Published: Saturday 23rd of June 2007 01:35:50 PM
Thank you all. There appears to be some inconsistency in the thread remaining above, because an unecessary remark not relative to this photo was removed. Please feel free always to critique the quality of the work and spare no words when you find it bad, but do please resist from criticising the author, his intentions or the models. Thank you. As I have said before, these young ladies grace us by appearing in these pages and we owe it to them to treat them with the respect, esteem and admiration that they deserve.
response to: REMARK BY JIM ADAMS SINCE REMOVED: Thanks again Jim. I do not profess to have invented the wheel and I have certainly seen this done on countless ocassions before. More often than not however, the accent has been on glamour and whereas, once again, the model is nude, I have attempted to focus the attention elsewhere. Now whether that is visible or not or it is just wishful thinking is for the viewer to decide. At any rate, it would appear to have evoked a reaction in some people. I guess I belong to quite a tolerant religion. In others, this and other such like images would provoke a revolution. Postcriptum: I really think that one should should have the force of one's convictions and leave the remarks made, however cynical they are and one regrets it after.
Indeed, it would have improved the photo Philippe, thank you. I have mixed feelings about this picture though and also over posting it. The symbolism is either too strong or shallow, and I'm not too sure which way the pendulum will swing. The expression of the model precludes it from being seen as a glamour pic, but her nakedeness is provocative and possibly opens it to controversy. Not all will appreciate the symbolic nature of this picture and I respect that. Out of a large amount of photos posted on my page, it is possibly the single one that can also feed foder to the malvaillant. I will nevertheless leave it for a while to see other people's reaction. After all, that is what art is all about. No one has exclusivity in this area.
John, This one speaks to the viewer. The dark brunette in black stockings and heels, with a black cross necklace. Is she a witch? a widow? The imagination runs totally wild! The tension and ambiguity make this a great foto. One of your best!
Judging by the commentaries that precede this one, I am far from alone in enjoying this shot; the bonus for me has been observing the thoughtful accompanying discussion about what we do (or, at least, strive for). In this case, my congratulations are to you John for what - according to my taste - is one of your best pieces of work, and also to your commentators who have shared their thoughtful and astute views via this work. Ain't photography grand? Regards, Clive
John! you took my idea... I mean...i had the same idea but i have not put it to work yet :o(. Well! i am glad to see..."my idea" here :o). I like the ideas of contradiction like Life and Death. A major, beautiful contradiction in this image; however, i would prefer that she is totally nude with just the necklace around her neck. Moral code?!!!. John, your photography is not about "teaching and reinforcing morality", is it?. If it is, i would not visit your site anymore. BTW, what does art has to do with morality?. I think it's a very personal choice of the artist/photographer to choose visual art as a medium of morality teaching (and of course, that is a wonderful thing to do as well.) In Asia, lot of temples use the bronze or wooden scuptures of Female and Male anatomies on the altar to pay repect to the Gods/Goddesses of reproduction. I think morality can be very relative. Saying all of that, i would love to have this image hanging on the wall in my house if she is completely nude :o). I, do respect religions and their important roles in nourishing the souls. However, i think there are many ways of showing one's respect to religious believes/practices esp. in social circumstances. When it comes to art, most of the time, morality is not a question to me. Of course, what i've just said is very relative too. John, too much contradiction here. Fun, i love it.
Francis, Lesa, thank you. Yes, I chose cold colours to portray the mood.
A very interesting comment Tanya, thank you. I don't think that art has to do with morality directly, but how we express it is an extension of ourselves and we are each bound by the frontiers of our experience, however much we try to look beyond. One will measure one's acts and creations by how other's may perceive them and not only according to one's own beliefs. That in itself is an expression of morality. It is difficult therefore to dissociate one totally from the other, unless one is amoral.
Just pondering ... this photograph and some of the previous discussion. At first glance, I felt the image is, like many of yours, very good. I like the casual nature depicted of the young lady. She is confident and comfortable. The shaded location is condusive to a soft, even exposure and cool lighting of the subject. Her accessories compliment her surroundings. The mood all of this creates is appropriate. I did however, at first, think posing a nude model in a cemetery might be somewhat dis-respectful to the families of those who are interred there. But then, I pondered some more and decided that you, could have posed a nude model on a rock, or an old stone foundation, or a cement slab and not have conveyed a similar realm in those photos. I mean, this cemetery, which is normally devoid of joyful human activity and typically represents saddness and finality, is very much alive. The flowers and other personal items that visitors bring to the graves help to maintain a sense of spiritual contact and continuum. As the photographer, you intended to celebrate the current appearance of this young woman. Placing her amid this solemn environment further accentuates her youthful state and makes her that much more beautiful and full of promise; full of life. As for the dis-respect, I must say I have changed my mind. Cemeteries really are meant to remind us of the deceased... and of life everlasting. What a great contrast. Thank you for seeing the unusual, trying it out and for sharing. Steve
Most people would be afraid to make a nude photo at a graveyard . I know I wouldn't :) . Life & death
John, Great shot, I'm not sure this would work with a blond! The dark hair even if it blends into the trees makes the skin of the model much more marble like - like the stone surrounding her. I think the arm frames her head enough for the head not to be hidden by the trees. I dind some of the shadows very dark and wonder when you print them do you have problems with a loss of detail. Also noticed that most of your cropping does not follow the rule of 1/3. You crop much more 1/3 for horizontal and mid way between 1/3 and 1/2 for vertical. Is this planned? Marko
Perfection in everything you do. Thank you for sharing.
Original, beautiful model, very well done, John. Alberto
Thank you Marco and Alberto. I just hope no one gets offended. There is no shame in beauty and none in death either.
Now you are mixing strong themes - Life & Death. Animals - including Homo sapiens - have hightened reproductive responses when faced with deat which explains the baby boom after WWII.
I really like this image... John, I really like this image (I am such a nut for European cemeteries!) I cannot imagine how difficult this shot would have been, with the (I suppose) late afternoon shadows, and the surreptitious nature of the shoot. Any quirks of lighting and pose that could be managed and controled in the studio have to be lived with; street theatre at it's best! As for layering meaning upon meaning on this image, I prefer to see it as a creative, and sexy, play of the cold marble and the warm skin. (Which explains why in the the movie "Heat of the Night", when the young woman was supposedly seduced, it was in a cemetery, and with her talking about the warm skin against the cold marble. Great scene.) Juha, what is this beef that you have with John and his images. You cannot be implying that this image is "Soft porn"? Or are you saying that it is "Glamour"? It is indeed glamourous, for the young woman is very beautiful, and the setting and capture very elegant; throw a knitted sari on her, and this image would be a great editorial shot in a European fashion magazine. But to imply that this is "Soft Porn" is an insult to this young woman, and to John. A nude portrait is not porn; open sensuality is not pornographic. There is no debasement here, and this beautiful young woman would not be posing for John, and trusting in his artistic eye, if she felt demeaned in any way. Juha, you have talent as a photographer; your images of cars are breathtaking, but you approach the people you shoot in the same detached, clinical way. Beautiful images? Yes, certainly. But there is no connection there. John's great gift is not that he takes beautiful pictures of naked women, but when you look at one of his images, you can feel the bond between artist and model. There is trust. Not exploitation. Jim Adams has this bond, as does Jim Phelps and a few others. It is a rare gift, one that I do not have. There is no need to apply subjective labels to images that one may not agree with: One person's "Nude" is another person's "Glamour" is another person's "Porn". Don't like it: don't go there. But do not insult the artist or his model by calling it "Porn" just because you have issues with it, or with yourself. Glenwood
Great and original idea representing the contrasts of life. Congratulations. 7/7
Thank you Glenwood, I very much appreciate not only your support but your obvious understanding of my efforts to protray women through my images as I see them, with all their wonderful changing moods and eccentricites. A documentary, indeed yes, and why not? Are only motor cars worthy of being studied in all their wonderful diversity? Hm, I would imagine they are closer to a trophy than those able to relate to human beings. I also share at being offended at the deliberate effort to be hurtful to the photographers and the models that contribute to these pages in the area of glamour and nude photography. On coutless ocassions already I have said that the models follow these pages. It is deliberate and small minded when that occurs. I sometimes feel that I may be doing something right if young women wish me to photograph them and a sufficient amount of people alike yourself continue to give me their support. To suggest that the large number of critiques that do it on PN are perverts or voyeurs, apart the insult to them, is in reality to isolate oneself into a single majority. Some will insist on wishing to categorize art, which is really a thinly disguised effort to be the sole judge of what should or should not be considered as such. You will have noticed undoubtedly that it is those that appear to have the least experience in the area of model photography that profess to be the greatest experts on the subject, wishing to impose their definitions on the others. I do not claim always to know what has value or not, least of all in art, any more than I accept others to define it for me. I believe that those that have the ability to remain open minded and put away their prejudices are those members of society on which the future is built. The others move around in circles, biting their nails in the narrow confines of their experience. After all, we are all free to select among the thumbnails and to look at and critique what we want. It demands neither an excess of time or intelligence, nor does it impose in any way on other people's wellbeing. Some claim to be offended by the numbers of nudes on PN. Still others are offended by the large number of photos of flowers, babies and insects. Do they really have on average more artistic value than the nudes? Should we also seek a system of classification so as to isolate some of the "alleged" awful work that appears in these areas. And who is to judge which pictures are worthwhile or not, the most self righteous among us, the single majority? To regard the rating as a competitive game in which numbers are accumulated is infantile to the first degree. Personally, I am delighted every time someone gives me a three. It pushes up the photo in the visibilty scale by forcing it up the charts, thus exposing it to more critique. Without critiques, I would not have made the modest improvement in the quality of my work that I have experienced since I began posting on PN. It is a precious process and I value it.
I very much respect your point of view and even had mixed feelings myself about posting this, as I expressed further up. However, let me first of all set your mind to rest regarding the matter of identity of the deceased. I rushed back to the original and blew it up and can assure you that nowhere is a name or photo visible, thus no blurring is necessary anywhere in the frame, and I am not certain actually why you say this, as even in the full resolution image no face is even remotely recognisable? Furthermore, I did not say where I took this photo. It is a Christian burial ground, obviously, and a very beautiful one at that, and I think that you are possibly wrong to attempt to localize it and draw attention to any particular location, whereas I as the author chose not to. Frankly, I would even appreciate it if you removed that reference, so as not to prejudice any other persons that may come across this picture. Thank you. I am certain you know that my purpose is not by any means to be disrespectful though, again, I do understand that someone's sensitivites may be awakened by this image. It is the role of art to be provocative. The sequence between life and death is often a taboo subject, more often so out of superstition than because of any particular religious belief, at any rate in the Christian credence. In traditional Black American Christian Society, outside of the personal drama, death is greeted with rejoicing and jazz is played and dancing occurs during the funeral. The model certainly is naked, but though her thighs are slightly separated symbolically, the pose does not in my opinion denote any sexual provocation. In fact, I think that the lady in high heels and sexy clothes etc., that you suggest would be more provocative. It is here a mood of contemplation about what life and death are all about ... the womb and the ultimate destination. As you rightly point out, the black cross is also there for a purpose. Some may even regard this as something beautiful. In a sense I find it so, because it denotes to me the passage of generations and the perpetuity of mankind. No Yianni, I do not read this as an act of blashemy and sincerely hope that no one else does either. It is an attempt to push the barrier of art to stimulate thought on the ever renewable cycle of life and death. I am very glad to have received your comment in counterbalance to what some others have said so far above. I truly hope that my argument prevails and that my conscience is satisfied with the truthfulness of my words. Thank you very much for stating your position so clearly and politely.
Cemetary Hi John, reminds me of a photo shoot with a musician in a cemetary ( Blaine Reininger of Tuxedomoon for those who know him ). We came across a tomb ornated by Rodin's "The Thinker". Blaine took out his violin and started playing. Quite a magical moment. See it here. Regarding the photo here : she should have moved a bit to her right in order to have har dark hair stand out against the white cross in the background rather than blend into the dark trees.
Hy Richard. Frankly, this is not about the models but photography, but since you ask, it is a young lady that I met this month and we did a lot of interesting work together.
Great image!! I am assuming overall cool balance in coloring is intentional, and appropriate. I just finished reviewing your portfolio also, and it is simply AMAZING!! Great eye for light and detail!! Congrats on this beautiful image, as well as your entire portfolio. Regards.....LJ
Marko, an interesting comment, thank you. First of all what rules .. who wrote them ? .. just joking, but I must admit to not subscribing to the school of straight walls and horizons. I believe that a photo should be judged on the merits of its impact and not on whether it corresponds to any preconceived idea of aesthetics, at any rate that's my view. Hmm .. why do people always add "humble" to such a statement .. are we not all entitled to our views ... :-) As for darkening of the image, I do admit to posting images sometimes darker than they would normally be in the interest of modesty. No, I do not have any particular problem with the print-outs but, once again, I really am a strong believer in judging an image through the impression that it leaves and not the clarity of the details. Many thanks for passing by. John
Thank you very much Stephen for this thoughtful comment, I very much appreciate it. Frankly, I am not even sure that I have solved the matter in my own mind. An artist is drawn between the need to express his feelings and the moral code that binds him to this world. Sometimes these are in conflict. I have tried to portray this young woman in the most neutral manner possible. Most certainly she is nude, but her stance and thoughtful manner convey a certain respect in the body language that accompanies her vulnerability. I just hope that others too will understand my intentions which in no way means to be offensive, even though I myself wonder if I'm right.
John I removed the references to the location as you've asked trying to keep a concept and a meaning to the posts. If you think I should remove more say so but I think it will become incomprehensible. In the days to come I'll post some nude photos. Please be kind enough to tell me what you think about them.
Is this a new model, I don't remember her face in your portfolio?
Respect Respect for the dead! I love it!
Thank you Yianni. I very much look forward to seeing your new work posted.
Pious or Blasphemous? Hi John I've been a fan of yours since day one and I consider you to be one of Photo.net's finest. However I must admit that this photo has given me conflicting feelings. I like you blowing fresh air in photography, but maybe this was a bit too much. On one hand this is a superb photo on the other it was shot in a place no one may have ever thought it would be used as a location for a nude photo. I understand your whole concept, or at least I think I do. Celebration of life against death or the dead with the dead and the living with the living. Quite so. But I think you could have achieved that in a less provocative way. You could have shot a "merry window" - sort of speak- sexy lady with high heels, stockings etc but with more clothes on or at least not totally nude. I am surprised you were able to take this shot in a cemetery! I wonder how come and nobody was present or saw you! You can only imagine what would have happened if they had spotted you. Also I believe you should have blurred the picture of the deceased out of respect. Now technically you are perfect as always except some blown highlights on the cross behind her ( although I'm not the one who can judge you). The posing and model are perfect but this black rope cross on her neck is the detail that makes the picture. I would love to hear your thoughts on my comments. With respect to your work and with an open mind, best regards John
John Thanks for responding so fast. The reason I asked for a blur was more a..."precaution" measure because I couldn't have known if the details would be visible in the original file. I agree with you that in certain communities death is not the end but the beginning of life in opposition of what most of us might believe and as you correctly pointed out they dance and sing or they were white instead of black (China). I just think that since you've placed your subject in this location it's rather awkward to support this opinion since Orthodox Christians ( and this is with no doubt at all an Orthodox cemetery) don't really rejoice but grief with death. So there's a contradiction here unless of course this is what you've been wanting in the first place, which is quite alright, and in this way you have succeeded your goal. As far as the location now...I've been around a little. I can tell an Orthodox cemetery from a Catholic or a Protestant one and I can tell you that other Orthodox countries have different graves. There's a...tradition in everything, even graves. Plus the cypress trees, especially in graveyards, you can only find them in Mediterranean countries. Put all of this together and you have the country...Anyway if you feel unhappy with me "revealing" your secrets I will remove the reference. But then again you may have to bribe me by letting me photograph your models...lol Keep shooting these great photos,even if sometimes we have to over analyze them .After all photography it's not only food for the eyes, it's for the brain too. Yours Yiannis
Yianni, I do believe frankly that it is unecessary to awaken possible dissent by personalizing the issue of where the photo was taken. I would prefer that everyone made their own deductions. Thank you.
I agree with you John... It's almost unreal to be amoral; however, the issues of morality are defined differently within the context of each culture even though there are some universal similiarities. I am sure this image (and many other images of your creation) has brought a lot of uneasy feelings to many viewers as much as fascinating feelings to others. Nevertheless, i think it has stirred some strong emotions that makes each viewer looking into himself/herself to why it has caused so. An image to be viewed many times with different feelings, indeed. The model, she might be the Goddess of reproduction :o). Beautiful image.
True, the photography is what's important. But you can't be surprised if some of us become enamored with your lovely models. (:-0
David McCracken, no one mentioned you,strange that you should imagine so ! I was talking about a person whose remark has since disappeared who wanted to define glamour/nude photography into categories and that has also posted lengthily elsewhere on the subject, including under one of your recent forum threads. Glenwood addresses him further up. Frankly, given that you had not as yet appeared on this page, I don't understand how you can possibly have imagined that anyone meant you, you are really of no interest to anyone in this context ! Jim Adams, you may add as many comments as you wish, they are welcome. As for me, I have tried to explain myself as well as possible. Maybe someome finds that this photo representative of what I mean or maybe not, certainly there must be different ways of viewing it. Ultimately, it's just a photograph. The only thing admittedly that would disturb me would be if it was found to be offensive and that had dominated the debate, in which case I would probably have removed it, otherwise one can make of it anything they want. Thanks for dropping by again.
Excellent composition and light...not sure whether I like the shadow of the leg, though...
Clarification... John, I did not say anyone was mentioning me. I was merely pointing out the contradictions in the commentary as well as questioning the composition of the shot. There was no offence intimated or intended.
Confused With comments like, "Great one, John." "Perfection in everything you do." I feel rather confused. The reason for my confusion is brought about by your reply to Glenwood. In your reply you say, "You will have noticed undoubtedly that it is those that appear to have the least experience in the area of model photography that profess to be the greatest experts on the subject..." Now. I don't see you complaining about the positive comments from people who know little about 'model photography.' That said, you are correct a lot of people do offer remarks when they know nothing about it.
Forgive me for saying so, but I think I know a little about model photography. For the record I will state that I am openly envious of your ability to photograph so many beautiful women but I am not envious of the way you do it.
Now, from this build up, I would guess that you think I am going to slate this shot. I will refrain. Instead I will ask you, why did you compose it the way you have? I see no relevance to the open space to the back right or to the telephone cable. Had you made a reference to 'Amy Semple McPherson,' I would have understood. She was buried with a live telephone in her coffin.
I would also point out that she is not naked. Personally I think it would have worked better if she had been although the cross could stay. Hey, I am not the 'author' but as you also say somewhere along this thread, "...are we not all entitled to our views..."
We are John! Even those that know nothing about 'model photography.'
QUOTES: No offence was either taken, nor was it stated or implied David ! Strange though, given your remark: "Forgive me for saying so, but I think I know a little about model photography" (sic!) .. and particularly your concluding statement .. "We are John! Even those that know nothing about model photography" .. Both of these statements may well lead one to imagine that you thought I was speaking about you. I must have misunderstood !!
Thnaks Raymond. Ha, no, I wouldn't force the issue to that extent ..
Ah John, Love the sense of the macabre here... Marvelous Indeed! The cross about her neck is perfect against those others and there seems to be a slight cruciform shape to her pubes, or am I just seeing that which I wish to? Yes... Marvelous!
Before and After Other possibly than life and death, there is no hidden meaning to this photo and most certainly no disrespect meant to any religion. .. that being said, it was a very beautiful cemetery and we felt very much at ease and unintrusive ..