Eight Days

I was reading on the blog of another photographer not too long ago that he had scheduled two photo sessions with models per week for each week of the month. That’s two times four, or a total of eight photo sessions in the month.

This really seemed like a lot to me. Perhaps this photographer is retired and has the time for this (hey, I wish I could join him!) but for me to do this, I’d have to photograph on both days of the weekend (which would be impossible, given that I have other things to do in life. )

This is an interesting comparison, I suppose, with the way that I photograph models – or at least, how often I photograph them. While this gentleman has eight days of photography lined up for this month, I worked with models for a grand total of eight days during all of last year! The way things are looking it probably won’t be much different than that this year.

Quite honestly, I think about eight days is enough for me, as I only have so much time and money to devote to my photography – with my travel photography taking up a lot of my time, too. The way I do things with film, for each hour I spend on location or in a studio with a model, I must spend a multitude in post-production: developing the film, cutting the film into strips, filing the negatives and annotating the pages, looking over the film to decide which ones to scan, then scanning them to post here and on my website, etc. Of course, I have not yet even mentioned the ultimate purpose of the photos: making fine art prints.

I also wonder if I’d become bored with it all if I photographed models too often. I once heard an interview with a Playboy photographer who was asked if he ever got tired of photographing the same thing. His response: “You have to eat every day, but do you ever get tired of it?” True enough, I suppose, but as a Playboy photographer who had to produce a certain kind of image, he could go on from one session to another without having to be creative and do things too differently.

With fine art photography it’s different, as one tries (or should try) to do new things in a creative manner. I often ask myself how long can I go on photographing in the same manner without trying different things. This question can be applied to many of the creative arts. I once heard of a musicologist who said that Mozart had reached a point in his life where he was happy with his style of composition and stuck with it after that point, whereas Beethoven was always searching for something new and different.

I doubt that many people will say that we shouldn’t listen to Mozart’s music just because he chose not to break out of his comfort zone – just as people who like the Playboy style of glamour nude photography shouldn’t stop looking at it because the style doesn’t change much. Still, for someone who’s trying to be creative, it’s a different story.

Getting back to quantity, one can ask this question: does the frequency of photo shoots affect one’s level of creativity? Perhaps it does. If I photographed often I might get bored sooner and force myself to break out of my comfort zone. I might also remember to try to do different things the next time if the next time weren’t five months away. Then again, it might have the opposite effect. When I had a high concentration of nude photo sessions a few years ago, rather than making me more creative, I decided to give it up for a while and went off on a trip to Japan!

At the end of the day (or week or month or year), I guess we all have to do both what we’re capable of doing as well as what we are happy doing. Some photographers say that if they don’t photograph on a regular, frequent basis, they begin to feel nervous or out of touch with what they’re doing. I guess I’m not one of them. Eight days of nude photography plus a few weeks of travel photography per year would seem to be enough to keep me content – and even if I’m not using my camera, there’s always something related to my photography to do if I so desire.
Speaking of nudes, today’s images are photos that I made at Big Sur in California in 2000 and 2001.

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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2 Responses to Eight Days

  1. That second photo really rocks, Dave.

  2. D.L. Wood says:

    I don’t have a solution – but I do admire your problem.Lets take your math out a little further and say that photographer has 8 shoots every month, for 96 shoots in a year. Maybe he would say how can you only shoot eight times a get any creative juices flowing?The choices we make to satisfy our needs and hungers are different at different times in ours lives. If the “your rich now faerie” tapped you with her wand and you didn’t have a day job anymore and you could spend more time on photography. I’d bet you would shoot the naked ladies more than eight times a year.You state you are happy with the amount of photography you shoot and the creative satisfaction it gives you. Great. I get the feeling that travel photography holds a higher priority than nudes. Weeks vs days. Great. What difference does it make if someone else shoots more or less than you? Your content with the amount of time and creativity expended to get the images your happy with. So are we or we wouldn’t visit.D.L. Wood

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