I have joined Model Mayhem in order to advertise in an online portfolio seen by many models and photographers the work I have been doing in photography and cast a wider net for contacts, specifically, female models.
I shoot many kinds of subjects; but I'm here on Model Mayhem, obviously, because I'm interested in photographing women, my favorite subject, and MM is, ostensibly, a good place to make contact with women who actually want to make photographs, not merely females who have posted a few photos of themselves and now do absolutely nothing by way of modeling, but like to think of themselves as models with their outdated sites. (And, yes, there's too much of that on Model Mayhem.)
Do I photograph models who do not work nude? Of course. Do I photograph models who do work nude? Of course. (In other words, I'm not any different from most of the photographers on this site, no matter how much their MM portfolios look like a collection of "senior portraits" or something bland enough to be in an ad for a grocery store chain.) So...what do I mean by "nude"?
This June, 2014, I had the pleasure of standing before "Susanna at Her Bath," a beautiful painting from 1850 by Francesco Hayez, at The National Gallery in London. You can see the painting at this URL:
The card beside the actual painting in The National Gallery worded an important issue slightly differently than you see it done in the text online at the URL above. On the card next to the painting in the museum, you can read this comment: “The Old Testament story of Susanna bathing provided him with a pretext for painting one of his favourite subjects, the female nude.”
For centuries, painters, under the thumb of the church, needed a “pretext” in order to paint a nude. How could a man possibly say that he was, because he was human, interested in the female nude? Eve, Bathsheba, Mary Magdalene--these women played a role in “the holy story,” so a painter could depict their nakedness and stay within the strict moral guidelines of the church which, of course, sat in judgment on aesthetic matters. The phrase “sat in judgment,” didn’t merely mean that the Church could make decisions concerning taste; it meant that they could ruin careers and even kill artists. (Today’s quiz: Please compare and contrast such "sacred" bullying with that which we saw in Stalinist Russia.)
It’s the 21st century, people. We live a century after Freud’s groundbreaking work on sexuality.
I do not need a “pretext” to photograph a woman nude. I don’t have to pretend that she’s playing the role of Mary Magdalene so you won’t have to get your underwear in a wad about the nudity since, or so many assume, God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world. Human sexuality, and, yes, including a heterosexual male’s pleasure in viewing a beautiful female, nude, is nothing to be ashamed of, though, in 2014, even in the “land of the free,” there are plenty of prudes and philistines (on the religious right) and ideologues (on the political left) who become apoplectic over the presentation of female nudes and feel the need to censor and castigate the photographer and shame the woman old enough to make up her own mind. Get real. Go to art museum. Read a book. Travel (Jerusalem, Rome, and Salt Lake City are not your only options on the map).
Again, I need no pretext. I enjoy photography that celebrates the beauty and eroticism of women.
And while I’m here, the word “erotic” does not necessarily mean “explicit.” Many in this field, I have discovered, do not know the difference between the words “erotic” and “explicit”; however, their misunderstanding and misuse of the word should not be a common mistake. Is the following ESQUIRE cover featuring Monica Bellucci erotic or explicit? I say it’s “erotic.”
So when you see me use the word “erotic” below, please do not assume that I’m interested in the trash--both artless and stupid--that some mislabel “erotic,” when it’s merely explicit.
Some recent news:
“The Sacred Imperative to Teach the Erotic in Literature, Despite the Restrictions--Legal and Tribal--that Bar the Door and Demand the Veil.” Paper presented in Oxford, England--September 17-19, 2013--at the 8th Global Conference on “Exploring the Erotic” at Mansfield College, Oxford University.
“A Curvaceous Blonde and a Gideon Bible Complete with a Gloss in the Gospel of John: The Sacred Nude Image and the Word as Sacrilege in a Hotel Room Photo Shoot.” Paper presented in New York City--October 19, 2012--at the 26th Annual Meeting of the National Conference on Liberal Arts and the Education of Artists, Sponsored by The School of Visual Arts. The conference had this theme: “Wordimage/Imageword.”
I once submitted photos to an arts festival. A photograph of mine--one included in my MM portfolio--was selected for the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival: June 16-24, 2012.
Yes, I live in Forest Grove, Oregon. But when I shoot locally, I shoot in Portland: outside, in good weather; inside, which I prefer, in hotels and studios. I also arrange shoots when I travel.
For unfettered access to several photos of mine like you see here on MM (or cannot see because some of these shots are blocked unless you are a Model Mayhem member), click this link:
I am not a photographer by trade. I am a university professor of English language and literature. I am not trying to change professions: I am expanding the one I have. Cross-disciplinary work is prized in a university where such topics as creativity, artistic self-expression, risk, and even the first amendment are valued.
Several years ago I gave a presentation--showed one hundred of my photographs and read from one of my essays--about my experiences photographing women and, specifically, the reaction to erotic imagery in the university today, at a conference held by The School of Visual Arts in New York City.
The fact that I am not a professional photographer but I am exclusively interested, here anyway, in photographing women does not make me a "GWC." (For anyone just surfing here, a "GWC" is a "guy with a camera"; it is a derogatory term well known among experienced models and professional photographers for a guy who is using his camera as a ruse to get next to the models. He does not want to make art; he wants to make the models.) It is important to understand the following fact: just because a man with a camera is not a professional photographer does not mean he cannot be professional in his dealings with a model. I am here to make the best art I can with a camera (and Photoshop). I am here because I want to make more and better photographs.
Anyone who photographs people--no matter how proud of his or her work as a photographer--knows that a model is an important collaborator in this artistic endeavor, not merely a prop to be placed somewhere and then lit. (There is only one director on the set: me; but I would be foolish not to listen to ideas and respond to the person before me while we are working together.) As a professor, I work only with the mind and spirit of both the women and men I teach. However, as a photographer, I am just like every other visual artist--photographer, painter, sculptor, filmmaker, etc.--because I also appreciate the physical aspect of a woman. So her look is important, and I can and do celebrate everything from photographs that portray a soft beauty to those that exhibit a hard eroticism. But in addition to her look, I am seeking a particular spark in her attitude--something in her confidence, intelligence, and creativity.
I treat a model with respect and courtesy at all times, even when we are both working to produce an edgy portrait. I point to the woman who was seven months pregnant when we had our shoot, who wrote me a kind note afterwards and said she would like to work with me again. Her safety was my first priority on our shoot; making great shots was a very, very close second. I point to the woman who shot with me and then asked me months later if I would photograph her 17-year-old sister; that says something, too. I met the parents; everyone signed the minor release form, and we went to work. (Perhaps I should define the words "and we went to work": what I mean by that is that we turned, with serious intent, to the great pleasure of creative play in an attempt to produce work we would both be proud of.)
My biographical note is covered in greater depth in my profile at my Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/doylewesleywalls
You might enjoy my Tumblr site; most of my blogging is here now:
If you are preparing to enroll at a university, or if you already are a university student, an online essay of mine might interest you:
Many talented models and photographers on Model Mayhem have inspired me. Thanks to those of you who have.