Friday, 29 June 2018

Artistic Dilemma: To Pose or Not to Pose

A posed shot from 2013. Note the triangular composition. Models: Emma and Ida Stranne

When I started with photography I tried to learn as much as I could from other photographers. I read photography books by the masters, I took every opportunity I could to make friends with other photographers.

It worked! I did build basic skills. Because I built the same skill set that everyone else has, my pictures looked much the same as everyone elses.

This has advantages. My pictures were more popular back then than they are now. It was easier to discuss photography, because I had the same frame of reference as the photographers I met.

Superheroes Against Cancer, 2013
If my photos had a distinguishing feature, it was the subject matter more than the style.

As I learned more, I began experimenting with light, the way many photographers do. Here too, I ended up with the usual techniques for creating High Key and Low Key photos, and wide range in between the extremes.

As my skills grew, I wanted to incorporate my other interests into my photography.

For example, I am interested in Science-Fiction, and I read a lot of comics when I was younger, so the next logical step was...
From the graphic novel A Rift in Time create one with some of my friends. There were eight of us, and we had a blast. It took more than 15 months, but we actually did get A Rift in Time published.

There is one crucial thing comic book artists do differently from photographers and painters: Posing!

Comic book characters are usually shown in real life poses, like when they are walking, and talking. In many comics there is also a lot of fighting. Thus, comic book artists are great at showing motion.

They tend to have a greater range of compositional tools at their disposal than photographers, but in my view, the real gamechanger is the idea that you can capture motion in a still frame. Closely related to that, is the idea that characters should look and behave naturally, instead of posing for an observer.

Elinor and the T-Rex, 2017 Model: Noor Model Noor
Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with traditional model poses. It is just that there should be room for more than that.

If all model photos use a small range of poses, compositions, etc, then they will become boring. Each new photo will contribute to making both itself, and the photos taken before it, less interesting.

Add a little inspiration from a genre outside traditional photography, and suddenly you can make something fresh and different again.

Elinor and the T-Rex, with the model Noor Model Noor, was inspired by Fantasy and Science-Fiction Artist Joe Jusko's painting Inferno. (Take a look! It is worth it. Joe Jusko is a great artist.)

You may notice the presence of compositional devices, like leading lines, but there is nothing resembling a traditional model pose in the picture.

Jungle Moon, December 2017

When I got interested in creating Fine Art Nudes, at first, it was back to posing again. The reason was that I consciously imitated some of my favorite artists.

Jungle Moon above was based on one of my favorite paintings by Frank Frazetta. My lack of originality is intentional. When I start learning something new, I imitate. Adding something of my own comes later.

The Pit, December 2017
Creating the pictures I wanted to do photographically would have been very expensive, so I turned to a combination of 3D and digital painting. Well, digital smearing is more like it...I build pictures like a photographer would, because I can't draw or paint.

Dangerous Shadow, March 2018
I gradually refined my workflow, and incorporated ideas from fantasy art, and comics.

I also created a recurring character, Kyla. Her first appearance was in Dangerous Shadow, in March 2018. Kyla's appearance was based on Fantasy, especially the Cavewoman sub-genre of the Lost World genre. She owes a lot to Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, Budd Root, and similar artists.

However, I did change one thing, her behavior. Kyla is no damsel in distress. She rescues herself from whatever predicament she runs into, and she does it in an efficient manner, without overt posing, sexy or otherwise.

Aftermath/Blood on Her Hands, March 2018
Yep, i went to extremes in order to make a point.

I will almost certainly return to making more pictures with Kyla, but after the first half-dozen or so, I wanted to do something a bit brighter, softer, and easier to relate to for those unfortunate souls who haven't read tons of Fantasy and Science-Fiction books.

The Moon Maiden, May 2018

Back to the drawing board again. I like Gerald Brom's painting Moonlight very much, so I used it as inspiration for my own The Moon Maiden.

You may notice that while the Moon Maiden is action-free, it is back to posing again.

Gothenburg Nudes VII: Bathing Women
After fiddling around a bit with various ideas, I decided to do a series of nudes where women do their own thing, without posing, or even acknowledging, that there is an observer.

The idea was to separate nudity from objectification and sexualization, in the hope it would pave the way for appreciation.

That is pretty much where I am now. I have made nine pictures in the Gothenburg Nudes series. I have broken the rule about not acknowledging the existence of an observer once, but I have pretty much stuck to the not-posed constraint.

My main concern right now, is coming up with ideas for pictures that have stronger composition than the previous ones.

We'll see how it goes.

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