Samuel Morse, in case you were wondering. Actually, the first article I read was an art historian critique. Critics rub me the wrong way but hey. Whatever.

“The Gallery of Cornelis van der Geest”, Willem Van Haecht

Looking through the image search results I saw something similar to what I saw all those years ago. That eventually led to this.


That’s more like it. And that led to a Dutch wikipedia page and the term “kunstkamer”. I don’t know what that means. Art room, I think.

Giovanni Paolo Pannini

I think it was Pannini. Holy crap. It’s like a little part of my brain has been holding its breath for twelve years and can finally breathe in.

pannini gallery

Finally. Now. Where can I see these in real life?


Photographing Nekkid Women

Let’s talk about this. Oh, there are no nude pics in this entry. Sorry. Well, I do have one album here just so you don’t feel like you’ve been bait ‘n switched:

I did a meetup group photoshoot where a professional model is hired for fashion, bikini, implied nude, and nude shots. There’s one coming up that is a nude and erotic photo shoot. Some of the photographers also do fetish and bondage photos.

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