“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

― Maya Angelou

Earlier this year, I set out some objectives that I’ll touch on right now since the year is more than half over. I’m going to try to update the blog twice a month and for the second post of each month, I think I’ll do an opinion/update piece. I mentioned in March I’d address more of the questions and opinions I often receive. 

For an update, I talked about doing another book, specifically a republished and more economical version of my Jenny in Peru book. That didn’t happen so my next goal was to do a magazine instead as it was much more economical than the books I was doing for $350 to $450. However, as fortune would have it, my publisher stopped doing magazines! Dang it! So I’m searching more options for that to put out publications that are in the neighborhood of $30 to $50. 

I will most definitely not get to do film photography nor acquire the film cameras I mentioned back in January. As much as I hate it, that’s not a feasible option. I’m still in need of updating my current Sony cameras and am anxiously waiting to see what the Sony a7R V will be like. Those specs will determine if I get it or settle for the more available previous model. Either one will be a big upgrade for me. 

As for questions and opinions, umm…. I’m going to hit on another familiar topic that’s near and dear to me. I’ve posted on it before. Maybe a few times, in fact. But recently, another woman asked once again, the two most widely asked questions I get:

Why do they have to be naked?

They don’t. However, I mostly shoot the ones who do get naked! But nobody HAS to be anything. Some people shoot landscape. Why do they always have to have a river running through their shot? They don’t. It’s just their personal preference and what they are drawn to. Same with me. I’ve photographed women with clothes on. Even one recently and I LOVED it more than I thought I would (above). But I’ve done this several times. NONETHELESS, nude art has my heart better than anything else. So I photograph what I love. Following that would be Portraiture and Landscape. I’ve included a couple links to previous blog posts that give a more thorough explanation.

My Top 3 Passions, Part 2: The Nude – 17 May 2020

Nude vs. Naked – 23 October 2020

Why can’t they be more classic and tasteful? 

This one isn’t necessarily tougher, but I think it’s more difficult for people to accept. But here I go…

I had a model show up to a photoshoot once and she was a bit upset. She was honest with her boyfriend about coming to shoot with me and he didn’t like it. He didn’t like her exposing herself to another man who took photos of her naked form. Obviously, she came anyway at the risk of the relationship. In the end of her rant she gave a most activating and galvanizing comment, referencing people like myself and her. 

“We are not NORMAL people, Terrell!”

It felt like someone had hit me in the back when she said it. My eyes opened wide and in that moment, it related us to a network of other men and women who do things a little bit differently which may not be widely accepted or understood by public and “decent” society. It was a recognition and a validation. I knew how I felt, but to have someone else not only acknowledge it, but also identify with me in it… priceless. 

Art Model, Alba

And therein lies my truth. I’m not a normal dude. Via a course of events in my life, I am where I am and who I am. I’ve had to do things differently than many people. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been different: the only black guy hiking/camping in the desert, or in my entire undergrad finance department, or as branch manager at a bank of 60 some-odd managers between Tennessee and Georgia. I was the youngest and lowest rank owning a home on my block when I lived in Tennessee. A neighbor confronted me to ask if I was a drug dealer because he could find no other reason why I could own my house at my rank. He was a Captain. I was an E-5 Sergeant. Turns out, my rate was two percentage points lower than his.

I had to learn to embrace it or let it overwhelm me. As a freshman in HS, I was in a class of, not my peers, but rather Juniors and Seniors… a Speech Class where I have to get up in front of everybody and entertain, inform, or debate them! Granted… it made me better and prepared me for SEVERAL life situations.

As a soldier, I understood I had to be different to do and endure some of the things my commanders directed me to do in order to complete the mission. Who in their right mind will stand out for days in 40 below weather? Who walks 10+ kilometers in pitch black darkness just to find a road intersection and monitor it until you are told to return? You haven’t been in my shoes, so judging me is more of a reflection on you than it is me.

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” 

― Sigmund Freud

I shoot a wide range of nude art, but I’m not as interested in shooting for the purpose of creating classic nude art. “Tasteful” is not my aim because I am not certain what that means. Tasteful? Whose interpretation of it? I shoot the nude. All of the nude. I was taught this from my models and I feel like it set me free, giving me liberties to better articulate the art that is in me to create from perspectives I might not have otherwise explored. I’m not trying to be graphic. I just shoot what fits and will do a wide range of poses influenced by the environment, the model’s features/demeanor/style, or simply for my mood and vision. For me, that’s called freedom. 

Art Model, Panda

And quite frankly, I don’t get it. If you appreciate the nude, but can’t stand the sight of a vulva, what the hell! And if art is supposed to be a reflection of life and an artist’s expression/interpretation of reality… is not sex a part of life? Try having life without sex and see how far it gets you. Look, I’m not totally ignorant. I know many are afraid of porn, which has a totally different connotation, and finding the distinction between art and porn is a blurred line. And rightly so. In fact… wait for next month’s blog post!

Admittedly, while my art may at times be deemed explicit or gratuitous, I don’t really depict sex in it hardly ever. I don’t usually have models touching themselves, nor revealing themselves unmerited. There is usually purpose behind it when I do. I’m sure you noticed the operative word… USUALLY! Oftentimes, I will let a model do as she chooses and I run with it. I get my shots, but maybe I don’t post everything. I might save it for later, or for a more appropriate venue. Perhaps even never allow it in public period. Just keep it between me and my model. I never know.

But the main thing is there are many conservative nude photographers out there. Several of them are friends of mine and I enjoy their work, immensely. And then I go do my own! I don’t hate on nobody else. I respect their craft and I do mine. Except for Implied Nude photogs. I can put those guys in a barrel and roll them down a hill. (I used to do my brother like that. Brings back memories.) But no, I’m not fond of implied nudes.

So that’s where I am in my life. That’s what I do. I was all about conservative nudes when I started back in 2005. And then I had some models who set me straight. And I appreciate that so much. Because they have a story to tell, too. If my work is not for you, don’t be offended and don’t ask me to apologize. Instead, don’t choose to look at it. Don’t shoot with me. Same as if you hate spicy food. Don’t eat it and don’t degrade someone who loves a little heat on their tongues. If you want, come talk to me about it. I’d invite that. Otherwise, I’m cool and I hope you can still respect me, because I want to respect you.

“Photography to the amateur is recreation, to the professional it is work, and hard work too, no matter how pleasurable it my be.” 

– Edward Weston