2007: What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

Well, it is here – December 31, 2007. The final day of the calendar year. A day to reflect upon the year that was and to think about the year to come.

Sometimes events and the things we do seem to be compartmentalized and separated from the other things that occur in our lives. That applies to photographers, too (especially for occasional ones like me), with one photo session feeling detached from all others. So much can happen in 12 months that it’s hard to believe that it’s all been in just one year, so I thought I’d give a summary of what 2007 was like for me.

Here it is, then: one year in the life of a fine art photographer.

The year began with me not having done any serious photography for over four months. Normally I might have been thinking about when my next photo venture would be, but I had something more important in mind: waiting to find out when I would be able to walk normally again. In October 2006 I had surgery done to my right foot, and 2007 began with me still hobbling around with a cane. It’s difficult to take good photos when staying on your feet is tough, so there’d be no camera toting for several months.

On the other hand, I was able to still post photos on the web, and on January 8, one of my photographs of Carlotta was selected as a Daily Deviation by the website Deviant Art. It remains my most popular image there by far, with over 500 people claiming it as one of their favorites.

Every year I send in a dozen images of nudes to the French magazine PHOTO for its annual Concours Amateurs (amateurs’ competition), and this was one year in which they chose to print one of my photos. The contest issue is published in Europe in December but only reaches these American shores in February, and I saw that the chosen photo was one of Alison, made in Scotland in 2004. (Alas, I have just found out that none of my photos is included in the new contest issue. @#$%&!!!!!!!)

I also received the contest issue of The Photo Review, which had also included one of my images. I’d been trying for years for this, but after years of sending in nudes, what finally did the trick was this photo I made in Nagano, Japan in 2004. (As with the French mag, I’m sorry to say that I won’t be in this one next year, either.)

So, one month and two publications. Not bad.

The big event of March was– well, you’re reading it right now! I started this blog after following my good friend Dave Levingston’s blog for a while. He had written that he was the only photographer left who didn’t have a blog, to which I countered, “No you’re not. I am!”

Well, not anymore. I began doing this out of curiosity, wondering what I could possibly come up with and who would possibly want to read it. ( Ten months later, I’m still wondering the same things.) I started things off by posting this image taken when I was kid in the mid-1960s on the boardwalk at Coney Island – a place to which I would return this year.

Through the year up to this point, I had still been walking with the cane. By April, I was able to walk decently enough, but it still hurt a great deal when I had to stand in one spot, such as waiting for a subway train or a bus. (It still hurts.) So, I’d take the cane with me to lean on for support in those situations (sort of like Mr. Peanut in the Planters ads).

I also felt it was time for me to get out and try to make some photos again, so with that in mind, I flew off to Ohio for a weekend at the end of the month to visit Dave Levingston and photograph some local models in his studio. I actually began by finally getting to work with the beautiful Sarah Ellis for a full day in the house of one of Dave’s friends, with Model Sarah joining her in the afternoon. The next day and a half I worked in Dave’s studio, photographing models Jackeller, Nemesis, Gaea and Jacqueline Chantelle.

While I brought my camera gear and tripod with me, the one think I left behind was the cane. I needed both hands to schlep all of my bags, so this would be a test of how well I could stand on my two feet. The result: I passed. So I decided to leave the cane behind for good – a choice that would have serious consequences before too long.

Of all the months of 2007, this will be the one that I will be least likely to forget. Without the cane, I was able to walk decidedly faster than I was before. So it came to pass that one fateful day less than a week after returning from Ohio, I was crossing the street at a green light, walking briskly to catch the train, when—

Everything was suddenly different. The world was spinning before my eyes, waving about without seemingly making a sound. It seemed to be moving in slow motion. What had happened?

After several seconds like that I found out. When I regained my senses, I found myself lying in the street, bleeding and in pain, with a car stopped next to me. It was pretty obvious. I had been hit by a car. Fortunately, an ambulance just happened to be on that block when it happened so it wasn’t long before the paramedics and the police arrived. Strapped down on a stretcher, half choked by the neck restraint, I was taken to the emergency room of a local hospital where I was taken care of. Miraculously, I was actually able to take the bus home after what had happened.

Still, I didn’t escape unscathed. One finger (and perhaps two) on my left hand was broken. The nail from the middle finger had also been torn off but was taken with me to the hospital, where a doctor actually sewed it back on. I also had a concussion that lasted for at least five days.

What happened next were regular visits to the hand clinic at the hospital plus six weeks of physical therapy for my fingers. As for that sewn-on fingernail, eventually a new nail grew in and pushed the old one out until it finally fell off.

When that happened, the exposed part of the finger underneath looked really yucky, so I put the nail back on to protect it and wrapped it up in a band-aid. I asked the therapist about it on my next visit several days later, and she told me that if it came off, I should just let it come off. I removed the band-aid but found that after several days, the old nail had become adhered to the finger – so, with some difficulty, I had to actually pry the nail off of my finger. (If you were grimacing while reading the last part, you should know that most people react that way to it. It’s just too bad you weren’t there to see it.)

Photography, of course, was not possible with broken fingers and my hand out of sorts. Even more frustrating was that I had about 30 rolls of recently shot film that I was anxious to develop and it was impossible to do any of it.

I pretty much spent the month recovering from the hit but still thinking about future plans, both for my nude photography and my foreign travels. Things were definitely in the works.

By the middle of the month my left hand pretty much was functional again, so I once again hit the road with my camera. My first destination was once again my good friend Dave Levingston, but being summertime, the photography would be outdoors. One day I worked again with Sarah Ellis as well as with Vassanta at a farm owned by a woman that I know. Another day Dave did a lot of driving down to the Hocking Hills so I could photograph Jacqueline Chantelle there. I was also able to finally meet and photograph the wonderful Iris Dassault.

The trip didn’t end there, as I continued on to California to photograph the very lovely Maria Eriksson and the charming Betcee May.

If getting hit by a car was the low point of the year, then the high point of the year (quite literally – airplane flights excepted) was my trip to Tibet. I had wanted to visit that place on “the roof of the world” since 1989, when a previously planned trip was cancelled due to political protests. Now I was finally there, and though the Chinese have made their presence felt much much more than it was back in ’89, it was heartening to see the true Tibetan spirit surviving in its people. I hope to return one day before too long.

I’ve still got about ten rolls of film to develop from this trip, but most of it has been done and the results so far look good. Expect me to post some of these images in 2008.

After two visits to Dave Levingston, he decided to visit me here in New York. One of his objectives: photograph some of the Coney Island amusement area before it changes and is gone forever. We had a long but enjoyable day walking at least five miles to Coney Island and back, and it was nice to show someone from out of the town the places I used to go to when I was young.

I also made a visit to Las Vegas, where I met the photographer Terrell Neasley for the first time. I had happened upon Terrell’s blog where he expressed some admiration for my photography, so I wrote to him and we began a correspondence, finally meeting for breakfast. We have now become good friends.

While meeting with friends is always a good thing, I have to mention what is certainly one of the highlights of the year for me: having an eight page feature on me and my photography published in the Premiere issue of Carrie Leigh’s NUDE magazine. This was far and away the best showcase for my photography to date – and it was good to know that my work was beginning to be appreciated on a wider level.

October and November
No new photography during these months, but I was finally able to begin developing my big backlog of film (roughly 105 rolls). That is an awful lot to have to do in one’s spare time, but the only way to do it is to just do it – so I just went and did it. (Well, most of it. I’ve still got 15 rolls left.)

November also was when I tried to have a book of my fine art nudes printed up by Kodak Gallery – and they cancelled the order because the book contained one image that they found violated their standards of decency.

The year ended with Dave Levingston coming for another visit to New York to attend a dance workshop. As always, it’s good to have a friend to re-connect with for a few days. I also made another trip to Las Vegas to visit family, and Terrell and I got together again – this time to see the Crazy Horse Paris show at the MGM.

As for my photography, I finally decided to join the self-publishing world by releasing my first calendar. I had wanted it to be ready earlier in the month, but the need to change some things on the initial version, coupled with the holiday rush, caused its public debut to be pushed back to just last week. Still, some people have been kind enough to buy copies, and it’s good to know that people appreciate my work enough to buy it. If any of you are reading this, I give you my thanks.

Last, and certainly not least, a bombshell has just arrived at my doorstep. Yesterday, to my immense surprise, I discovered that Richard and Lin of the Fluffytek photography team have bestowed upon me the highest honor – the award for Best Overall Nude Blog of 2007 – in their second annual Fluffytek Photographic Nude Blog Awards, the “Golden Fluffies.”

There are just so many fine blogs out there with great photography and great writing that I still cannot believe this honor was given to a newcomer to blogging like me – but I am extremely grateful to Lin and Richard for choosing me. Again, it makes me feel that the effort and expense I put into my photography and my writing have been worthwhile and that perhaps my images have some real meaning to some people. I’ll try to write more about this in my first blog of the new year (my acceptance speech, so to speak?), but for now, I just want to say “thank you!!!”

So, there you have it. Twelve months of ups and downs – and despite the downs, I have to say that overall it was a pretty good year: three publications (including an eight page feature in a high quality magazine); ten models photographed, including two twice; visits with friends old and new; a trip to a far-off place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time; plus a recognition of one photo to begin the year and a big award honoring this blog at the end. Not too bad, I’d say.

Still, despite all of the photographic successes, I have to say that my biggest success of the year and the one for which I am most grateful is that I was hit by a car – and lived to talk about it! (Of course, it helps that I can still walk, too…LOL)

And on that note, I will end my blogging for 2007 by saying just this:
“Happy new year, everyone. I look forward to seeing all of you again in 2008!!!”

About Dave Rudin

Dave Rudin is a fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in art nude and travel photography, using black & white film and making silver gelatin prints in a darkroom.
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7 Responses to 2007: What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

  1. Lin says:

    Wonderful photography, eloquent and thoughtful writing. You brought pleasure to many. So your blog won for those reasons.(And Dave L…well he does look kinda cute ‘n’ Darcyish in that photo. I really go for a guy with a big bandage!)

  2. Peter B says:

    Nice piece Dave. I’ve followed your blog from its inception and its nice to see you pick yourself up from misfortunes and produce such wonderful images.All the best for 2008.Peter B

  3. Nice roundup, the highs and the lows. Not too shabby a 2007; let’s hope 2008 measures up (to the highs, anyway).

  4. Dave, it was a pleasure getting to know you in 2007. I’m hoping for another collaboration in 2008..

  5. TLNeasley says:

    Life if full of adventures, my friend. The best is still yet to come!

  6. Dave Rudin says:

    Thank you, all, for your comments and your continued support.I’m afraid my next posting may be delayed as the busy time at my job is coming to close and I started working overtime tonight.Rest assured, though. I will be back!Cheers,Dave

  7. Dave Rudin:I read your year in review with interest, and nothing in your account interested me more than the rejection of your book for printing by Kodak Gallery. This was apparently because of a photo of a model with her legs open. As someone who just naturally likes to sit that way, I’ve run into problems with this, too. I’ve been told my image becomes pornographic (this is, in the scheme of things, I believe, beyond erotic) when I happen to assume this position and happen to be nude or partially dressed.Maybe I’m naive or just a dirty old lady, but frankly, I don’t see anything wrong with it. If our legs weren’t meant to fork, they would be immovable, wouldn’t they?

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