The year 2019 was a fairly active one for me, including visits to five countries that I had never been to before. As promised in my final post of last year, here’s a recap of my photographic activity.
The year got off to a good start with not one but two publications of my work. One of them was an issue of Model Society’s magazine dedicated to the English model Elle Beth, who I had photographed in London in 2017. I had not intended for my photos to be in this initially, but the editor had seen my photos of Elle Beth after the layout for the issue had been completed, and he said that he liked them so much that he wanted them to be included in the issue. In the end, they were included in the opening story that introduced Elle, where the editor said that they fit perfectly.
Another publication success was with the French magazine PHOTO, which published its annual contest issue in January. Finding out about this publication was, I admit, a bit of a surprise. As it normally takes about two months for an issue of this magazine to reach newsstands in the United States, I asked a friend in France to take a look at the magazine to see if one of my photos was in it. He wrote back to say that he had not seen any of my photos, so when the magazine did finally come to the U.S., I was taken aback to look through the issue to see one of my photos there, after all! (Unfortunately, the magazine has stated that the release of this year’s issue has been delayed until February, so I may have to wait until April to find out.)
As for doing photography, that began in March with my first ever trip to Mexico, where I joined UTadvetures for a week of art nude photography in Yucatan, featuring the models Dasha U, Kate Snig and Sienna Hayes. I really did have a great time there and I loved the Mexican culture – and I think I made a lot of good photographs, too.
Next in line was a trip back to Utah in early May, joining Monique on one of her Desert Adventures along with model Eva Luna. I had attended this event the year before and I thought that going back again would be worthwhile, which it was.
Unfortunately, my Pentax 67 camera developed a problem, as the mirror kept getting stuck in the up position, so I was forced to go with my backup medium format camera, the Fuji GW670 rangefinder. While not as versatile as an interchangeable lens camera like the Pentax, the Fuji, with its fixed lens, is nonetheless a very good camera and proved to be a capable alternative.
However, this turn of events forced me to make a choice, as I would be heading out on my biggest trip of the year just a few weeks later: do I try to get the camera repaired and hope that it will be ready before the next trip begins, or do I go out and buy a new one? The answer that I settled on: both. Fortunately, I live in New York City, where finding a camera repair shop is not too difficult. I brought the defective camera in and was told that it would probably be ready by the time I went away again, but “probably” is not “definitely,” so I was still concerned. Just in case it would not be ready, I decided to look for another Pentax 67 body – and I found one in very good condition and at a very good price, so I bought it.
As it turned out, the original camera was fixed on time, so I now had two working Pentax 67 bodies. While taking the rangefinder along as a backup did have the advantage of being a self-contained camera (and one which does not require a battery to operate), I decided to take the two Pentax bodies with me so that I could still use all of my lenses should one camera fail to operate properly.
Regarding that trip commencing in late May, it was one of the grandest travel adventures that I had gone on in some time, with three days in the ancient city of Istanbul, Turkey, followed by three weeks in the central Asian countries of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. I had wanted to visit these former republics of the Soviet Union located on the old Silk Road for many years, so when I saw a good trip there with spaces available, I went for it – and it was not disappointing. Seeing the mountains of Tajikistan, the great historic monuments of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva in Uzbekistan and the very modern city of Ashgabat in Turkmenistan were all things not be easily forgotten – and meeting the people there was a great experience, too.
While that trip may have been the biggest and most exotic highlight of the year, my photography was by no means completed for the year, as I decided to give Utah a second try by going back in late August with UTadventures for more art nude photography with models Anoush Anou, Muirina Fae and Viribus Femina.
Unfortunately, I had to deal with another equipment problem in Utah, but this time it was not my camera that was the problem, but the ball head on my tripod. Somehow, a key piece had got shaken loose during my flight from New York to Salt Lake City, and while I was still able to use the ball head, it was a lot more difficult to handle and took more time to get in the position that I wanted. (It still needs to be repaired.)
Next, another positive thing then happened in October, when not one but two of my photographs were awarded with Honorable Mentions in the annual Black & White Spider Awards.
One of the reasons I went to Utah in late August was that I would be undergoing surgery to my left knee in early September and I wanted to get in some final days of photography in case my knee would keep me on the sideline for longer than planned. It did keep me from photographing for a couple of months, but in early November I picked up my camera again and went back to photographing something that I had begun to do the year before but which I have not yet written about: college football. Here are some photos from the three games that I photographed, with a greater explanation for my choosing to photograph football coming in a later post.