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EZ: Where are you from?
I am a photographer from the city of Seattle, a somewhat conservative area that is rapidly becoming more progressive. My client base extends from here to Europe. The internet has been one of the best things that has ever happened for me.
EZ: When did you begin shooting photography? When and why did you switch to digital photography?
My career in photography began in 1980. I was a model for a while in the Seattle area and became frustrated with the photographers I had worked with. There was very little direction from them and they seemed to be very temperamental and aloof. It inspired me to never be that way.
My background is in art, I used several different mediums to render portraits, landscapes and nudes. I had considered photography as another medium of expression but never took it seriously until I was introduced to it by a friend that had purchased a considerable amount of equipment in the spring of '78.
I took one good look thought the lens of a professional camera and prompted the next two years of voraciously studying any and everything I could read and learn about photography. Coupled with my background in art I discovered new and creative ways of lighting. To put in simply I just applied the lighting on a subject the same way I would paint them using other mediums.
I made a gradual switch to digital photography about 4 years ago. The quality has progressed so close to film that there is very little distinguishable difference. The learning curve was easier due to previous experience and my desire to create better and faster art with immediate gratification.
EZ: You've said that your models are artists as well. Where do you find your subjects, how well do you know them, and do you have a particular muse?
What I mean by the statement that "my models are artists as well" is that it requires a true connection with the person you are photographing. They have to feel what your vision is and the end result. They have to know their bodies and tap into emotions to achieve "The Look." A good photo session is like a dance, one leads and the other follows effortlessly and the roles can be interchangeable just as effortlessly as well.
Most of the models that find me, see the work I have produced or have heard about me and want to become part of the experience. 98% of the people that I have photographed, I have never met or known of previously but it seems like be it client or model once I have photographed someone there is always a bond that been established in some way. This profession has afforded me the opportunity of meeting and sometimes establishing friendships with some very creative, wonderful and unique individuals.
To be blind to the beauty God has created would be a sin, so I choose to help you see.
EZ: You capture a lot of emotion in your models. How do you facilitate this?
To capture the emotion in a photograph is as I alluded to previously, "the model is an artist as well," they must first trust you, and understand your goals and purpose for creating. I am honest with them be it client or model, no hidden agendas and simply tell them what my vision is for the photo session.
All perceived or conceived emotion begins with the eyes, eye contact with the models I photograph is crucial. If a particular pose is not working it is not the model that is at fault, it is the photographer that must find what does work.
The atmosphere of the studio and even the resonance of your voice attributes to an emotional ease.
There is that small percentage of models for whom it just does not click, and that can be a challenge, but if I can find some way to reach even a corner of their creativity and trust, it all usually turns out well in the final result.
I spend time getting to know each person, talking to them, watching them and assessing their attributes.
EZ: What's a typical shoot like for you? In a studio? You have make-up artists present? How much effort do you put into lighting?
A typical shoot for me is always intense, no matter how simple or creative. They usually go longer than planned. I get caught up in the moment and when you find that certain zone of creativity when every click of the shutter creates magic its hard to quit.
The photo sessions usually begin with my make-up artist asking me for specific information of what I expect for hair and make up. She has done make-up and hair for me for the past 15+ years and during a photo shoot I need only to think something and she is there taking care of it. It's really cool, truly a real mind connection.
After about 1/2 an hour the models/clients get into the same groove and it becomes one big happy Vulcan mind meld :-) ... remember what I said earlier about the dance.
Lighting is extremely important right next to posing and establishing the ambiance for the photo session. Lighting however subtle or dramatic is different for everyone. It is best to have an arsenal of lighting techniques and a good knowledge of the mathematics of light.
EZ: What kind of teaching and workshops do you do?
I have taught workshops and plan to teach more in the future, but currently that is on the back burner. When I do teach, it is all about how to light and pose nude models. My belief is once you have acquired the techniques to photograph a nude any and all else is relatively easy.
EZ: What's coming up for you in the future?
My current goal is to continue to create more images for a book I want to publish of my work. Two things are an obstacle at this point. The first is the lack of mature women models that I can find to photograph for this book. The beauty of a mature body of a woman can be truly the most erotic vision, so I will continue the search.
The second is that once I feel that I have photographed and compiled all the images that are needed for this publication, along comes another stunning model and more ideas are triggered. Do not be misled by the word stunning, it has many definitions.
EZ: We can't wait to see the finished products! Anything else to add?
To think all of this came from a time when I was very young (8 years old) producing "naked" drawings of women that were anatomically correct and having my parent, family and teachers look at me with a raised eyebrow and saying to themselves and each other, "I think this kid has got a problem."
This has only served as an inspiration for me to portray the beauty of the body as something that should be applauded and enjoyed.
Tommy Edwards - by Sez G.