" Probably the best compliment I've ever been paid is when people say that my models look like they really WANT to be photographed ! When they're just going-through-the-motions it shows, no matter how photogenic they are."
How did your passion for photography begin ?
In 1994 a friend of mine decided to start a photography course (one evening per week) at college, and I went along with him. I really didn't know a thing about photography at the time, despite being 31 years old (I didn't even know the difference between 110 and 35 mm films when these were mentioned on the fisrt day !). But I soon got the hang of things and started to enjoy the course.
Did you learn your art in a special school ?
I only really learnt the technical side of things at college (developing, printing, etc), and perhaps things like composition. My tutor was also a metal and woodwork tutor, and he wasn't at all artistic ! A good guy though.
How long could you be far from your camera ?
I only use it about twice per month, when I find models. But when I haven't done a shoot for a while I often go through my old negatives and spend a day or two in the darkroom (I did this yesterday and plan on doing the same thing today !).
Who are your greatest inspirators ? Your favorite photographers ?
I don't really have any these days. I found that as soon as I stopped admiring (and therefore trying to imitate) others so much, that's when I found my own style. Though I often look at specific works on deviantART (etc) and think WOWWWWW !!!!!
Yes, the famous "Wow factor" !... How long did it take to find your own style ?
Quite a few years. Nearly all the work on my website has been taken since 2005, with just a few photos a couple of years older.
How do you define it ?
I'm told that it's not quite glamour (not sexual enough), not quite quite art nude (too casual), and not quite naturism (too bold).
So I guess it's a bit difficult to exactly define.
Maybe a little of everything you mention ?... I saw in your portfolio many outdoors and bw pictures. Is it necessary to ask you what is your favorite theme ?
Outdoors nudes, preferably local (Thanet, Kent), and in black & white (I shoot only 1 or 2 rolls of colour film per year !). I only ever use natural light, apart from (very occasionally) a little fill-in flash outdoors. I also only use film, never digital.
Outdoors and so "natural" nudes... I love the freshness of your work. And is your photography mostly nudes ?
It's almost exclusively nudes now. When I started I shot anything and everything, but I found I was best at working with people, as I'm good at making them feel at ease and bringing out their personalities. For a while I specialised in the local goth and alternative scene, and this somehow led to nude work.
What is your process of creation ? Do you plan every details or is it improvisation from the beginning to the end ?
It's mostly improvised. Generally I start in the studio, using available daylight (mostly to get the models relaxed), and then we walk or drive around, finding suitable locations. Occasionally I have specific locations in mind beforehand, but even then I like to keep things pretty spontaneous.
Do you feel particularly inspired by a type of location ?
I prefer more urban backdrops rather than countryside and beaches (I'm lucky that I have all of them near me !), and I'm particularly excited when it's a recognised local landmark or building.
"Ruby and Vixen 7"
Some words about your models ?
Many of these are good friends of mine, and I often find other models simply by word-of-mouth (friends of friends of friends kinda thing).
A shooting that you particularly liked ?
A real favourite of mine remains the shoot I did of Ruby and Vixen.
This was in the summer of 2005. I was going through a tough time personally and emotionally at the time, and was feeling very low. Suddenly I did this shoot, and I was inspired, I felt like I'd finally found my own style !
Other shoots that I particularly enjoy are when the models are a little older / larger / thinner / etc than usual. I don't like my models to look like 'typical' glamour-type models all the time.
How do you feel at the end of a shooting ?
Exhilarated, and eager to get things done (I often develop the films straight afterwards !).
Have you a special project, some challenges you're dreaming about in a near future ?
Just to continue with my Naked in Thanet online project. The publicity and interest in my work this year has been incredible, and I just hope things continue to grow (and maybe I'll actually make some money out of my photography though this isn't my number one priority).
Is your next exhibition scheduled ?
No. I keep considering doing a local exhibition, but as my work is ever-expanding and growing I never feel quite ready. I'll also need sponsorship as I can't really afford to put up an exhibition at the moment.
Have you published a book ? In magazines ?
No, though a book would certainly be a dream for the future ! I've had some work published in magazines (mostly naturist) and newspapers.
Besides shooting, another passion ?
Well, I love women !!! I don't mean in a sleazy and sexual way, I just enjoy their company, and have relatively few male friends. Also music (I'm recognised as one of the most knowledgable Jerry Lee Lewis fans on the planet, and have had quite a few things in books and magazines !), and I enjoy long and quite cycle rides (both for the excersice and the relaxation).
Wow !... A message to send ?
A couple of tips to would-be nude photographers :
Do some modelling yourself ! I've learnt a lot by modelling for other photographers, such as how to make models feel at ease, how to keep a shoot 'flowing' nicely, etc. I know this has really helped me become a better photographer.
(2) Never ever pay models ! I only 'pay' them with photos (usually ten 10" X 8" prints + contact sheets), though very occasionally I pay limited travelling expenses too. I don't have much money anyway, but I feel that when a model is ONLY working for photos they put so much more effort into making things work right.
I'm sure the young artists will appreciate your advices ! Thanks a lot Peter !
Peter Checksfield ©
Peter Checksfield ©