It’s also time for me to do my review of the year 2008. I’d wanted to actually write it and post it in 2008, but I’ve just been spending too many hours at the office to have had time to write it until now.
So, as for everybody else, 2008 had its high points and its low points for me. I’ll start off by naming a couple of positive things. First, I lost 20 pounds in about four months. It’s something I had wanted to do, and I finally got it in my mind to actually do it – and I did it. Another good thing about 2008 was that I did not get hit by a car! (For those new to my blog, I did get hit by a car in 2007. You can read about here.)
Unfortunately, just because I didn’t get hit by a car, I still did my (unwilling) best to keep the medical profession in New York gainfully employed. During the course of the year, I paid visits to my dentist, podiatrist, ophthalmologist, gastroenterologist, pulmanologist, cardiologist, dermatologist, orthopedist and otolaryngologist. (Jee, did I leave any out?) I underwent numerous breathing tests and electrocardiograms, two echocardiograms, two stress tests, one CAT scan, three endoscopies, some hearing tests, wore a heart monitor for 24 hours, made one visit to the emergency room and had a rubber hose stuck up my nose and down my throat twice. (Jee, did I leave anything out?)
Still, the news wasn’t all bad. The cardiologist says that I have the heart of a marathon runner, the pulmanologist says that I have the lungs of “almost a super man” and the otolaryngologist says that my equilbrium is so good that I could qualify to be a fighter pilot. I guess I just need to deal with the other things that are bothering me – but maybe it’s all just part of this thing called ‘getting old.’
Anyway, on to the months.
January and February
The year began fairly quietly, without any new photography happening during the first two months of the year. The main thing I did photographically was to finish developing the film that I had shot in 2007. Besides that, I was also planning and preparing for my big foreign trip of the year.
This was the month that I made my big, two-week trip to Southeast Asia – my third trip to that part of the world in four years. My destinations this time were Laos and Cambodia. I had been to Laos two years earlier for five days, but this time I spent eight days in that country – mostly to places that I had not visited on my earlier trip. The one exception (and not a bad one) was the UNESCO world heritage town of Luang Prabang – the former Lao royal capital. Some of the newer places I saw were the current capital, Vientiane (often described as “the quietest capital in the world”), a town called Vang Vieng located in a very beautiful area and the Plain of Jars – an area with many huge, ancient stone jars scattered about (and no one today is exactly sure what their purpose was).
The trip to Cambodia for six days was my first to that country with such a glorious ancient history and such a terrible recent one. My tour’s first stop was the town of Siem Reap and the nearby ruins of Angkor – the capital of the mighty Khmer kingdom that ruled over much of Southeast Asia centuries ago. I had wanted to visit Angkor for some time, and I saw many of its sites – Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Prea Khan, the Bayon, etc. I took a fair amount of photos, though of course to try to do Angkor proper justice, I’ll need to go back on my own with a private guide and not as part of a tour group. I really didn’t expect more than just an introduction to Angkor, and that I did get – with a few good photos, too, I think.
Our other stop in Cambodia was the present day capital, Phnom Penh. Much of what we saw dealt with the brutal regime of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s and seeing some of these things was very emotional, indeed, such as the Khmer Rouge prison, Toul Sleng, and the killing fields at Choeung Ek.
April was in some ways one of the best months of the year and also one of the worst. As for its being one of the worst, the month began with me feeling chest pains, followed by an incident when I thought I was having a heart attack on the subway, followed by several visits to the cardiologist and several heart tests, plus a visit to the emergency room at a local hospital. (I even saw some of the same doctors who treated me after I’d been hit by the car.) After that and more tests, it was found that my heart is fine but the problem was with my stomach. I’m taking medication for it now and the condition seems to be improving, so that’s good. An additional ‘benefit’ of all this was that it gave me the impetus for me to lose the weight that I did.
As for the good, I made my first nude images of the year, beginning with Carly Champagne on one of her visits to New York. It was the first time that I ever photographed a model on a weeknight following a day at work, but a weeknight was the only time she had available and I didn’t want to miss a chance to work with her again. It was a long night, and as I’ve written before, I’m unsure of how good the images will be, having worked with her in my home studio set-up where my photo skills are not quite what they are outdoors. Still, I think the effort was worth it. (As with my other photo shoots of the year, I have not developed much of the film yet, due to my wanting to take it easy while getting over my medical woes.)
In the middle of the month, I also made a trip to Las Vegas, where I met my friend Terrell Neasley and went out with his group on one of his photo outings, where I joined the others in photographing the model Lydia. Coming shortly after the onset of my medical difficulties, it was definitely good to get out, do some work and feel good afterwards.
The last week of April may have been the best of all, as I was very fortunate to play host to the very beautiful model Maria Eriksson on her first trip to New York. I had met and
photographed Maria for the first time in California the previous year, and it was certainly a treat to have such a charming visitor for a week. It also gave me a chance to play tour guide and act as a model’s chaperone for the first time – something rather odd for a photographer to do, as one must get used to just standing around and watching. I also photographed her for a few hours in my studio one day.
May and June
I didn’t do too much in May, but in June I worked with the Australian model Jessamyn on her visit to New York. Though the weather in June was warm enough to work outside, I photographed her in my studio set-up as I really don’t know of any good outdoor locations within a reasonable driving distance from where I live – something I need to work on.
I did do some outdoor photography later in the month when I went up to Woodstock, New York, to attend a photo workshop at the Center for Photography there. Woodstock is where I began photographing nudes back in 1995, and it’s always nice to go back for a visit. Though not billed specifically as a nude workshop, we did get to photograph some nude models one day – and as yet (sad to say) I have not developed any of that film. (As I’ve been saying for some time now, I have a big backlog.)
July was a month for a week-and-a-half long domestic journey, mostly spent visiting family in Las Vegas, followed by a few days in San Francisco. I did not do any photography in or near Vegas, but a did make a long day trip to Utah, where I photographed Tamara near Zion National Park. It was my first trip to Utah, and though it was very long day (and night!), it was worth the effort as the area around Zion is very beautiful (as is Tamara).
In San Francisco, I was met early one morning by all six feet and two inches of Kat Love (second photo down from the top), who drove me off across the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County, where we made some photos at Muir Woods and at a location on the coast. I’ve developed most of the film from that day, and it was certainly one of my most successful photo days of year (with Kat getting most of the credit for that, I have to say!). Muir Woods is a beautiful forest location, but as it’s a popular public spot (and it having been a weekend day, no less) we had to get there very early – which we did. I thought we’d have to trek off to get some privacy, but we were there early enough to work right next to the paved pathway. When things started getting too crowded, we went off the next location, where an overcast sky made for some nice even lighting.
It had been three years since any of my photos were exhibited publicly, but that came to an end this summer, when two of my photos were selected to be included in the Artful Nude exhibit at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado. I had read about this exhibition back in March and figured that I should enter some work, though I nearly didn’t do it as I waited until the very last day to submit work (after spending much of the day at the cardiologist’s office, no less) in April. I’m glad I did, as not one but two of my photos were chosen – making me one of only four out of the 50 photographers represented to have two prints in the show.
Though the exhibit went up in mid-July, the reception/opening night was not until early August, and as it was on the Friday night of one of my long weekends, I decided to attend. As there was also a workshop that weekend lead by the juror of the exhibit, Kim Weston, I decided to sign up for that, too, so I spent two days photographing four models, as well. Another positive thing was that one of the other participants told me that he was a fan of my work, having seen it on the web, and he ended up buying a print from me a month or so later. (Now why can’t I meet more people like that?)
September was definitely the busiest month for me as far as shooting film was concerned, as I attended the Community Zoe get-together at Twentynine Palms in California, near one of the entrances to Joshua Tree National Park. This was my first time attending the event in several years and was also the first time I stayed for the entire week. It was good to see old friends and acquaintances and to meet new ones, as well. Regarding photography, I worked with nine different models over the course of six days, shooting 49 rolls of film – 45 rolls of 220 film with my Pentax 67 and four rolls of 120 with my Holga. (Madame Bink is shown here.) I’ve only developed nine of the 49 rolls so far – all with the Pentax – but I am really looking forward to seeing the results from the Holga!
Throughout the summer and early autumn, I had been developing film as much as was I able to, and was making decent progress with it (though most of that film still needs to be filed away into pages properly). That all came to an end in mid-October when my mother, sister and niece came to visit me until the beginning of November. They basically took over my apartment, preventing me from really doing anything photography related – developing, filing, scanning, etc.
November and December
When my family finally left to go back to their homes, I was left to pick up the pieces of my home and try to put everything back in order. Once that was done, I decided that I really needed to keep straightening up around here and to do some “de-crapperizing” (a word I learned from an Australian man I met on the tour to Southeast Asia). That task continues to this day, and will go on until I’ve cleared enough away so that I can at least print photos here again. I still haven’t developed or filed any film since early October, either, but hopefully I’ll get back to that soon, too.
Though I wasn’t planning to do any more model photography due to the film backlog, I did photograph Sibyl Nin one afternoon in my ‘studio.’ Sibyl lives in Brooklyn and offered a reduction in her usual modeling fee for a short time, so being a bargain hunter, I set something up. It’ll be a while until I develop the film, so I can show now is a shot from my pocket digital camera.
November was also the month when I published my two Figures of Grace calendars for 2009 – a totally new one with indoor nudes, and a reprise of my 2008 outdoor nude calendar updated for 2009. Copies can be purchased by clicking here.
The year ended of course on a down note, with the implementation of new, extremely restrictive federal regulations on nude photography coming into effect in March. We’ll all have to wait to see what happens with this one, though I’m planning to make another posting about it.
The other thing of note is that I completed my first full year of writing this blog, having only began in March of 2007. I hope that you’ve all enjoyed my photography and my writing. If you’ve managed to read all the way down this far, I suppose that you have, so I’ll say thank you for stopping by and hope that you’ll continue to do in 2009.
On the subject of blogs, the latest – and sadly, the last – Fluffytek nude blog awards were announced a couple of days ago. My congratulations go to Jimmy D for winning the top award this year. I know that it gave me great satisfaction when my blog was awarded the top Golden Fluffy last year (even though I never knew that such a thing even existed!), so I’m sure that Jimmy will appreciate it equally so. (You can read the full list of awards here.)
Congratulations also to my friends Dave Levingston and Stephen Haynes for winning awards for best single image and best art nude blog, respectively, plus Dave Swanson for best new blog and Unbearable Lightness and Joe Crachiola for best writing.
I again want to thank Lin and Richard for last year’s honor and for this year “special kudos,” as well as all of the supportive comments they’ve made the past two years. Although I didn’t get a prize this time around, my friend Dave L said that once you’ve won an Oscar, you’re always an “Oscar winner,” so I guess I can still proudly call myself a Golden Fluffy winner!
While I’m at it, thanks also to Chris St. James for supporting me in his Univers d’Artistes blog and for providing his support in other matters (which I plan to write about shortly), and to Michael Barnes of Art Nudes blog for once again mentioning the availability of my calendar on his blog.