Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Visual Transparency

Visual Transparency

There’s a word we don’t hear much anymore when discussions of photography arise, Transparency. I still like the word and the beauty it represents in my mind. Immediate thoughts of rich Kodachromes dance through my head. And, let’s face it, Transparency is way more romantic than saying RAW FILE.

What seems like thousands of years ago, in my college days, I was home in Austin, Texas where my parents lived at that time. Home on summer break and feeling the need to create something photographic, I found myself loading slides in Dad’s kodak carousal projector. Looking for a clean surface to project the images, an idea suddenly triggered.

I loaded a variety of images into the tray, took the projector outside and projected images onto a concrete stairway in front of the house. It looked pretty cool. Some images worked well and others became visually confusing. For the most part, I liked what I saw. The images were broken up with deep shadows between each step. I ran and got my camera and photographed the stairs with a number of different images.

Moving into my junior year of college, I had submitted one of those photographs of the stairs to a National Photo Contest. It got published!

It was my first published photograph. I recall how exciting that was. I felt like my canoe had slid into the mainstream and I was on my way. Poor stupid college kid....My Professor summed it up perfectly stating, “You're only good as your last photograph.” It took a while for that to make sense, but eventually it did.

Last year while teaching one of my 72HOURS Photo Workshops at the MPC (Minneapolis Photo Center) I broke into the visual bank and pulled this projection concept out of the vault once again. I incorporated the projection images in a workshop titled Environmental Nudes. As before, through trial and error, we came up with several images that really moved us. We repeated it again last week during another workshop.

It was a unique and creative way to photograph nudes. I’ve always thought photographing nudes was one of the most difficult subjects to photograph. Along with the stigma of nakedness in the U.S., there is a fine line between art and non-art nude photography. Creating successful images, not going over the top, not using the body for erotica, but as a canvas of light and form, exceptionally rewarding photographs can be obtained.

I hope you agree!


  1. you always amaze me with your seemingly endless creativity and love for what you do. Passionate doesn't quite cover what you are about photography.