is the General FAQ
Page last updated November 14, 2013
|What kind of equipment & film do you use?||What's your opinion of digital vs. traditional photography?|
|Do you sell your pictures?||Can you suggest ways to find models?|
|Do you use model releases?||Do You Have More Advice For Photographers?|
|How would I get started with nude photography?||How did you learn / how can I learn to be comfortable working with nude models?|
|What are these "Secret Galleries" that are mentioned occasionally?||What's the story behind these "voluntary donations"?|
|What's the story with these "Out Takes"?||Why do you use a form instead of an e-mail?|
|How do you feel about tattoos?||How big is this site?|
|How much does a sitting cost (time & money)?||Why does your production drop off in the summer?|
|What defines a "good" photograph?||Do you ever do outdoor nude photography?|
|How long have you been making (nude) photographs?||Will you please photograph my girlfriend/wife?|
|Will you please photograph me?||How do you "colorize" your images?|
|Why Aren't You Using PayPal Anymore?||How do you negotiate modeling fees (blog entry)?|
|Will you critique my photographs?||Do you do TFP (trade for prints or trade for CD)?|
I use the following:
In May, 2005, I obtained a new digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix 8400. My previous digital camera, a Canon Powershot G5 (5 megapixel) camera, did not fire the strobes reliably, so I replaced it. There are things I like about the Nikon:
If it wasn't for its inconsistency in firing the strobes, I might prefer the Canon -- I think its colors are more accurately rendered, it is easier to use, and it is a bit faster. But the Nikon works reliably, and that's very important.
I scan my film/paper images using my good ol' HP Scanjet 5 -- in fact, I keep around an old computer running Windows 98 just to run the Scanjet. I've tried newer scanners, but don't like them as much.
I use Jasc's Paint Shop Pro 9 to process all the digital images (those scanned from film/paper & those from the digital camera.
I've recently purchased a Canon Pixma MP780 all in one printer. I does make decent prints from good digital images, but I'm still a believer in traditional film & paper photography.
I'm a traditionalist. If my objective was solely this web site, I'd probably work in digital photography. Digital is much more convenient, and to be honest, I don't enjoy darkroom work all that much. But my objective is the best art that can be displayed on the wall, and for that, digital photography doesn't come close (yet). If you compare a good digital print to a photographic print I can produce, you'd find that the photographic print is better -- the blacks are darker, the whites are whiter, and the tonal range is richer. And while I usually print 8x10 prints, I sometimes print 11x14 or even 16x20 -- a digital image would have to be huge to produce a decent print of that size. I read once that in order to record the information in a 35mm negative, a digital image would have to have 200 megapixels. My 6x7 negatives are maybe four times bigger than a 35mm negative. Today's sub-$1000 digital cameras are more in the 6-8 megapixel range. You do the math.
Also, I produce a lot of images each year, and
I find it more convenient to store my negatives (with contact sheets) in
a loose leaf binder than it would be to find some way to store all that
Note (June 14, 2004): In a recent sitting, I produced a digital image that I really, really liked. I still believe that the objective is to put the best quality image on the wall, and for that, digital still doesn't come close to film/paper. But I really haven't produced a framed print in a long time, so perhaps I will produce more digital images (and invest in a color printer). So, perhaps for future sittings, I'll rely on more digital images. How do you guys feel about that?
No. It takes me a good amount of time to produce a top quality print -- I may be able to crank out a handful per day, assuming that I was motivated. Because of the effort & that materials I use, I would have to sell each 8x10 print for more than $300, just to break even. Given that many photographers sell their (digital) prints for quite a lot less, I'm not sure the occasional sale would be worth the effort. (For a while, I donated prints to an on-air art auction at a San Jose public television station -- usually great fun. There, my prints were auctioned off for prices in the $500 range.)
Besides, I'm concerned about the effect of earning money through my photography. Right now, I make the images I want to make. If I want to photograph a nude model twirling a hula hoop or if I want to pour chocolate over a model, I'll do it. If I started earning income through my photography, I am concerned that I'd start trying to make images that would sell. I don't want to do that -- I don't have the energy to produce commercially successful images and still have energy to follow my own muse.
Note: The reality is that I've been laid off, and I've had to sextuple the bandwidth of this site to keep it up & running. I am considering offering (probably digital) prints for sale from this web site. What is your opinion?
This is a popular question. I'll share some thoughts.
First of all, I consider the finding, selecting, and negotiating with models to be part of the artistic process. Your resulting images are dependent on the model and your ability to communicate with her/him. Choose carefully.
Secondly, lots of photographers, especially beginners, don't want to pay models. That's fine if you can find models who want to do you a favor & pose for free or for prints, but most models I know will pose for free only for experienced & talented photographers, so beginning photographers may have problems finding free modeling. All photographers should take a moment and think about their photo sittings from the model's point of view -- why would a model want to pose for you for no compensation? Think about it.
I've seen some photographers who feel that a model should be honored to be asked to pose for them, and that should be enough compensation (or at least that should justify low modeling rates). I'd like to think that I'm too humble for that.
Yes. I suggest that you do a search on the Internet for model releases, because I'm no lawyer, and you should definitely NOT take any legal advice from me.
The problem with most of the model releases I've found is that they are very scary. Many say things like giving the photographer permission to use the images in a way that may be embarrassing. Heck, if I was a model, I wouldn't sign many of the releases I've seen. So, I've created a very simple release (click here for a MS Word version) -- it's a bit more friendly, and it probably doesn't protect me 100%, but since I don't sell my images nor do I charge for viewing them on this site, I'm hoping that I'm okay. Besides, the best thing that protects me is my relationships with the models -- we might not produce wonderful images, but I hope that all models leave the sitting after having fun & feeling respected.
For models -- read those releases carefully. When you sign, you give the photographer the right to use the images of you in any way the photographer wishes, without further compensation. If you want to restrict those usages, talk to the photographer.
Note: I've had people ask to be hired to pose for me, but they don't want to sign a model release. I figure that if I can't get a signed model release, then I shouldn't be hiring the model. Perhaps the model wishes to hire me?
You should first understand that I got started with nude photography because of the challenge -- despite its popularity & prevalence, nude photography is very difficult. The challenge is being able to visualize worthwhile images, finding models, getting models to agree to pose for you, and of course the technical challenges of producing worthwhile images. Welcome to the brotherhood!
There are related questions here in this FAQ -- read this FAQ thoroughly. Some additional ideas:
Well, yes, I guess I can share some of my experiences:
I started making nude photographs because of the challenge -- how do you find models willing to pose nude, how do you make the sitting comfortable for all involved, how do you produce worthwhile images, etc. Nowadays, I'm more skilled at nude photography, including finding wonderful models. Don't get me wrong -- each sitting is a real thrill for me. But sometimes, I want more of a challenge, and sometimes, I come across a model who is interested in posing for pictures that are more erotic or extreme than the typical "fine art" image. So, if conditions are right (e.g. I am comfortable with the model, the model is comfortable with me, and the model is comfortable and/or interested in such poses), I occasionally create more extreme images. A couple of notes: 1) 90% of the time, I try to produce "fine art" images, and 2) I consider the fetish work that I've done to be more erotic than "fine art". Anyway, there are a few "secret" pages containing these images. The secret galleries aren't extensive, but there are a half dozen pages or so.
The challenge to this kind of photography (for me, at least) is how do you use such subject matter & create artful pictures. Pretty much any time you dabble in these themes, you are likely to create sleazy or shocking pictures.
Recently, I've decided to make access to these secret pages available to selected visitors. I've decided that only those people who have made a voluntary donation (of any amount) will get access to these pages. Here's how you can get access:
I reiterate: the secret galleries are not extensive; I should add that I'm not very good at these themes. If you are considering making a voluntary donation (and thank you for that!), I'd prefer that you think of your donation as a contribution for the support of the extensive public galleries & not as a purchase for access to the secret galleries.
If you do get a username & password, please do not share these with anyone else.
Note: Your user name & password will be valid only until January 1st of the following year. After that, you'll have to reapply (i.e make another donation). Donations made in December will be good through the following year.
Note: Don't confuse the Out Takes Galleries with the Secret Galleries. Starting in 2005, I've decided to limit the number of images I post for each sitting; I do this in order to conserve bandwidth -- the Out Takes are more of the same kind of images I post publicly. The secret galleries are more extreme or erotic or explicit. People who make a voluntary donation will automatically receive a shared username & password for the Out Takes -- they have to apply explicitly in order to receive a different username & password for accessing the secret galleries.
See the next question for more details.
In October, 2002, I was laid off from HP (after working there for 23 years -- feels like I was discarded like a used tissue), and I haven't replaced that job. While I had planned for a very early retirement, and while I've been able to pick up money here and there, I am now a bit sensitive to expenses. This site has only grown -- it currently has over 6500 image files from dozens of sittings. Meanwhile, this site's popularity has grown -- my home page is getting over 400 hits a day, and I'm averaging over 2 Gb of bandwidth each day. Despite over sextupling the bandwidth limit during 2004, we still often run out of bandwidth!!! This still is a significant expense for me. Additionally, photography can be an expensive hobby: not only do I have to pay for web hosting, I also pay for modeling fees, film, paper, lighting equipment, camera equipment, darkroom equipment, props, etc. Each sitting costs a few hundred dollars.
So, I asked my visitors for suggestions, and the one I liked the best is this: asking for voluntary donations. This site will remain free for all to enjoy, and I don't intend to charge anyone for access to the main site. I also do not intend to place ads or banners on this site, and I won't get sponsors for this site. So, voluntary donations seems like a good way to go. Here's how it works:
Note: Both the Out Takes access and the Secret Galleries access are good only for the calendar year in which the donation is made (donations made in December will remain good for the following calendar year).
Please do not share your passwords with others. Thanks.
Why no ads, sponsors, or banners? First of all, I find them annoying & distracting when I come across them. Secondly, this is my hobby, and I'm making the images that appeal to me -- if I sell my images or sell sponsorships or place ads, I may shift my thinking to producing images that are more popular or financially successful, and that's not what this site is all about.
One final note: if you are considering a donation (and thank you for that), please do so with the mindset that you are contributing to the support of this extensive web site (which contains well over 3000 images) -- the secret galleries are not extensive (but there are a lot of images from recent sittings in the Out Takes galleries).
Thank you very much for your support.
The past couple of years have been significant for me, in a lot of ways:
So, at the suggestion of a patron of the web site, I intend to restrict the number of images I publicly post from each sitting. Additional images will be made available in the "Out Takes Galleries", which will only be available to those people who have made a voluntary donation. Here are some notes:
See the "Voluntary Donations" and the "Secret Galleries" questions for more information. Thank you for considering making a donation that will help towards the upkeep of this web site -- your support is greatly appreciated.
I use a form for facilitating visitors communications with me for a few reasons:
This is depressing -- it costs a lot. To be honest, I only recently tried to figure it out, but the costs have been increasing quite a bit. Some of the major factors include the following:
Time-wise: it can also be expensive:
Bottom line: it can get to be very expensive & time consuming! Have you seen my Voluntary Donations page?
If you do the arithmetic, you'll see why I rarely host more than one sitting per month, although in 2004, I was more prolific than that. During 2004, I hosted two sittings in a single day, and in a separate run, I hosted three sittings in twelve days. That keeps me busy.
Gosh, I don't really know. But it's been around for several years, and I've been adding pictures to it all along. If you explore the site, you'll find several dozens of sittings with dozens of models, and perhaps over 6500 images. That's pretty good for a site that is free, has no sponsors, doesn't require membership, and has no adware/spyware. Again, I can use help to keep the site going -- if you can, please visit the Voluntary Donations page and perhaps make a contribution to help keep the site going.
To be honest, I started making nude photographs because I thought they would be challenging, and this specific aspect, learning to be comfortable with nude models, is the single most significant part of the challenge. It is difficult. Some suggestions:
I'm still not totally comfortable working with nude models, but I'm working on it! But I've got a ways to go to improve, especially where it comes to moving close to the model and where it comes to working with new models. But sometimes that "discomfort" adds to the overall thrill. I suspect that if/when I get totally comfortable with nude photography, I'll probably get bored & will probably slow down or stop.
For a few reasons, none of which would be "good" reasons:
On the other hand, several models are also students, and they are more readily available during the summer when schools are closed. Additionally, it seems that more models travel during the summer. So, I suppose that if the opportunity presents itself, I will do a summer photo session.
To me, there are two key aspects to examine when viewing photographs: the aesthetic & the technical. Both must be present for a photograph to be considered (at least by me) "good".
I used to. I really like well done outdoor nude photography, and when the weather turns nice, I try to resolve to do some during the warm weather season, but admittedly, I rarely do, for a variety of reasons:
But that being said, I am still interested in outdoor photography. Perhaps someday I'll get it together. Some models (especially Jennifer) have expressed interest in working outdoors.
When I was about 14, I attended a summer art school, planning to study film. My films weren't anything special, but the images were encouragingly good. At the last week, I borrowed a Pentax Spotmatic, and I ran around photographing my friends for keepsakes. Those photographs were interesting.
The next school year, a friend's father was packing up a lot of old photography equipment to give away, and I volunteered to take it off his hands. The loot included an old Nikon rangefinder 35mm camera (that was older than I was), filters, a basic light meter, and a full set of darkroom equipment (I'm still using those original trays & tongs). That was the beginning of my hobby.
I graduated high school early. By this time, the camera was ensconced in an old army surplus gas mask bag that was constantly slung over my shoulder. The camera followed me everywhere -- in fact, I felt naked without it. The camera followed me to college (Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont) where I continued to use it to do people photography. While I may have done the occasional nude photograph in college, I was mostly focused on landscape photography (Vermont was beautiful!) and people photography. In fact, I have somewhere some images of a very young David Mamet (a visiting artist at Goddard) and William H. Macy (a dorm mate). During college, I strove to expose two 36-exposure rolls a week.
After graduation, I continued making pictures, but work ate up free time a lot. After a few years in "the real world", I went to graduate school at the University of North Carolina. Photography slowed down a bit, but I still kept at it. After graduation, work really absorbed my time, and my production dropped significantly. For a while, though, I was the "staff" photographer for a local theater, photographing the plays & actors for the lobby. I also did the dance photographs at this time.
But I found that doing less photography meant that I was less happy overall. I committed myself to doing more photography in the early 90's, and I chose to focus on nude photography as a challenge. So, some of these images you see here are maybe 10 years old. I gradually ramped up doing nude photography, participating in nude photography workshops in Northern California primarily. Eventually, in the late 90's, I felt comfortable enough to host my own private sittings.
The rest, you can see here on this site.
I get this question fairly often, to which my immediate reply is, "well, does your wife/girlfriend want to be photographed?" I find it best that if someone wants to be photographed, they themselves should contact me. That saves a lot of time for all of us. Then, look at this next question, below.
Maybe. Before we get too serious about setting up a sitting, consider the following:
So, the initial key question: are you working for me or am I working for you? If you are working for me, I will compensate you & will expect to put the resulting pictures on the web. If I am working for you, then you would be paying me & you would retain the rights to the resulting photographs. There is no scenario where I would compensate you & allow you to retain the rights to the photographs. I'm not a lawyer, but the person who pays the other person typically winds up with the rights to the photographs.
Okay, I've been candid. But I like to think that I can help inexperienced models. I'm fairly easy-going & quiet; I am certainly respectful, so I can be a good photographer for amateurs.
So, the answer is maybe. Some things that would help:
Note: The last person who asked me to do this for her backed out at the last minute. While I respect her decision to decline to pose nude, it is annoying for me to put in the time & effort to do someone a favor, only to have it fall apart in the eleventh hour. Thus, I am somewhat reluctant to undertake this kind of thing.
So, think about it a little more. If you are still interested, please provide send me a picture of yourself. (Contact me via the link at the top of the page & I'll send you an e-mail address). I will not consider photographing anyone who I haven't yet seen.
Although I've been inconsistent, lately when I colorize a digital image, I put a "sepsat" at the end of the file name. For film images, lately I've been colorizing all the images anyhow, so I don't bother with the "sepsat" in the file name.
I use JASC's Paint Shop Pro 9 to edit both the digital & the scanned film & paper images. To "colorize" them,
In May, I was the victim of a touch of identity theft -- someone hacked my Pay Pal account and made about a dozen purchases (mostly video games). I caught it within hours of its occurrence. To their credit, both Pay Pal & my bank responded quickly, and all charges were reversed promptly. But I had to freeze my account, change my checking & credit card accounts, and update all the various institutions that knew of my account numbers. Of course, I was refinancing my home at the time -- good timing, huh?
While this was going on, Pay Pal decided that my site violated their Mature Audience Policy of their Acceptable Use Policy. Ironic, huh? Especially since Pay Pal is owned by E-Bay, and you know about all sorts of things available for sale on E-Bay. Pay Pal & I went through this once before, in December. At that time, they froze my account before I had a chance to withdraw the funds that were accumulated in there -- they intended to keep the hundreds of dollars that was there. At that time, I appealed their decision, and they unfroze my account. This time, for undisclosed reasons, they denied my appeal & permanently closed my account (but at least I was able to get the funds out before this happened).
I often got feedback from visitors saying that they don't trust Pay Pal, and given their capricious & inconsistent censorship (plus horror stories like these), I don't blame people for wanting an alternative to Pay Pal.
Well, so be it. I don't need them; they don't need me. I'm just tired of all these right-wing conservatives passing judgment on my art.
You do what you want, but I'll never use Pay Pal again.
Maybe. Send me a URL. But be prepared -- I am brutally honest & I have high standards. I'll try to be encouraging -- after all, I appreciate all the encouragement I can get. But if there are aspects that I don't like, I will tell you in no uncertain terms.
Here's a list of things that bug me -- if your photos have problems like this, you'll hear about it from me:
Short answer: No. I understand that a lot of photographers would prefer "free" models -- perhaps they can't afford to hire models or perhaps they are just frugal. Regardless, I have a limited amount of time to devote to photography, and each sitting represents a sizable commitment of time & expenses on my part. I am therefore selective when choosing which sittings to host, and I'm selective about which models I work with. I do prefer experienced models, and such models also make a commitment of their time to pose for me. They deserve to be compensated for their time, and I like the fact that when they leave at the end of the sitting, our business transaction is completed. Also, since the transaction is completed, there is no dispute about ownership of the resulting photographs.
A different question would be "Can I get some prints or a CD from our sitting?". See these FAQs from the FAQ For Models: