These are the best series of photographs I've ever created!
I know there are some who will disagree either because they don't agree with that statement because they think I've made better images. There are also those who will disagree because they simply don't like this series of photographs. That's fine, we're all entitled to our opinions but since I'm doing a self-assessment, my opinion is really all that matters. The mere fact alone that when I do photograph men I have usually no idea of what to do is evidence alone of that. I have taken more complex photos, I have also taken more beguiling photos, but from concept to delivery these photos are far and above everything I've done prior. There's a reason why I say this is my best set of photos to date.
Firstly, to those that don't know, I've only started taking photography seriously for a little over a year now. Prior to that, yes I took photos but I had no inclination of what I was doing (still don't). I knew what I liked and what was visually appealing and stimulating to me. That was the extent of my photographic skills. I was also plagued with a lack of confidence in the images I would and that still bothers me to this day.
There have been quite a few people who would look at my work and give me compliments about it and I'm always grateful for those comments. It definitely helped with getting ever more confident in my abilities to capture images that were visually appealing to others. It was because of these people that I began wondering if I could make this photography thing stick. The problem I faced, however, was I didn't know how to do that. Yes going out and taking more photos is always the most important thing, but I wanted tutelage. I wanted to find someone who was willing to teach me the ways of the force. As if the gods of Mount Olympus were eavesdropping on my thoughts, here comes Holly (@golightly) and IGDC (@igdc) with an amazing offer.
ExposedDC (@exposed_dc) was having their 10-year anniversary shindig and I was invited to be one of the portrait photographers alongside James Jackson (@thisisjamesj) and Phil Martin (@phil.martin). This event culminated into what would then pave my way into becoming a better photographer. This is where I met the man who would eventually become my mentor and teacher of the dark arts.
I knew some of what I was doing only to the degree that I could take about 25 test shots to get everything right before I'd start doing a shoot. In steps, Carlton Wolfe (@carltonwolfe) and the magic kingdom called HOIST studios. To say I was blown away and was like a kid in a candy store would be one of the biggest understatements in my life.
As time wore on, Carlton provided the kind of tutelage that you'd get in college, but without the tedious bullshit. It was, this is what the assignment is, go forth and conquer. When it came time to review the work, it was this is shit and here is why. After a while the pressure I began putting on myself intensified and even though I was told I was doing decent work, I never felt like I was.
There was a long stretch of time that I felt that my work was so abysmal and mediocre at best that I seriously contemplated putting down the camera. Then, I don't know what clicked, instead of trying to just copy work to get an idea of how to do a particular shot, I began to use my emotions. I began to create some dark work that reflected the state of depression I go through periodically. Then I began to do work with large pieces of light and heavy fabric and I would compare the two sets of photos. I began to see my own voice and what I wanted to do and that's when things began to click for me on a creative level.
My goal therefore, was to craft something that is a representation of not just who I am, but a representation of what I found to be beautiful. If you've ever followed my work (even after I began to purge my Instagram and website) you'd notice a lot of what I like to do is gender bend. That's to say, I like putting women in notoriously manly clothing and poses and men in softer poses (haven't gotten to the women's clothing aspect yet). I like that contrasting feel of an image and I like to do things this way because I abhor gender roles. I don't like when I hear people say that something is a typically women's or men's role,
A massive issue I faced was my poor planning skills. I like to do things on a whim and I like to see where a particular route will take me. I'm the kind of person that will turn off my GPS and get lost somewhere. So planning out this shoot was going to be a challenge for me. I knew what I wanted to do in my head, but I had to put it on paper and create a specific shot list so that I wasn't wasting time and material. So once I got that sorted out I began to search for a model that could bring to fruition the images I had in my head. I began asking around for models but then, out of nowhere as if it was destined a friend invited me out to dinner and David (the guy in the photo) was also going.
Now I've photographed David before, but that was at a time when I had no real idea how to utilize him. He also had potential but wasn't yet at the level I wanted him to be. Even though he still wasn't at the level I wanted him to be, I decided I'd get out of him what I needed. I was going to coach the shit out of this guy to give me the very images I wanted.
That all being said, here's why this set of images are the best I've ever created:
- The content is personal and has some connection with me as a person
- Each image is EXACTLY as I pre-imagined it
- This entire shoot was thought out, bit by bit down to the last detail.
The content is personal
Each of these images has something to do with me as a person. One signifies the strength of character I've had to have over the course of my life. The other signifies a more feminine side of my personality and the last signifies a direct side of my personality. With these images, I'm showing sides of my personality that I didn't always know I had.
Each image is exactly how I envisioned it
This is as it sounds. The way I saw the images in my head is exactly how thy turned out. The lighting, the posing, the expression, the mood, everything. Apart from working with art directors who come with an exact outcome pre-planned, this was my first instance of bringing forth something from my head to reality. It was carefully thought out and executed and I couldn't be more proud.
All in all, however, without these criticisms and explanations of why I think they're my best images, they're my best images for one reason and one reason only. I said so. Oh, and none of the previous photos are retouched. They are straight from the camera.
You can check out more of my work on other social media platforms, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Also, let me know what the best image(s) is that you've ever created. I really do enjoy seeing people grow from where they were and where they are now.
These are some other images from the day. Go check out David's Instagram. He's new to the world of modeling, but I think he has a pretty decent future ahead of him.