Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sleepy Sunday Kelp

As always, when I tell a "model" story it's almost always a "bored college student who wants to tell her friends she models" story - the ones who stick with it and achieve some measure of success rarely generate kelp stories. And oddly enough I get email from models I've worked with to the effect of "Did she really do that? HAHAHAHAHA!" I think they find it reassuring that the upcoming generation is less of a threat than you might think.

Anyway, I had a model chew me out for daring to offer her a nude modeling job. Part of the reason she was so offended, and I quote... "I thought you would of read my profile I made it pretty clear that I don't do nudes".

The interesting thing is that there isn't anything about nudes on her profile either way. Not even a list of what she does want to do (which might imply she doesn't want to do anything not mentioned). I can only assume there used to be something on the issue that accidentally got deleted or whatever, and she didn't bother to double check before writing.

And it turns out that a lot of models who have some "no nudes" line in their profiles actually do nudes. They just don't want to be swamped with offers from bozo kelpy wanna-be photographers who just want to see their bewbs. (Helpful Hint: strip clubs are cheaper). Or maybe it's just in case dad checks their profile. So if they want to work with you they'll contact you directly. So what you do is maybe leave a nice comment on one of their photos to get their attention and hope they write back.

The problem of course is that it only takes that happening once before people start ignoring any "no nudes" stuff in portfolios and the people who feel like their time is wasted by this kind of email get more and more shrill about it.

It also doesn't help any when you get things like this one gal who worked with a few folks doing nudes who put something in her profile like "I don't do nudes, IF YOU SEE ANY THEY WERE PHOTOSHOPPED." Well, that's not true, because she worked with quite a few people and they can't all be fake, but imagine some model who wants to work with one of those photographers, and clicks through to models he's worked with and she sees that statement. What a mess.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Updates and art notes

I've had enough new sets go up on Fridays recently that I should probably say I don't think the next one will be ready by then, although it's possible. It's probably just as well - I'm running low on stockpiled material. I have two model shoots, some non-model event photography I need to process, and of course I can't share the portrait work. I was hoping to have a couple more model shoots done by now, but I've had some bad luck with model reliability. (I've heard some flaky photographer stories lately too - I don't know what's getting into people). I do have some great shoots scheduled for late June and early July but not a lot before then. Hopefully I can fix that.

We went to the Legion of Honor today (it's an art museum). On the way there we passed by the mayor giving a speech at a bus stop which was weird - at first we just saw a bunch of guys in suits surrounded by a ring of media types with big video cameras and then realized who was in the center of the ring. I found a picture - apparently they're sprucing up the bus stops, oh boy. Kind of funny how it looks like there's only three people there and there must have been fifty people in the "audience" (mostly media). It might be an interesting photo essay to come back every week for a year as it gets totally trashed.

The museum went well - a cool Faberge/Tiffany/Lalique exhibit is about to close so I'm glad I got to see that. It's the start of everybody's big summer special exhibits so they're all closing down about now so the new stuff can get ready. Of particular upcoming interest - King Tut at the de Young and a Georgia O'Keeffe / Ansel Adams exhibit at SFMOMA (and a Richard Avedon thing starting a bit later) and a samurai exhibit at the Asian Art Museum. If you're going to be in San Francisco this summer and have even a vaguely artistic bent you should find something to do without too much trouble.

We brought both a stroller and a sling and the sling won, hands down. Much easier to keep the baby calm and much easier to maneuver around without getting in everybody's way.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

I sometimes try to post an appropriate picture for Memorial Day and I kind of like this one - it's one of the Blue Angels flying by Alcatraz.

Looks like they'll be back October 10th and 11th here in San Francisco. Which is good timing for fleet week since Monday is Columbus day. The local Italian community has given up on arguing about Columbus - the holiday was always basically like the Italian version of St. Patrick's or any other ethnic holiday - Columbus was just an excuse to say "yay for us" - so they've given up on the name and they'll hold the Italian Heritage Day Parade on the 11th. So basically it's just going to be nuts in San Francisco that weekend, but that's not exactly unusual. This will be their 139th time so I imagine they have it down by now.

But I digress. It's Memorial Day. Do try to remember it's not just about hot dogs...

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Re: North Korea setting off a nuke - interesting that it measured as a 4.7 earthquake. I used to work in a seismic lab and one of the things I was doing was going through some historic data and matching it up with CalTech's database. And one thing I'd have to do was filter out the US tests in Nevada. As I recall they were pretty close to 5.0, so that's the right ballpark.


I mentioned at some point that I am tentatively selling again on eBay and I'd see how it went. Well, the results are in and they're weird.

In the last two weeks...

Dollar value of auction items sold: Zero!
Dollar value of "store" items sold: $400
Dollar value of items sold direct on this website because of people on eBay asking if something was available in a different size or whatever: $400

So I have $800 in two weeks of prints sold that is directly due to eBay sales or exposure, but zero from auction items. There might be more from exposure for that matter - that's just sales where I knew there had been some kind of contact in the last day or two in regards to an eBay item.

People ask me about this stuff with the implied question of "Should I sell my art there?". And I'm not sure what to say, really. eBay appears to be more effective as a kind of marketing tool than anything else right now (and frankly that's how I tend to think of it even when things are going well), but if you don't have a way of capturing sales from the people who contact you I'm not sure how valuable it is. And traditionally the summer, especially June and July, are really slow.

Personally I plan on keeping listing but probably at a fairly sedate level - a couple of prints a day, just enough to show up in searches basically. I'll report back at some point and we'll see if this basic pattern continues or not.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I like keeping some MREs around. ("Meals Ready to Eat" - US military rations). At some point I actually tried the rations they usually put in three day earthquake kits and decided it was worth it to just buy some MREs which are more or less edible and I'm sure under earthquake conditions would be just fine. It's also nice for road trips to have a couple of meals in the trunk just in case that town on the map turns out to not actually have the services you expected, or for camping, or... you get the idea. They're a bit more expensive but might actually get eaten before they expire.

Well, it came time to replace whatever was left and I went looking for some. Now, to be pedantic an MRE is technically a bag with a specific bunch of MRE components in them - an entree and a side dish and some peanut butter and so on and so forth and there's some document somewhere that defines them. They run about 1300 calories and the accessory pack includes not just salt and pepper and a spoon but matches and toilet paper and so forth. It turns out there are some legal issues with selling whole military MREs (the government doesn't want them vanishing before their time) but you can sell components.

Increasingly, seeing there's a market need for peole who would rather have a nice little pack with a full meal rather than a lot of bits and pieces, the three companies that make the stuff produce their own civilian labeled components and some other companies package up their own as well. You have to be a bit careful about what you're getting because they may or may not include all the little bits and pieces a real MRE would have, and I don't think anybody includes the full accessory pack since there's not so much need for some of that stuff. They also may or may not include the heaters (MREs include clever just add water heaters).

If you Google a bit you can find insanely detailed websites (if my vague description wasn't enough) including pictures of the spoons they all have. The military's gone to almost a soup spoon so people will eat faster and you may or may not really want that as an example. People who care about this stuff gett really into the whole spoon thing.

Well, I had to buy some other emergency stuff anyway, and I'd come to the conclusion that I wasn't going to get anything better direct from the makers, so I went with a third party company - Emergency Essentials. They're good folks - I've bought from them before. They assemble their own from components that seem to be from all three of the companies that make them. They have a fancier version with the side dish and heater and a basic version without. So in the basic version it's an entree, some kind of cracker or bread, peanut butter and jam, dessert, some drink mix, a piece or two of hard candy, and the accessory kit. All stuck into a ziploc. Not fancy but quite useful.

I of course after having done my research immediately looked at the accessory kit. Napkin, moist towellette, salt, pepper... and a spork. I love sporks! I can see it now... the power's out, it's going to be a few days for FEMA to do anything useful, we're sheltering in place but by God I have semi-edible meal and a spork to eat it with and a moist towellette for when I'm done.

Civilization indeed.

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Model: Axella

I just uploaded the set with Axella. We tried a bunch of bare bulb stuff at weird angles. A lot of it didn't really work but I like this shot.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New set tomorrow

Almost there, really. :-)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yesterday's election

No politics, just a story.

So we voted just before lunchtime yesterday, and since we moved we had to find the polling place and all that. Turns out it was at a nearby school but it wasn't in a room exactly - they literally put a desk and a half dozen minimal voting "booths" into a hallway. We've gone to the optical ballots where you just draw a line to compete the arrow so there's no kind of machine or anything - it's just a little table with a cardboard shield around it. Think of it as a voting urinal and you'll be pretty close, it's just that the flat area's up higher.

Then you shove your ballot in the scanner and the counter goes up one (77 people, whoo hoo).

Two things were amusing to me. One was that the workers were almost grateful that somebody showed up, and even more so that they brought a kid to observe. She's six weeks old so I'm not sure how much observing she did, but I'm glad they were welcoming. It would have been a pain to take turns or whatever. But they were really over the top about it - talking about how it's good to model the behavior basically.

The second is that this was an elementary school, and as I said, just before lunchtime and in a hallway. So the whole time there were tons of kids being escorted through the hallway (going to lunch?). So the combination of "How wonderful you brought your child; children should see how important this is." and with all the kids running up and down the hallway seeing that voting's ever so important that a) they just stuck it in a hallway somewhere, and b) hardly anybody showed up.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Real Estate

Somebody was asking how the house thing was going. We're in escrow on the old house. For those who haven't been through this process - basically when you sell a house it's this long drawn out process even if people want the house. So you list it, have an open house, get offers (hopefully). If you have multiple full price offers you priced the house a bit low and there's some kind of negotiation to bump that back up a bit. Then there are various inspections and the buyers can ask for repairs. As an example when we bought this place they had this death trap kind of main circuit breaker panel and a fuse subpanel (you can't get insurance with one of those) so we asked for those to be replaced with something that would, you know, not kill us. Interestingly enough when I was cleaning out the old place I found the old circuit breaker panel that we'd replaced on our own and it was that same kind. Lucky we replaced it (back then I don't think the problem was that well known).

While all of this is going on the buyers get the final loan approval stuff done, people run title searches, earthquake zone disclosures, blah blah blah. If the buyers are also trying to sell their own house they might ask for a really long escrow period so they can sync things up. This house is a starter home and I think everybody would just as soon get it done so hopefully it will move pretty fast.

I've forgotten the exact date (it always seems to shift a bit anyway), but hopefully it will all be over with in a month or so and I'll have the check for whatever's left after paying off the mortage, paying the real estate agents, some of the transfer taxes, blah blah closing costs blah blah. I owned it 15 years and bought it during the last California real estate slump so it's not like we're going to lose money or anything but it's probably worth $200K less than peak.

Interestingly enough we got a bunch of offers - five written offers within a couple of days of listing it and I know there were a bunch of calls after to see if it was still there. We also had notes stuck in the mailbox that people would love to rent it if it didn't sell. Ironically as screwed up as the housing market is, there are so few houses that aren't foreclosures or short sales or some other kind of weird bank owned (or at least needs bank negotiation) properties that if you just put a regular house on the market and you've basically maintained it and it looks nice you'll get swamped with offers. They'll be much lower than in the last bubble of course, but if you price it fairly there are definitely buyers out there ready to take advantage of the new lower pricing.

It's been taking up a fair amount of time - and remember, I have a newborn as well - but hopefully it will be off my plate soon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Red Kelp in Morning, Photographer in Mourning

Not really a full kelp rant, but since I mentioned it on twitter I thought I'd fill things out a bit here. I had a studio shoot scheduled today with a lovely redhead - today at 1:00. At 8:30am she wrote to cancel with an excuse involving her husband not approving. I'm not sure of the details especially if he knew she was planning on doing this before last night. There's probably a whole interesting soap opera there.

Luckily I was lazy last night and hadn't done any prep work yet. When you have your own shooting space and you're doing figure work the logistics are really easy - I just need somebody to show up and we get it done. It's not like I had a deposit down on a rental studio or a cancellation fee for a makeup artist, hair stylist, wardrobe, etc. etc. let alone building a set. For other photographers this would be major cause for hair pulling and gnashing of teeth. (The one that really gets me is when they don't take ten seconds to send a note saying they can't make it - that's a big waste of time. Somebody flaking on a location shoot is even worse, although I always call and check in before leaving which helps.)

The relationship thing's tricky. It's tricky for photographers too - imagine being married to somebody who regularly has young, attractive, nude models over for a couple of hours. If there are any trust issues in the relationship at all, you're going to find out about them really fast!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I just tweaked the comments settings and the big change is that I'm allowing anonymous comments. They're still moderated (I have to click approve to add them) but I'm online fairly often and hit "yes" if it's a real comment. I had the comments settings really strict down the line because I was having problems both with spammers and with some hate mail.

Just as an example of the kind of dumb stuff I get - I had one guy on eBay who used to send me a nasty note whenever I listed new pictures of a model with pubic hair. Mostly it's just dumb stuff like that and something about blog comments makes it so easy for people to dash off something hateful. And I definitely feel like there's no need for a model to check things out and see some rude comment about their body or whatever. Everybody has their preferences, and if you don't like what you see come back next week.

Obviously I'll set everything back if the signal/noise ratio gets too bad...

Friday, May 15, 2009

New Pictures: Orixx

I just uploaded a set with Orixx. For those keeping score, Orixx is back to going by Tia now, but I'm keeping her with the older name just to keep everything consistent on the site since I've worked with her before. You might also want to read her blog, Naked Postcards.

I'm hoping to keep up this pattern of Friday updates (Thursday on this one if you were on twitter!) but I'm a bit less confident of this next one - the next few days are likely to be very busy...

Thursday, May 14, 2009


2009 KFOG Kaboom Fireworks from KFOG on Vimeo.

KFOG always does a great job with this every May. You can see it from quite a few places across the bay - I usually try to catch it from the USS Hornet but didn't manage it this year.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Shoot story

I was taking a first pass through all of the remaining shoots from in my editing backlog and this reminded me of a story.

So as you might guess from that picture, especially if you click on it to make it a bit bigger, there was a decent amount of morning sun but it was still cold, with on and off again wind. We're on a public trail near the bay... pose, pose, pose, snap, snap, snap.

And we hear coming over the hill some women's voices and some dogs. OK, fine, we're polite folks so I toss her something to cover up with. But still, as they crest the hill there's this beautiful young girl who's mostly wearing a light robe standing in front of this flowering bush and an older guy with a camera. We do in fact appear to be Up To Something.

Turns out there are three women and ten dogs. I don't know if they were walking them professionally (around here professional dog walkers often go into certain dog friendly parks) or if they just love dogs but we've got ten off leash dogs sniffing my gear, me, the model, and generally acting doggy. Chaos. The three women flash us some smiles, say hello, and continue down the hill. They act like nothing's out of the usual at all. They play it totally cool.

And just as they get to a bend in the trail and go out of sight, one of them turns back and shouts "Just so you know, we'll be passing back this way in about ten minutes!"

People ask me a lot what it's like to shoot nude outdoors and how people act. And in the bay area that's actually pretty typical. But it does seem to help if you make some attempt to politely cover up (what if they have their 10 year old son with them and don't want to answer any questions? Or their 15 year old son and they don't want to physically drag him down the path?) and normally we'd be at least a bit off trail - it's just sometimes there's something right on the trail and you may as well just go for it.

New pictures on Friday - outdoors, but another set. If I get them done on Thursday night I might tweet them then and do the other notifications in the morning (Twitter link over there on the right sidebar.)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Maria light painting and long exposure nudes

There's a couple of different kinds of shots in the new set with Maria so I'll explain.

The first ones are fairly long exposures but still a fraction of a second (half or a quarter). They use a studio light but without triggering the flash - it's just with the secondary light bulb ("modeling light") that's a convenience feature so you can guestimate what the flash will look like when it fires. For the color geeks - I only partially corrected out the orange color of the light bulbs because these are abstract enough it doesn't bother me, and in fact I think they look a bit odd fully corrected.

Then we see a variety of light sources - I think three different flashlights, and candles in a couple of different holders. Usually I'm holding the light but in a few cases Maria's holding the light herself. All exposures were five seconds in the sense that the shutter was always open for five seconds, but with the flashlights the lights weren't always on the whole time. And in fact sometimes they were blinked on and off as in that second shot above.

I think it was a good first attempt. Some stuff worked better than others but now that I've figured a few things out I'll probably do something like doing a little at the end of every nighttime studio shoot - although this time of year it gets dark so late it may not really happen until the fall. We'll see. Obviously with a one month old (today!) I'm not trying to predict that far ahead... although I am pretty confident I'll have another set up in a week (plus or minus a day or two). I still have lots of material I shot back in March.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Just checking in

Things are going well enough with the baby - most nights the sleeping situation isn't too bad, but even being a little bit short of sleep for enough nights in a row adds up. I'm going to have to develop a more nap centric lifestyle! I did get to spend some time today in the city with a model/friend (not for a shoot - this was a social thing) but mostly I've only been leaving the house for fairly important stuff, like that darn groceries thing.

There will definitely be another set up Fridayish - I'm finally finishing up that light painting set with Maria from March (example shown here). Sure enough, taking the time to do a full shoot isn't something I'd want to be doing super often just now but taking a set and finding the good ones and doing some minor post processing is the kind of work you can do in pieces as time allows.

I think between the sets I have on hand and doing the occasional new shoot (some are scheduled but I've only actually done one post-baby) I can probably keep up a one a week pace for a couple of months but we'll see. At some point I should also think about if I want to do another book this year (I've done one the last four years at about this time) and it's not a huge time suck since I already have the pictures but it does take some time to pick some good ones that go together and figure out the order and all that.

Sure enough this pass on selling on eBay has been pretty pointless so far. For whatever reason economic factors and what have you seems to have affected sales there much more than direct sales on the website thankfully, but it's where a lot of my new customers come from so in the long run it could become a problem. Well, we'll see how it goes.">Feedjit Live Blog Stats

Powered by Blogger