I am going to share my favorites and the posts that got the most commentary. Sometimes these are the same and sometimes not. I grow quite fond of anyone that would give me time for an interview, so let's start with the fabulously talented James Graham with some of my favorite photos and my most fun interviewer that speaks it how it dang is... Well, that's James for you. This man tells it how it is.
James Graham specializes in portraits and narrative imagery in fashion, fine art and erotica. He works in both film and digital. James has spent 20 years as a filmmaker, at various times producing, writing, directing and shooting. He has worked on a variety of projects ranging from a Guns 'n' Roses video to the 2004 Natori Lingerie Campaign. He was a nominee for Black & White Spider Awards for the category of professional fashion photography. His work has been published internationally, including in the Taschen book, "The New Erotic Photography".
His Artistic Aesthetic:
I like darkness. I like contrast and I like juxtaposition.
By darkness, I mean the full definition of the word: low light, shadow, but also something sinister. Something unsafe. Something unexpected.
Contrast, I mean in the photographic sense: sharp whites and blacks.
Juxtaposition, I think of as a means to take contrast into the emotional. Something here is not quite "right" is my preferred working style.
My work comes from my 30 year study of motion pictures. Intense study - like, I seek out who the cinematographer of my favorite David Lynch film is (Freddie Francis). I went to NYU in order to be a cinematographer and came out the other end a Producer.
How do you decide when to use color versus B&W?
If I decide to shoot color there is an aesthetic reason- a hue I want, the color temperature of the light, a piece of clothing, lipstick, hair... and when I shoot color I always shoot black and white too. Not as a back-up, really, but as a way to see the same thing the color sees differently.
What does color do or reflect in the shot versus B&W?
It's a different mood. It triggers different emotions. It looks like real life, but not really.
Can you share with us how you get the models "eyes" to be so present in each shot?
When asked what my work is about, I always say "the subject's eyes". They are what I am drawn to when I look through the lens. They're what I automatically want to bring into focus. It's a cliche', but there is something to that "windows to the soul" adage. Then there's also the connection between the model and photographer. Many times while I am lighting a subject I will ask them to look right at me. This is practical (I set the light to kick off of their eyes) and directorial (by looking right back at them I try to give them something to hold on to- trust, calm, a certain seriousness-something). What the subject does with that something is what makes the photograph "them".
Do you choose a model or location differently for a color shot versus a B&W?
Not normally, but I suppose it depends. On everything...
James has a book being launched shortly called "Some of This is True". The compilation of photographs in the book are surprisingly half nudes standing on chairs and the other half are sad playboy bunnys. Strange juxtaposition? No, not really. See a few sad and sexy bunnys below. They are fascinating, sexy, expressive and dark. The sharpness and contrast of the black and white is his signature. He also makes women standing on chairs look amazing from such a unexpected and unique position. Standing on chairs? Who would have thought that would be sexy or even vaguely interesting? James did...
When is it being launched and where to purchase?
How did you come up with the sad playboy bunny concept?
I don't really know. I was shooting a plus-size model and asked her to stand on top of an old wooden toolbox with wheels on it. I mainly wanted to push her limits. So that shot was interesting. Then I was shooting another model and asked her to stand on a chair, but shot her from the waist down. Then I was shooting a porn star and asked her to stand on a chair-again, don't know why, but obviously something was cooking in my head. After seeing that shot, I sat down and made a list of rules for the series, and went to work. I've heard some interesting interpretations of it from different people
How did you decide on the cover picture out of all available?
There are actually two covers as it is a "flip over" book- one series to each side. My editor/publisher suggested both shots and I agreed wholeheartedly. He's got an amazing eye.
Interesting title for your book... What about the book is "true" for you?
What Inspires you?
I think my biggest inspiration is to create. That and to leave some evidence of me in the world. I would like to be appreciated by an audience and perhaps inspire someone else, but mostly it's an inner drive to create.
You can view his complete portfolio on his website. His stylish and thought provoking blog is worth a look, as well. You can view my previous post regarding some of his amazing black and white editorial fashion photography here. James is available for commercial, editorial, fashion, and portrait assignments. He grew up in North Carolina, but resides in Brooklyn, New York.
I can't help but love his honesty, passion for being creative and his work. The eyes...oh... the eyes. I am lucky enough to have my website with James's photography (you can't see me, but I'm pinching myself) . I feel like one lucky fabulous finds gal.
What do you think of his work or what does it conjure up for you?