Thursday, August 22, 2013

Chaos Reigns Supreme

Many thanks to Kara.

There are moments in life that alter you.  Sometimes those singular instances have such a profound effect that it calls into question everything you've ever known.  The first time I took a picture of a semi-nude woman, I won't lie to you: I felt time stop.  The first time I took a good picture of a woman, I never wanted time to start again.

Over the years, I've watched the explosion of amateur photographers pour their creations into the internet.  This has had two diametric effects on me; the first was a constant source of inspiration, and the other was one of utter disbelief.

You see, some things you just can't un-see.

A while back, I rattled off a post about how erotic photography is like a biological switch in my head.  Something inexplicable happens when I get behind the lens. It's like the rest of the world just ceases to exist.  These many years after that first photograph, that myopia still happens-- but last week I had an incredible breakthrough: I may have even expanded my horizons a little...

First a little context: The OctavianUnderground has quite a few tendrils reaching into the farthest corners of the internet.  Among them is the website Fetlife where I have a profile under the clever little title Octavian Earth, the same title as my Twitter handle.  An online friend, (who will remain safely anonymous) heard about my new found sense of adventure since I moved from Pennsylvania and offered to put me in touch with a few people who could teach me a few things.  If I was willing...

At first, I was floored by the suggestion.  There was a throat-squeezing moment as I thought it over.  I wanted to do it, but there was no way I was going to be able to.  I asked my wife who didn't seem to have the same reservations I did.  I knew I needed to do it, and ultimately, I did.

So last week I attended an erotic photography workshop where I knew I was going to be the most inept photographer to ever grace their doorstep.  Despite that, I was resolute.  I had a mind like a sponge, and a genuine desire to hone my photography for the better.  This was a golden chance to actually do something instead of just thinking about it.

In the end, I only got to stay a short while because of family obligations and my own time constraints, but the time I did spend wasn't wasted, not by a long shot.  From the moment I walked through the door, I was welcomed.  There was nothing but warm smiles, friendly handshakes, and general good cheer.  

Two models were getting ready in another part of the house, but the real apprehension I felt wasn't in the adornments of skin and lingerie, it was in the camera case in my hands.  Of the half-dozen photographers in the room, I had the most entry-level camera, the least experience, and the most to learn.

And I did learn.  I learned that taking a good picture wasn't all about style and pose; it's about aperture and f-stops, light boxes and triggers, backdrops and light meters.  By the time the models were ready, my camera was too.  My head was full of numbers and ratios, but I was also almost out of time.  

Then the one thing I dreaded most, happened.  They asked me to photograph first. 

All the ideas I'd had, all the preconceptions I held, every damned one was shattered in that instant.  Before I knew it, the overhead lights dimmed so there was only the glow of the light boxes.  Six photographers, two hosts, and two models-- all staring at me like I should know what the hell I was doing...

I floundered, I fumbled, and I felt my knees shake.  Then I looked through the lens, that beautiful glass menagerie.  Instantly, the world changed.  The people around me were still there and I still had no idea what to say, but at least I wasn't lost behind the lens. Every snap, every turn, every twitch of muscle was like it was meant to be.

Like I said, I didn't stay long, but that didn't matter.  I came to learn, and I did.  I came to break out of the shell I'd hardened around myself, and I did.  I didn't just tap at it like a chick in an egg--I hit it with a nine pound sledge.  

I came to shoot pictures of a beautiful young woman, and I did... 

And I'm all the better for it.

Kara wasn't only a magnificent sport for posing for us, she has also graciously given me permission to post both of these photographs for you to enjoy.



  1. It takes a lot of guts to do what you did...but your humble outlook proves that you will learn what can be provided. I get nervous taking pictures of myself with my $80 camera from Costco propped on a $10 tripod. And my poor husband tries to do me justice in photos, and sometimes manages to get lucky, but mostly just disappoints himself when what he sees with his eyes just plain won't come across in a digital image. Of IS all about lighting and focus and...the quality of your camera.

    I applaud you for your efforts. And your photos are beautiful.

  2. I've found that the best way to get amazing images from the simplest tools is to take a whole flood of pictures and sift through them until you see what works and what doesn't. Some of my best photographs that no one will ever see we're done from my phone of all things...

    I'm thrilled that the pictures turned out as well as they did, and the workshop next month is going to have my full attention from beginning to end.


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