Houston based photographer Lithium Picnic
shoots powerful fashion, fetish and conceptual pieces. Whether it's a magazine
supermodel or a dark and funky Suicide Girl, his images are meticulously
lit, set and framed, presenting more than a pretty face. Sometimes quietly
harrowing and other times brimming with electric energy, they shock the
viewer with something beyond beauty. Lithium Picnic spoke with us about
his precarious relationship with the fetish world and how he keeps so busy.
Click any image to view the pop-up
gallery slide show.
Sez G: When did you first turn your camera
towards the fetish world and why?
Lithium Picnic: I have been shooting for about 10 years, and I've
always had a fondness of the obscure and abstract - images that are engaging
and pull you into the photo. When used well, nudity and fetish themes can
add a lot of intensity and potency to art, but I don't like fetish work
that uses cliché imagery as a crutch for the lack of good ideas or creativity.
My work fluctuates between "pretty," well-composed shots in interesting
locations and more abstract, artistic work. I'm not sure if I chose photography
or photography chose me. I just gravitated towards it and found myself more
and more consumed - spending 14 hours a day shooting, editing, or studying.
Sez G: And seemingly in constant evolution... You've shot several of
the top models in the industry as well as many of the up-and-comers. Do
you have any muses? What's your relationship like with your models?
Lithium Picnic: Apnea has been
extremely influential in my work. She's an amazing model and stylist and
is always evolving, growing and coming up with new ideas and styles.
I invest a lot of myself in my work and in the relationships with the people
I work with. I'm very fortunate to have the group of models I work with.
Most of them are artists in their own right. I usually choose to work with
people who are stretching, growing and pushing themselves, and the relationships
continue to evolve as we all do. Most of the models in my portfolio are
friends and faces you will see again in my future work.
Sez G: You shoot a lot of the Suicide
Girls. How did your collaboration with them develop?
Lithium Picnic: Sean came across some of my work online and invited me to shoot
for the site.
Sez G: Good call on their part! You have an exceptional, harrowing portrait
gallery on your site. They feel almost more intimate than your fetish and
nude shots. Why did you create your own web space dedicated to portraits,
and what about them draws you in?
Lithium Picnic: Thank you. I have over 1,200 images on
the Lithium Picnic site. They used to be grouped by "shoot" or "girl," but
it became unmanageable. I sat down one afternoon and broke my work down
into major categories and the types of work I really enjoy and want to pursue.
One of my goals for the site and the regrouping is that it will help sell
more of these types of projects to clients. I plan to do more editorial
work for magazines, and I have a book in the works.
Sez G: Speaking of clients, your bio mentions the you've been the Creative
Director and Brand Consultant to some Fortune 500 companies. How similar
or dissimilar is it to the rest of your work? Has working under clients'
relatively strict, market-driven constraints influenced your personal artistic
Lithium Picnic: The experience and project management skills I developed working
at Sapient have been invaluable. Jerry Hirshberg, the former head of the
Nissan design team, wrote a great book called The
Creative Priority about creative and technical teams working side by
side and how they harnessed creative energy under tight deadlines and technical
restraints. Those are the types of skills I learned doing brand strategy
I'm a pragmatist. I have lofty, creative ideas, but I am willing to compromise
and work with what is available. Every shoot is a creative problem-solving
process for me - how to light it best and get the right emotion and posture
from the model.
Sez G: Do you shoot digital or film? How much
computer retouching do you do?
Lithium Picnic: It depends on the project. I shoot both, but mostly digital.
As I improve my lighting skills, I'm doing less and less retouching, but
almost everything gets run through photoshop for a tweak or two.
Sez G: What's coming up for you in the future?
Lithium Picnic: A book. A new studio. A DVD. Next week I'm shooting in Berlin.
I'll have a gallery show in Paris in September and be at the Rubber Ball
in London in October. And I'll schedule trips to Detroit, NY and LA somewhere
Sez G: Busy! Do you have any personal fetishes?
Lithium Picnic: Ha! [grin]
Sez G: Um, that's not an answer! Guess we'll just draw our own conclusions
from your work. What is Lithium Picnic? When did you form it and how many
people are involved in it now?
Lithium Picnic: My original vision for Lithium Picnic was that it would be co-op
of sorts. When I started this about two years ago, I wanted it to be a group
of artists, models and stylists all collaborating in creative bliss. It
sounds good in theory, but I've found more success acting as director and
bringing in a team on a per project basis. Apnea is always behind the scenes
and supportive - she sometimes styles my shoots, but she's got her hands
full with her own work now. Lithium Picnic = me.
A delicious picnic of one! To learn more about Lithium Picnic, go to www.LithiumPicnic.com.
Lithium Picnic - by Sez G.