23 August 2015

Working with the Mature Model

Art Models, Liz and Anne ©2015 Terrell Neasley
"As you get older, naked stuff gets easier."
~ Helen Mirren

@Alyson Walsh recently did a blog post, [That's Not My Age: The Grownup Guide to Great Style] which I came across regarding Helen Mirren's recent birthday. I felt it was apropos for my own latest blog post, as I have previously discussed Helen Mirren as one of the most beautiful women on the planet. In this post, she's quoted several times on her views of sex, love, and getting living life as one gets older. I recently shot with two new mature models from out of town who share this excellent view on their body confidence, nudity, and life. It was highly inspiring shooting this mother and daughter together who are 75 and 51 years of age, respectively. I know, she does not look 75, but I did check her ID!

There is definitely an attraction for me in shooting the mature woman. I have quite the collection of work with models in their 40's, 50's, and even older. Granted... I've had some mad success at shooting young girls and some of my best have been muses of mine whom I began shooting under the age of 24. I look forward to shooting a woman in this age group next week with great anticipation because of what she brings to the table. However, this can be a hit or miss demographic for me where its 50/50 on whether or not a connection is established or if I'll ever shoot them again.

Not so where it comes to the mature model. Now this might be because at my own age, I identify with models 35 and over. I can not discount that notion by any means. However, I think it goes beyond that idea with much more depth. I'm an artist with a camera. I love the portraiture first. When it comes to looking into the eyes of a mature woman, there is usually a story that lies just beneath. These are women that have lived, traveled, been heartbroken, know the joys and challenges of raising a family, know and have dealt with death, yet despite all, have weathered the storm. These are women that know both pain and joy. They have endured trials of love, and have seen humanity over time. And because of this, they usually develop more than one opinion about a matter. Back in the day, they may have felt one way about an issue. But after 15 or 20 years, wisdom factors in and they see the effects to know first hand whether or not their opinions were accurate, inaccurate, or whether or not it even mattered to contemplate the issue in the first place.

Art Models, Liz and Anne ©2015 Terrell Neasley
"The weird thing is, you get more comfortable in yourself, even as time is giving you less reason for it. When you’re young and beautiful, you’re paranoid and miserable. I think one of the great advantages of getting older is that you let go of certain things."
~ Helen Mirren

Art Model, Anne ©2015 Terrell Neasley
With respect to the above quote, that's exactly what these two women did. They let go of "certain things". It was such a pleasure to shoot Anne and her mother, Liz. I worked with Anne earlier in July and she returned about 3 weeks later to Las Vegas with her mother who also worked with me on her visit. I had no real idea of what to think, how we would begin working, or what we would do. So I picked a location and just went with it. I try to maintain a "take what is given" approach. I knew that I would work within each of their boundaries. Liz, (the mom) had a few more restrictions to start with than her daughter of course, but she gradually began to trust me, I think. She began to see where I was going and what I was after and quickly shed whatever reservations that remained. Anne had less up front objections. She already had an idea that she would let go and see what her artist came up with and was initially much more open. I met both women on their terms and developed it from there. During one evening we shot well into the night outdoors. Fabulous day!

I shot them separately as well as together. Both aspects had their benefits. Getting separate shots individualized the experience and made it into a personal participation. Each woman got to experience something on her own. Shooting them together brought back the inseparable bond between them that exists just the same as if Anne was 3 years old again cuddling in Liz's arms at night after waking up from a bad dream. You've seen me post pics of Panda nursing her kid and I tell you seeing Anne and Liz nude together looked the same. It proves that bond transcends time.

Art Model, Liz ©2015 Terrell Neasley
So yes, I enjoy shooting the mature model. I don't think this post will inspire every woman who reads it to undress and let me shoot them. However I think you should ask yourself, "why not?" Most everyone I've worked with over 40 will inevitably ask rhetorically out loud, "Why didn't I do this when I was in my 20's?" Most admit to the idea had previously crossed their minds or that they had passed on a previous opportunity, but were still "paranoid and miserable", as Mrs. Mirren is quoted as saying. They express the notion, not so much as a regret in life, but more or less as if they wish they could turn back the clock or revisit their former selves and tell them to just do it!

I actually love watching the aging process. More than nudes, its LIFE that I like to capture. One of my goals is to shoot a woman over time from her mid-20's to well into mid-life. I sincerely hope to shoot with Kristi C. at least once a year forever, but I'll take 10 years for starters. We've been shooting for 3. I have GOT to do this. A MUST DO! I think she will be my Helen Mirren, as one who ages gracefully with one of the best attitudes I think a woman can have and captured for 50 plus years on camera.

Art Model, Liz ©2015 Terrell Neasley


Art Model, Anne ©2015 Terrell Neasley

"Your 40s are good. Your 50s are great. Your 60s are fab. And 70 is fucking awesome."
~ Helen Mirren

I guess if I have one reason for writing this post...well two, actually...it would be first to showcase these beautiful women and thank them for the opportunity to work with them. And second, its because I would love for you to use their inspiration to get out and just do it. I'm not even saying you have to do it with me, but I certainly encourage and welcome you to fly out to Las Vegas and book a session with me. Stay for a week, but give me, minimum 3 days of shooting to make a good project out of this. We'll work in several locations, plus studio work and everything for expenses and a flat fee. No hourly rates. We can shoot all day if you're up for it.

And if its not me, then find somebody local to where you are with a good reputation and proven results. Anne got to see some of my work and I think she liked my attitude and it was a wrap. Done deal. Not a whole lot of thinking to it. Just..."I'll do it!" And then came back to Las Vegas 3 weeks later and brought her mother, too. By no means am I saying you have to make up your mind that quickly, but ya gotta give some props to a woman that knows what she wants. We did what you see here and lots more. I've never shown this many photos on a blog post and yet there's still so much you haven't seen yet. I got to work some of my macro magic with Anne that really turned out great. Get over the inhibitions. Find your reason you don't just do it (especially if you have thought about doing it before) and then consider whether that excuse is really and truly valid.   I think you might be surprised at how much you'll find this a fulfilling event in your life. Come see me.

Art Model, Liz ©2015 Terrell Neasley

Art Model, Liz ©2015 Terrell Neasley

Art Model, Liz ©2015 Terrell Neasley

Art Model, Anne ©2015 Terrell Neasley

Art Model, Anne ©2015 Terrell Neasley

Art Model, Anne ©2015 Terrell Neasley
Art Model, Anne ©2015 Terrell Neasley

02 August 2015

The Switch to Sony - Still the Best Idea Yet

Antigua, Guatemala, Sony A7MkII f/8, 1/500 at ISO 100
"Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable."
~ William Pollard

So its been since this past December that I made that move, ala #SwitchHappens, when I picked up the Sony A7s. Then in February, right before I left for Central America, I packed the Sony A7MarkII in a new ThinkTank Retrospective 30 bag. As for lenses, I've had to make a few switches that finally worked for me, especially in the wide-angle market. I initially went for the Rokinon 14mm T3.1 as I owned with my Nikon D800E (which was absolutely superb). But after a few weeks of use, I didn't think it was my best bet. What proved to pass the test with flying colors was the Sony 16-35mm f/4 wide-angle zoom lens. The sharpness and quick auto-focus won me over, even though I was initially settled on prime lenses only. I had to pick up a portrait prime, the 55mm 1.8 and these two have proven to be the one-two punch I was looking to travel with. Not a complaint, one.

So here are my TOP FIVE reasons the switch is best for me and why I think you'll benefit as well.

El Salvador, Sony A7S f/5.6, 4 seconds at ISO 1600
1. Size and Weight - This is the obvious benefit so I begin with the easiest. Back in the day, it was difficult to be taken seriously unless you had a bigger, heavier camera. This tended to be a natural barrier to entry to female photographers who may have stuck with rangefinders. After spending a little time working in B&C Camera, I also learned that amateur and pro photogs alike would add on a battery grip to give that extra heft and appearance that says "I am serious. I am a pro" look. I know this to be fact as I have heard it admitted quite often. The lenses are also just as small for the most part.

But today, this isn't necessary. Even for someone with large hands, you quickly get used to the size of the Sony mirrorless systems. You don't go out to eat and request the XXL forks, just because you have big hands. You'll get used to it. As of yet, I have not seen nor heard of a single photographer that makes the switch and then later goes back to the DSLR. Not one. There's no need to pack extra weight just because. Because what? If you can get the same exact results or better in a smaller package, why not do it and save yourself the carpel tunnel, tennis elbow, and chiropractor visits for your bad back. And you know what else? People aren't as intimidated when I pull this camera out for street photography. You can't say as much as when you level a big DSLR in their faces.

2. Sensor quality - Okay, when the first high resolution DSLR came out, do you know who made the sensor. It was in the Nikon D800/800E, yes. But the sensor was made by Sony. Sony has been a premier sensor maker for quite some time and even makes medium format sensors. That bad ass 51MP Pentax 645Z? Yep, that's a Sony sensor. Is that an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus in your pocket. Yeah, Sony's got that sensor too. If you look at the top sensors rated by DXOMark.com, Sony has 5 of the top 6. Only the top-rated D810 (score of 97) is not a Sony manufactured sensor as far as I know and I hadn't been able to verify the Nikon D750. None of the Canon sensors have ever been rated above a score of 87 and that includes new 50MP full-frame sensors in the Canon 5DS and 5DSR.

"Sony owns an estimated 40.2 percent share of image sensor market - According to market research estimates, in 2014 Sony made 40.2 percent of all image sensors, leaving its rivals in the sector far behind. Presumably, this figure includes sensors made for things like automotive and industrial uses, but there's no doubt that it also accounts for the front and back sensors in Apple's iPhone 6 models, both made by Sony."
Sony A7s, f/11, 1/640 ISO 1600
3. Chock Full of Features I Can and Do Use - Who's ever heard of focus peaking? Ever have that with your DSLR? No you haven't. The Electronic Viewfinder is good even in the dark. It switches from LCD screen mode to Viewfinder mode automatically as soon as I look through the viewfinder. I can view the replay of my images or video through the viewfinder even in bright sunshine. Again...Not on a DSLR. Here's one feature a DSLR has that a mirrorless camera doesn't...Mirror Lock-Up. Why? Because there is no mirror to begin with. How about wireless control with my iPhone 6Plus? Yep. I got that. Know what else I can run on my camera, Apps. Yeah, just like my phone. I can put my A7s in silent mode and there is actually no sound produced when I take a picture. I likes. In addition to that, I can record 4K video on my A7s (to an external output recorder) and when the A7rMkII comes out this month, it will do it too (straight to the SD card!). See what I mean? Full of features.

Just waking up. Guatemala. A7S, F/4, 125, ISO 5000
4. Lens Quality - This is the spot that has taken a little time. I'd have been on the mirrorless bandwagon a while back, but its taken a liiittle bit of time to develop all the E-mount lenses, especially for the full frame versions. Two years after the debut, WALLA!! Everything I need, PLUS some. But let me get to the plus in a second. My main needs are wide-angle and portrait. Well, they have that in spades. The 16-35mm f/4 covers the gamut on my wide needs well enough to keep me from looking any further. And Portrait? Zeiss glass that has come to the rescue like a knight in shining armor. No kidding on that. Especially the primes. But Zeiss has also designed zooms for Sony. I'll likely be mostly prime-oriented though. Next purchase, the 90mm 2.8 macro. Gotta have it. After that, I'll likely be looking at the Zeiss Batis Series in both the 85mm 1.8 and the 25mm f/2. And just to play, I may work with the Voigtlander Nocton 50mm f/1.1 just for giggles. Remember that aforementioned "PLUS", well because of the short flange focal distance, there is pretty much an adapter that can fit to mount any other manufacturer lens. Got Canon lenses you don't wanna give up...maybe like the EF 85mm 1.2? Well, you can get a Metabones adapter and use Canon glass on the Sony full frames. Yes, you heard me correctly.

5. Corporate Sensibilities - I like options. Like... a lot. Very much so. And I gotta give it up to Sony for being the top innovator as it relates to Digital Cameras, IMHO. Working in a camera store, I get to see many of the different manufacturers and it still amazes me that the ones at the top (Canon and Nikon) still ignore the changing of the guard, much to the same chagrin as Kodak which held onto film a little bit too long. Kodak was the original pioneer in digital and yet failed to see its true worth. Nikon and Canon fail to see the advent of the mirrorless systems and thus continue to produce predictable systems as if the Megapixel and ISO race is still valid. So here is a quick rundown of how Sony as a corporate philosophy has garnered my attention.

Sony A7S f/4, 1/30, ISO 160
First, they don't give me pro cameras in a vertical hierarchy. With DSLR manufacturers, my options are limited to budgetary concerns. Get the best you can afford. You buy a DSLR in your price range and you either get the best or sacrifice options. With Sony, the hierarchy is horizontal. I don't need all of Canon's full-frame systems which are PRICE-based. However, I can very much see owning all of Sony's full-frame systems because they are NEEDS-based. If I only need a general use system, I can get the A7MarkII. But what happens when I'm doing lowlight work or need to be discrete with streetphoto work? Well, I can get the A7s which has the best high ISO performance of any camera on the market and has an absolutely soundless shutter in silent mode. OR, if I need high resolution, I can opt for the new 42MP A7RMarkII coming out next week sometime. That's 3 full-frame systems that I can justify owning and they don't sacrifice features or options. I don't get less of a camera because I get the general use A7MarkII. These systems back up each other as well as compliment each other. And yes, I will own all 3.

I also like the fact that Sony has not been afraid to spend money in R&D and bring new products to market. The Q-systems was a lens that could utilize the sensor on your smartphone via NFC. They developed 2 or 3 different ones. We sold several at B&C Camera, but they never really caught on. It didn't make them gun shy. They went on with the next thing. The NEX system eventually gave way to the Alpha system. They developed a market and then cultivated it over 5 years. Real innovation is encouraged as opposed to several other camera manufacturers which elect to stay traditional and conventional, ignoring market concerns. As I mentioned. I watch people switch ALL. THE. TIME. I know pros and amateurs alike who WANT to switch, but can't quite get past the notion of trading out all their old investment in DSLRs and lenses. I also introduce new consumers who only know Canon or Nikon to Sony and see the reaction on their faces when I tell them the A6000 is a less costly, smaller yet viable 11- frames per second direct competitor to ANY  DSLR crop (DX) system. All I have to do is put it in their hands. The look in their eyes tell the story.

Sony A7MarkII f/8, 1/250, ISO 100
So you definitely have some choices in the mirrorless market. Behind Sony, I like the Fujifilm system and lenses. Then there is the micro-four thirds systems by Panasonic and Olympus. I recently picked up the Panasonic G7 as in inexpensive option to help me, as on option with some of my video work and moments when I don't want to risk my main systems and investment in Sony. But make no mistake, for now, Sony is still my best idea to date in a camera. Of all the systems I have ever owned, its by far my favorite.

26 July 2015

Looking Ahead - For Gallery and Exhibition Opportunities


Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley

"The entertainment is in the presentation."

This past week is the first real fresh week for me since returning from Central America in June. I'm just now getting back into the swing of things and I'm eager about it. I teach One-on-One Photography Classes with independent clients and my schedule has just now opened up to where I can get back on that. They are week long intensive, but at your pace foundation instruction classes to begin with, but I give clients an option for a second week at more advanced principles of understanding light as well as working with the absence of it. I can travel to anywhere in the United States, but my best work will be here in Las Vegas. I definitely encourage potential clients outside Nevada to travel to Las Vegas, secure accommodations, transportation, and give me a week of your time. My last student was at the end of February and I left for Guatemala City just days after that. Its now MID-JULY and I'm just getting things to where I can start it back up.

Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley

I can now also concentrate on accepting clients for more Photography Projects, as well. That's the principle part of my photography business which is shooting of course. I will continue my main line of portraiture and event work for clients, but at this point, I'm also looking to step it up a bit and operate outside the traditional fare with more Food and Interior Design Photography. But my Portraiture Photography work will be focusing instead on that particular client that needs something new, fresh, and different from the norm that involves a bit more of my artistic side with the creative liberties to push the envelop.

Market Square, Antigua, Guatemala ©2015 Terrell Neasley

Market Square, Antigua, Guatemala ©2015 Terrell Neasley
Lets see, what else? Oh yeah, the 3rd principle element. Photo Sales! I don't traditionally print small. I used to, but I'm more happier concentrating on work that goes on walls, not just sitting on coffee tables. I have books for that. 30x20 and larger is the realm of reality where you'll find me. I make images that are made for books and walls. Display and presentation are key concepts that help define what happens to my images and artwork. Shoot, Edit, Print, AND THEN PRESENT is the final step of the process. It does not end with the print. A print can never make it out of the portfolio. A print on its own will be appreciated by the small circle of its creator. However if said print is destined to be viewed by the world, Presentation is key.

Of course you have the web, web portfolios, web galleries, and archives that can store photos and make them available for viewing. My argument is that seeing a shot that will be viewed upon various screen size resolutions and color shifts does nothing for the image. It does not serve the creator nor the viewer the way a printed piece commands respect. As opposed to sitting transfixed in front of a small screen browsing away at the speed of your scroll wheel, an exhibited piece of art demands the viewer to work a little bit. Engage a little bit. Spend a little bit. Invest a little bit. It requires the viewer to leave home, jump in a car, and arrive at a predetermined destination. It insists that the viewer forgo an alternative form of leisure or other investment of time and trade this opportunity for the cost of being present and standing before my work of art.

Street Corner, Matagalpa, Nicaragua ©2015 Terrell Neasley
Now my job is to make this investment of time worth the price of admission and elicit such an emotional or calculated response as to implore the viewer to take this work of art home before a rival buyer might make this choice. That's my job. And if I can do my job successfully, this process will repeat itself again and again perpetually. I understand that some pieces will not be successful. I understand that some pieces I have emotional ties with may fail with you and you make wish to take home an image that I would never have believed to ever garner attention. This has happened before. The work that I so loved, sat while another image sold quickly.

Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley

Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley
I haven't bothered with exhibition to much in the past. Now its a focus. I now have preparatory work to do in terms of finding exhibition opportunities, selecting pieces for display, and having those pieces made available in the right form of presentation. This in and of itself is not a cheap process, especially with the way I choose to present and have my work hung. I make it especially more challenging on myself, because I have to insist that my nude work is part of this process and some spaces may have difficulty honoring this due to various policies. Nonetheless, it is a must. If I'm not showing my art nudes, then what's the point. In some instances, that is the main concentration and exhibit focus. And that's where you can come in. In changing tactics like this, I definitely need some insight. Having seen my work, if you think you know of exhibition opportunities that can accommodate me, then please message me the details. I'd love to hear from you!

17 July 2015

Why Traveling (Internationally) Seems So Hard

Couple traveling in Guatemala
"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

I get asked often about why I travel, what its like, and how I do it more times than I'd care to count. I'm amazed at how mysterious so many people think it is. But then again, I'm reminded of the fact that I used to be the exact same way. It's not easy when you can't speak the language. Its too expensive. I have kids or a job that won't let me take the time off. Trust me. I had the exact same thoughts and had a few events and people in my life not helped me change that mentality, I'd still be in the same mindset.

German Art Model traveling through out Central and South America
For me, the military set the ball in motion. My first duty assignment was in Germany. I hail from Texas where being 200 miles or more from home was a rarity and most of those times I exceeded 200 miles, I was still in Texas. I turned 20 in Germany if memory serves. It was a wake-up call and was the first thing or event in my life that let me know people did things differently. During time off, I got to travel around Europe. Eventually other assignments took me to more places and I learned to be in the habit of moving a lot.

German Art Model traveling through out Central and South America
Towards the end of my military career, I stabilized in the city of my last duty station in Tennessee which is where my kids call home. I got to travel from there to Lake Tahoe with a former friend of mine who travels domestically often. I got to see that its not as expensive as I had been lead to believe to arrange flights, hotels, and car rentals if you do it wisely. The advent of the internet and online booking options really aided me in those efforts. And yet, I gradually lost the calling to seek out new life and civilizations. I got bogged down in work and making money. Through some hiking associations, I met fellow traveler, @Heather Rae Murphy of In Search of Squid.com who took off on her own to Southeast Asia for two months one summer. I couldn't wait til she got back to talk to her about her trip. It was at this point that I realized a few things. Excuses were just that...excuses. I had already been through enough life events to realize I wasn't going out of this life with thoughts of making more money for my employer. I was on the road WITH Heather that next following Summer in Guatemala and Belize. There was one thing in particular that I had to change in my life in order to make these things happen.

Art Model Covenant on Little Corn Island traveling throughout Central America 
Priorities

Yes. Prioritizing travel was all it took really. Just making the decision to go. Go anywhere! But don't be deluded. You ain't going anywhere til you get that ticket. All the plans you make. All the good intentions and mean-wells do you absolutely no good until you GET THAT TICKET! So booking the flight is first. Well at some point before you go, you're gonna have to get a passport if you don't already have one. Plan a trip that is several months away to give yourself some time to make the arrangements. Central America has been the perfect proving grounds. One, its close. Two, its cheap. Three, it eliminates any and every excuse you might have to not travel. As many times as you've flown across the US for the holidays or other family events, you'll pay less in many cases flying internationally to the Central America. So what you can't speak the language. I'm still alive after several trips of being down there. My Spanish is getting better. But I didn't remember much of anything outside of counting to twenty-nine in EspaƱol. Don't be scared of that. I'd wager that 80% of all the travelers I meet do not speak the native language and yet you don't hear of news reports of people dying because of it. But chances are your priorities are probably getting those new J's on your feet. Or maybe trying to find a way to keep those $500 a month car payments up. Or its probably more important to have your Starbucks in the morning. You spend your money on what you are about most. If you cared about traveling, odds are you would be or will soon be traveling.

Art Model Covenant on Little Corn Island
traveling throughout Central America 
"There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million."
~ Walt Streightiff

So you got kids

Children playing in Belize ©2012 Terrell Neasley
Yeah, my kids are grown. Is that an advantage? I won't lie. Yes it is. However... So what?? Bring the kids!! Why not raise 'em on a good wholesome diet of culture variety? You can't tell me how this would be a bad thing unless you are planning a trip to Syria. More likely than not, your kids will also become travelers. Why? Because they'll be used to it and will ALREADY have passports. Many people stay put because they have never applied for a passport. I see kids on the road with their families all the time. Many get raised on sailboats with parents who circumnavigate the world. You know who I meet on the road from other countries traveling by themselves? 18 to 23 year old kids doing extended travel for a few months before they get locked down in jobs and careers. Do you think your 18 year old is ready to cross the Pacific on their own? Well they would be if you took them there before they leave home.

Is it the job?

This is probably a tough one. But then I gotta ask. How important is traveling to you? If your job doesn't understand your need to be off more than a week a year, then...damn. I don't want to tell you you need to find a new job. YOU need to tell you that you need to find a new job. America is one of the few countries that still don't understand the value of time off and burn-out prevention. Traveling or not, a well-rounded lifestyle is more beneficial to your health and longevity. Expense reports are not. But honestly, who can tell you to change careers. I follow travel blogs all the time and often hear about husbands/wives, or single people quitting their jobs to follow their hearts.

All I'm saying is this: There are options out there if you look. Plenty of them. But none of them will do you a bit of good until you make the call to prioritize travel with your money and your time. Get the ticket!

Locals in Antigua, Guatemala ©2014 Terrell Neasley



30 June 2015

June: All About the Editing & Open to Suggestions

Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley
"Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still."
~ Henry David Thoreau

I have a love/hate relationship with traveling. Okay, maybe that's a little strong way to put it at the expense of dramatic effect, so let me be a bit more plain. I absolutely love to travel and come back with all the great pics. However, this is the only time I really don't enjoy editing as much. Don't get me wrong. I love editing photos. But not when I have to cull through FIVE THOUSAND! I know its got to be done those and all this month, that's been the deal. ALL this month. Usually, I'm spending a week, (max two!) editing a project and then its on to the next gig. Its been all month and I think I'm maybe half way through at best....maybe...

Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley
Sting Rays
But that's cool. Its got to be done. And it's hard to complain about SO MANY GREAT SHOTS. This is just the other side of the coin and I'll do well enough by pacing myself. In the meantime, I'm already shooting again with those edits on the back-burner and more models to schedule for July. The trick though is shooting in Las Vegas in JULY, is to beat the heat. Which isn't easy. I just got off the phone a few minutes ago discussing some possible options to shoot in the next few weeks. So somehow, we need to get to some sites nearby that will not melt your face. So I have some serious scouting to do coming up in addition to editing. I'm basically caught up on all the movies I missed. Game of Thrones has ended the season. So no more distractions. Except for all the chatter about whether or not Jon Snow is really dead. I'll leave you to your own theories and research about that, though.

Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."
~ Steve Jobs


If you have been following my Instagram, @PhotoAnthems, (and if you haven't been, you should), you'll see that I've definitely been mixing my art nude work with my travel and street photos. Initially, I felt the need to keep these two genres separate, but I honestly don't think I'm being true to myself when I do so. The two best loves about what I do right now are traveling and shooting nudes. So its sort of like the next greatest merger of all time for people who like chocolate and peanut butter. I just have to find a way to put them both together and make them work. Do what you love. Well, those two are it, primarily. If I had all the resources I needed to simply Travel and Shoot Nudes, that's all I'd be doing. I'd live on a boat and circumnavigate the planet stopping at interesting locations to visit, make new experiences and friends, shoot, and tell stories about. 

Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley
And that leaves me with with the task of finding my real audience. Plenty of people are interested in travel photography, visiting places around the world, and living vicariously through those that do in the form of instant access social media. That demographic is easy. A smaller portion of that demographic is interested in seeing a nipple exposed anywhere near a waterfall landscape composition. And even less want a full frontal nude body littering, what would have otherwise been appropriate imagery to hang on a family wall. I can be a bit obstinate, I know. Because the easy solution is to just stick to the travel landscape and make everybody happy. And that would be great, but it would come at the cost of my own happiness. And I can not do that. 

Open to suggestions!


10 June 2015

Back Again... And 5 Good Things About Traveling

Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley
“Unless you photograph what you love, you are not going to make good art.”

Three months is a long time to be gone from home as a traveler or tourist. I did the same thing last year dividing my time between Nicaragua (mostly) and Mexico. And much in the same fashion as then, today is much to do about catching up. Pouring over all the missed mail, unpacking all my things, doing a data dump of a half terabyte worth of imagery, and getting your house back in order takes a little bit of time. Then there's catching up with friends and family. I got to see good friend, Pierre-Luc and his girlfriend, Katie at the theater today briefly while standing in line for movie tickets. Yes. Lot's of movies to catch up on.

Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley
But I must say this was a most interesting trip. True to form, I can't seem to come away from these things unscathed. You saw the stitches in my thumb in my "Midway Through" post, which occurred in April. May saw me with my wrist wrapped up from some sort of pinched nerve or carpel tunnel thingie. It hurt far worse than my thumb did and I still suffer from it to-date, though not as intensely as before. It prompted an early return by about two weeks. With my wrist in so much pain, it was useless to continue on further north in Nicaragua. The plan was to head upwards to the Northern border and hike Somoto Canyon. We had already decided to forego our journey further south. The heat was really pouring on and we were not going to do Costa Rica or Panama. Since I had already been in the south, the cooler north made sense. We stayed in Matagalpa for a full two weeks. After my wrist showed no signs of getting better, we checked online for ticket prices and found that ticket prices didn't really change at any point during the month. So we booked our flight for the next available which was two days later.

And now we're back in Vegas! I didn't get all the shots I wanted on this trip, but I still came back with lots of goodies. It can be a bit overwhelming looking at all these shots I need to go through. Fortunately, I'm starting my edits with shots of some properties I did work for during my journey. My first gig has been waiting since the first day I arrived in country, so I need to get hot on their shots. But I still hold all the memories fresh in my head. I had dinner with some good friends today and they cooked with coconut oil. The house smelled just like the cottage we stayed in on Little Corn Island where we cooked with coconut oil as well. We ate the hell out of coconut, had fresh baked coconut bread delivered to us by our hosts, and made fruit salad, mainly of star fruit and mangoes, from the trees around the property. We spent less than $30 in total on food for a whole week! I can't wait to get back to Little Corn and our spot on the northern end.

It feels good coming home, but I'm already missing Central America. You learn so much when you travel that I feel it definitely elevates you as a human being. I've had lots of people, over the years, ask what I get out of leaving my own country so much. I'll give you 5 good reasons why you should endeavor to priorities overseas travel in your life.

Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley
1. Learn New Ways of Doing Things - One way to expand your horizons is to understand the American way ain't the only way. Other people have ideas too. If there is one thing that I learned for certain is that you don't need as much as you think you need in order to be happy. I've seen it with my own eyes! If you take a look at all the things you've accumulated in life...all the stuff...what does it do for you? Trim down the clutter in your life. Start valuing and accumulating life experiences instead of stuff. This will teach you how to be flexible when life throws you a curve ball. These experiences help you to see different solutions. Travel teaches you so much about life.


2. Tolerance for Humanity - When I travel outside the U.S., I see a different culture that has adapted to their environment, established communities, and care for one another. It may be a little different than the way we do things, but you begin to understand your fellow man a little better when you see where he has come from. When you visit his or her home and you see how important hospitality is to them, you want to do the same when they come to your country. Seeing how they live helps establish a deeper connection. And when you understand we are all connected, humanity is enriched. And don't forget about the other people from other parts of the world you meet while traveling. You won't learn only from the country you visit. I have standing relationships with people from all over the world. Again...we are all connected.


3. Better Appreciation of How Well You Actually Live - America has long been called the Land of Opportunity. And I believe this is so. But believing this and taking advantage of it are two different things. If you spend your days bitching about how hard life is and how little you make and have, let me take you to a few spots in Guatemala where guys go to work every morning to clear fields with machetes and get pennies for it. But then go home to their families proud to put food on the table. Go ahead, bitch about you car or how bad your feet hurt after work. Those boys down there do work!

Art Model, Covenant ©2015 Terrell Neasley
4. Better Appreciation for the Planet - You also get to see areas of what your planet used to look like before it was deforested and cultivated for urban sale. Want to see something beautiful? Western United States has got plenty sites. But if you wanna see something different, follow me to El Salvador and take a look at some jungle waterfalls! Let me take you out into the Caribbean and swim in some of the clearest waters you'll find along with sting ray and barracuda! And while we're out there, I'll show you the dead reef areas where it has been killed off by irresponsible tourists. You will begin to understand conservation a bit better. Its like throwing garbage in your own home.


5. Broadens Out Your Scope of What's Actually Possible - But when you visit these places, especially ones not so flourishing as the U.S., you get a chance to witness what these local people do and what they can accomplish with only a fraction of what you have. You just might return home and see possibilities in areas that looked void of hope before. You may even bring back some of those new ideas and cultivate a new attitude that inevitably serves you well at home. You want a boost in self-confidence. Hit the road. Its not near as scary as you've been lead to believe.

22 May 2015

Finally Getting Down with Instagram

The inside of a chicken bus. On the way to I forget where.
"Technology has eliminated the basement darkroom and the whole notion of photography as an intense labor of love for obsessives and replaced them with a sense of immediacy and instant gratification."
~ Joe McNally

I've been meaning to jump on the Instagram bandwagon for years and simply didn't do it. I was one of those photogs that resisted Instagram in the beginning. I was bent on not getting hung up on every single new social media app that reared its ugly head. But over the years, I began to learn more about Instagram and see some of the benefits. However, meaning to jump on the bandwagon and actually doing it are two different things.

You can now follow me and see my activities at @photoanthems on Instagram. My friend @shmercier, got me to thinking about Instagram differently more than a year ago. I already had it on my mind to set up an account, but I didn't see it as anything more than a FB alternative/complement. She doesn't use Facebook at all and connects with all her friends via Instagram instead. Her reasoning intrigued me at a time when I was becoming more and more frustrated with FB. For no reason in particular, I still procrastinated on the issue until I met another young Canadian girl, @jessicaaeburke, in El Salvador, who got me refocused again and thereby causing me to make Instagram a priority. It still took me another two weeks, but I'm now active on Instagram.

Various spots in Central America Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley


Along with FB, I've had to become accustomed to the immediacy of photos. Gone is the patient wait for my return back stateside to edit photos. No longer is there the time to formulate my images into a viable presentation to that may heighten one's appreciation for my art. Nope. Demand is for now...quick, fast, and in a hurry. People want to see what you're up to, what it looks like where you are, and to vicariously join you in your adventure...as it happens. Or at the latest, within hours of the event.

The desire to fill said demand, makes one compromise to some extent. Without adequate editing tools, its necessary to post images on this blog and social media in a much larger format than I would otherwise normally do. I also fail to watermark the images, as my normal workflow would insist. I work around this by choosing images that satisfy the demand without sufficient compromise as to make me lose sleep. I'll choose images that may not be the best ones that I know I'll save for editing later. They still satisfy two needs of my followers. They see good images, (while I save my best ones for later) and they still get a sense of where I am, what I'm doing, and how things are going. So...basically, I just have to manage the trade-off.

Various spots in Central America Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley


What my hope is, however, is that photographers in general do not become so dependent on social media that they mismanage that trade-off. A couple of things can happen as of a result of this. One is that the art suffers. Less work is done in camera and the art side of photo is traded for Instagram filters. When this happens, less attention is given to craftsmanship. Photogs no longer worry about knowing their equipment or understanding light. Less attention is given to presentation, the print, or the art. In addition, photogs may have a tendency to give away their best work. In their exuberance to post quickly, filters become the new edit, and their best stuff gets published for free. Instead of hanging on a wall, the farthest potential a great shot might achieve is a 72dpi square screen-size image on a profile wall.

Various spots in Central America Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley


Most of the great photogs you probably already know of don't fall into this trap or tendency. They know better. However the aspiring, up and coming, new blood into the trade are more susceptible to such falloff. But you know who you are. And you know your tendencies. Ask yourself what's more important. Likes and Followers or good business and a commitment to the trade?

Now you'll excuse me while I search through my current travel archives to find some images for this post. Oh yeah...we're presently in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

03 May 2015

Midway Through...

Art Model, Covenant, El Salvador, Unedited, iPhone 6 Plus, Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley

"Sometimes all you can do is all you can do."
~ Art Model, Covenant

Present location? El Salvador. Or more precisely, I'm at La Tortuga Verde in El Cuco, El Salvador. I've got another couple days here and then it's off to Nicaragua, or more precisely, La Tortuga Booluda in Leon, Nicaragua. [Actually, by the time of posting, I'm already in Leon.]

So we are probably mid-way through on this adventure. The mist that has been hindering some of my projects here has caught up with me in El Sal and after two months of travel, the rainy season is about to get under way here. I seriously want to challenge myself to improvise and return stateside with work that rivals my initial vision. I can't say I'm there just yet though I have accumulate a bunch of marvelous shots...just not the shots that I feel rival my initial vision. So, I'm working on that.

Last week, we held up at a really nice spot in Juayua (pronounced "WHY-YOU-AH) called Hotel Anahuac. Well, while shooting Art Model, Covenant in some waterfalls there, I took a nasty slip and cut my right hand wide open just below the first knuckle of my thumb. Of seven waterfalls we were to visit, this incident happens just after the second one. That just about ended my shooting until I got the bleeding under control and kept my thumb compressed against my hand til the last waterfall, where I risked burning off a few more shots. Apparently, the thumb is quite an essential digit when it comes to holding things. I count myself fortunate that I didn't drop my camera in the water, but I still got some shots.

Doc stitched me up!
Thanks Doc!


So after 2 more hours of hiking, I made it back and went to see a doctor at the local public health clinic. Doc had me sewn up in no time and they didn't charge a thing. I got stitches, waited a week and then took my knife and some scissors and took them out. Now I just gotta take care not to open the blasted thing up again. Its not easy NOT using your thumb...especially on your dominant hand. Keeping it clean and infection free has been the utmost priority. I wash it every day because this spot is right on a Pacific coast beach. Sand can be a pain in the butt in a wound and is notorious for carrying infection when trapped under a bandage and left unchecked. So between the regular cleaning and my antibiotic, I think I'm doing well.

Art Model, Covenant, Unedited, Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley

I've still been shooting Art Model, Covenant on a regular basis. This being her first time out of country, she's thrilled at the thought of being naked in a foreign land and doesn't a problem shooting anywhere I get a hankering to point my camera. This is an excellent proposition because not everywhere I need to shoot is private. We've had the occasional spectator of course, but we've also had tour guests and guides privy to our endeavors. Covenant has a nice way of letting them know what we're doing and so far nobody has objected to a woman coming up and asking if its okay if she has her boobs out or takes off her clothes.

So like I said, here for a few more days and then we'll ferry around to Nica. Ferry? Yes, ferry. Its 6 to 7 hours by bus at a cost of about $45. Its Two and a HALF hours by boat for $75. I'm doing the boat for $30 more bucks. Actually, we do have to take another bus after that for about an hour to Leon, but I can handle that. [It was 2 and a half hours to Leon and there was no bus at the port, so we ended up taking a shuttle who had recently dropped off a group for $40. He wanted $60.] Three days in Leon, and then we're off on a flight back to the Caribbean coast of Nica to Big Corn Island and then a half hour boat ride to Little Corn for a week's stay at Farm Peace and Love. Hippy? Well, more like Hippy-sounding. Far as I know, we'll be by ourselves on the Northeast corner of the island in a little cottage. By mid-May, we have no clue.


Art Model, Covenant, El Salvador Unedited,
Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley
There are currently no exact plans, reservations, deadlines, or anything beyond mid-May. I know we want to make our way down back to my old stopping grounds in San Juan del Sur. If you recall, I almost got myself killed there a year ago scouting a coastline of cliffs and let the tide get high on me before I could make it all the way back. But there are some other stops I'd like to make as well. I didn't get to make it to Granada or Isla de Ometepe in the South, nor Esteli or Somoto Canyon in the North. So the precarious situation I find myself in now is to decide how long I want to spend in Nicaragua.

With funds getting tight, the temptation is to spend these last two months in Nica, rather than head on down to Costa Rica and Panama where things are more expensive. Money definitely goes further in Nica. In addition to that, its usually cheaper to fly out of Managua, Nicaragua, than from either of the airports in Costa Rica or Panama. So the thought is to come back and finish CR and Panama later this year, and THEN proceed on further South into Columbia and down western South America to Argentina.

Art Model, Covenant,  Belize Unedited, Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley
Another option is to take a break from Latin America and visit Southeast Asia. I really have no idea. All I know is that I suck at video. Like that transition? That was another one of my objectives here...get used to and do better video. I do learn from my mistakes though. Recently, I tried shooting with a more narrow the field of view. After an hour and a half of footage, I think I got my subject in the frame maybe 40% of the time. That's working with the GoPro. The Sony mirrorless don't have that issue since I can see what I'm shooting on the back of the LCD screen. I can even use the wireless feature on my Sony Action Cam to see my perspective on my iPhone. I guess I should have picked up the LCD back for the GoPro, but those things use up battery even faster than it already does. So yeah...more work to be done there. No worries. Not giving up.

BTW, its been almost 2 weeks since the cut on my hand. All's well and healing just fine. No more bandages, but still sensitive. I should be good to go in the next week or so. Next stop...Little Corn Island and Farm Peace and Love!