May 052010
 

If we’re going to get along we have to understand one another! To work well together and to become friends we need to set some ground rules:

#1. I appreciate honesty and straight talking. To get the best out of me be honest and don’t beat around the bush. Don’t flutter your eyelashes, give me your most endearing smile and whisper babe’s and sweetheart’s at me. It’s an old model mind trick and your mind powers will not work on me girls. If you want something, just ask me please.

#2. If you have to cancel our shoot, call me and cancel our shoot. Please don’t flake on me. Calling me and telling me you don’t feel like it or are covered in spots is preferable to grandmother dying again. Honesty girls… Honesty!

In return I promise I’ll treat you with respect and regardless of hair colour as an intelligent human being. I’m well aware of the clichés surrounding blondes and models… from my experience they are totally unfounded.

You don’t want to be labelled as a dumb blonde, a fiery redhead or a can’t-walk-and-chew-gum-at-the-same-time model. Likewise, I’m not the guy in the club flattered by your sweet talk and mesmerised by your jiggly boobies. (Not all of the time anyway).

Capisce? Cool! Here’s to good times…

May 022010
 

Whatever you thought of Malcolm McLaren as a man you couldn’t have not had an opinion on his impact on music and fashion. Whether you considered the man a fake, a genius, a svengali or a con man there is no denying he had way more than his allotted 15 minutes of fame. For a short while he managed the New York Dolls and with his business partner Vivienne Westwood he revolutionised fashion through a small shop in London’s Kings Road; Sex.

He was the man behind the Sex Pistols, he delivered them spitting, pogoing and swearing onto the London gig scene during a time when ABBA and Brian Ferry were topping the charts and the British youth had nothing to look forward to except another year of unemployment, strikes and misery. He gave anti-establishment a fashion, a voice and heroes at exactly the same time that the establishment was celebrating the queen’s silver jubilee. The timing couldn’t have been better.

He revelled in and courted controversy; Who else would steal Adam Ant’s backing band and front it with the then unknown, 13 year old, Annabella Lwin to form Bow Wow Wow? He would then be investigated by Scotland Yard when the group’s second studio and arguably biggest selling album: ‘See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah! City All over Go Ape Crazy!’ Featured the 14 year old Annabella naked on it’s cover in a tribute to Manet’s The Luncheon on the Grass. There would be further Bow Wow Wow controversy later as to whether Malcolm and the group plagiarised Burundi and Zulu cultural music…

…loooong before Enigma did the same with Gregorian chanting and Deep Forest made off with the Baka pygmies but by then the road had been paved.

With his album ‘Duck Rock’ Malcolm was an early pioneer on the Hip Hop scene popularising it, at least in the UK with two tracks from the album; ‘Buffalo Girls’ and ‘Double Dutch’ both of which reached the top ten in the UK’s singles chart, highest positions 9 and 3 respectively.

Love or loath both him and his impact on the world you couldn’t have ignored him… On the 8th of April 2010 he died of Mesothelioma, a rare form of Cancer. He was buried at Highgate Cemetery, London on the 22nd of April. Rest in Peace Malcolm… I hope God took you in!

Could a man like Malcolm have gone to Heaven? A man steeped in controversy, a man who made money through the sale of bondage goods and clothes? A man who made money by promoting anarchy and supposedly ‘lewd’ music? A man who featured a naked 14 year old girl on an album cover, was cleared of child pornography charges but wasn’t allowed to label Lwin as a ‘Sex Kitten’ in the same vein as Marylyn Monroe? Was Malcolm accepted through the pearly gates?

Will I be let into Heaven when I myself die?

Regardless of my own controversies the Church and I have become friends. Honest friends; they don’t condone my work in any way and I won’t promise not to repeat the work I started. But we’re friends. Friends with differing points of view both trying to get the other to understand us. I’ll freely admit I upset people and The Church as a body but I’ll repeat to my dying breath that that wasn’t the intention. Even Christians are divided as to whether my work is art or blasphemy.

The Bible is ambiguous on the subject; Taken out of context there are passages that condemn what I do and passages that imply there is nothing wrong and that nudity is Godly. Bricks and mortar are not holy, man makes them holy by designating them as a place of worship. A church is literally a congregation of people, God says that whenever a group of Christians meet then He will listen intently. God is not in a particular church anymore than He is in my own house or in a sun dappled woodland grove or on a moonlit beach. God is all around us. He surrounds us and penetrates us. He binds the galaxy together.

I no more offended God by shooting in a church as I would have if I’d shot in my own bedroom or the models living room. If one believes, then the beauty and architecture of a church is man made but from a God given talent. If one shoots nudity in the great outdoors then one is actually shooting amongst the beauty and nature that God himself created. Which place is more Holy?

I was once caught mid-shoot in a church near Derby. As the church caretaker screamed at us to leave while literally beating on us with a broom and calling us all kinds of Satanists, the model I was shooting, while hurriedly dressing, asked the caretaker mid-broom-beating what her problem with nudity was and weren’t Adam and Eve naked originally and weren’t we all born naked? I kind of think she had a point. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that ‘nudity’ per se is wrong. Rather it says that nudity that promotes lust is wrong. One has to be subjective though, what kind of nudity promotes lust? One mans art is another mans porn and vice versa. The Bible has so many meanings and translations it is not a book to be read with objectivity, it can’t be.

God created Adam and Eve naked, only after they ate from the tree after being tempted by the Devil did they gain self awareness, conscience and the notion that nudity was somehow wrong and they should cover themselves up. If God created the original man and woman and the Bible is a book that helps us overcome evil and return to the state that God created us then isn’t the overall objective to return to a form where nudity is good again? If we were to return to the state that God created us then we would see no wrong in nudity and see the beauty in human body as God given.

The soft curves of a womans breasts, her hips, her mons pubis and the softness and folds of vaginal skin are all beautiful. The curve where a womans neck meets her shoulder, the curve where her shoulder meets her arm, all beautiful, all created by God. The hardness of a mans well worked and maintained chest, of decent biceps, abs, thighs and calves can all be considered to be beautiful. Even an erect penis can be… Well, if not beautiful at least artful if looked at from an abstract point of view.

Rule 34 states: Pornography or sexually related material exists for any conceivable subject.

Does that mean I should stop shooting Champagne bottles, Celtic crosses and skateboarders?

Rule 34, though created for the internet is generally accepted now… If people look hard enough they can find sin and lust anywhere. There will always be people that find my work lustful, I personally don’t. Surely it is not for man to judge me but for God alone?

1 Cor. 10:29: For why should my freedom be determined by someone else’s conscience?

Titus 1:15 (New International Version): To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.

Taken a large step further one could argue that porn has it’s place in society. Sure it’s been argued to me that it’s addictive and has destroyed lives but so is and have sugar, alcohol and chocolate. People become addicted to porn without doubt, porn has destroyed lives, porn has broken marriages and porn has corrupted people. The porn industry is greedy, it can be abusive, it can be immoral and totally lacking in respect for either the models feelings or her body. These are the very reasons I pulled out of the porn industry early in my career.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to shoot porn though. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to satisfy a need for some people, I just want to do it in the right way, my way. Put bluntly I would rather a man (or woman) wank over my images of naked 18 year old girls than sit looking out of a window wanking over schoolies standing at a bus stop. I would prefer he found consolation in my work rather than finding consolation by force in the real world.

As much as there is an argument that violent films and video games create violent people there is an argument that people that fantasise over porn take their fantasies into the outside world. Neither argument has definitive proof. On the flip side porn has actually been used therapeutically for some sexually related psychological problems.

I was once involved in a porn shoot where blatantly the first time model hadn’t thought through the implications of being an adult model. She was shy, she was lacking in confidence and ultimately she didn’t want to be doing what she was being paid to do. It was primarily a video shoot but my involvement was to shoot the stills that went along with the film. Both the director and the videographer had utter disregard for what the girl was feeling. In their minds they were there to do a job and the girl was being paid to do that job regardless. They talked to her, they cajoled her, they played on her conscience and they put her into such an uncomfortable position that she felt obliged to carry on.

At the first opportunity I had to get her alone, while I was supposedly shooting my first set of stills I told her to get dressed. I told her to get dressed, stop crying and to tell the director that the shoot was over. No ifs, no buts, the shoot was over. I sat with her while she did so and stood up for her when needed. I ushered everyone involved in the shoot out of her house and into their cars, it was a long drive home with the director and I never worked in the industry for anyone but myself again.

Some girls have a desperate need to become models. Some girls want to model for fun, some see the glamour surrounding the modelling industry and the small fortunes that can be made.

Models will model regardless whether I’m working as a photographer or not. Surely then it is better that a few responsible and moral photographers are working in the field to help guide and teach new models the whys and wherefores, the paths and the pitfalls and help them further their chosen careers or hobbies safely?

As a man I am open about sexuality and my desires, as a photographer I am transparent in my working methods and explicit in my desires before, during and after a shoot. There are no surprises, the model knows exactly what the shoot entails and makes her mind up before I set the camera up. She knows that no means no and that she can stop the shoot at any time if she feels uncomfortable. She knows that before, during and after she can ask questions and get honest answers to them.

I hope during any shoot a working friendship is made and that a model can feel free to contact me any time after the shoot for advice or help. Each and every model can become my muse for a short while should she choose to. Each and every model can lean on that friendship and be entitled to the respect and encouragement that a muse deserves.

I work entirely within the laws of men but push those boundaries, sometimes past the point of comfort for some. That is the artist in me. Past that, only God can judge me surely?

As I see it; a lot of people and a lot of Christians (though not all) think they know everything. They read the Bible or get taught it’s words in church and they think they know how God thinks. The truth is, our human intellect is absolutely nothing, almost absent, compared to God’s. Who are we then to be so bold as to have the audacity to proclaim that we know what God thinks about an issue? Who is to say that what I do and what I’ve done is wrong?

I’ll leave you with the words of Pope John Paul II, make of them what you will…

“This by no means signifies that impurity of body is identified simply with partial or total nudity. There are circumstances in which nudity is not impure. If someone uses it to treat the person as an object of pleasure – even if it is by bad thoughts – he alone is the one who commits an impure act. Impurity of body only occurs when nudity plays a negative role with respect to the value of the person. One can say that what happens then is a de-personalization ….

Even knowing that nudity is not identical to impurity of the body, a real interior effort must be made to avoid assuming an impure attitude before a nude body. We should also add that impurity of action is not identical to the spontaneous reaction of sensuality that considers the body and sex as possible objects of joy. The human body per se is not impure, nor is the reaction of sensuality, nor sensuality itself”.

Apr 182010
 

Perhaps because I’m chasing a dream, the creation of art through photography is one of the most important things in my life. To me, it’s more than a job, more than a hobby. It’s more than a way to keep my website fresh and more than a means to update my Facebook page. It defines me as a person. Like Jenson Button is a Racing Driver, like Robbie Williams is a Singer/Songwriter I want to be Andy Craddock (Neolestat) a Photographer. I think the capitalisation is important.

Anyone that drives a car can be a driver, anyone that picks up a mike at a Karaoke bar or joins a local choir can be a singer, anyone that picks up a camera come the weekend and takes a few snaps can call themselves a photographer. But. It takes passion and determination to become a Driver, a Singer or a Photographer, it takes passion and determination to be defined by your trade.

It takes passion and determination, it also takes a lot of hard work, a smattering of luck and skill.

Passion and determination I have. Hard work I have and will continue to put in. Skill is subjective and down to you to, the viewer of my work, to decide whether I have or have not got it. Luck hasn’t been so forthcoming.

There is one other thing a photographer that specialises in people, like I do, needs; Like a Driver needs a car and a support team of mechanics and analysts, like a Singer/Songwriter needs a studio full of sound technicians to mix his sounds and a team of PR people to promote his music, a Photographer needs models.

An excerpt of one review I received said: [Andy Craddock] “does it with a variety of beautiful, but not necessarily professional models”. I like that! I like that because not once have I worked with a model I didn’t want to work with and not once did anyone but me choose the models I’ve worked with. It implies (to me at least) that I choose well.

I used to find models on internet modelling sites, Net Model, Model Mayhem and One Model Place. One Model Place was my favourite, it felt more professional and the models seemed to flake on me less. I let my subscription slide about three years ago and started scouting on the street and on Facebook. Scouting takes more effort, is more hit and miss but one can find hidden gems that the modelling sites miss. I like the challenge of scouting.

To me, Facebook is a functional tool. On one hand it allows me to keep in contact with family and friends and on the other hand I can spend my spare hours at home, wandering it’s streets prospecting for those nuggets of gold hidden away in it’s depths.

The downside of randomly scouting for talent is wondering whether I’ve found a genuine 24K nugget or fools gold.

In my world I find the relationship between the photographer and the model a bit of a balancing act. Even on a professional level models are prone to flaking (not turning up) due to a variety of excuses; dead grandmothers, illnesses, a previous night on the lash and often with no excuse or contact. I’ve heard them all, I even had one model whose grandmother managed to die twice!

There is no commitment between the model and myself other than trust in the beginning. I give her a time, date and place and hope she turns up. Many times I’ve sat there at the allotted time, date and place only to watch the clock tick past the given hour until I’ve given up and gone home with a no show.

I’ve contacted the model later only to find that in the rush to get her monkey to the vets for a suspected outbreak of Ebola Syndrome she forgot to call me. We’ve re-booked a shoot and again she was a no show; a light aircraft crashed in her street or some such.

I have no idea what the real reasons for flaking are. Fear, anxiety, period pain, an outbreak of spots or sheer laziness but I often wonder whether the model looses as much sleep over the no shows as I do? Where a run of no shows damages my faith in people and deadens my soul a little.

If I approach a potential model either in the street or on Facebook it’s because I truly believe she has something I want to work with. I’m not a collector of friends and buddies on Facebook to make me look more popular than I am, I’d rather have twenty people I know I can rely on and talk to than eight hundred that never respond to my posts and updates.

If I’ve scouted you on Facebook or in the street it means one thing; I want to work with you. It means I find you attractive and hope my audience will too. It means I want to work with you, that I think you have the looks to make it as a model and if I can help you on your way I will. It doesn’t mean I want to stalk you or date you, it doesn’t mean I’m looking for another notch on my bedpost and if I were, if I found you ‘that’ attractive I hope I’m professional enough to keep that to myself.

What I do want to do is build a working relationship with you based on trust and friendship that allows me to get the best out of you that suits my needs and gives you the best possible images to either earn you a little extra cash or help bulk out your portfolio.

I’d like the majority of models I work with to become a muse of sorts, an inspiration to me and hopefully I to them. I can be there on both a personal and professional level if need be for the right girls. It is like any other professional working relationship. On the shop floor we talk shop, in the canteen we gossip. The relationship between photographer and model is without doubt a working relationship that needs work to maintain.

To that end, especially for my Facebook friends; consider carefully please. If I’ve sent you a friendship request I’ve probably sent it with a note saying that I’d like you to model for me. If you intend to model for me and have accepted my offer of friendship then hello and welcome.

If you accepted my friendship but don’t intend to model for me please… remove me from your friend list. We’re probably never going to talk, we’re probably never going to be ‘friends’, we’re just going to litter one another’s status updates with inconsequential junk and inboxes with spam.

If you do accept my friendship and do intend to model for me please also accept the invitation to my South West Modelling group and interact with it, join in the discussions, post modelling news on the wall, post pics you want the group (and myself) to see and start discussions of your own. Ask me questions, ask the other girls questions, become a modelling community and lets see our successes grow.

If you talk the talk be prepared to walk the walk… If you don’t or can’t, please don’t kid either yourself or I and please delete yourself from my virtual community so that neither of us waste our time.

Apr 172010
 

So part one of the master plan is complete… I have a new Facebook group set up exclusively for models and want-to-be models in the South West I want to work with.

Following the ‘Church’ controversy it was easy and nigh on impossible not to get a huge following on my Facebook account. It peaked at around 4900 ‘friends’ of the maximum 5000 friends a personal page is allowed to have. While it’s a great feeling having that many requests, so many in-fact that I had to start ignoring requests to keep space open for those people that mattered, there’s a downside to it too: One misses out on most of the relevant posts from real friends and family only to be swamped by a home page full of horoscopes, iHearts and other such irritating and time consuming interwebs kibble.

The vast majority of these friends I was never going to interact with, never going to meet, they weren’t going to give a toss for my humour and seeing as it was my personal page weren’t really going to be at all interested in a status that read ‘sunny day – must hit the beach’.

It was time for a cull! A time for a brutal and much needed sweep of the scythe and a much needed poke around with the proverbial broom.

I hit up the edit friends page and took to deleting with a vengeance; 4900 strangers whittled down to less than 600 strangers and a 100 personal friends and people I admire in a day. Gone are all the US and UK porn stars barring a few I know personally. Gone are all the want to be porn photographers. Gone are all the pretend Lothario’s and understudy Casanova’s fervently trawling my friend list in the hope of meeting the porn starlet of their dreams. Gone are all the time wasting internet models that never bothered to reply to my offers of work and gone are all of the friends of friends of friends.

If I kept you I love you, like you, admire you or want to work with you. If I kept you, you are now ordered into neat lists of family, personal friends, photographers, models and South West models.

I now have an interesting group of approximately 500 ‘friends’ in the South West models group; more than enough I think to kick-start a healthy new website into existence.

I often work on the assumption that as a healthy and regular, Mr Average type male, if ‘I’ fancy a model then the majority of other males will too. After all, in the world of glamour that’s the main criteria no? I’m not looking for the model that will suit the latest fashions I’m looking for the model that will look the most appealing taking those fashions off.

I’m not looking for the mega-boobed, big haired and California tanned, impossible to connect with other than with a bottle of baby oil and box of tissues US style porn-star, I’m looking for the girl next door.

I’m looking for the girl that makes you look twice in Starbucks. I’m looking for the girl that catches your eye on the dance floor and the girl that earns you that crushed thigh when you double-take while driving with your girlfriend and she’s been resting her hand on your leg.

I’m going to be looking for that elusive mix of Angel and Devil. Of shyness and understated flirtation. I want to photograph models that are just the right side of adulthood before the weight of the world’s responsibilities crush the fun out of them.

In my world a cheeky smile and a flirtatious grin are worth far more than a size zero figure.

I want to show you a world where a peek of a lacy bra and a flash of panty are in equal measure, every bit as sexy as a naked porn star if not more so. I want you to understand that these girls are real and not just objects of desire. That they have lives and boyfriends, family and friends. I don’t want you to see the models I work with as machines working in an industry providing titillation for the masses. I want you to understand that they have feelings, I want you to understand that they are real people and one day you might meet one of them in a bar.

I want you to love and respect the models I work with and if you ever do meet one, treat her with the respect she deserves as a person. She’s not your plaything, she’s not someone to be pawed over and leered at, she’s a girl with friends and family that has real feelings and desires of her own.

Thank her for sharing her beauty with you and leave it at that. She will think far more of you in the long run if you treat her as a woman rather than an object of desire. She might grace my website in all her glory but that won’t mean she is public domain. Only her image will be. Her body, her soul and her friendships remain hers to give to whom she chooses.

I hope we understand one another.

Apr 142010
 

I’m done with flakiness and excuses, this is my last chance at making a living out of something I love and probably my last chance to keep my head above water in Cornwall. I have two business models to play with… One; I personally know a girl up-country that was making between two and three thousand pound a month in her website’s heyday. Her pics are still doing the rounds on UseNet and I know I can easily match the photography on her site.

Could I match her income? I have no idea but surely it’s worth a bash.

Two; A business model that’s usually used for internet ‘models’ in Russia and the US. Two of my peers use it to great advantage and I don’t know anyone in the South West using it at the moment.

Both business models require commitment from the real life models that want to get involved. At least five shoots to begin with and if a particular girl takes off then probably five shoots over a two month period onwards.

I won’t consider any model under 16 years old and between 16 to 17 they will need their parents consent and participation. I won’t shoot a model under 18 without a parent or guardian in attendance.

This is a business opportunity. I accept that models have difficulties and have to cancel on occasion but if a model cancels on her first and second booking then I’m done with her. Two strikes and out I’m afraid.

I’m not looking for the next super model, I’m looking for the girl-next-door kind of beauty. I’m not looking for seven foot tall, willowy models with five foot legs. I’m looking for real girls. The high street honeys, the girl in the pub worth a second glance, the kind of girl that is as much fun as a mate as she is a girlfriend. I’m not looking for time served models I’m looking for confidence. I’m not necessarily looking for models that can hold an awkward pose for fifteen minutes I’m looking for girls that can smile at the camera and tease.

For girls aged between 16 and 17 that feel they could glamour model at 18 this is an ideal learning curve. Everything will be done legally and above board. There will be model release forms and image release forms where necessary. All monies earned will be on a straight 50/50 split basis.

For girls aged 18 and over there will possibly be nudity or at least topless modelling involved dependant on your comfort level. If a girl wants a test shoot first on a TFCD basis to find her own comfort level then I’m happy to oblige. Tease is where it’s really at though… Playfulness and the ability to flirt with the camera are essential. Bottom line, as far as I’m aware; the more you flirt the more you’ll earn. If you can’t  or don’t think you can flirt with the camera I’ll teach you as long as you’re willing to give it a go.

If you’ve really got what it takes then I’ll look to getting you published and look to getting you further paid modelling work. I’ll promote you according to the amount of time and effort you’re willing to give me. Both business models are based on partnership. The more time you put in, the more I’ll push you and the higher your capacity to earn.

Interested? Leave me a comment on here or Facebook and I’ll get right back to you.