" I want to express the beauty of form, the drama of light, and the passion of woman. When a photograph contains all three, I'm very happy." Stephen Haynes
" Pistol 1-12"
Featured (after a selection on 50 000 photos from more than 70 countries) in the french magazine PHOTO of january 2008.
You'll find Stephen Haynes at : his official site, his introductory artistic nudes site (for inexpensive subscriptions to the entire portfolio of nudes) ; his amazing blog (to read daily !) "Magic Fine Flute Art Nudes" ; a selection drawn from his immense portfolio, one of the largest collections offered by a single photographer to be found on the Internet ; and an interview at Contemporary Art Gallery, his first feature.
Dear Stephen, tell us how did your passion begin ?
The passion began a long time ago, in 1960. How it began and how it developed really is not very relevant, because I went through a long period when photography was at best a snapshot thing, something to do with family. The passion was reborn, however, in 2000 with arrival of the Canon D30 dSLR and my introduction to digital photography and Photoshop. Computers and photography, for me the perfect combination. I've been on a roll since then.
Where did you learn your art ?
I'm largely self-taught. I've taken substantive and technical masters workshops at Anderson Ranch Arts Center and via Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, but my studio work and work with nudes have come through long hours and experience, thousands of images worth of experience.
Is it your only job ?
I don't really have a "job," since I'm fortunate enough to be retired (technically). But, yes, photography, including teaching a number of local workshops, is my primary pursuit. I do no commercial or other "fee-based" photography.
Are you an obsessive photographer ?
My camera does not rule my life here, outside of sessions with models. I'm not an inveterate photographer, walking or driving around with camera constantly in hand. When we travel, then I am sure to have my camera close, since other than nudes my travel photography is my preferred subject.
Who are your favorite photographers ?
Among those who are dead, Weston and Mapplethorpe. I consider Mapplethorpe one of the true masters of studio lighting. I greatly admire the work of a good friend, Guenter Knop. Beat A. von Weissenfluh does some fantastic work -- I'd love to have access to his dancer-models. I enjoy seeing new work by several of my contemporaries, many of them via their own blogs. You've highlighted many of them already on Univers d'Artistes.
For sure ! Is there a messages you want to express through your work ?
The beauty of form, the drama of light, and the passion of woman. When a photograph contains all three, I'm very happy. A touch of eroticism is a good thing, too.
I saw your photography is not mostly nudes ?
Well, in fact it is mostly nudes. About 75%. About 25% of my work comes from travel photography, including independent trips and tours taken with my wife. I've become rather adept at doing very good photography while on tour, such as my India series.
What is your process of creation ? Do you plan every detail before a shooting ?
It depends on the nature of the shoot. A first session with a new model is often about familiarization and getting to know each other, and such a session will last about two semi-structured hours going through a series of standard poses and scenarios. After that initial session, with a returning model, I'll structure a session around an idea I think particularly well-suited to that model, and in those instances I'll describe the idea to the model ahead of time and try to work out all details before beginning. Some models I work with repeatedly, in some cases six or more times, and sometimes several models will have an opportunity separately to interpret a single idea.
It seems you prefer indoor artistic nude shots ?
This is Minnesota, for god's sake ! There is a narrow window of opportunity to shoot outdoors between snow and bugs in the spring, and between bugs and snow in autumn. I know photographers who ask their models to endure hardships, and models willingly, I suppose eagerly accept pain and suffering in order to make superb photographs. For better or worse, I'm very empathetic with any model's discomfort, so if I'm being eaten alive by bugs, I know the model is suffering equally; if I'm cold, I know the model is even colder. I can avoid all of that by photographing in the studio. This does not mean I won't be using other settings in the future, but I've yet to find those locations.
In addition, of course, the studio is a very controlled environment, and that suits my personality nicely.
Maybe some words about your models who feel so natural ?
I rarely work with professional figure models. Some exceptions have been extraordinary, like Abigail. Many of my models, and some who return to my studio time after time, are gals who began their modeling with me, and a few have modeled only for me. I like to coach new models, sometimes to give them their first nude modeling experience. So I'm getting them before they develop a repertoire of poses and moves, while they may even be a bit shy and unsure of themselves, so that I think increases the naturalness of their work. Another commentator described my photography to be of "the girl next door, but nude." I won't go that far, but I do like sincerity and even a bit of naïveté in my models.
It's clear. How do you feel at the end of a shooting ?
Sometimes exhausted, but almost always exhilarated. I love it when a model tells me a session was "fun." When a session ends, however, I know that my work is just beginning, with hours of Photoshop ahead. I pride myself in rapidly getting photos back to models who ask for them, often within 72 hours of our shoot.
"Erin at the Wall 2-29"
Have you some challenges you're dreaming about in a near future ?
I'll be working part-time in a new, much larger studio in January. It has immense possibilities for natural light, so I'll be investing considerable time and effort exploring those. I hope to find new ways to market my photography. Selling prints of fine art nudes is a constant challenge. I am fortunate in that I have over 190 collectors worldwide, but I'm always hoping a new person will discover my photography and say, "Now, I must have a print of that !"
You can imagine how I understand ! By the way, when and where will be your next exhibition ?
I'll have single photos in some local exhibitions in January, including "20-20 Vision" at the Icebox Gallery. I'll be putting together a group show of nudes for May. I've submitted photos for a few other shows, competitions and publications, but it would be premature to mention any of those.
Nice ! What about your books ? Is there one to come ?
Actually, I've published over ten books. They are all private monographs; those dealing with nudes may be seen here. I don't have immediate plans for another, but I'm sure there will be one shortly. Here's the cover photo from First Sessions, my most recent :
A message to send ?
I suppose I convey most of my messages via my blog. People should really check that out -- in addition to the photography, there's occasionally an item of interest, as you put it, a "message."
Occasionally ? Daily would be the best word. Thanks a lot Stephen. Thanks for your time, your work and your passion. Come back soon !