I've always been interested in photography, even at a young age. I was given a point and shoot camera at 10 years old and took pictures of our family vacations. Even had a photo album for them. In high school I took photography classes and everything about it just made sense to me. I shot for the newspaper and the yearbook, but most of my work was with shooting my friends and a lot of landscapes & architectural/design. I really began shooting fetish and erotic when I was working with Andrew Blake. I would help shoot the BTS for his DVD's as well as operating the camera. He played a major key in getting me to go out and shoot my own stuff.
How long could you be far from your camera ?
I usually always have a camera on me at all times. You never know what you are going to see. I've gotten some amazing photographs by just being in the right place, at the right time, with a camera (very important). Plus you never know when a woman is willing to do a shoot. Always be prepared.
What inspire you ?
I'm inspired by a lot of things. Words, imagery, vistas, mostly anything. It's really about the content. It's really about a connection with something that inspires. A picture that brings deep emotions or a quoted line or story, which makes one ponder. I'm moved by one's passion, the beauty of life, how small the world really is and how small we really are.
Do you feel particularly inspired by a kind of location ?
I would have to say no, not really. Everything is in context. A twilight view of canopied palm trees with a sapphire ocean can be as inspiring as a city street filled with cracked pavement and dilapidated signs. All these are a part of our surroundings and I feel both play a major role. But for the record, I would say that I am a city person more than a wilderness person. I would much rather live in a city than up in the mountains. At least at this point in my life. I feed off all the energy given off by cities and the people.
Who are your great photographers ?
I would say that a lot of different photographers and artists I would consider exceptional in their work. Stanley Kubrick to me was a genius. He was a cinematography based Director, who knew how to use the camera. His stories always dealt with sexual undertones and mischief. He was a huge influence on me as a filmmaker and photographer. Of course, Helmut Newton, and another photographer that I was greatly impressed with his book was Vlastimil Kula. There are many more names and people that I am still discovering. These are some that come to mind right now. Oh yeah, David LaChapelle I enjoy, mostly because of his use of color and art direction/styling.
What is your process of artistic creation ? Chaos or Order ?
My process is a mix of all the aspects that you mention. A lot of times I will have an idea that I am going for. I prepare as much as I can for the look that I am after. Once the model arrives, I mold these ideas to fit the location, model, situation etc. With a lot of the bondage shoots, preparation is vital. Suspensions and other ties can be life threatening and without proper prep, disasters can arise. And you don't want that. Always have a first aid kit and always have medical scissors on hand for this. For more of the complex rigs, I use a rigger, Damon Pierce who is amazing. His rope artistry is one of a kind.
On the other hand, working off the hip and fly by night is also a way I work. having great models who bring depth to the photoshoot is essential.
Your preferences, indoor, outdoor, natural lights, color ?...
Location wise I am pretty much fair game. The content I shoot usually has to have some sort of privacy, so a lot of times I am shooting indoors, just for this factor. But recently have been working with some models who are ok with public nudity and have been doing more of that. I rarely use strobes. I don't like them too much. Hard to mold the light and hate waiting for them to recycle and the annoying beeps and such. If I pull the trigger I want my camera to shoot and my lighting to be there. Coming from a film background I light using motion picture lights, practicals or natural light (which by far the best in my opinion, you can't beat a nice diffused light from a window, like me and Andrew Blake always said, if it's not bright enough, stand closer to the window).
Do you find easily your models ? What kind of ambiance do you install to warm the often shy atmospher of the beginnings ?
Finding the right model is very important to me. They can make or break your shoot. Most I meet through models that I've worked with. I try to have some communication for what I am going for before the day of the shoot. Finding out their limits and their interests help greatly with the style of shoot I will do. On the set, I would say that I am very easy going. I like to create an environment for the model, to get into the character and style. Working in the film industry helps greatly with this. I've directed several short films and have been on the set with some of the worlds prolific Directors. Seeing and communicating with the actors is such a key part of any film or photo shoot.
Communication is key. Having a vision and being able to communicate this vision, vital.
Do you make many corrections on a long period or do you find immediatly the sense of your work ?
I would say that by the time I get into post, I've already decided on the visual style. I've lit and styled it in a certain way. Now I just need to bring this across in the post side. Sometimes though, I have been known to change my mind and take a different approach. Experimentation is key and not being afraid to make mistakes. Because some of our mistakes can tend to be our greatest masterpieces. with this in mind. Never edit on set, never delete pictures on set.
How do you know when the work is finished ?
Interesting question... I'm not sure. I guess, I sit back, take a good look at the picture and analyze it from lighting, style, retouching and say, is there something I can change that would make it better.... If not, then I'm guess I'm done.
How do you feel when your work leaves you ?
I am my worst critic. When I'm shooting, I'm usually very happy with the way things are going and everything. The first time I look at the set, I usually hate it. I see errors and things that I should have done. I'm always evaluating what I can do next time. Guess it's not a bad thing. Then I edit the pictures down. Here I start to get into the photo set and tend to like them. By the time I'm done, I've gone back around and see all the things I could change. It's usually not until a few months after that I can go back and say "Hey, that aint so bad"
What is your artistic dream ?
My artistic dream is to create my art and make a living off of it.
Have you scheduled your next exhibition ?
Right now I am working on getting my work exhibited, mainly in LA and NY. But would be willing to show my work anywhere. I want to incorporate my still world and my motion picture world together, making not only an exhibition, but a journey almost through a erotic world. I am having discussions with many venues, but nothing has been confirmed yet. But when I do, I know it's gonna blow away some minds.
A book to come ?
Lately I've just been accepted by Goliath to be featured in their "My Favorite Model" book, coming out this November. It features my work with Justine Joli (adult only), one of my favorite models of all time. I can shoot her hundreds of times and none of the shoots will look the same. We really feed off each other creatively. She gets what I'm going for and brings it. Looking into my own book in the near future and of course magazine publications.
What's for your next future ?
Really just trying to get myself out there. Working on quite a few projects, both motion picture and still. I think this year will have a lot of exciting things for people to take in from Nathan Strausse.
Thank you very much Nathan !