On The Subject of Nudes

I’ve decided to change my photographic focus a bit. I’m going to experiment with some new areas. Expand my horizons. The first expansion will involve shooting nudes. Very tasteful. Very artistic. There’s a long and respected tradition of the nude form in photography and I think I can contribute something. I’ll start with images of my lovely wife and then begin looking for other models. So I’ll start with this image of Julie in…….Hold on a minute….

Yes dear…
…what!?…
…but I’ve already started…..
…but we talked about this….yes we did…
…are you sure?…i coulda’ sworn…but…if you’d just…
…just calm down and I’ll…no it’s not like that…
…tasteful, I said tasteful….very artsy…black and white…
…yes it does matter…it’s all in the lighting…
…what do you mean you don’t care….
…honey, it’s art…beauty…tradition…but…just…
…you’re a beautiful woman and I thought…but why not…
…why should your friends and family care….embarrassed how…
…NO, I AM NOT BEING STUPID!…IT’S ART!…
…sorry…no more yelling…how about this…just listen for a minute…
…what if I start with other people first?…
…I met this woman yesterday and…OWWW! THAT HURT!…
…FINE!

Well, apparently I’ll have to find another horizon to expand. Until then, here’s another stupid sunset. Hope you have a great weekend. I won’t. **

Sun Catchers - Image by Brian L Butler

**The tale above was originally posted about 5 years ago on my old photoblog. The subject came up again this week while bouncing through 500px. (By subject I mean the merits of nude photography, not my participation in the craft:) There are hundreds of wonderful images with a fair share of amazing nudes in the mix. A glorious subject when done well.

Also reconnected with the über talented Vernon Trent through 500px and Google+. If you’re looking for examples of the human form as high art, along with other breathtaking subjects, check out VernonTrent.com.

Brian L Butler

I can’t, not shoot. And when I travel, doubly not. And in a place where the sensory stimulation can be every bit as intoxicating as a Hurricane on Bourbon, not shooting in New Orleans would actually cause me physical pain. The photographic DTs. But this particular trip to the Big Easy was different.

Different and special because it was a weekend getaway with the one I love. The problem is, I’m not a social shooter. When I’m in “serious” shooting mode, interaction and conversation with other human beings is difficult. So I have to make a conscious decision about what exactly I’m going to focus on. My companion, or the viewfinder. This weekend was all about spending time with my beautiful wife so I decided I would put down the viewfinder and enjoy the view.

But that didn’t mean I wouldn’t shoot. I reached a small compromise with myself. No “serious” shooting but instead I would play with a new passion of mine. Shooting with my cell phone. So that’s what I did. If something caught my eye during those times I wasn’t making googly eyes at Julie, I’d do a quick composure and capture with my ever present and relatively unobtrusive ‘droid and quickly move on. I like some of what I came away with and these are a few of the those images. I love the vintage camera app “Vignette” for Android and I love diptychs so that’s what you see here.

It was really an amazing weekend. It rained on and off for most of the time we were there and it was beautiful. Ducking in and out of shops and restaurants with Julie. Umbrellas floating through the air. Shimmering streets. July temps knocked down by a good ten degrees. Loved it.

Evening one, we had an excellent dinner with friends followed by a night of debauchery on Bourbon. Later on, through the wonders of social media, we found out some other friends were in town for a concert so after the concert they met us out for more dancing, drinking and laughing on the city’s most famous strip of pavement. Bourbon Street is what it is so we did what we did and it was what it was. And that’s all I have to say about that. ;-)

The next night we had dinner and music and late night coffee on my favorite street in New Orleans. Frenchmen is fantastic. The music and the atmosphere energizes and relaxes me at the same time. That, plus I absolutely love being in a place where poetry busking exists. Kinda’ sums up what’s cool about Frenchmen.


I’ll finish with a triptych from another one of the highlights of the trip.  The Faulkner House in Pirate Alley. There’s a little story there but I’ll save that for another day. Magical place.

Lagniappe: Some of my “serious” shooting from previous trips to New Orleans can be found in my “Off the Handle” gallery on Panhandlin.com.


 I started playing with Google+ a couple of days ago. It’s hard to tell until I build things up a bit but so far I like what I see.

The coolest thing so far is hooking back up with some photoblog friends from a few years ago. This, that and the other has gotten me far away from regular posting on the old Panhandlin’ photoblog so I had lost touch with some really great people. I learned so much and made new friends from around the world with that blog and I didn’t really appreciate it until it was gone. (original huh:)

But maybe it’s not gone. I’m forming a circle of photography friends on G+ and I quickly remembered why I loved them so much. I don’t know what will happen with this new toy but I’ve already gotten something pretty cool out of it.

Android Holga at the Beach

I am intrigued and inspired by the constant barrage of instant images. Cameras are everywhere and what a photographic image means is evolving. Images from cell phones that are at times mundane and at times wonderful. Digital images made to resemble their antique, analog ancestors. Is it cheating? Is it fair game? Does anyone care about the how as long as the end product is an excellent image.

What an amazing wave to ride and what a journey to discover and create with new options.

"Horse and Riders" by Allan Teger

"Horse and Riders" by Allan Teger

Bodyscapes

There’s a wonderful yearly event here in Pensacola called the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival. We all went down on this near perfect fall day and had a great time taking in all the sights and sounds.

An artist named Allan Teger once again brought himself and his Bodyscapes work to the festival. His booth always gets attention and usually makes smiles. That’s one of his more tame photos above. As his website says:

Allan Teger’s wonderful photographs of the human body
prove that art can be fun and serious at the same time.

In years past we’ve hustled the girls past his booth and tried to distract them a bit just to avoid awkward questions about naked people with small toy figures attached to them. But the girls have gotten older now so this time we chose a different approach. Julie and I gave each other a little look signaling we were thinking the same thing. Let’s see what they say when they see the prints. We slowed down while walking past the booth.

The Revealing Argument post a while back was a funny ha-ha but as I said then, there is a long and respected tradition of nude images in photography, not to mention sculpture and painting. The daughters are getting to an age where an appreciation of art consists of more than just finger painting and they will be seeing the nude human form as we visit museums and galleries so I’d like a certain level of maturity from them about the subject. (Certainly more maturity than I had about the subject when I was their age.) We may be a few years away from seeing David in person but I’d like for them not to be too distracted by the lack of a fig leaf.

Not that Mr. Teger is Michelangelo and not that this isn’t a little awkward because these are my daughters but Julie and I want to be fine, open-minded, progressive parents and in fine, open-minded, progressive parent circles, this is what is known as a “teaching moment”.

So we slow down going past the Bodyscapes booth. It takes a minute but then it hits my older daughter what she’s seeing. Her nose crinkles hard and a look of disgust flashes across her face. I know it’s a look of disgust because she says in a shouted whisper, “That’s disgusting!”

Julie and I fight back laughter. Let the teaching begin. We walk on and I start a defense/speech about this being “art” and that there’s a long and respected tradition and that the human body is not a disgusting thing.

She’s not buying it. She just keeps her nose crinkled and says, “Dad, some parts of it ARE disgusting.” You know, maybe it’s best if we just leave it at that for now. Small steps. “Hey look,” I say. “There’s a beautiful painting of a sunset over there.”

Turns out it was a “teaching moment” and as usual, I’m the one getting taught.
BLB

(For more of Allan Terer’s work visit Bodyscapes.com)

Mr. Seinfeld Goes to Washington - Publicity Still (Click for Larger)

Mr. Seinfeld Goes to Washington - Publicity Still (Click for Larger)

Mr. Seinfeld Goes to Washington

Can you believe it? This groundbreaking sitcom is coming to an end. Mr. Seinfeld Goes to Washington started out as a simple show about four friends and their wacky quest for the White House. But it has grown into a once in a lifetime television event. After a ratings dream season, the series ending episode will be broadcast on Tuesday, November 4th to what will no doubt be a record audience.

And who could have predicted this level success. Comedian Barry Seinfeld launched his career from his agent’s living room with very little television experience. He had some success in college, some local community theater and some late-night TV appearances but nothing on this scale. The critics were skeptical to say the least. As it turned out, his talent, drive and supporting cast were more than enough to create a wildly successful show.

It’s a little sad to see it end though. It’s going to be hard to let these characters go because we’ve come to see them as part of the family. We talk about them at the dinner table and around the water cooler. We tune in to their shenanigans to take our minds off of our troubles and it is a welcome break from the depressing programming we typically see.

There are so many great memories flooding back into my mind about the goings on in that little apartment they all shared in D.C. I’ll post a more complete list at the end but if you’ll permit me, here are a few highlights.

I couldn’t stop laughing the first time I saw the episode where Barry’s judgment was questioned because he was spending so much time with an unsavory character known as the “soup nazi”. “He’s not an adviser”, Barry would say. “I just like soup.” Or when Barry refused to wear the flag pin on his lapel and was chased through the streets by angry mobs who questioned his patriotism. Situations so outlandish they could only take place in sitcom land for sure.

But of course the show is more than just Barry. It’s a true ensemble. Who could forget the classic “contest” episode where a wager was made to see who could go the longest without saying “Wall Street” and “Main Street” in the same sentence. Hilarious. None of them lasted long but I believe George won that one.

Speaking of George, remember when he and Barry tried to sneak the marble rye back into the White House before George W. and Laura noticed it was gone. Great guest appearances like that are part of what makes the show so wonderful. And do you remember the time George tried to filibuster by simply saying “yada yada yada” over and over and told his fellow Senators he could go on forever. He said, “This is nothing compared to the hell I’ve already been through.” The other side had no idea what he was talking about but he looked a little crazy so they caved in. I laughed so hard it hurt.

And oh that wacky Elaine. My favorite episode from her had to be when she demonstrated her knowledge of world affairs by suggesting to a visiting Russian dignitary that “War, What is it Good For” was the original title to Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”. Priceless. Or there was the time she thought she only had a limited number of vetoes and spent the whole episode trying to figure out which bills were veto-worthy. She went back and forth about whether to veto some bridge project for the whole show. Brilliant writing.

And then there was Kramer. My favorite of his was the episode where Kramer dropped a Junior Mint and it landed on the President during the State of the Union address. “W” had no idea why everyone was laughing. Or when Kramer set up his very own oval office smack dab in the middle in his apartment and pretended to be president. So many layers of meaning there for such a supposedly meaningless show.

Of course they did threaten to write Kramer out of the show a bit later because he couldn’t keep his foot out of his mouth. The breaking point came when he lost his temper on the stump and let a couple of hecklers have it. It was way out of line and made things uncomfortable between he and Barry for a while to say the least. But they were able to, as they say, move on.

I’m not sure what will happen to all of these guys after this show ends. It’s hard to deal with the lows after tasting such highs. I think Barry will be fine. He’ll probably get a spin-off and be on the air for another eight years or so. Just a hunch. But I’m not so sure about the rest of the cast. They’re all pretty talented but I don’t know if they can make it without Barry. We’ll have to wait and see how it all turns out.

For now though, I’m really excited about Tuesday night’s finale. It’s tough to end a sitcom gracefully and few have pulled it off successfully. But maybe this one will be an exception. Maybe this is one we’ll talk about for years to come. I’ll be first in line for the DVD box set when it comes out. For what it’s worth, I sure hope this wasn’t just another show about nothing.
BLB

__________________________

(Here are some more favorite moments from previous shows.)

“The Deal”
Elaine and Barry worked out a deal where they would ignore their differences in political ideology and sleep together. They thought they could still be friends as long as they followed a strict set of rules. The Bedroom Bill of Rights they called it. When Barry told George about it, he laughed at his friend’s lack of experience and correctly predicted it would not last.

“Shrinkage”
George’s tax cut proposal came back much smaller than expected and he tried to explain “shrinkage” to a skeptical Elaine.

“The Puffy Turban”
A low-talking lobbyist asked Barry to wear a puffy turban on Meet the Press and all hell breaks loose.

“ASSMAN”
Kramer gets Senator Larry Craig’s vanity plates by mistake.

“The Blouse”
Elaine sends out a new campaign flier across the country and it turns out you can see her NRA tattoo peaking out from beneath her blouse.

“Vandelay”
George pretends to be a lobbyist for Vandelay Industries in order to stop out of control pork barrel earmarks and Barry accidentally spoils the ruse. My favorite scene is George lying on the floor as Barry says, “And you want to be my latex lobbyist.”

“Misunderstanding”
Barry and George are mistaken for a gay couple and while trying to set the record straight, they repeatedly say, “Not that’s anything wrong with that as long as same-sex couples get the same civil rights that are granted to opposite-sex couples and as long as they don’t expect to be able to get “married” in the traditional sense of the word because that’s a decision for the church not the government.” By the fourth time they said that line I was rolling.

(If you have any favorite episodes, I’d love to hear about them.)

A Revealing Argument

I’ve decided as part of the change to my blog, I’m going to experiment with some new areas. Expand my horizons. The first expansion will involve shooting nudes. Very tasteful. Very artistic. There’s a long and respected tradition of the nude form in photography and I think I can contribute something. I’ll begin with my lovely wife and then start to look for other willing subjects. So I’ll start tonight with this image of…….Hold on a minute….

Yes dear…
…what!?…
…but I’ve already started…..
…but we talked about this….yes we did…
…are you sure?…I could have sworn…but…if you’d just…
…just calm down and I’ll…no it’s not like that…
…tasteful, I said tasteful….very artsy…black and white…
…yes it does matter…it’s all in the lighting…
…what do you mean you don’t care….
…honey, it’s art…beauty…tradition…but…just…
…you’re a beautiful woman and I thought…but why not…
…why should your friends and family care….embarrassed how…
…NO, I AM NOT BEING STUPID!…IT’S ART!…
…sorry…no more yelling…how about this…just listen for a minute…
…what if I start with other people first?…
…I met this woman yesterday and…OWWW! THAT HURT!…
…FINE!

Well, apparently I won’t be venturing down the clothing optional path. Here’s another stupid sunset. Hope you have a great weekend. I won’t.
BLB

Sunset on the Bay

Row of Palms

(This little story was originally posted on my photoblog Panhandlin’ back in 2006.) :-)

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