AS OF MAY 24, 2013 THIS PROFILE WILL BE RARELY ACTIVE
Flickr, it has been a good ride. Over the last few years I have limited my uploads to this site and been here infrequently. The news this week of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer's comment that there are "No professional photographers" coupled with the changes to the site which released photos I had once had in my PRO account, that I let lapse September 2010 - it seemed time to purge.
If anyone wants to see my continued work in photography please visit my frequently updated blog at
or my magazine
I will leave this account open with just over 200 photos until further notice.
STATE OF AFFAIRS: JULY 10, 2011
The very first photograph I consciously took as a creative model photographer started with the Heart Series, November 12, 2007. The Heart Series was a series of photographs with models taken at the old Baxter Ave Train Station where Jason Barresi had made graffitti of hearts for a girlfriend he had, and was using a film camera to photograph. I found the graffitti by happenstance and started this series based on what it was that made a woman a woman. I had a vague idea that it had something to do with what people thought she was, and how this effected her. The ideas were jotted down in a meeting with the models on what you would wear etc, something historical, something new, something then (childhood) and something now. Often I was surprised with the results. In all the cases, the models or people would come prepared to shoot and we had deiscussed ideas before hand. Often they would take care of thier own hair and make up. One particular shoot was done with Tara Ashley Compton in the middle of the coldest day of winter. Her "role" in the shoot was to destroy a pagent dress, rip it to shreads - it was not an easy task, we tried to burn the thing, to no avail. Eventually, she was standing there in a complete sweat and freezing. This was the dedication of the models for The Heart Series: to stand in your panties in sub-zero weather to get a shot. No, they were not paid.
A different aesthetic. Sometime early to mid-2009, I fell in love and fell into a different means. A trip to Tampa to photograph primarily alternative models destroyed two Powerbooks, my 12" G4 and a 15" variety. I had already lost more than that the year immediately after my divorce in 2007 (my divorce incidentally is the reason I could become a photographer in the first place). With NO machine with editing capabilities, a new love, I had to think on my feet. Most shots were in camera, only. My model/lover and myself. Depending on these eyes and a relationship - literal.
By Summer 2009, things were in full swing. I hadn't seen the children since April because of unresolved issues with my ex wife, I had a new apartment with my lover. I was publicist for the FIRST Louisville Visual Arts Festival (that happened to be on CJ Pressma's Center for Photographic Studies) and Alaska and I were playing, experimenting, blogging, and our Flickr stream would sometimes hit an unheard of 27,000-37,000 views in a 24 hour period. On to something.
As things progressed so did my skill at finding light, the realization that it was the model herself that was important to this mode of photography. She was the star, the goddess, the harbringer of light refracted and reflected. Pale skin, red hair - the undeniable 2%. She could be wearing 2 different patterned socks and sitting in a ratty old chair, no make up and hair down and still have one of our most viewed photos. No rhyme or reason. Magic light. Magic.
Our shoots were always impromptu, imtimate, using the locale of where it is we had carried out our daily lives. A document of learning each other, of learning what it is that is. One local model photographer would write, "If I had a muse that were here 24/7, that I could wake up to everything would change." He was right. He didn't have that. I did. Change was happening. The ennui had not set in. The realization that life was going to happen around us. Dante's lovers, caught up in the tunnel vision of creativity without means of production. Or the means of entertainment was not entirely our own, for the world to see.
Themes started to emerge. My time with the alt models, the fetish models, the burgeoning fashionistas, the film sets of my art director past, the use of low light equipment, hotel rooms bought by models I had worked with to house us, nights out, ciggs and wine. All contributing to a themed approach that was based somewhat on reality. Henri Cartier-Bresson would say, "Photography is nothing--it's life that interests me." A moment in time that frames and excludes.
Maybe we should have stopped here. It was December (according to Flickr, December 3, 2009). A high point of the truest point of trust. Talk between us of is this something I tried with OTHER models, previous (I had only shot Alaska during the entire time from past a trip to Tampa in February on). A jealous muse. How flirty am I? Who else did I sleep with? What was the point of entrance, of departure? Our concepts were becoming clearer, stories that had to be told that were told on an unconscious level. "I have looked at far more photographs than I have paintings. Because their reality is stronger than reality itself." - Francis Bacon
By mid year 2010, confusion and indecision had set in. We weren't making a living at doing what it is that we did. We were barely making a life, although it was there. Moving to another place, another location, stress of living, creative expression with no feasible retention on an immediate scale. Mantaining was hard. Things left unsaid, things that were said said harshly. An openness remained, maybe only captured in a silent moment of indecision. "I'm interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without." - Ansel Adams
But to backtrack a little, by December 2009 a new collaboration started to emerge. A shoot styled by Alaska and shot by me, all design elements collaborated on. From the graphic design/illustrated aspect (I had since gotten a Macbook Pro from a client and could load my CS3 suite) to the styling and even lighting.
The sense of intimacy, still there but changed to a sort-of voyuerism. maybe it was something else. Carrying the camera around and pointing was particularly ignored, mostly. If something was going to happen with purpose, planning was involved. Mostly, no planning was involved - simply because it is hard to recognize change right away.
August 2010, Eric Roper commissioned me to create 13+ art styled portraits for his film Out of Frame - the story of an art photographer who photographed stylized death scenes, voyueristic followings and eventually murder. This was my first re-introduction to collaborating with a team, working with other models (besides the occasional portfolio work that agencies had just started to ask me to do) and working on my take on other people's concepts. Alaska was hesitant on taking on the project, saying I did not integrate her enough in the process. After some gentle prodding, along with compositor Becka Roach Richardson we came up with the centerpiece image for the film, a breathtaking death and burial icon.
My eyes started to open again, to photography and art as being a primary purpose. The numbing focus of a whirlwind of obsession started to move it's attention from the bound of a home to the outside world. In December 2010, I founded the then idea Black & Grey magazine to bring an aesthetic to life and make a living doing it. Alaska would be it's cover.
I had been "gone" essentially from the local marketplace for almost two full years, it had changed. Fashion collectives in Lexington, the emergence of agencies like Pinnacle 10, and it's then primary photographer Drew Kung, people with an aesthetic - but maybe not the aesthetic I agreed with, what I knew innately. Pulling together what I wanted, work done, and work inspired in my "unseen" blog, based on the idea of the Charles Olson poem "In Cold Hell In Thicket."
Of course, I could not shoot with just one model anymore, not to get done what needed to get done. Casting started mid-January for potential models to work with on stories for the magazine. Interestingly enough, this was also about the time the house fell to shit. Everything falling apart at the seams, so to speak. One of the last shoots done in that home was playful yet a precursor to the times to come.
Like minds. People who's aesthetic point of view was similar or augmented the insistency of the magazine concept. This was no commercial venture, although commerce in the truest sense - communication, expression, release of what Bataille would call the "accursed share", that stuff that has to be gotten out there. A shifting aesthetic.
Alaska and I continue to shoot but coupled with young local designer talent like Gunnar Deatherage, or boutiques like Dot Fox, the aesthetic is different. The connection is still there, but a powerful storyline emerges. This is not the same internal musings, it is different. There is still a person there, but you see an aspect a character, a true modeling sense. What the photographer knows, what the model knows, becomes something else.
Bringing together an entire team to enact or reenact a sense of intimacy. Photographer Ryan McGinley recently said in The Believer, "You have to sort of create these scenarios to shoot, these ideas to work, and you have to use the world as the backdrop for your photograph." And adding a professional make-artist, professional model, a stylist with a similar aesthetic to your own and producers that believe in you, a new magic occurs.
The thing is, however, I trust all of these people intimately. We all want the same thing. We don't see each other as higher than the other. We are working together. No one person alone could do this by themselves. No one is a diva. I am not completely in control, this is not an ego rush. There is a story to be told. This is sometimes precarious at this point, I still haven't gotten it to the point of precursory knowledge of exactly what it is about - like when I do a reading, I don't know what to read until about 5 minutes before I start reading. In these sets, these stories, I get a feel for the mood of the room, the setting, the people involved.
This is still childsplay. When I think of a story I put all the elements together first, things I couldn't do alone, this is part of the collaboration. I haven't become dictator yet. I don't demand, anything. Something was said about Vaclav Havel when he was asked to be president of the newly reformed Czechoslovakia, he was a writer primarily - a playwright and an absurdist - his job as head of state was simply to understand what everyone else wanted - to make it cohere in some way. This may not always be where I am, but it seems to fit where I am now.
Saturday July 9, 2011
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- November 2007
- Louisville, Kentucky
- I am:
- Bil Brown Photography