January 25, 2010

About Anne Brigman, by Art Ward

written by Art Ward, photographer.

I had never heard of Anne Brigman until May 2009, when Dublin based photographer Willie Dillon made a comment that an image Elena Buga and I had created, reminded him of Anne Brigman (1869-1950).

From that moment on I was determined to find out
who Anne Brigman was ?

Anne Brigman

Art Ward
"Child of Lir"
Art Model and UdA Art Editor Elena Buga

Anne Brigman

This remarkable woman was born in Hawaii in 1869. Her grandparents had arrived as missionaries from England in 1828 and her parents lived there until she was around sixteen when they moved to Los Gatos in California.

Anne Brigman was already an artist and writer before taking up photography in 1901. This choice and pursuit for a woman in the political and social environment of America in 1901 was to say the least revolutionary but Anne Brigman was not an ordinary woman.

Art Ward
"Root of Expression"
Art Model Elena Buga

Anne Brigman
"Soul of the Blasted Pine"

Full of enthusiasm, dreams and immense creativity, she explored the medium and within two years of taking her first image, had established herself as a formidable photographer in what was a predominantly male pursuit, where she gained a reputation for pictorial mastery.

As well as pictorial imagery, Anne Brigman had a deep interest and affinity with the natural landscape and in particular the Sierra Nevada. She also had a burning desire to create figurative nudes both male and female in that landscape. She saw their place with the landscape not separate from it :
" In all of my years of work with the lens I've dreamed of and loved to work with the human figure - to embody it in rocks and trees, to make it part of the elements, not apart from them.
Rare humans, rare in their minds as well as in their slim, fine bodies, have given me of their simple beauty and freedom, that I might weave them into the sagas of these wind swept trees on high peaks."

She was one of the first photographer’s to take the figurative nude as a subject in the landscape and present it in a way where it was part of the landscape in beautifully staged art nude pieces.

Art Ward
"Light of Carnmoon"
Art Model Elena Buga

Art Ward
"Spirit dance"
Art Model Elena Buga

Her work is captivating in its simplicity, vision, depth and spirit. The unique unseen elements that make visuals go beyond the visual is saturating her work.

It is more remarkable that this feminine spirit, was a century ahead of her time, not only did she conceptually create her visuals she would also at times be the subject of them. Her passion and creative energy so evident in the lengths she went to create her work. She drew great inspiration from the landscape and especially the trees, some of which became her friends…

" One day on one of my wanderings I found a juniper - the most wonderful juniper that I've met in my eighteen years of friendship among them… It was a great character like the Man of Gallilee or Moses the Law-giver, or the Lord Buddha, or Abraham Lincoln… Storm and stress well borne made it strong and beautiful. I climbed into it. Here was the perfect place for a figure, here the place for the right arm to rest, and even though my feet were made clumsy by boots, I could see and feel where the feet would fit perfectly into the cleft that went to its base."

Art Ward
"Spirit Run"
Art Model Elena Buga

Although the nude had been taken in the landscape prior to Anne Brigman, what separated her work from the rest and gave it distinction was the unique fact that she saw the figure as nature, her nudes were part of nature, not ‘in’ nature.

It was this fact that establishes her as one of the pioneers of the 'spirit' of art nude in the landscape.

Anne Brigman
"Nude in a burled tree"

Anne Brigman
"The Source"

The nude for Anne Brigman symbolised the creative energy of women, empowering and opposite to the voyueristic presentations of the female form of the time. She said in reference to her work : "my pictures tell of my freedom of soul, of my emancipation from fear.”

She gave a lot back to her community and those who valued her work and shared her vision, young contemporaries like Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange and Imogen Cunningham all recognised her as an influence in their development and indeed joined her on treks into the Sierra Nevada.

Anne Brigman
"The Lone Pine"

To fully appreciate Anne Brigman is to remember that she achieved all this at a time when societies morals relating to a women where archaic.

Her persona, free spirit and her dynamic and challenging ways where a scandal before she even took an image. She wore trousers, defied the correctness of her time, her gender and her society, to create art which she did beautifully. Today her work still carries that intangible quality that her spirit urged her to create. Anne Brigman was an artist and a brilliant photographer who also wrote and painted.

Personally, I am honored that one of my ‘novice’ images of a ‘nude in the landscape’ would remotely remind someone of this remarkable, creative and gifted women and that this remark led me to discover her work.

Madams and Mademoiselles, is it not great to know a female pioneer the ‘spirit’ of art nude as part of the landscape ?

I think it is brilliant !

Art Ward
"Spirit of the Ancient Sentinel"
Art Model Elena Buga

The Orientalism in Photography

Eugeny Kozhevnikov
"Without a name, without a sound"

Mimi Nikolova

Andrew Kaiser -
"The Queen 04"

Akif [HAKAN] Celebi -
"Precious And Fragile Things IV"

Abe Taltre -

Doug Faircloth -
"Blu Sentinel 2"

Sutemmy Djunaedi -
"The Body 01"

Zhang Jingna -
"This side up II"
Art Model Kagetsuki

Minon -
Self Portrait

Mick Waghorne -
Art Model Madame Bink -

Ben Heys -
"Purple power"
Art Model Jody

Lorand Peli -

OnePixArt -
"Geisha I"
Art Model Lady Anais -

"So you want to be a model ?", by GW Burns

Young or experienced photographers and art models, I'm sure you'll appreciate the essential advices of a famous photographer who works since a long time with the most beautiful art models of our small world.

Do you remember all our articles about the difficult art of modeling ? Marcus J Ranum gave us his clear and detailed opinions about (here : Models and Reality), and Terrell Neasley who likes to work with non pro models, even if it seems to be more difficult (here : Models vs Non Models), article commented by Iris Dassault who made a perfect resume of the situation. Yes ?

Here is another aspect of the art of modeling by GW Burns :

How to prepare to become a good Art Model ?

"Emotion in Motion"

"With the grace of a ballet dancer she moved through my heart."

So you want to be a model ?

In the glamorous world of modeling, it is often thought that being a model is about just being pretty. Put on some lipstick and smile in front of the camera and at the end of the shoot pick up a check for being heavenly blessed with great genes. In actuality, to succeed in the increasing competitive world of modeling it takes a commitment and resolve that few professions entail.

Because of the internet, more girls are looking to make their mark on the modeling profession then at any other time. This saturation of neophyte models has produced more then a competitive field for all to wrestle with. It has created a market whereas girls will do anything to get ahead, including work for free in an effort to get a tearsheet.


Gone are the days of million dollar contracts and six figure gigs for commercial clients. More and more magazines and designers are looking for the next fresh face and realize you can get her on the cheap. If they want instant credibility, they look for the celebrity who has the exposure on Entertainment Tonight who can reach the masses. In an effort to cut their overhead they realize that saving money on the models shown within their tabloid is an efficient way of reallocating funds to other areas of value. Additionally, more and more magazines are turning to online magazine outlets. Consequently the realization is that the cost in producing such media for the public is far cheaper and quicker then any printed material and hence the attraction.

In essence the combination of a greater supply (models) and less demand (printed material) results in a career that is tenuous at best. If a girl wants to enhance her chances of success an understanding of the commitment necessary is a prerequisite in today’s demanding field.

"Dazed and Confused"

"The Day After"
 Art Model Onikaa

1) Building a portfolio.

"Sands of time"

This is a business of who you work with.

As a photographer I provide a product (images) for models to build a portfolio in an effort to attract potential clients. Models provide a service. A service that enables the creation of images. As I mention to models many times, photographers are not relegated to shooting gorgeous people for their profession. Animals, landscapes, and products are all lucrative subjects that they can turn to. While models have the opportunity for live promotional events, the sad truth is without a photographer they (models) wouldn’t exist.

Therefore, the scales are tilted heavily towards the photographers in the balance of the relationship between the two.

"Back to her roots"

Additionally the average modeling career is less then 4 years compared to the tenure of being a professional photographer that can span 10-30 years. Due to this, the odds are far greater that a photographer has built up a client base and reputation over the years that can benefit all those who shoot with him.

In essence, in this business you are who you work with and photographers have far more leverage in that end of the equation. Wise new models realize this and target those photographers who can increase their exposure as well as produce the best product (images) for their portfolios. Even if they have to pay those photographers to work with them in the long run this investment in their career will payoff.

"That face"

"Deadliest Catch..."
Art Model Sarah Richling
MUA Sidory

2) Practice makes perfect.

"Polar Princess"

Professional athletes spend a lifetime perfecting form and technique for the opportunity of game day. They watch video, memorize plays, and go over scouting reports of the opposition before they ever take the field.

Truth is they spend far more time in preparation of the event then they ever do during the event. My question to models often is how often do you practice ?

When they look at me with puzzled expressions, I explain simply, how often do you practice your posing ?

A professional model is a choreographed joy to watch. Moving from one pose to the next with the fluidity of any ballet star. They understand their best features and the element of lighting and pose accordingly. You could of course develop this over time but that makes as much sense as Barry Bonds waiting for the actual game to take batting practice.

You must be prepared for the big event when it calls. Create a pose file of images you can reference and practice everyday of making the transition of one pose to the next while observing yourself in the mirror. Research makeup techniques and fashion trends. Try and build a wardrobe of clothing that you can bring with you in the event that you need them for any shoot. Of course you can spend a fortune on clothes but smart models find them within a budget at second hand stores and Ebay.

" It's all white now"

3) Toto we’re not in Kansas anymore !

"Tonights the night"

If you don’t like to travel this is the wrong profession for you. Even if you live in a thriving metropolis like New York or Paris, you will still have to travel. If you live in a state that has more cows then people then you will be on the road all the time. Dealing with airports, subways, taxis and finding studios in towns you have never been to is very common place. A GPS is perhaps the wisest investment you can ever procure unless you have a merit badge in map reading.

If you are on a budget, and who isn’t these days, learning to network and finding people within the industry who will allow you to stay with them is the only way to make ends meat. Which means unless you have an uncle in every town, it is a wise idea to get on the internet and network the heck out of developing contacts. I often joke that the biggest advantage to my height is I can sleep very comfortably on a couch ! Not exactly the glamorous lifestyle it seems is it ?

"Life in a Fishbowl"

4) Being Realistic.


I often hear height challenged models complain that the industry isn’t fair in allowing them the chance to be on the cover of Vogue.

I like this to the 5 foot 7 150 pound guy who complains to the coach that he really wants to play middle linebacker and has the desire and ability to do so. He further quips, that it isn’t fair that he is short and prejudiced against for certain positions. The good news is he can still be a part of the team if he is fast or can kick the ball a mile.

So to is it with girls who are not 5’10 and 120 pounds. There are plenty of paying jobs for girls with other attributes. If high fashion is not your forte’ that is ok because there are always needs for print and glamour models. The truth is however that for girls under 5’7 the print opportunities are few and far between and quite honestly do not pay all that well.

The girls who have any amount of success who are vertically challenged all have found success in the glamour and/or fetish fields. Catalogue and print paying gigs are seasonal and poorly compensated. Most of those gigs pay less then a thousand dollars and who could live off of that if you averaged one a month ?

"Circus girl"
Art Model Kimberley Rogers

5) Screw Father Time.

In the end he catches up with all of us. Models know that everyday a new girl turns 18 and that is tomorrow’s cover girl. Diet and exercise can prolong ones career but how many jobs entail 24-7 maintenance ?

I have seen models spend over an hour just getting ready for bed. What with this moisturizer, and that mask, and these vitamins, it is a ritual that is almost comedic. Heck a bikini wax alone is something that even the Spanish Inquisition would deem cruel and unusual punishment. It is not unusual to see a model spend the entire day at the gym, tanning salon, manicurist, stylist, and health food store just to be the best they can be.

"Subtle Seduction"

In the end, being a model isn’t all it is cracked up to be. It takes a special breed of person and a dedication that few appreciate. It takes a brave soul to put her looks on the line for everyone to critique and ridicule.

"Fight Club"

So the next time you see a model type walking down the street, thank your lucky stars that your mom and father looked like Fred and Ethel Mertz, lol !