September 23, 2012

Richard Rasner's Interview

" Shooting for me is mentally exhausting. I put my heart and soul into every shoot, so when I'm done I usually just want to collapse. Which is, of course, balanced out by the maniac energy I suddenly get to want to process the images and finish the job. It's a strange dichotomy and never ceases to take a toll on me. But I wouldn't have it any other way."
Richard Rasner

"Rays of Hope"
Art Model Stacey

How did your passion for photography begin ? Do you remember your first experience ?

I've dabbled in photography since high school, but nothing professional until I started working for a friend (Michael Nakayama) in 1998. I think my first experience on a "real" shoot was at the Playboy Mansion, and after Mike passed away in 2001 I had another "first experience" on my own at my home studio.

Both posed significant challenges in their own way, but I overcame my fears and learned to really embrace my role as an artist.

"Chandelier part 2"
Art Model Britany

" An absurd nude from last year's City of Sin II shoot."

(not so absurd...) ... It's what I call a vocation, or Passion, or any other strong words. It deserves a long article. Did you learn your art somewhere ?

From the aforementioned mentor, Michael Nakayama. He taught me quite a bit about the mechanics of photography, although he wasn't much in to the creativity. When he passed away and left me the studio I took it in an entirely other direction.

How long could you be far from your camera ? You're so prolific !I'm not sure ! Every year I promise myself a vacation from Thanksgiving to New Years (about 6 weeks) but it never, never works. I always end up scheduling shoots and working anyhow.

You're not alone acting like that !... Richard, how long did it take to find your so personal style? And, more difficult, could you define it ?

 Looking back at my early post-Mike work I see that I was still heavily influenced by his style until about 2003, or two years of working on my own. It was then that I started shooting very "outside the box" photography such as blacklight, character work, unusual location shoots and so on.

Defining my style is hard to do because it's all over the place.

With a self-named moniker like "Unique Nudes" I constantly have to raise the bar as far as creativity goes, which means changing my own style all the time.

Art Model Conundra

" This is an image from "Apocalypse 4", featuring Conundra. It was my first time working with her, and I'm really glad I got the chance to."

Art Model Sybil Hawthorne

Who is the photographer who influenced you the most ?

I like Helmut Newton's work, and Spencer Tunic. But neither of them "influenced" me as I have always been for more interested in creating a truly new style, never before seen.

"Just leave me alone"
Art Model greenbirdgirl

And you succeed ! Furthermore, your work covers a so wide range of themes, realistic, funny, classic... What I hope to show here. Is there a particular one that you enjoy above all ?

 I really enjoy blacklight work a lot, as very few people in the world do it, and even fewer (probably none) manage it using invisible inks. So because it is my own brain child I am particularly happy with it. Other than that I truly love going out to unusual locations (abandoned mines, ghost towns, etc) and shooting models in the most unlikely of places.

"The evolution of the wheel"
Art Model greenbirdgirl

" This was shot on my 1931 Rolleiflex TLR, which seems to have leaked light in a few shots, including this one. It was shot at a vertical mine shaft just outside of Searchlight, NV, for the series Ghost Town 5: Death at Searchlight (part of the Classic Camera™ series and also a chapter in my new Abandoned book)."

"By the black pond"
Art Model Staysha

" The "Haunted Trees" in this series ran alongside the edge of a river bank, which was really just a small trickle of melted snow run off. The few times I had Staysha interact with it, though, she was quite the trooper."

You have a rich imagination. Do you plan every detail or is it just improvised ?

A little of both actually. With a series like my current ongoing "Re-Imagined Heroes" shoots (male comic characters re-done as females) I have a LOT of stuff storyboarded before hand.

But I am always very flexible with ideas and I work closely with the model to make sure that we are both getting the desired results out of the shoot.

"Well constructed"
Art Model Shana J.

" Here's some brand new work with a model I have never worked with before, a stunning lady named ShanaJ. This was shot at a building under construction next door to my studio ; my assistant was able to get permission from the owner last minute to shoot there."

What locations do you prefer to use mainly ? Outdoors maybe ?

 As I mentioned previously I love unusual outdoor locations, like old warehouses, burnt casinos, etc. But for controlled work (like my blacklight or projections series) nothing beats a professional, well-equipped studio.

Some words about your models who seem so natural ?My most "natural" models are natural hams ; at home in front of the camera and well aware of their body posing, facial expressions and more. I like working with models who are comfortable with their bodies, as that always comes off well on camera. Most of them would tell you though, that it's far from "natural."

Even new models who do very well in front of the camera the first time confess they have lots of experience acting, making faces in the mirror and so on. Being a "natural" takes a lot of work !

"On a mossy bed"
Art Model Amy

" More work from "In the Gardens II". We found a soft mossy floor for Amy to lie down on, tucked in behind a natural enclave made of purple flowers."

"Mind corpse"
Art Model Rachel

How do you feel at the end of a shooting ?

 Shooting for me is mentally exhausting. I put my heart and soul into every shoot, so when I'm done I usually just want to collapse. Which is, of course, balanced out by the maniac energy I suddenly get to want to process the images and finish the job. It's a strange dichotomy and never ceases to take a toll on me. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Have you some challenges you're dreaming about in a near future ?

 I'm traveling a lot throughout the end of this year and early next year covering music festivals for Mojo Republik Magazine, and I'd like to try to meet and shoot models in every city I visit. I'm not sure if it's possible, but judging by the amount of e-mails I get from potential models from all over the world I think I have a pretty good shot.

Busy man, isn't it ! Have a nice trip. Between all these projects, when and where will be your next exhibition ?

That depends on when this interview gets published ! (I show almost constantly.)

"CAT nap"
Art Model Charalei

"Figment finds a comfortable place to curl up, high in the air in this shot from : Industrial 6 : Construction."

In October I am showing in Las Vegas at "The Box Office" (opening reception Friday, Oct 4th) and also at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art (opening reception October 9th). Both shows run through November 1st.

Then in December I will be showing all of my music work at a special exhibition at "The Beat Farm" in Las Vegas (opening reception December 5th). I recently had shows in Lodz, Poland and Bonn, Germany.

I'm impressed... And thanks a lot for your impatience. Richard, you have published a book "Whisper of the Mind" (sold out at Amazon, I've checked, of course !), is there a new one to come ?

My first book was entitled "Whispers of the Mind" (ISBN 978-1-4116-6785-3) and was a best-seller on It is now out of print but still available via Lulu press.

My newest book "Abandoned : The Relentless Passage of Time" has been delayed more than once but should still be out in time for Christmas. It’s a compendium of all of my unusual location shoots from 2004-2008. At 11x13 and nearly 200 full color pages it's liable to be the largest book I've ever put out.

There are also plans in the works for two "Abandoned" sequels, as well as another book I've been shooting for 3 years, "Demons & Fallen Angels". The latter of which is also being filmed as I shoot it for a documentary film, the second major such film about my work. The first one "The Making of Diversity" about my award-winning 17 model shoot will be out by the end of this year and will probably debut exclusively on Mojo Republik.

"Mermaid - NS II"
Art Model Britany

From "Wet II: Night Swim"
" I'd like to point out that with the exception of rotating this image 90° I did not in any way manipulate (stretch, skew) it. She just looks abnormally long at this perspective."

You have such a busy life ! All these plans and realizations... Bravo ! Before we leave, any message you’d like to transmit ?

Nude art is not porn. It seems like such a simple statement, yet the amount of people who feel that way is staggering.

I tend to focus on the non-erotic, non-sexual nude (although not all my work falls entirely in that category) and I feel like the human body (male or female ; I shoot both) is a work of art that is wholly separate from its biological reproductive function.

I hope that someday nude art photography can once again be respected as a true art form.

You're so right. I agree, I share, I hope, and I make my best for that ! We are on the good way. Thanks a lot Richard for your amazing talent, your kindness and your support. Give us news quickly !

Art Models Lydia Love and Figment

" Brand new work from a brand new series entitled Desert Texture. I shot this under a near-full moon on a dry lake bed in Nevada, but the clouds foiled my original plan so I used flash instead to bring out the dramatic textures in the soil. "

The Whispers of the Mind project was an ambitious undertaking by fine art nude photographer Richard Rasner of Nakayama Studios back in 2004.

It featured over 25 different models in various costumes at locations all over Southern California.
The Whispers of the Mind book contains all 34 original images, re-mastered in stunning high resolution, with commentary from the artist on each one. Each image is in glorious full color on its own page, with the commentary preceding it on the adjacent page to allow as much room for detail as possible.

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