The private exhibition

I have just completed my annual revision to “all a blur“, my most personal gallery. I have added new images from 2015 as well as adding some and cutting others from previous years. In doing this I think the collection is now stronger and I hope the rationale behind the images is clearer. However, in case of murk, I’m picking out three images to talk about here.

Firstly, I brought together some of my most provocative images from 2015 for this imaginary private exhibition, which may distract attention from the original image of a coy nude in the bathroom.

The 'prints' are image manipulations, the walls actually carry rather more modest images.
The private exhibition (2015)

Secondly, I had the courage to bring into the gallery some more images from the days of film. Flowers feature heavily, as does the penis, which makes a rather more flamboyant showing in the other photos than in this image from 1998.  Taken in my Kentish Town garden, whereas exhibitionists get excited about the possibility of being seen naked in public, I can assure you that I am quite the opposite! I am glad I came up with the title, which confronts certain people from my past, as well as my own insecurities.

In the garden in Kentish Town
In the garden in Kentish Town

Bully, for you (1998)

Thirdly, an up to date combination of two images reflecting how I constantly wrestle with myself on what to present on this website.

20150924-_dsf8404-2-2 Not a lovers’ tiff (2015)

On both of my websites, scottyh.com and here, I write about “my strongly held view that there is nothing offensive about any aspect of the human body, especially when presented in a way that makes an artistic statement or conveys its beauty”. It is because of these conceptual, some might say confusing, images that I recently added the italicised words.

I need to say, for those that do not know me, but maybe primarily for those that do, that in making this particular artistic statement I’m not afraid to construct some images which have very little to do with the way I really am. In this final image, the title is a clue, because although there seems to be a dispute and there is some erotic charge between the two men, they are not lovers. It is merely a provocative way of presenting myself and my internal arguments over content, and right now it appears that he who is not afraid of the erotic is the more confident presence.

Which leads us back to the first image, my private exhibition of my private masculinity, which includes the lovers’ tiff photo but also two other images that you may well never get to see otherwise exhibited, carefully cloned into the frames. The ‘prints’ are image manipulations, the walls actually carry rather more modest images. The cloned figures seem to me a world apart, but are as real a representation of me as the figure with the flowers in the garden.

Some years on from the jitters in that garden, it will surprise some that I still get a little nervous when taking my clothes off in public, say on one of my World Naked Bike Ride appearances.  The Naked Bike Ride is an event that is partly about demonstrating body confidence so it’s vital that those like me who have had issues participate. With the knowledge that I have now, that I am as much a man as those who teased me many years ago, I can participate with confidence, even if the bike wobbles. So bullies, I ride for you!

Choosing a path

This is a blog about an idea which didn’t really work!

I have a new project, Open Access and I shall shortly have to write more about it. I had the idea in my head about 18 months ago when I created this image…

This was intended as part of a project called "Open Access" http://www.allablur.co.uk/#/open-access/, but this was a part which did not quite go as planned as I discovered that hooking a bulb release to my Pentax 645 in such circumstances was fraught with difficulty. Unfortunately the slightest vibration in the cable set off the shutter and with the Pentax 645 being equipped with motorised advance 14 of the available 15 shots on the roll were expended while I walked towards the place where I stand here, me out of shot in all of them! There was one frame left and, tipped off about the sensitivity I figured out how not to waste it. I included the release cable to help tell the story and that one shot captured this slightly stressed expression. The location is the intersection of footpaths just off the South Downs Way footpath near Plumpton.

While this was intended as part of my project, this was a part which did not quite go as planned as I discovered that hooking a bulb release to my Pentax 645 in such circumstances was fraught with difficulty. Unfortunately the slightest vibration in the cable set off the shutter and with the Pentax 645 being equipped with motorised advance 14 of the available 15 shots on the roll were expended while I walked towards the place where I stand here, me out of shot in all of them! There was one frame left and, tipped off about the sensitivity I figured out how not to waste it. I included the release cable to help tell the story and that one shot captured this slightly stressed expression. The location is the intersection of footpaths just off the South Downs Way footpath near Plumpton.

This was part of a shoot which did not quite go as planned as I discovered that hooking a bulb release to my Pentax 645 in such circumstances was fraught with difficulty. Unfortunately the slightest vibration in the cable set off the shutter and, with the Pentax 645 being equipped with motorised advance, 14 of the available 15 shots on the roll were expended while I walked towards the place where I stand here, me out of shot in all of them! There was one frame left and, tipped off about the sensitivity I figured out how not to waste it. I included the release cable to help tell the story and that one shot captured this slightly stressed expression.

The film has languished in the camera since that day and was only developed this week. A quick look at the Open Access link will reveal how my thinking on that project has evolved over that time. There is the naked human, but he is smaller in the image; there is a timer involved, but is is not a cable; of course there is a camera, but it is not necessarily a film camera; and there are areas of light and shade, but they are in colour.

The Access Land location is at the intersection of footpaths just off the South Downs Way near Plumpton, East Sussex.

The return of allablur…

I’ve had a go of trying to post as my real self for  several months now, posting nudes to my flickr account, my mainstream Light Touch website, G+ and Instagram, all with the name scotthortop or similar. But it’s awkward – I still think too hard about who might see what and it definitely cramps my style.

So allablur.co.uk is back. Not that it’s ever gone anywhere, but fitting the content that slips so easily in here into Light Touch alongside all those stock photos and the commercial art simply does not work. I should have known it before I set off in that direction, but live and learn.

The other thing I have learnt is that I do not have to post any of my professional work or more commercial art here. I don’t have to prove my ability in those very different conditions – it’s a world away from my artistic vision and it detracts, so it’s gone.

What I now have is a newly designed site with space for the first time to place words besides images, and what is more all content is also presented on the mobile site is a way which makes the most of the small screen and weakens nothing with everything in the right place.

It’s only been in place a few days but it all seems to work, so I am pretty happy. Click on the logo or go to my home page to see what it looks like.

(Update Nov 2016: this page was originally written when the blog was in a different format, but the sentiments still apply)

2014: Nudes // A personal selection

2014: Nudes // personal selection // digital – film // gentle – provocative – male – female – home – environment – portraits – edgy – vulnerable – classical – collaborations // Sharon – Natasha – Self – Louise  – Steve – Lee-Rex – Violette – Betty // colour – monochrome //

Despite their favoured status, I have omitted to load a number of these images to my portfolio. I am rectifying that alongside this blog and all will hopefully link through by the time you read this…

Sharon Smithers, as part of my Life, at Home project
Sharon Smithers, as part of my Life, at Home project
Fuji Acros 100, Pentax 645 + 45mm f2.8
Fuji Acros 100, Pentax 645 + 45mm f2.8
With Steve Ritter and Natansky - Kodak Tri-X 400, Pentax 645 + 45mm f2.8 developed in Rodinal
With Steve Ritter and Natansky – Kodak Tri-X 400, Pentax 645 + 45mm f2.8 developed in Rodinal
Kodak T-Max 100, monochrome, Pentax MZ-5 with 50mm Pentax-F f1.7 developed in Rodinal
Kodak T-Max 100, monochrome, Pentax MZ-5 with 50mm Pentax-F f1.7 developed in Rodinal

2014-13003

Betty

20140508-r0010982

Broken (2014)

From Black Cap
From Black Cap

20140928-_mg_9610

20140928-_mg_9643

Violette Rose being drawn by Adrian
Violette Rose being drawn by Adrian

20140928-_mg_9672

20140928-_mg_9689

20140928-_mg_9714

20140928-_mg_9724

Louise

20140928-_mg_9846

20140928-_mg_9851

20140928-_mg_9916

20140928-_mg_9935

20140928-_mg_9963

Testing the split screen rangefinder ;)
Testing the split screen rangefinder 😉

Preparations for a scrub (2014)

20141208-r0011262

Of darkness in the child

I have just finished watching Nymphomaniac: Vol. I, Lars von Trier’s movie which IMDB describes as “A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saved her after a beating.” To illustrate the emerging sexuality of Jo, the main character, the writer and director von Trier has her recount two experiences from her pre-teens.

In one, she described the feeling she had when climbing ropes in a gym “with the rope between my legs, the sensation, we called it”. In the other, she described “playing frogs”, sliding clothed on her front over the tiles of a soaking wet bathroom floor with legs splayed.

Given his notoriety, I half expected von Trier to come up with something more sensationalist than this. After all I have grown up to be in many ways the complete opposite of a nymphomaniac but I share very similar childhood experiences with Jo, the ropes in the gym, (I assume we have all been there?) and I played frogs once, but perhaps more daringly, in the pouring rain in my back garden. The things we do when growing up. I just did not expect two of my experiences to be echoed in a Lars von Trier film.

n6x-06-image296
“On the tiles (1997)”

The image is not me ‘playing frogs’ although it does have erotic undertones, which were not intended when I captured it on grainy underexposed film in Kentish Town in 1997. It’s completely unretouched, part of a series of images I chose to call ‘dirty film’. That title, some would suggest, does have something in common with Nymphomaniac: Vol. I, but that does von Trier a dis-service because his films are rather deeper than that.

Life, at Home: Sharon digital out-takes

Two days ago I visited sunny Whitstable, taking a few photos around town as an adjunct to my shoot with Sharon Smithers, the second in my Life, at Home project.. Sharon has been a life model for over 15 years now and it was instinctive for me to contact her about participating. It was a little annoying that both of the film cameras, 35mm and medium format, that I started with misbehaved. But never fear, I had a backup for each; I was never a boy scout but I fortunately was prepared!

Anyway, much more about Sharon will appear in due course over at the blog site when I have processed the images I capture on film.

In the meantime, here are some photos that I really do like that I took on my digital camera.. My thanks to Sharon for being such a relaxed and talented model. The final image pictures Sharon with her collection of Run for Life medals. If you would like to work with her, she can be contacted though her Facebook account https://www.facebook.com/sharon.smithers.3

20140516-_mg_0412 20140516-_mg_0454 20140516-_mg_0465 20140516-_mg_0474 20140516-_mg_0479

 

Life, at Home: Natansky digital out-takes

My blog for my Life, at Home project has kicked off at lifemodelathome.wordpress.com/ and the project has kicked off too after my shoot with Natansky. There are no photos on that blog yet as it will only contain images captured on film. But I did take quite a lot of shots on digital too, sort of out-takes I guess, but what I was often doing was making sure that things worked on digital before turning to film. These are my favourites of those:

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

Natasha

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

Digital out-take from "Life, at Home", otherwise captured on film. http://lifemodelathome.blogspot.co.uk/ With Natasha: https://natansky.jux.com/

My thanks to Natansky’s husband Matt for being there!

Natansky’s links:

Blog: http://www.natansky.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/natansky.natansky

Project #2: “North Circular Wall”

This is the other project that I have recently conceived and it will be an exercise for my street / urban photography…

“North Circular Wall”

The economy of London, the prices of sandwiches, transport, beer and homes is now inextricably linked to the presence there of the financial sector and related service sector industries. Not to mention the wider establishment, press and other media. 

Over the last 30 years, from the time I first moved there from the South Wales valleys, Londoners have found themselves living together in an exclusive enclave that just gets wealthier and wealthier. But if things continue in this way, and the wealth differential between London and the rest of the country escalates such that enough people outside London smell a rat, how will London react to keep out the pesky northerners and the like?

The North Circular Wall is a fiction that in a literal sense will probably never happen. But it already exists in the sense that many of those inside the wall want to keep others out. Except those with money of course. This desire for exclusivity is mainly at a sub-concious level right now, Boris would never admit to it, but it is the way things are developing.

I’m not sure how exactly the project will evolve around the photographs I will take (or have previously taken in London) but once I was part of things and now, just over three year after I left, I feel quite removed from it all. I could even say excluded.

So I intend to visit places where I have lived and look at on what terms it would be possible to move back now. And places where I worked to see how they have evolved, who went bust and who is still there. I may even revisit one or two places where I bought a beer. And the North Circular Road…..
 

Hiding in plain sight (or, lying low, naked on the internet)

One of the main concerns of any model who I work with, nude or otherwise, is what I, as a photographer, intend to do with the images. For a professional model who wants their exposure maximised the concern would usually be that I make the images as public as possible, preferably with a credit for the model’s name and a link to their website. But I tend not to work with professionals, the models who work with me are doing so for a variety of reasons and without payment either way, it is entirely correct that they should be concerned about what is done with the images.

If a model is paying me to produce images for them then I will simply follow instructions – if they want the images just for their personal use then as a professional I will charge accordingly. In other circumstances, for example as a result of a direct collaboration, then I will be rewarded by producing more art to add to my portfolio, to show the world, something which is very important to me – or crucial to the issue being addressed here, the very small part of the world that gets to see my images!

I need to highlight that from the model’s perspective, I write from experience. There are hundreds of nude images of me on the internet and I know from the statistics that they have been viewed over a period of 17 years hundreds of thousands of times by tens of thousands of people. Until 10 years ago I worked in a day job where being discovered would not have gone down at all well. I had children going through school who could have been teased mercilessly had such photos been found. But other than for the people who I told, everyone else was blissfully ignorant – that is until I chose earlier this year to put some images of me in the World Naked Bike Ride in Brighton in front of 80% of my followers on Facebook. Because I have a really rare name I now search on my name on Google and Google Images and see what comes up……

Oops! There is nakedness coming up under my name and in the image search and some of it is me. Indeed, three images of me in the first 10 rows! Fortunately I am not that easily recognisable. It’s perhaps not brilliant for attracting new clients but, since I’m not really chasing clients any more, I’m not losing too much sleep. This sort of accident is however easily prevented – just keep images away from your name, see step 1. below!

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty.  As a model, you are simply going to finish up getting a better quality of image if you entrust your work to a photographer who shows his/her work to the public. Why? Because that person wants to do what all good artists want to do and that is show off their best work to a whole bunch of people who will be interested in it.  It however clearly helps if at the same time the photographer is prepared to clearly understand the model’s concerns.

Although this article is directed at what the photographer does with the images, the model may well want to put images online too and the comments below are hopefully useful in that regard.

So, let’s assume that your real name is Jane Goodchild. Here are 7 steps to keeping your naked self out of the sight of eyes that should not see you.

1. Use a pseudonym

This is an obvious place to start since by far the most likely way somebody is going to find your nude self is if they search on your name, maybe alongside the word ‘nude’ or ‘model’. Stick with Jane if you wish and if you really want a low profile call yourself something really common – Jane Smith would be boring but effective. If on the other hand you do want to get attention as a model then go with with a memorable but unusual name that is more exotic.

Do not undermine this by telling people while in a drunken haze that your nude photos are online and your pseudonym is……

Do make sure that photographers you work with understand how to refer to you online!

2. Only work with people you trust

You probably do not want to work with a photographer that sends images to porn sites and the like. But as much of an issue is ‘does this photographer know what he is doing?’. I am not talking about with a camera, I am talking about with your images. This one is down to your judgement but by looking at a photographer’s online portfolio and discovering all the places online that images get posted and you can make your own educated assessment of what the outcome is likely to be.

3. Understand where images are being posted 

It’s best to use my own example here. Under the name ‘allablur’ I have posted images publicly to flickr for 7 years. 99% of the hundreds of thousands of image views I mentioned are on flickr. I understand it back to front. I know how certain images that I really do not want to be seen can be shared with a smaller group of trusted followers. I know how most people on flickr are interested in art and photography and the people who I want this to remain confidential from are unlikely to be there. (Yes, the gossips – they tend to love facebook!)

Flickr is an example of a site where nude images are not by default public. They are visible only to those who have opted in to see ‘restricted’ content, and to opt in you have to be a member. So even if your Aunt Emma is a keen photographer and a Flickr member then there is no way she will see your images unless she has opted in. Even if she has opted in, the chance of being spotted in the melee are still slim and very probably she is going to be appreciative rather than critical because she has opted in to see that content.

On a site like this, if you want to be secure then you can always put in a pre-emptive block on certain people you know or others whose behaviour is undesirable.

I also post images to my portfolio site www.allablur.co.uk and my blog on tumblr blog.allablur.co.uk. Here they are entirely public but I know that there is a tiny audience; the chances of anyone I do not want finding my images actually seeing them is minuscule.

I also post images to my own public facing image library which is published in my real name. It’s all very straight laced but if anybody digs they will find some of my environmental nude images as well as me totally out there starkers on the Brighton naked bike ride. But again, unless I tell people, they just don’t go looking. And I have taken the step of removing my full name from those particular pages.

I even post some images to facebook. I use ‘lists’ and secret groups to restrict these images to a really small audience. Never mind somebody who should not see the images viewing them, no image has fallen foul of the notorious facebook censorship because I am careful of who goes in the lists.

Stipulate where images should or should not go. See point 7.

4. Only tell people you trust

If people do not know about you being naked on the internet then they are most unlikely to go looking for you. In my experience most people choose not to look anyway.

In the slim chance of an image of you appearing in front of their eyes on a screen then if they do not expect to see you nude because they have no knowledge of your activities then they may just see another face in the crowd rather than seeing you.

5. Avoid getting featured in local galleries or press

Perhaps the biggest danger is that which does not lie on the internet. If you get photographed by a famous photographer, or a famous local photographer then you may get noticed.

Avoid fame. Avoid celebrity.  Do not go near any reality TV show – especially Big Brother!

6. A watermark is your friend

Photographs on the internet get stolen. Put simply, a watermark on an image is a major disincentive to theft and makes it less likely to be used by anyone without authority. So if a photographer adds a watermark to an image then it is less likely to be stolen and abused.

Of course the photographer should give the model clean versions of the images but as a model you may choose to post the watermarked version online.

7. Get it in writing

Model releases are really useful documents. If nothing else, as a photographer I can go back and remind myself of a model’s pseudonym, how images can be used and when and how credit should be given.

As a model you may be confronted by a photographer’s own model release. Do not be afraid to hand write any stipulations that you may have on the document. Do not waste everyone’s time by coming up with surprises at the end of a shoot – voice any restrictions in advance. Have one amended copy for yourself, signed by the photographer, making sure the same amendments are on the photographer’s version.

8. Chill

In all this I admit that it helps that I have a good understanding of statistics and chance. If you feel nervous, work with someone who you trust and knows what they are doing,

Accept that the only way to be 100% safe is to avoid having your photo taken in the first place. Most of the horror stories that you hear about are nothing to do with responsible photographers but are down to a jealous ex….

In a corner, taking the dark path

Nude female - In a dark corner

“In a corner, taking the dark path” From a collaborative nude shoot with E, about 8 years ago. A nude improvised from the location, a dark loft with a small skylight.