May 15, 2016

Interview of Karl of Side B Photography

Candace Nirvana

Starting off with the usual intro, who you are, how you came into photo, how long you've been doing it, etc...etc.

My name is Karl and I am an artist. My primary creations are usually photography based. My dad ( a good landscape photographer and son of a great painter) got me a 110 camera when I was six. We would go out and explore Montana hiking and photographing. He taught me to create with intention. It’s forty-one years later and I still can’t stop tripping the shutter.

What gear you use and what's your favorite piece of equipment.

Kyrsta Kaos

I am an unusual gear geek. I embrace old and new… and mixing them as well. I love new tech that meets my needs and inspire me. Here are some of the better parts of the new kit.

New Stuff
The Pixelstick - easier for you to go the website to learn of it. Needless to say, it helps me put a nude anywhere I want. I am just starting to experiment with it.

Nikon D800 - My big digital paintbrush. Lots of pixels and full frame. Even though I have great 50 and 85mm prime lenses, I mainly use the trusty 28-120mm lens that I got with my D700. It is a great all-arounder.

Fujifilm X-T1 - My first mirrorless camera. I love this little powerhouse for many reasons. The size, features and fantastic outputs are just the best reasons. I also appreciate that I can use my iPhone to control it remotely (including changing aperture, shutter, and other settings) via the wifi.

LCD Projector - I used this with the nude model below to project paintings onto her. Many models have requested this for their shoots since.

Old stuff
I love medium format cameras and film. They teach me patience in creating a photo.

Hasselblad 501C - my big gun. I love that thing. I photographed my first nude model with it. The satisfyingly loud “kerplunk” of tripping both shutters communicates the seriousness of this camera.

Yashicamat 124g - My first medium format. I love this twin-lens reflex. I use it when I want to do street photography in this format.

Diana - This plastic low-tech camera teaches me to embrace rough photos and cheap lenses. This is the hipsters’ favorite as well.

Polaroid 420 Land Camera - This is my favorite camera, right now. I love using it for everything. I’ve photographed landscapes, architecture, and nudes. I love it because you get one photo output.

Non-photography - I am falling in love with my Martin000-15M guitar. I started playing guitar last year and am learning much more about myself in the process. I forgot what it was like to be a novice and having to learn from scratch. When you are a beginner, you have freedom to flub up without harsh judgement. I can take risks by asking things like, “Why not try to play the intro to ‘Layla’ by Clapton? “. I’ve shot with intent for over forty years and got this limiting notion in my head that every shot had to be gold, even if it was something I’d never tried for before.

Laila Love King and Kate

What Blogs, periodicals, podcasts, etc. do you regularly follow?

Periodicals and podcasts - Petapixel, The New York Times, Slate photo stories/essays, Media Storm, and, many others for occasional insights. Podcasts - This Week in Photography (TWIP) - when I need to learn about the cool new tech, Risk - I learn a lot about how to tell a story effectively by listening to others share theirs, How Stuff Works - curiosity is my strength and kryptonite. WTF with Marc Maron - it’s good to get inside the heads of creatives.

Blogs - Photo Anthems - When I started blogging in late 2008, Terrell was one of the first to welcome and inspire me. His blog is one of the few to have survived after all these years and continually evolves as he, and photography, do as well. As for other blogs, I tend to peruse Tumblr for inspiration, but few seem to capture me on it. Univers d' Artistes was also one of the first to welcome me and always has quality content and writing.

"Nudity is a powerful subject."

What do you love about shooting nudes?

I answer this differently with every shoot and model. Overall, it is a chance to work with another creative muse to create together something I can’t do on my own. I love having a general theme and then having the model take it, relate it to themselves, and let them move through it. By capturing how they emote and feel about things helps make me connected to them through either a shared outlook, or learning how others feel differently than I do.

I also love the creative power with it. I am not a heavy-handed, perfectionist director while shooting, but I am controlling the flow, look, feel, and subject. I love to give as much freedom as possible within the boundaries of my vision, but ultimately, they are my visions to follow. With that said, I’ve had many shoots where I go in with one idea and through the magic of collaboration, the output evolved or morphed into something so much better than I could have created without the model.

Nudity is a powerful subject. There is the age-old debate of “porn vs. art”. To me, they are not mutually exclusive. Some stuff is just porn, some is just art, and some is both. For me it is the intent of the creator(s). In my prudish American culture, nudity and sex are so charged and related that any nudity will be seen as sexual. When I began photographing nudes, I struggled with trying to keep it art only and defending it as such. After I started blogging, and reading other’s blogs, I learned to get past that bullshit. So what if there is erotic content in my art? IT’S MY ART! Why can’t sex, sexuality, sex-culture, and eroticism be captured in it?

Sal Marquez and ViviMarie

One last thing about photographing nude models - I am very protective of them because they shared their bare physical beings as well as their emotions and feelings with me and the camera. This bond is what makes my heart swell when creating.

What outside challenges do you face with your nude work?

In the beginning of creating this type of work, I created the persona of Side B as an alias. Side B was my dark-side artistic soul back then that rode along with my public self. Side B was there to show my nude work, write about me, sex, eroticism, and art while my vanilla side got to live the Clark Kent life. My creations kept pushing the boundaries more and more as I wanted to shock the world, while still hiding it from the clean side.

A few years ago, that came apart because I couldn’t keep up with both personas. I relished the bad-boy part of SideB, but lived with the vanilla side to pay the bills and keep up appearances for day-job work, family, and friends. The toll of it led to a nervous breakdown (I also had other life issues going on as well) and I stopped photographing nudes for almost a year. After time, therapy, talking with artist friends, and looking at my work, I decided this work is part of who I am and the type of art I need to create. I realized I had lost the integrity in what I created. I created more to shock than to create for me. Big mistake.

Fae DeCay

I still go by SideB, but that is mainly due to my day job in big pharma. I got over the dual pressures of creating nude/erotic work of craving being the bad boy, while feeling shame for both creating it, and hiding it. In other words, I started owning my shit. I am now creating work that is deeper in meaning and power (to me). Some of it is very vanilla, some is very graphic. My goal is that is an extension of me, not a persona I need to both become and hide at the same time due to how I think society sees and judges me.

What is your latest project?

My latest non-nude project just displayed at a local show. It consists of three triptychs of Polaroid photos of abandoned structures in Montana and California. The series is called “Abandonment Issues”. At the show, many asked if I felt abandoned and was trying to communicate that. I was more interested in their connections to the theme.

Luna Lain

My latest nude project was working with a married couple that have an open relationship and are pan-sexual. Neither fit the norms of prescribed gender and sexual roles. I am exploring how fluid and spectrum all these topics are and how they are evolving in our awareness. That all sounds very lofty, which I hope it can attain, but there is also the base eroticism and voyeurism of capturing two connected people in their intimate sensual moments.

What is your next project?

I am creating a mixed media piece or two for a themed show at a local art cooperative. The theme is “Into the Mystic”. My work will explore the quietness of the inner mystic journey of myself and the nostalgia it brings. I plan on creating actual cyanotypes of medium format negatives, including many nudes, and how they are part of the mystic of my memory.

What's your dream project?

I have non-nude dream projects, but that is outside of this question. For nude dream projects, I want to explore the solitary things we all do that are purely for ourselves and show that while we do them alone, we are not lonely. This includes reading, sleeping, smoking, masturbation, creating art, and other indulgences. I feel that all parts of life are lived while in solitary pleasures, distractions, contemplations, and destruction.

Rain DeGrey

What one change or new thing about shooting nudes or photography in general, would you like see?

I love digital photography, and the freedoms of mass production it allows. I can take a raw image and explore many different uses, looks, and creations from it. With this freedom though, I’ve found that there is over exposure of images. Thanks to the billions of images created annually, the power of the photo is lost due to the volume. With nudes, I can type any search term relating to nudes and find tons of images (many porn). I miss the days when one image of Marilyn Monroe’s dress blowing up over a street vent is a powerful statement of sexuality that becomes iconic. Images are too disposable, as are the objectified content they contain.

I am encouraged by the returning value seen in analog methods and ideas, such as vinyl records, Polaroids, and other outputs that have a physical, limited output. It is a way to return the precious value of the subject and output, especially the nude. It can be held, studied, hidden, and looked at again. I want to see how nude photography, especially digital, can bring back this sense of uniqueness in a world glut of online, virtual photos.


Where can people follow or see your work?
Looking about - My old blog that I am resurrecting.
Shadows Exposed - A retired blog that I wrote with a great model, friend, and photographer, Miz B. I went by SideB at it. Lots of great stuff there.
Photos With Meaning - This is my commercial photo website that peddles my non-nude wares.

1 comment:

Karl said...

Holy Cow. I am honored. Thank you for the great interview. Here is to many more years of Univers d'Artistes!