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Friday, January 18, 2013

Unexpected Inspiration...

© Jan Scholz
My new favorite photographer is Jan Scholz. He bucked the trend, having started in digital, but ending up shooting all his current serious work in film, primarily black and white large and medium format.
And, he says his work is still much a "hobby" and makes a living doing things other than photography. He shoots primarily in existing light, often making no more than a handful of images throughout a full days work with a model. (some photos may not be safe for work)

© Jan Scholz
Its Jan Scholz's sense of light, and sensitivity to its affect on the human form that most appeals to me - very masterful indeed. If I had to ding his work at all, it would be because that, like most photographers, he almost exclusively photographs young, waifish, professional models for his nudes.
© Jan Scholz
Now, there's nothing wrong with that, per se, and he certainly excels well beyond capturing just the beauty of his models. His sense of place, composition, and tonality is often just stunning, regardless of the subject.
I've always wanted to work at capturing the subtle erotic beauty of everyday people, illustrating the beauty of the type that our friends, family and lovers have come to see in many of us, a deeper physical beauty that doesn't just reside within the pervue of the young, but of the young in heart and spirit too. It was in doing research for my own possible efforts along this line that I came across Jan's work, and I've found it truly inspirational.
© Jan Scholz
But we don't necessarily need to switch to film to capture what Jan is after. He says his primary reason for successfully capturing such great moments on film, that he could not with digital, is that film forced him to slow down, to think about the light, to interact with the model and the environment. We can achieve the same experience with digital.
Next time you're out shooting, DON'T chimp the back of the screen. Just deeply pay attention to what's in front of you. Try limiting the number of shots you take during a shoot, or day of shooting to maybe only 12 shots. And try leaving your camera on a tripod, while you walk around and look at things from varying perspectives. Jan says that after a day of shooting he may have only made a dozen photos, but that his keep rate is something like 90%. I can't tell you how many times I've made hundreds of photos, only to come away with only one or two that I think are stellar, or perhaps none.
So, while I don't think my exposure to Jan will have me shooting film and crawling back into a darkroom anytime soon, I've been re-introduced to a way of shooting the human form that's given me lots to think about in creating my own work.

Do yourself a favor, and check his work out here:
And there's a youtube interview here as well, where he talks about his work:

Just a note - it should be obvious that much of Jan's work isn't safe for viewing at work, even though it lacks any prurient interest. A lot of Edward Weston's work is NSFW either, nor most of the great masters like Rubens or Michelangelo. Art is in the eye of the beholder, so to speak. Just know that I really like and appreciate the work he's doing, and I'm proud to link to it here. 

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