Shibari with K

This is from a recent shibari session with my friend Karissa.

To be frank, I consider myself an absolute beginner in this art, and it would be foolish for me to claim to have much more experience than that. My rope tying is improving with practice, but like photography, the real art is in the deeply personal communication that takes place during a session. Literally anyone can learn how to tie some knots, and with practice make it look good. But that’s just the beginning, not the end goal.

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When to Buy a New Camera or Lens, and What to Look For

One of my friends just got a new DSLR camera, and asked me what lens he should get next. The camera came with a wide-angle zoom lens, and he had just ordered a prime lens (aka, non-zoom) that is a newer version of one I have and adore. He had a kit that could work in almost any setting, and yet he had a case of what photography nerds on the internet call G.A.S.: Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
The key is to understand what you need, and decide if you need it occasionally and can rent the equipment, or if you will be better off owning it.

I’d also like to offer my thoughts on buying used equipment. If you are buying something new, you have a warranty guarantee— if you are starting out with a new system, or an autofocus lens, this is very useful. You never know if the previous owner dropped the camera, or what. However, if you don’t mind buying used (and almost all cameras made in the last 5 years are just fantastic), then you can pick up some amazing gear at very affordable prices…

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Why I started my blog (And why maybe you should, too)

Long story short, I realized that I wasn't very good at writing about my work. I could talk about it well enough over drinks with friends, but when it came time to clearly describing it for strangers, I struggled. I’d fall back on describing it as simply following my intuition, which is true to a degree, but misrepresents the amount of thought and time I have put into my practice over the years.

For a long time I gave myself the excuse that if I was good at writing, I wouldn’t be a photographer. This was BS— I am good at writing, and it has nothing to do with why I got into photography.

Talking about one’s work is a skill, and like any other skill, you need constant practice to improve. I decided to start up a blog so that I could have a reason to force myself to sit down and put my thoughts to text somewhere outside of discussion groups on forums or Facebook…

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EssaysShane Kingessay

I love being able to capture a moment, a glance, a thought between words, and preserve it.  Some art philosophers say photography is about death, a never ending struggle to keep fleeting memories that are in reality already gone the instant the camera’s shutter closes. 

I disagree, I think it is about life: celebrating the moments as they happen, savoring them, and allowing them to be shared with others in a way that transcends space and time.  Long-gone civilizations have their monuments, our memories of love and laughter can last as long as paper can hold them.

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Inspiration: Follow your Muse?

I was recently thinking about inspiration and how people develop a personal style. There's a phrase, "follow your Muse." But what's a Muse?

In modern times, a Muse is considered a person or thing that inspires you. In Greek mythology they had a different idea: the Muses were goddesses of music, poetry, comedy, and other arts, and they were responsible for providing inspiration to humans. A song was not invented by humans, it was created by these goddesses who would whisper it into the mind of a musician. Divine inspiration.

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Being Appreciative of Time

It’s really easy to take time for granted. Even if the future is open, everything is finite. I may live to 110 or I may die tomorrow, but either way, there will be a finite number of photographs I create. A finite number of birthdays, a finite number of dinners with any particular friend. Cherish the moments you have, as you have them, because you never know when it may be the last.

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Shibari with Jasmine

After a few years I'm still somewhat new to doing Shibari/rope sessions, and even though I feel like a total beginner, I can feel myself improving with each session. I'm finding better ways to continue ties, getting better at knots and managing tension, and working more efficiently. Sessions like this have some extra challenges as well: the model loses mobility so you have to plan or improvise poses that look good in photographs, likewise the placement that would make for good lighting. Of course, there's also the challenge of making something meaningful that communicates more than just "Look at this person's body!" That's always the most difficult part in photographing nudes, the mind and competency of the artist is revealed.

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TASTE: How Artists Guide Audiences to Better Experiences

This isn’t a post about food, at least, not entirely.

This is about how we learn, how we find what we like, and how we savor experiences.

Think back, to our ancient history, to an ancient pre-human primate, discovering a fruit they had never seen before, hungrily taking a bite. Upon discovering how delicious it is, our ancestor brings some of this new fruit back to its tribe, offering it to the others.

”I found this. It’s good.”

In essence, this is what the curator and the artist do. The curator finds the good things, and shares what she thinks is the best. She may be a museum director or a DJ spinning vinyl on a friday night. Her job is to develop a nuanced appreciation for what is good, what tastes good to the soul, and bring it back to the tribe.

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Bathing by Candlelight

This was an experimental session with my friend Lola. We had shot before a few times, and this time we decided to go for something dark and sensual. For me, this was a technically challenging photo session: as I was using a manual focus camera in near total darkness, and since my Leica M9’s ISO sensitivity tops out at around 1600, I needed to shoot at slow shutter speeds which in turn made it necessary for me to be completely still while shooting so that there would be no motion blur. I was very interested in how I could use the light and shadow to suggest and reveal her form, as well as explore the play of light on the surface of the water.

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M and I

This is an series I shot several years ago with M, a lover who is herself an artist as well. My goal was to make a personal memento of a passionate romance, with no intention of ever sharing it beyond a few close friends who understand what I’m reaching at with my work. I have been very hesitant to share this work since it is so deeply personal and private, but the friends I have shared it with have been incredibly supportive, and M herself encouraged me to share it publicly as well. Almost a year after promising another close friend that I would post this, I’m finally ready to share it.

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Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve "Super Bloom" (Download!)

Last weekend my friend and I drove up to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve to see the Super Bloom in all its glory. This winter saw a lot of rain in California, so the flowers were just spectacular. While we were out, we decided to also visit Death Valley.

Here’s a link to download high resolution photos from the trip. Feel free to use them as device backgrounds, but let me know if you plan on using it for anything else. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy these photos of California’s gold!

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