Monday, July 26, 2010

Dave Kemmerling

The figure modeling scene here in Minnesota is small, yet due to the nature of the business we models don't cross paths much. There was one man who was trying to change that. He set up an organization called Phigural, which is intended to unite art models and photographers in order to create a more tight knit community/family of artists here in Minnesota.

Dave was a very established classic art model, modeling for local renown art schools and co-ops for over a decade. Within the last few years he branched out into modeling for art and figure photographers. This is how I came to know of him.

We started exchanging emails about a year ago, then this January I finally got to meet him at one of Doug Beasley's workshops at the Minneapolis Photo Co-op.

We only worked together twice, once at the previously mentioned workshop in January and then just recently this May at Doug's 5 day Dramatic Portrait workshop out in the Badlands. but we exchanged numerous emails, and got together a couple of times to discuss art and art modeling.

Dave was a very genuinely warm person, had an incredible sense of integrity, and was always so very kind and generous. He was full of zest and passion for the arts and for art modeling. He was a wonderful friend who I wish I could have gotten the chance to know better. His smile always warmed my heart.

On July 20th, Dave lost his battle to depression at 50 years old.

He will very much be missed. May he finally rest in peace.


Martin Husch.
Steve Kemmerling.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

BIG part 2

There it is, folks! All I have to do is sign it and ship it!

I'm really proud.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Photography: Natural vs Reality

Dave Levingston recently was expressing his position based off of critical comments/questions by his friend Morgan. Her main concern (in a nutshell) seems to be why aren't photographers asking models to pose in "natural" ways.

"This is about calling bullshit when I see it and it’s bullshit to say that someone is celebrating the beauty of the natural female form when there isn’t anything natural in the ways they pose or photoshop their models."

Okay, first of all, what constitutes "natural?" Here, I have a link to the definitions of "natural." None of those definitions seem to really fit what Morgan is aiming at, instead I think they cater to more of how Dave defines it. Dave asks his models to either mimic or contradict the lines or patterns of nature in the scene as he sees it. If models were asked to be photographed, posing like one would stand waiting for the bus, or lounging like they're watching tv, there would be nothing inspiring to photograph - in most cases. And that's not the definition of natural, that's just sedentary. Any way a person poses is natural, because the pose is emanating from themselves. They are not attaching anything artificial, or man-made, to their bodies, or doing something impossible that a human being cannot possibly do. That would be unnatural.

And my favorite type of photographic art is one that tries to imitate the impossible. But that's just me.

But I personally don't believe this is really the case at hand - I think it's mostly an excuse. I think Morgan is just pissed off at society at large for the way women have been perpetuated in the media and blaming it on how it has influenced their representation in artistic mediums. Specifically (obviously) photography. But every era in time has their own idealistic version of women - how they are considered attractive and sexually appealing. In this day in age, even I wouldn't fit that description. Yes, I am trim, but I don't have big breasts. I am not tall. I don't have that exaggerated hourglass figure. But I absolutely love the way I am, and I am thankful that I am lacking those physical attributes because I personally strive to participate in nude art that tries to separate beauty from sexuality. Of course, those two can't be totally separated, I realize, but I focus my energy in collaborating in art that does not excite sexual arousal. I am most excited by art that represents the innocence of the nude form; that we come from nature and we are all born naked, the amazing geometry and forms that the human body can take, and the unconventional beauty of "unnatural" posing.

I think people have this notion stuck in their minds that photography should depict realness. I think when people see a photograph, there's a part of their mind that views it as purely journalistic. But photography, when used for a tool in art, shows the artist's reality - and that's it. And their reality doesn't have to be real. That's the most absolutely wonderful thing about art. Art represents a continuum between fantasy and truth. Wherever the artist decides to stop on that continuum is their prerogative.

I think photography is involved in so much controversy because it most often does show truth in the scene. It's a snapshot in time, it captures the moment. No other medium has these claims that it distorts reality, because all the other mediums do that automatically.

I guess it boils down to, if you want to see "natural" photographs of people you'll have more luck looking in the newspaper (yes, they still exist - for now). Whatever you do, don't look at art.

On that note, here's an "unnatural" pose self-portrait.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Okay, this is a pretty big deal for me.

After I put my black and white photos on my facebook, someone contacted me and said they really liked my photos and wanted to know if any were for sale.

Uhh, sure. But are you sure? I mean, come on... I'm such an amateur.

He messaged me and told me to call him about the details.

We talked, and he wants a 32 x 48 of one of the photos I have in the previous post (I'll let you guess for a while).

Name my price.

I have my first print sale. Holy shit.

Now I just need to get the negative drum scanned, and post-processed correctly. And printed


Of course, nothing is final until the check is in my hand.

But still...


(::happy dance::)


Here's two photos from my early summer trips to the North Shore.

Marek Lakotko
Dave Levingston.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I branched away from my medium format fixation for once, and shot some 35mm.

I like.

This is off my bulk roll of TMax 400, and developed myself. I need to fashion a more effective way to hang-dry the negatives. It's never been a problem with the 120 since the negatives are only about 3 feet long, as compared to a 36 exposure roll of 35, which is more like 5 feet long.

These also need to be scanned better.

Details, details.

And one of my developing reels broke. That will make developing much less efficient, since I have 4 more rolls to develop.

Ah, well.

No nudes this post, but I hope you enjoy these nonetheless.

Superior Hiking Trail

Cascade Shore

Cascade Shore

Off the Superior Hiking Trail

Water Study


Lilies and Ant

edit: some more...

Split Rock

Water Study 2


Water Study 3

Hope everyone has a great holiday weekend!