2009: What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

So, here we are. Just minutes from midnight and the beginning of a new year – the final year of the first decade of the 21st century and the Third Millenium.

I definitely have plans for that new year, but before I write about them (next time), I’ll finish off this year with my annual recap.

January and February

The year began with the threat of the sword of Damocles hanging over photographers and artists who work with the nude figure in the United States: federal regulation 2257A, which would exact severe criminal penalties on such artists who would not follow rules regarding record-keeping that are difficult, if not impossible, to follow. I wrote a blog posting about it back then. (If you haven’t read it, you can see it here .)

I really didn’t do much photographically in January, but things began picking up in February, first with catching up on developing a big backlog of film (which I seem to have in perpetuity). The big event, though, was when the beautiful JMax came to my home studio for a photo session of several hours. These were the first photos I’d shot in three months, and though my lighting set-up could have been better, it was still a worthwhile effort. I hope that I can work with Julie again in 2010.

March and April

March was a good month for looking at photos. First, I went to an exhibit of Edward Steichen’s fashion work from the 1920’s and 1930’s at the International Center of Photography – one of my favorite exhibits of the year. The month ended with my attending – for all four days – the annual AIPAD photography dealer’s show at the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan. This show is a great place to see lots of photographs in one place (and all for sale, too!), and anyone with a serious interest in art photography should try to attend some time.

The bad news was that the Damocles’ sword of 2257A was strung up to hang over photographers and artists on March 19. I guess it remains to be seen how the government will try to enforce it. For the time being, right now, the Free Speech Coalition has filed a lawsuit to have this law declared unconstitutional – and I certainly do wish they succeed!

As for April, I guess the biggest news for me was that I turned 50. Thinking about it now, it seems like ages ago rather than a span of less than eight months.

May

The biggest event of May for me was a trip to Las Vegas and to Oregon. I went to Vegas to visit family, but I also met my friend Terrell Neasley one night, along with local model Melissa. We went for dinner and then went to see the new Star Trek movie. I did not like the film (which is “Star Trek” in name only) and Terrell did not like the fact that we had to sit in third row and look almost straight up at the screen.

In Oregon, I met up with my friend, the photographer Steve Anchell, in the state’s capital, Salem. Then I drove to Lincoln City on the coast where I spent a few days at Steve’s “Nude at Westwind” weekend workshop. You can see one of the first photos that I’ve scanned from the workshop here.

As it turned out, it would be the only time that I photographed outdoor nudes in all of 2009. I hadn’t planned it that way, but that’s just the way it happened.

June

Italy and Germany. That’s where I went in June.

In Italy, I spent 17 days surrounded by some of the best art, architecture and food in the world. I stayed in Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan, and also made a day trip to Lucca in Tuscany. This was my first trip to bella Italia in 11 years, but my first to Rome, Florence and Venice in 19. (Hopefully I will return again much sooner.)

I had never visited Milan before, and capped off my trip to Italy by seeing Verdi’s great opera “Aida” at Milan’s La Scala opera house on my final night there.

Here you can see two photos of Rome that I recently scanned, showing both the old (above, at the top) and new sides of The Eternal City.

I also visited my sister and niece in Berlin for a week. Among the photographic highlights were an exhibition of photos by the Italian fashion photographer Paolo Roversi at a local gallery, plus a visit to the Helmut Newton Foundation, which had an exhibit celebrating the anniversary of his humongous book, Sumo.

July

The highlight of July was when I photographed model Erin in my studio set-up. Among the props that I used were some papier machemasks that I had bought in Venice in June.

I still haven’t developed any of that film yet (though I hope to do so this weekend), so here’s one of my digital snapshots from the session.

August

I saw another great exhibit of fashion photography at the ICP, this time by Richard Avedon.

Still, the highlights were visits to New York by two friends. First, Dave Levingston (pictured, right) visited New York and stayed with me for a few days early in the month. The main highlight was a day trip up to Woodstock, New York, to attend an illustrated lecture by Mary Ellen Mark. It was worth the four hour-plus drive up to Woodstock – much of that time spent sitting motionless in traffic. We also visited a gallery in Woodstock whose owners do good art nude work, and one of them took us in the back and showed us a lot of prints. Dave and I also went to the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan one day, but sadly the photo galleries were closed for installation.

A little later, my friend Terrell Neasley (or “Big T,” as I call him) made a trip here from Las Vegas to visit New York for the first time. I think he was impressed and wants to return some time. (Maybe next time he’ll bring a camera.)

You can see Terrell in the photo on the left here at a restaurant where we dined at the South Street Seaport. That’s yours truly on the right, our beautiful hostess on the left, and in the middle, looking like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights, is Big T himself.

Not to be left out, I also began printing photos in my darkroom for the first time in three years. These early efforts were a little problematic, but things would improve later.

September

The best thing about September was that I took the week of Labor Day off from work and somehow managed to develop fifty (50!) rolls of medium format film in that time. It really is amazing just how much one can accomplish when one does not have to do things like going into work.

At the end of the month, my studio was graced by the presence of the model called Muse.

October

As I mentioned before, the Free Speech Coalition has filed a lawsuit against Federal regulation 2257A and this is the month that it was announced. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was waiting for something like this to happen. In fact, my friend Dave Levingston is one of the plaintiffs in the case.

Early in the month, I attended the “Take Home A Nude” art auction of the New York Academy of Art. I went home with a couple of inexpensive drawings. I also made my last photographs of the year when Nettie R. Harris worked with me in my studio and stayed with me for a few days. (Any one who’s worked with Nettie will understand me when I say that it was an experience like no other.)

The second half of the month, though, saw my life turn topsy turvy due to a family visit and I had to spend weeks trying to get things back to normal again. (Still, for family, one endures.)

November

This was a big month for art, beginning with my first ever visit to the IFPDA Print fair at the Park Avenue Armory. This is very much like the AIPAD photo dealers show, except that these dealers and galleries were displaying etchings, lithographs, mezzotints and the like.

Then I went one night to see the Modernism show, also at the Armory, and met actor Michael Richards (Kramer from “Seinfeld”) there.

Lastly, I made my annual trip to Philadephia to attend the Photo Review benefit auction and came home with a couple of prints.

At the end of the month, I posted a photo which proved to be controversial, to say the least. I’ll try to follow up on that topic some time soon.

December

The month began with my final benefit auction of the year – this one to raise money for Friends Without A Border, a non-profit organization that supports the Angkor Hospital for Children in Cambodia. As I did the year before, I came home with a couple of relatively affordable prints.

I also made another short trip to Las Vegas. I met Terrell again for breakfast at our usual haunt – a pancake restaurant – but this time we were joined by Wolf, who we had never met before. A good time was had by all as we talked about photography and other stuff.

Regarding my own photography, I had my final darkroom session of the year, printing photos from four Holga negatives. Let’s hope I can continue to print on a regular basis – perhaps once a month.

I also had a scare when the external computer disc drive on which I store my photos refused to work, but thankfully I got that problem solved by putting it in a new housing. I got a totally new, much larger drive, too.

Finally, 2009 ended on a high note. For the past two years, I put together a calendar or two of art nudes for people to purchase. I have not had the time to compile a 2010 calendar, but I was happy to be a contributor to the newly released book, “f – eleven,” that was edited by the aforementioned Wolf.

I wrote about this book last time, and if you haven’t had a time to take a look at the preview on Blurb, I wish you would. Just click here. There are ten pages devoted to me and my photography (both nudes and travel), plus two more of my photos – including the cover. The book has some great work in it by the other contributors, including Wolf and Dave Levingston.

And remember, all proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to Friends Without A Border, which I just wrote about.
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So, that’s it. A year condensed into a few pages. Once again, it’s amazing to look over my postings from throughout the year to see how much (and how little) I did. I didn’t do that much outdoor nude photography, for example. In fact, I think this is the first year when I’ve actually shot more film of models in my studio than I have outdoors – and I prefer to photograph outdoors.

Before I forget, I have to say that the close of 2009 was a bit less interesting than that of previous years without the Golden Fluffies to look forward to. Thank you’s again to Lin and Rich for putting them together in the past.

Now, I will finish just by wishing everybody out there in bloggie land a happy and a healthy new year and a prosperous 2010. May we all be back again this time next year.

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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3 Responses to 2009: What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

  1. That's right. We did get to hook up 3 times this year. I can't even say that about family, most times.

  2. Well, Dave, you and I have been able to "hook up" by phone.

  3. Lin says:

    Finally, I am back online again and able to catch up. A very belated Happy New Year to you Dave, and thanks for the kind mention of ye Olde Golden Fluffies. We can all look forward to the UdA awards soon, which will be excitement enough for all of us!

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