Q. How long does it take you to make
an exhibition print in the darkroom?
A. A lot
longer than most people think. As most photographers know, the
printing process is a lot more than just pushing a button. I
have a multiple step process which takes about 3 hours, plus
toning, drying, and finishing time, which is all done over the
course of two or three days. The larger prints take even longer.
And I have to fit
it in between shooting, travelling, email, phone calls, and
office work - so it can take several weeks to get a print delivered
to a collector, especially when I have a backlog of orders.
Q. Do you always photograph the nude
in black & white?
A. I find that I'm most comfortable working in my "classic" style in the studio, in b&w. However, over the past couple years, I've been doing so much digital color work, that I've also now gotten very handy with that format.
I've been working a lot with natural light, in foreign settings, shooting much faster, and the new work is much different - I'm still getting used to it.
Q. Do you think that shooting digitally
will change your artistic outlook?
I don't see any option - and I mean that in a positive way. While
I'm still happy using the traditional b&w techniques, I'm also
excited to be learning the new technology, and that's bound to have
an effect on my work, and on my philosophy.
Q. How do you set up your nude sessions?
A. Prior to a session, I often make sketches of the images I have in mind beforehand. For each model,
I try to envision a pose or gesture or expression that seems
to fit her. We talk about what I have in mind or look at some
rough sketches and then begin trying to achieve something photographic
that gives me the feeling I'm looking for.
Sometimes we hit it right on the mark.
Other times, my ideas turn out to be less interesting than I
had imagined, and a collaboration of the entire crew begins.
In one session, the make-up artist decided to wrap the model's
head in lace and created a beautiful image. And another time,
the model Roxanne (35959.11) brought some metallic fabric with
her to the shoot, which looked great in the photos.
We may get something much better in the
collaborative process than one person alone would ever achieve.
The models often have ideas which complement or go beyond mine,
and then, when photographer and model and crew are on the same
wavelength, we get into a magical sort of shooting where great
images just appear in my viewfinder and I find myself in something
akin to what athletes call "the Zone" , where everything
you do seems just perfect and effortless. It's also very erotic
and seems to infuse everyone on the set with an electric energy.
Q. How long does a studio session last
depends on many factors. If I'm shooting for a client, such as
Penthouse, or the London Studio Group, I have to make sure I'm getting shots they want or
have assigned me to get. Then I can shoot a bit more to get something
I may want, and the session can last three of four hours. Other
times, I may be going for one particular shot, get it done early
on, and the session is over in an hour.
If we have that electric energy going,
and we get into "the Zone" I sometimes can't stop shooting
- I just keep going till I run out of film or the model is exhausted.
And some models have returned several times to do sessions for
me or for themselves, with no client and no money involved. In
those cases, we sometimes shoot all day, but with less intensity.
Q. How do you find models?
my early work, I used people I knew - friends and girlfriends.
Later on, and especially for the Penthouse sessions, I found
models in nightclubs and "strip clubs". Penthouse had
assigned me to photograph women who worked as strippers, but
to shoot them in a studio away from their normal work environment.
In the beginning, it took a lot of talking
to convince them that I was a legitimate Penthouse photographer.
But after some time, and after some of the photos had been published,
the models began to call me and volunteer. They seemed to appreciate
the fact that I was doing something more sophisticated and artistic
than traditional men's magazine pictorials.
After that, many models sought me out, or called after having seen my work with a friend or an acquaintance of theirs. Now, we get a lot of models from online portfolio sites, or from European agencies.
Q. What do you look for in your models?
not always easy to tell who will be good in front of the camera.
Obviously, I look first for someone whom I find attractive. But
that word "attractive" is very complex. It may be that
I first see someone in a dark club who looks totally different
in the studio, and I end up wasting my time. The most important
aspect of finding the right person is less a matter of how they
look and more a function of how they interact with me and with
the camera, and that's sometimes impossible to predict until
The best models are the ones who have an
inner power, a presence in front of the camera, and an understanding
of what I'm hoping to capture on film. Many people who don't
seem unusually attractive in person can project an entirely unforeseen
power in two dimensions. They may not even realize they have
this capacity, but it comes through in the photos. These are
the people I ask to return to the studio time and time again,
because the feeling I get when I see that presence is the ultimate
goal of my work.