April 19, 2016

Michael Siu's interview

" Allowing a model to show their true soul to me is the greatest gift I can ask for. It cannot be forced or manipulated. I can just hope to capture it."Michael Siu

Art Model Iona Lynn

Michael Siu at his official site, deviantART, his blog "Definitions of Women", NolaPhotoStudio.

"In Pursuit of Concentric Lines"
Art Models Nettie and Wednesday

" A pair of models that have never met, blended together, both working towards a common goal of creating artistic and beautiful work."

"The Mission"
Art Model Sarah Ellis

Dear Michael, how did your passion for photography begin ? Because it's your passion, isn't it ?

The earliest time that I remember taking a photograph was a Polaroid camera that my parents bought my older brother. We spent all day and a whole pack of black and white film trying to make it look like my younger brother Doug was a miniature person standing on a baseball bat that my older brother Chuck was holding. I still remember holding each Polaroid under my shirt trying to warm it so it would develop faster.

"Window Perspective"
Art Model Bella Blue

I am very passionate about photography and nearly obsessive, I am constantly watching, observing, visualizing, framing, researching, composing and conceptualizing.

I knew it ! You made an art photography class, was it useful to improve your skill and find your style ?

The most significant thing I received from the class was recognition that I had something that very few in the class had, something different.

The class also gave me the basic skills that I use every day in taking images like DOF, Zones, and the rule of thirds. My style, I think, is still a work in progress and it evolves constantly. Sometimes I wish it were more grounded and focused.

Art Model Sarah Ellis


You told me you're "nearly" obsessive. Sincerely, how long could you be far from your camera ? Do you think you could make something else ?

Not long at all, a day or so. Just posing that question nearly gave me an anxiety attack, the thought of where my camera is at this moment and is it safe ? flashed through my head. I suppose in a pinch I would use my camera phone if that were all I had.

My life would be a lesser existence without photography.

Your passion is contagious... Michael, your range of style is very large. Between outdoors shootings, indoors, color and Bw, what do you prefer ?

My favorite would be natural light, outdoor, black and white images.

"St. Louis Number One"
Art Model Sarah

" Wonderful serendipity happens when working with Sarah."

"Roxie and the Radio"
Inspired by Gil Elvgren

There is another genre you like very much : pinup and vintage art. Some words about ?

Pinup is a team effort. Without Hair, Makeup, Wardrobe and a great model it just doesn’t happen. My success in pinup goes to the artists and designers that put it all together. I often feel like I move a few lights around and just press the button. My team deserves most of the credit.

I'm sure they'll appreciate. Except nude art, is there another genre you enjoy ? I know you're also a documentary filmmaker ?

I have made a couple of documentary films. It is a lot of work and time.

"Bella Hurrell Hollywood"
Art Model Bella Blue

Lately I am interviewing my models at the end of my nude sessions. The insights, character, education, life experiences and wonderful personalities of these beautiful young ladies are fascinating. I learn more about them in the 10 minutes of the interview than in a whole day of shooting.

Fascinating ladies, you're perfectly right ! And I'll add, true artists. Your pictures prove a powerful creativity. Do you plan every details of your shootings ? Where is your part of improvisation ?

I am a planner.

"Snake Charmer"
Art Model SarahLiz

" Again serendipity steps in and the planets align. In working with this ribbon, we captured this on our fourth frame. I nearly put it away but we kept working with it and more wonderful things happened."

Typically I have shooting schedule with concepts, pre-scouted locations, wardrobe, makeup and an emotion or feeling for each shot. Especially with guerrilla/public nudes it is important that everyone knows what is next and where to meet if something goes awry.

Planning gives me the opportunity to get that amazing shot. Not planning means diving aimlessly to find a location or standing around pulling my hair out while I have no concept or idea to give to my model. Models look to you for direction, if you don’t have clear concepts or ideas they can feel it, hear it in your voice or see it in your demeanor. This will affect their performance too. You will end up with mediocre work.

Improvisation comes when the model is in the location and things are or are not working.

Art Model Keira Grant

"Bed of Springs"
Art Model Keira Grant

I always welcome feedback or suggestions from the model. Sometimes a great concept shoots poorly and does not materialize as I envisioned. Improvisation happens if I get an idea or vision when I see the model in the setting and we just go for it changing the plan and concept completely.

"Ribbon Curved"
Art Model SarahLiz

"Heather Swim 1"

Some words about your models ? How do you direct them ?

I am very fortunate to work with some amazing models.

The best models you let them do their work, let them reveal themselves and be prepared to capture that moment.

Models always surprise me with a pose or a look that I never would have thought of. I find that newer models will look best when they are not posing so it is important to always be ready to shoot when they may not expect it. When I ask for a specific pose it rarely looks good, so I tend to just ask for something different. If they are struggling I give them an emotion to work with or basic direction. I often ask them to go back to a look or pose they gave me to see if we can refine it.

Allowing a model to show their true soul to me is the greatest gift I can ask for, it cannot be forced or manipulated ; I can just hope to capture it.


" Limbs : noun. One that is considered to be an extension, member, or representative of a larger body or group."


How do you feel at the end of a shooting ?

Spent, Exhausted, and Elated.

"The Wall"
Art Model Sabrina Fox

I am full of ideas and visions at the beginning of the day, at the end of the day those concepts are realized and my creative palette is literally, empty.

In the camera I know that there are amazing shots. Most of the time I can’t wait to get to work on them spending hours on them until I cannot see to edit anymore.

I love so much your commitment ! It's good to hear... So strong ! Now, I know it's a difficult question, maybe a stupid one, but what is your own favourite photo ? Could you choose one ?

Difficult, but I think that "Sarah Ellis and Ozzy in Pirates Alley" has to be one of my favorites. It was one of the images that I have taken that I had a complete vision of and it turned out perfectly.

"Sarah and Ozzy in the Pirates Alley"
Art Model Sarah Ellis and "Ozzy"

"Simply Nawlins"
Art Model Liz Ashley

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

Yes, I want to expand my public nudes to other famous cites, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Paris, London and Tokyo are just a few places I would love to shoot in.

"Escape III"
Art Model Brett Ashley

"Bella Pears III"
Art Model Bella Blue

Wow ! A tough job !... Keep us informed. By the way, what is your best way to promote your work ?

Networking through websites and Blogs such as this one. My websites are Nolaphoto and Definitions of Women. Here is where my creative side needs some business help.

I see the print magazines where many of the great photographers you interview have been published. I just don’t know how to make that contact or approach the magazine. Perhaps you can make a suggestion here.

"The Citadel"
Art Model Sabrina Fox

My suggestions ?... It's such a long debate Michael. And it's the first time I have to answer to one of my interviews. My first advice is that you keep your faith alive. You're an artist, never forget that ! Don't underestimate the quality of your work and its price ! What brings me to a serious question : where can we purchase your prints ?

I sell them locally at a gallery in Metairie, Galerie Severn. Anyone who is not local and is interested can also contact me through my website contact link.

"Sabrinascape II"
Art Model Sabrina Fox

Any message you’ld like to leave to our readers ?

A question that I ask my models in their interview is what they want their legacy to be when they are gone. It always is interesting to hear how they interpret and answer this. So here is my response :

Somewhere in the future I want my work to be seen and I want the viewer to be entertained, to understand the underlying irony, to see the juxtaposition and hopefully they will see my vision in each image that I take.

The viewer will look back like I do at the photographers that came before me and become inspired.

How I understand you ! We share the same dream, of course, the artist's dream. They'll see your work. Thanks a lot Michael. This interview gives us a strength you can't imagine.


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