• Today's technology has made it possible for anyone to pick up a camera (or even an iPhone) and proudly proclaim themselves a photographer! But this isn't necessarily an evil thing, it has allowed some to express themselves whom otherwise wouldn't have been able to 20 years ago. I consider myself an artist first and photographer 2nd, although depending on who you ask, those two terms are one in the same.

    This blog represents my never ending exploration and learning into my self expression using the camera as my tool. Although I do a great deal of commercial work these days, my focus is almost always finding ways to express myself artistically by communicating with my viewers with each new image I create.

Hasselblad Black and Whites

If I deciphered correctly, the body was built in 1965, the camera film back in 1969 and the Carl Zeiss 50mm lens between 1951-53 (West Germany)! Although some cosmetic wear and tear exists, it shoots like a charm and feels better on the hand than a beautiful woman.

About a month ago I scored a Hasselblad 500C! To most, that means absolutely nothing but to some fellow photographers it’s  known as a solid medium format workhorse!  They aren’t all that rare per se, but are a prized possession for some.  I just wanted a medium format camera that was legitimate.

My cousin Dave ( Reffell – London Photographer) quickly suggested a digital back to add to the bag…mehhh…a bit out of my price range at the moment, but it sure would be nice to play with.  But for now, i can’t wait to get a good shoot with it in the books.

…but so far I’ve only shot 1 roll of film , and it was just to test it out and get a feel for this sexy beast. The below images are just some various shots here and there and a couple from a quick extended trip to the beach with the family.  I don’t really intend to use it for any jobs, at least not as the sole shooting camera for now but I do have some big Art pieces in mind!

1st shot, and i know it looks like crap quality. lol Not sure what happend. But this is the photographer I bought it from! Was a steal…and considering  we rendezvoused at a gas station and practically sold it to me out the trunk of his car…hmmm. Oh well, it’s mine now!

 

Andy Antippas, Gallery owner – Barrister’s Gallery courtyard – New Orleans, LA. A day or so after I bought the camera, I had to go pick up my art work from my previous months show at Barrister’s Gallery. I had the camera in my Jeep and thought it was an opportune time to grab a shot of Andy!

 

Photographer / Artist / Chef – Jerome Gacula. San Francisco transplant. I set out the next day to hook up and burn through the rest of the roll and just grab some snapshot portraits of friends. He was the only one not busy that I could nail down. Thank’s Mo!

 

umm. yeah..so this is why I shoot the pictures and not have mine taken. Either I wasn’t set and read for the shot or I just look that damned stupid and awkward when photographed other than with my iphone self portraits. Not to mention I just looked hurtin’. Come on MO! You spose’ to make me look sexy!

 

Impromptu “FACE” from my eldest daughter. Thanks Zoe! Now it’s on the Internets!

 

T-Bomb. Pensacola Beach. Funny, the only other shot of her I have on a beach is in Hawaii getting plummeted by waves and receiving what looks like a full on ocean water enema.  I’ll have to dig that shot up!

 

Lucera Rei – My youngest enjoying the sand and sun…and sportin’ some shades.

 

These were shot with…Kodak Portera, I think..  I don’t recall to be honest.  Scanned on a cheap Epson scanner, so the quality is slightly off compared to the actual prints. Fairly sporadic and boring, but I thought it would be neat to share the first shots.  I expect some fun shoots in the future, hope you’re ready.;-)

Renato Ramos Jr – Flipstyle Photography
reny@flipstylephotography.com

T-Bomb Ramos - LOVE these!

Eryn - Awesome!!! I got my first shot with my grandfathers Polaroid Land camera yesterday. I am officially obsessed!!! There’s just something about having an instant piece of art in your hand.

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Comfort Zones….

Renny Pickwoad – National level NPC Physique

When it comes to photoshop, I’m usually more of a traditionalist and use only enough to enhance or “perfect” an image of it’s imperfections.  I like to keep the subjects looks as close to real as possible and unless specifically asked, I’ll never change their physical attributes.  But on the same token, I’m a big fan of images that have a surreal look to them.  Depending on what I’m shooting, i’ll often edit certain images to have those qualities.  However, I’m very adolescent when it comes to more in depth Photoshopping skills.  Like my actual photography, my photoshop knowledge is pretty much self taught with bits and pieces picked up from the more experienced.  Speaking of more experienced, I’m a  huge fan of Joel Grime’s work.  If you are not familiar with Joel, he’s an athletic photographer who does a lot of composite work.  Composite meaning, he’ll shoot various background images, then later combine them with another image of an athlete to create a composite photo that looks like the subject was shot onsite at the backgrounds location. The end result is some really fascinating stuff. <–check him out

I’ve been looking for an old school or gym locker room to photograph for a background, but have yet to find access to. So I had to resort to purchasing something form a stock photo site. The white is the original file and the final is what I eventually ended up with after combining several versions I played with.

 

I also had the pleasure to take one of his workshops and meet Mr. Grimes at a photography convention here in New Orleans last year and although he’s been shooting longer than most of the people I know personally, he’s still considers himself more of an artist than just a “photographer”.  And unlike most traditional photographers who knit pick and hold every photo accountable to every rule in the photography or photoshop book, he preached that reaching your goal and end product should be more important than following the rules. He doesn’t see the need to use lightmeters or adjusting to specific white balances. In fact, he’s colorblind and doesn’t see…green? or blue? i forget.   His work looks so calculated and surreal,  yet he does it all by eye like a good musician and do it by ear.  I came away with photography lesson’s as  – “The art can be right even if the photograph is wrong.”

2 of the images I’ve played with so far in creating the composites below. I probably should have shot these on a grey background or even better, a green screen. But the black side of my Lastolite was what was most convenient at the time.

Final products -

Renny Pickwoad – National level Men’s Physique competitor.

I still have much to practice and learn, and doing these was definitely editing outside of my comfort zone.  I think they look pretty neat, but I’m not sure if it’s because it took me the time to play around and learn something I didn’t already know or if they actually do any justice to what I took in from Mr. Grimes tutorials and workshop. lol.

Renny Pickwoad – National level Men’s Physique competitor.

Renny will be competing next weekend at the Jr. USA Championships in Vegas in the Men’s Physique division. Top 2 finishers bring home a pro-card. Good luck!

For some reason, I like to get shots of my clients and subjects taking a photo back at me. Here he is being a good sport! Thought my fellow female photographer friends would approve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was Renny’s first time in front of the camera to this capacity.  Like almost everyone, he said  he was more nervous about this shoot than next weeks appearance on stage.  But he did awesome! and I believe in the end, we’ll have come away with a couple of my most favorite male model shots of mine so far.

Special thanks to my wife…whom for some reason decided to be around to assist for this shoot. hmmm;-)

 

so give me your feed back below in the comments!  you like the 2 composite gym locker shots? should I try my hand at more?

Renato Ramos Jr – Flipstyle Photography
reny@flipstylephotography.com

Krista - These are fabulous, Reny! Great job! And not a bad model, either. ;)

elizabeth fava - these are FANTASTIC; i love love love the composites. you did a fantastic job of “melding” them together! kudos! :-)

courtney - This is amazing. I totally love it. Your work, it just gets better and better. Lovers it

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N.P.C. Louisiana Championships

The smell of Pro-tan, sweat and cold Tilapia. I don’t think that’s something you can get used to.  Last weekend my wife and I had a few friends compete in the Louisiana State bodybuilding, figure, physique & Bikini show and although…

Heavy Weight – Prejudging

 

I wasn’t the official photographer for this particular event,  I managed to snap a few here and there during prejudging or whenever a friend or close acquaintance was on stage.  So if you don’t see any images of you…sorry! I wasn’t there the entire time and didn’t shoot everything.  You can probably visit the show’s official website for the photos – http://www.lachampionships.com/

 

Women’s Figure – Beautiful female muscle!

 

 

The N.P.C Louisiana contest season is pretty much over, but there is another organization – the ABFF which has some a show  yet to come as well as some NPC action in nearby Alabama & Texas.   So if you are an athlete looking to have some magazine quality portraits taken contact me ASAP.  I have limited availability.

 

Renato Ramos Jr – Flipstyle Photography
reny@flipstylephotography.com

Holly Popowitch - Hi! I was just wondering since I see that you already have a few pics of me on here, if you happened to have any front shots? The other photographer took shots of me in between poses and I would like have at least on good front pose to send to possible sponsors. I was the first girl out on stage (47) for Figure Open Class A in the blue suit with all the tattoos. Please let me know! Also, I was wondering how I can make an appointment with you to take some good fitness modeling pictures for my future sponsors as well. Please let me know! Thanks so much.

Holly

Alex Lopez - I would like to see pics from the light heavyweight class

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Art or Porn and what’s relative *NSFW

Classic Bettie Page – by Irving Klaw. i believe Bettie Page was ahead of her time. Some of the content I’ve found in her images shocks me to believe it was done back then. If you hadn’t researched her work, you’d wouldn’t know much of it centers around bondage. I’m not naive enough to think kink didn’t exist in those times, just pleasantly surprised it did!

I had recently blogged about some erotic art (Vanity and Artisitic Goals) I had been showing in a few locations and galleries, and at the time was a bit hesitant. Until recently I used to not mix my personal work with my mainstream stuff and for the most part I still don’t. I just don’t go out of my way to hide parts of my work, but rather let a viewer judge if they will on it all collectively as a whole. Some of it might scare away potential business, but in the end this isn’t my business. I shoot professionally because of the demand, but if everyone stopped requesting my mainstream work I’d happily continue expressing myself through photography.

So…This is a topic that’s been beaten like a dead horse, but it seems everyone’s still happy to debate it. Why? Because pretty much like politics, your views are your own personal opinions, and most people will argue till they are blue face that their opinion is right.  So… Art or Porn?  Where is the line to YOU at which a piece of art has gone too far and crossed the realm into something pornographic? If you show the same piece to 10 different people, you are sure to get some sort of split to either side.  Sometimes the results are surprising.  Some of my art pieces on occasion, have not been so well received and  been declared “pornographic”.  Does that offend or disappoint me? Not in the least and I totally accept everyone’s point of view.  It’s actually quite interesting to see the vast ends of the spectrum that people are on, but even more so the surprising reality of who is on each.

Part of a 100 image series depicting the NOT so usual Sunday morning antics of an adventurous couple exploring themselves.
ART or PORN – Let me know what you think in the comments below

What makes ART?  I used to believe it was sooo cliche to label myself an artist or a photographer.  But the longer I’ve been shooting, i’ve come to comfortably acknowledge and accept the artist title. In fact, I’d prefer it.  Photographer? not as much.  But depending on who you ask, they are one in the same.  I personally believe Art is any image, sculpture, painting, exhibit etc that will compel it’s viewer to feel an emotion.  and It doesn’t necessarily have to be a positive emotion!  If a viewer bears witness to a piece and is utterly repulsed, then perhaps that artist’s goal was met.  The emotion he/she wanted to instill touched the viewer right where they wanted.    I would consider creating a piece that people find Blase normal and forgettable to be a complete failure.  I want a viewer to feel something…so an arousing burn in the gut or a disgusted queasy feeling in the stomach – either one I’ll take. With either one, it’ll be remembered.

 

 

SHOCK VALUE!  There’s some erotic art out there’s tailor made to shock before anything else.  Tastefully done,  it’s tolerable.  But even I have lines I wouldn’t cross. I’ll pause while some of the people who know me well can laugh. With that being said, different upbringings, community values, religious beliefs, etc will ultimately determine what will shock and individual.

 

 

 

 

Same series..getting closer to crossing that line? ART or PORN? (comment below)

So I’ll end this post with one of my first bondage images. You could say this is what solidified me down this path of creating through photography. A lot of my art work centers around rope bondage.  The rope work you see depicted stems from an Americanized versions of Kinbaku (Japanese rope bondage).  The early Japanese soldiers had invented various ways of binding their prisoners to immobilize them after capture.  This “art” of binding found it’s way into sexual bondage during the Edo period (approx. 1600 to late 1800′s) and eventually crossed the ocean to the West. You’ll be hard pressed to find any bondage photography that won’t have some sort of Japanese bondage influence in it these days.

So, why Japanese bondage? I’m not totally sure myself. I’ll tell you it has nothing to do with suppressing some one or some sort of power trip.  It’s the beauty in the lines, the emotion in the subject, and the powerful feeling the visual can instill…and to me it’s just cool to look at.

ART or PORN?

 

Renato Ramos Jr – Flipstyle Photography
reny@flipstylephotography.com
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Photography Rights?

This is a subject that the majority of people are miss informed on.  I posted this question on my personal Facebook page and wasn’t surprised by most of the responses.  Some were close to what the actual law’s state some were off and some were some where in the middle.  If you are a photographer, you’ll eventually run into people who are on the PAIN IN THE ASS end of this spectrum.  The photo is of them or their loved ones and they automatically believe it’s their photo… in it’s entirety.  I can sympathize with them to some degree and certainly see how they may “believe” this to be true. But…it’s not.  Ultimately, rights can pretty much be governed by a contract signed between both parties. And depending on local laws, sometimes a verbal contract is enough.

The not so informed truth being… if there is no expressed written contract agreement, a photo is copyrighted and owned by the photographer the second it is created. What does this mean? he/she  is the sole owner unless they are an employee of a company which had been contracted to shoot said photos. (Work for Hire).  This isn’t to be confused with someone hiring a photographer to shoot some photos,  A common misinterpretation of the Work for Hire status.  “Your clients are hiring you as an independent contractor—not an employee—so the workfor-hire claim does not apply.” (PPA.com).  It might confuse some into thinking the photographer is getting something (money) for nothing.  It’s more along the lines of protecting his/her lively hood.   Without these laws, people could (and have attempted) take their photos and resell or use for commercial use and profit off another one’s work. This isn’t to say you can’t find a photographer who would be willing to write it in their contract to transfer ownership.  You’ll find PLENTY of amateur or newly starting photographers bend to this at the will of their clients.   ex “$200.00 and you get all digital files and copyrights!”  If you see anything close to a deal like that, RUN! You’ll probably end up with crappy photographs and end up paying more to hire a real photographer to get it done right.

Lamar Smith – Copyright infringement advocate & the one who introduced SOPA, was caught illegally using a photo taken by DJ Schulte on his campaign website. OOPS! My BAD!

This subject can go into many details and avenues of discussion, especially now in the day of “digital” photography. Clients will often get a proofing gallery to review images and start downloading the proofs and posting them to their Facebook or blog.  FYI, that BURNS photographers up!  Most proofs are unedited copies which won’t depict the photographers true and final edits.  Like any artist, they usually don’t want their work shown to the public until completed.   Printing is a whole new subject matter.  Let’s keep it simple in terms most will understand.  If you purchase a movie dvd, can you legally make copies of this dvd or copies of a cd of music?  Can you purchase a song digitally then copy and hand it out to all your friends??   Same principle applies to photographs.  If you must need a print, be sure your photographer gives you permission or go through them to get the print you need.  A reputable lab will actually require you to have a release from the photographer before they’ll print.

Personally, I’ve never really had any big issues with this. *knock on wood  I’ve had a photo or two used, but it wasn’t anything I would have not allowed in the first place.  Sometimes, it’s good exposure that can lead to more work or money down the road.

 

Useful Copyright links

- www.ppa.com/copyright – (highly recommend professional photographers to join the PPA!)

- A good article on the popular site – Pinterest by Mansurovs Photography Group – (My take on pinterest to come later…)

-http://www.photoattorney.com/

… more to come on this topic as I learn new things myself!

 

 

Renato Ramos Jr – Flipstyle Photography
reny@flipstylephotography.com
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