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Get to Know Your Stockers 10: skydancer-stock

Journal Entry: Sun May 13, 2012, 3:23 PM

Ever wanted to know more about your favorite male stock provider?  Well then read on, because this is the bi-weekly "Get To Know Your Stockers" interview!  The questions are about stock, themselves, and a bit of silly stuff too.  Our tenth interview is with skydancer-stock.


skydancer-stock stamp by EmberRoseArt

First things first, how did you originally get into stock, and what inspires you to keep doing it?

“Very good question that. I think one of the people that had a lot to do with me starting with stock was “Lockstock”. I had already been shooting my own stock for my own uses, in fact that is how I got into photography all those years ago. I was a figural artist with a deep interest in the Art Nouveau, Art Deco and the classical figures of mythology. I have a fairly strong background in classical literature and art due to several of my teachers and instructors. I was working in mainly dip pen and ink, and prismacolor / derwent colored pencil, but I had a sad lack of study subjects, very little references for the ordinary figure. One day a friend handed me an old canon AE-1 and a few rolls of film and suggested I go find my own models and create my own references. So I did.

A great many of the images in my stock of women for instance are actually from my shooting for my own use in my art library over a number of years.

In the process of learning about light and how to properly photograph someone, I spent a fair amount of time shooting myself so that I could see what lights worked best, and how to use DOF, creative filters and multiple exposures, and other in camera techniques. You have to remember that back then it was all film, so you had no real idea what was going to happen until you developed the film. And I could not afford to waste a model on trying out things that very often were a total failure, though I learned from each one. That is how I came to develop my self portraits. Then too, at the time I was often a part of the theater, doing stage work, being a stage director, helping with the sets and special effects, lights and so on. It also gave me a close access to theater students, art students, and dance students that were only too happy to get photos for their books in exchange for posing for me.

I was involved with a number of fairly large art groups where we had life studies on a regular basis, and it was not uncommon for there to be several models for the artists to work with in a given session. I did a little life posing, but more often I would photograph the models as they sat and then the artists if they wished could get copies of the images to continue working on the pieces they had started at the life sessions.

In amongst being involved with stage, arts and the performing arts, I would now and then have someone want to use me for a model, though it was nothing serious.

I think Elfwood had a more than small effect on me starting to share my library of images with artists online, and the companion site Elftown was a good space to communicate with other artists and we had some interesting contests and challenges there. In fact it is because of a member there, that I am on DA. He invited me to come over and check out the place and bought the lifetime print account I hold on my art account. I got to know quite a few of the stock artists,and I kept getting requests to use my self portraits, so I started my stock account. The way I shoot I often have dozens of shots in the process of getting the one I really want, so why have them go to waste.

In all honesty the thing I think that keeps me inspired is its good exercise, its a bit of fun, and it lets me play in my own little theater. Sort of being on a mini stage, though I am not all that fond of the spotlight, I would rather my work get the attention and not so much myself. These days I have some amazing artists using me as their muse, and as I am extremely grateful for those that have been and continue to me my own muses, its very humbling to be seen as the muse for some of the artists that astound me with their work that they do from my own image. That certainly keeps me going. :)

Tell us a bit about your set-up.

“I shoot mostly digital these days, with a Pentax K-20. I like it particularly because its somewhat armored against weather and I can work a lot better in the situations I get into with the weather and the rain, snow and cold than a lot of the others available in my budget. To help with the cost I use manual lens I can get that have good glass but are relatively inexpensive and use adapters. I do still use my Minolta 600si now and then but the cost of film and processing it all is just very high these days. When I was doing a lot of shooting back then I would often shoot 40 rolls in a single shoot. I do not even want to think about what that used to cost. But I still love film. I sold my 4x5 view camera years ago, but I really loved shooting with it.

A lot of my lighting situations are in a natural setting, so there is nothing that fancy about that, other than fill flash or the usual reflector fill you would use on any outside set. Inside though, I use a lot of clip lights. Just those reflector work lights you pick up at a home or hardware store, and I put the largest CF bulbs I can get in them. I have a mix of warm and cool lights so I can play around with the color temperatures. For light stands I use old floor lamps I can clip the lights on to and adjust the height as necessary. Where I find they have a hard time hanging on, I have a bag of spring clamps I use to hold them in place on the lamp stems. I keep an eye out for things people throw away that I can re-purpose to the studio. Backdrops are from the local big box store, like a two sided tarp that gives me a brown and a silver side, and some throws I picked up that give me a large but fuzzy surface that absorbs light and has no shine to it. Like those fuzzy fleece blankets for instance. Thrift shops are great for finding things.

I do a lot of low light work, and for those I will use Christmas or Halloween lights I pick up in the clearance sales the day after the holiday. I keep a box of lights that I can open and drag out strings when I need them for something. Stuffing a string of lights into a container can make for a very interesting prop. And just stringing them over a body is a great adventure in doing figure studies. Very good for a set where you want the light coming from under the person too. I might put a bowl on the table and fill it with a string of lights, then set a candle in it, and candles around it. It gives me more light than just the candle and lets me change the color of the lighting or gives me a more generalized light for the face and figure than I can get with pure candles. I really like playing with low light, but you have to get used to being able to hold very still for an extended period. Some of my exposures are several seconds. I have done sets in nothing but moonlight, or with one single candle in the middle of the night, letting the star light and ambient light from streetlights act in a balance with the candle. Light is great fun, and its the most fascinating thing about photography.

Every now and then I get a chance to shoot with Nicholas at his studio in Mills River, and that is always an adventure. He has a full service studio with lots of fun toys. All kinds of strobes and hoods, soft boxes, snoots, just a ton of lights to play with. And of course with strobes you can really catch motion.”

You are the main male model in your gallery, but I see a couple other guys as well (Rob and Malcom). Do you think there will be more male models in the future?

“I really hope so. Its darned hard to get good male models for the kind of work that I do. One of the rather difficult problems I run into is that most of the folk I run into that are willing to strip down for the camera, the males anyway, tend to have either large egos, or are just too sexual in their posing. They do not understand the pure art side of things and are only in it for their own gratification or to make a ton of money, or they want to hook up with the female models. And I am very protective of my models. What I really want to shoot are some cos players that have some practice in role playing, and yet are willing to pose stripped so that they make good artist reference models. I am certainly open to anyone that is in, or will be in my area that is suitable to get with me about shooting. I will be at Dragon Con so there is a possibility of making arrangements for then. Certainly given the opportunity, I shoot.”

You have a HUGE amount of stock photos (12,951 if I count correctly). Where do you find the time to do all this?

“That is actually more of a question than you might think. One part of it is, that I have been shooting for years and years and there is a good chunk of my library of work over the years that I have chosen to put up for the artists to use. Some of the stock here is 30 years old. The other part of it is that I am on a small pension, so within my limits of available funds and energy, I can do pretty much what I chose, and time is not an issue for many things. It is not unusual for me to shoot at 2am when things are very quiet and I can concentrate on lights or set building. Or if I am able to get out on a hike, I can take the time to go bushwhacking to an area I find interesting and spend hours setting up and shooting. Its only the time in studio or when I am working a model that I really have to think about time, though some of my friends have been overnight guests and we shot pretty much until we got too tired to do any more.

There is also the fact that unlike the usual photographer, I shoot specifically a lot for the sake of doing series. So I may do a hundred shots of a sword exercise, or in a studio sequence. My work is as often for the sake of giving lots of references as it is to do specific art shots. You could almost make a film if you were to string together a sequence of my shots in many cases. I look at it this way. Given an opportunity, then shoot. You never know if your ever going to get that model, that waterfall, that light, that weather, that set up in front of your camera again. So I take my best advantage of everything when I can. The one thing I do not have much of is funds. So props are rare things unless i can find stuff at a yard sale, thrift store or tossed out for the bin. I have been quite blessed to have some wonderful contributors to my work, one very memorable one being “radioPooh” who is no longer with us, but who was instrumental in me being able to get Glamdring for my wizard works. It is really quite amazing just how much a single prop can do to create an entire series of moods and characters.”

What would you like to do more of when it comes to stock?

“I dearly love the idea of shooting with other people that can help bring out the theme of the shoot. I shot a series with “Delicious-Filth” of a wizard and hobbit that was great fun. It can really be quite a fascinating energy between people working as collaborators, rather than photographer and model, and just having fun with the props, costumes and playing at theater. I am looking forward to the possibility of doing more elder male characters, possibly a mountain man from the 16 - 1800‘s, possibly an elder Jedi, certainly exploring the idea of the high elven folk, rather than just Gandalf, some of the elven elders that might have come out of the Silmarillion. I think some more exploration of the Harry Potter wizarding world would be fun too. Perhaps one of the professors that might be at Hogwarts or a magical shoppe keeper in Hogsmead. Had I the room and the means to deal with the mess, I could see some fun sets doing the ancient Romans. Maybe a wine sodden senator with a few female servants or slaves and a stained toga, table full of fruits and such. But that would take quite a bit of work and funding, and the means to get all that clean again. Egyptian is right out, as I do not fit in to that sort of look, though I certainly appreciate them and I could shoot some female stock that would be suitable.

I will say this, “Doomsday-Dawn” really intrigues me with his use of fire and water, but there again, that is a massive set up. On the other hand, there are lots of waterfalls here I would be delighted to toss a few nudes lasses or even males into and then offer for stock..... “

Show us a few of your favorite stock uses!

“Ah my... hmmm. Well I can do this, ten of those I dearly love with me in them, and some I find amazing using my collaborators.
Sacred Forest Guardian by EmberRoseArt Father Nature by EmberRoseArt Maestro y aprendiz by EmberRoseArt Meeting of friends by EmberRoseArt Santa's List by Katerina-Art
the magier is back by greenfeed Halloween surprise by Ridareta North Pole Penitentiary by Pretty-in-Pixels Father Time by drkangelkitty not to mention one I am very proud of, the painting of Odin by “IdaLarsenArtOdin by IdaLarsenArt

There are simply so many wonderful works. Looking at my one folder on my art account can give you a neat look at some of the art. I am delighted with the tarot cards for instance, its just such fun to be a part of something like that.…

There are quite a few works in that folder also from my stock collaborators, and these are a few of the more fun and stunning ones from their work with me. Small Sacrifice by autumnsmuse Misstress by ad-shor Drider - First try by Adutelluma Risau by mendha

Mature Content

Sea Lioness by JinxMim

Mature Content

Harmony by bunnikens

Mature Content

Decadence by Longwave

Mature Content

Sweet Invitation by vacuumslayer
Very hard to really pick out as there are such fascinating works. “

What can we expect next from you?

“Well, my main desire with summer coming on and the spring going strong so early is to get out and shoot on locations as much as I can. But I have a specific request from one my artists to do some dark Alice imagery, and I recently got my hands on a hookah so I am looking into that. Depending on how soon I start getting gear for this years Dragon Con from my various artists I have commissions with, there may be something shooting with that gear. I hope to get back into the studio with Nicholas and be able to use his superb lighting set ups to do some frozen action work over this summer too, as well as some dramatic lighting set ups.”

You are a very unique stock model on dA. I can't think of another stocker that is a "62 year old nutter" like yourself (do let me know if you know of others!). Do you have any tips or words of encouragement for anyone who's thinking about adding their own uniqueness to the stock gallery?

“63 now. I need to update that. :) I think there are a few areas anyone interested in getting into stock should think about. One, be aware that your going to get those that will be rude, make bizarre requests, will want you to cater to their fetishes and just might try to force their “moral” views down your throat. When this happens, and it will, just block them, and do not feed their lutz. If you get into a conversation with them you will accomplish nothing, and will only expend energy much better suited to doing creative things. If the comments are serious enough then place a report with the help desk, block them and go on with your work.

Never do anything your uncomfortable with. If your not willing for it to be seen out there on the web, then do not submit it to the internet, and DA IS THE INTERNET. Just because its a private company and you can set various limits on your images, they still can be seen by anyone that really wants to view them, and its the nature of the internet that they can be copied by the very act of viewing them. So get comfortable with that knowledge. Once you post something, then you might as well figure its out there forever. You cannot go back and remove it, even if you delete it from your account, there is every change its living out there somewhere. In a copy downloaded by an artist for reference or use, all the way up to it being archived by Google. But the important point is, once you submit it, just know its quite likely there forever.

Once you get past that......

You have various rights with the copyright laws and your certainly allowed to set the rules on the usage of your images. But be realistic in your expectations. Ask advice from the staff and mods here on DA, and try to make your rules not so restrictive that they make it impossible for anyone to use your stock. For instance, if an artist uses my work to create a painting, as long as its not portraying me in a way I would consider against my ethics, then I have no reason to restrict how they market their work. Many folk will, if your a good stock provider, and supportive of the artists that support you, may very well put you in a work for a contest, do a book cover, make a cd cover, show their work in a magazine, and on and on. I do personally restrict my work from being used in commercial circumstances such as in advertising or corporate literature simply because I do not wish to be seen as supporting something that goes against my ethics, and in those uses, you have little to no control over what they do with your image. Besides, if your going to use my wizarding work to promote your vodka, I darned well had better have a dozen cases or so delivered to me for the usage. {Very Large Grin}

Once you get past that.....

Look at just what your able to do. Are there any unusual or specific things about you, where you live, who you have available to shoot, that might be unique in helping create stock? What sort of gear do you have access to? Are you a unique ethnic class that would be unusual in stock work? Do you have any particular talents that might fit into an artist using you either for reference or for photo manipulations. Can you play an instrument? Dance? Do Contortions? Rock Climb? Mountain Bike? Do you have a farm where you could do interesting poses with any of the animals? And so on. I think you get the idea by now. What do you have, that might be different from what others are doing or can provide. One of the big things you see quite a bit are Cosplayers and Reinactors, Renn Faire and SCA folk, all able to bring to the mix some fun costumes and lots of hardware. Armor, swords, and so on.

Next, what are you willing to do in front of the camera? Are you willing to spend a few hours in make up and costuming and doing pose after pose in a dozen petticoats, a corset, and a frilly hat? Or are you willing to strip down to your bare skin and be a fine arts model? Would you dance naked in the snow? Spray yourself down with blue paint and make like a character from Avatar? Crawl around on a rock or a stump or a fallen log and pretend your a faery or a nymph or a wild cat or a hedgehog?

Yes? Then your just the sort to get out there and have a blast being the muse for the creative sorts.

Once you have gotten this far.....

LEARN YOUR CAMERA!!! This is possibly the most important thing you can ever do. What ever you have to use, no matter how basic or professional, whoever is doing the shooting, be it yourself with a timer, or a partner with a camera, you really really need to know that camera like your own bed. What can it do, what are its limitations, how can you make the best use of just what it can do, does it have any special features that would be helpful in doing stock, can you get a remote for it, does it have software that when its tethered to the computer by USB gives you more options than just the camera alone does? And so on. And for your own sake, get a tripod. Second most important piece of gear you can have.

PRACTICE!!! Never pass up a chance to try something, even if its something as silly as letting the camera shoot you while your making dinner, washing dishes, doing the laundry, working in the garden. The more you shoot the better you will get and the more you will learn about angles, and perspectives and light. Sure, your going to toss out hundreds and hundreds of images. That is simply part of the price of learning. We go through thousands of pages of sketches to learn our craft for doing drawings. Photography is no different. Think about the point of view and the angle. How is this going to be seen by the artist. If your shooting for photo stock, think hard about how that pose and angle will look when its in a scene. On the other hand do not be afraid to do weird angles and poses for the figure artist to torture themselves with. They need studies that are extreme foreshortening, odd twists, unusual viewpoints to practice with. When you do those however be very aware of Depth Of Field. So many fail in that area. For figure reference all the figure should be as sharp and detailed as possible. And use the largest and clearest resolution you can manage.

That is a beginning.... Stick with it and work on it and you can have a lot of fun, and seriously contribute to the world of art. Be yourself, and anyone you want. It is your stage to play upon and anything you can imagine is possible. Oh, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby if you work with candles or fire. {Wry Grin} “

Along with your stock account, you also have an art account (`skiesofchaos) with lots of photography and photo manipulation. Where did this wonderful fairy obsession come from?

“That goes a long, long ways back. Literally to middle school, and possibly further back. I remember we had a quite old library at school, and there were many books you never see anymore, not even in a decent public library. A number of them were mythology, stories of various cultures and countries and original fairy tale books, in the old manner. None of this disneyfied stories. These had the dark side of things as well as the light, in fact it made a good point of the fact that faery is dangerous, and while it is not always deliberately inimical to man, its nearly always damaging in one way or another. I was heavily influenced by the old fairy illustrations of the art nouveau and deco period, of Arthur Rackham, Frank Frazetta, Roger Dean, Brian Froud, Heavy Metal Magazine, Alberto Vargas, Cicely Mary Barker, the Cottington fairys, Clyde Caldwell, Larry Elmore, Anne Anderson, and many others, as well as the writings of the golden period of fantasy, and the older works that delved deep into faery lore.

As I developed my own artistic skills, it was natural for me to want to try to illustrate what I saw. And I did have a quite intense meeting with the fae world, where I seriously saw them in the trees, the fields, the ponds, its a private event, but it was certainly there and had a heavy impression on my thinking and my artistic vision. I try always to look at my muse and then create from what I see in her, or him, the wings, the colors, the essence of the faery spirit they represent to me. I am not nearly as skilled as I would like to be, but I do think I have my own unique way of presenting what I see in my muses.”

And a last silly question; would you rather be Odin or Zeus?

“Odin. I see him as a much more serious and involved deity. Not just the All Father, but also one that cares about how people treat each other. He suffers and goes through a great deal to gain the vision and the wisdom to be the guide to his people and his children. Zeus on the other hand is extremely vain, and unfaithful, seeming to care little for his people or his children really. Not much of a role model certainly. Lot of power, but also a lot of corruption.”

And if there's anything else you want to share, go for it!

“I have always been a supporter of the community of artists and creative spirits. Woven in spirit even when the physical forms are far separated, for that is the nature of the art, that you go forth and experience, capture in your mind and vision and then present it on canvas, the page, the image, the word, the dance, so that others may see what you felt, what you saw, what touched you. © 2012 Marion Z. Skydancer”

Some of His Male Stock

Skydancer-Stock Wizard 000093 by skydancer-stockSkydancer-Stock 11-829 by skydancer-stock

Mature Content

Skydancer-Stock 11-992 by skydancer-stock

Skydancer-Stock Wizard 000001 by skydancer-stockSkydancer-Stock 4381 by skydancer-stockSkydancer-Stock 5174 by skydancer-stock

Thank You, skydancer-stock!

Thanks very much to Marion for doing this interview! :heart:

If you have any particular person you'd like to see interviewed, leave a comment!  There are a few already on the list, but we will need more, so tell me who you'd like to get to know!

Journal Layout by lockjavv & ginkgografix
Add a Comment:
DreamingDragonDesign Featured By Owner May 15, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
Excellent interview! Very interesting and inspiring.
skiesofchaos Featured By Owner May 16, 2012  Professional Photographer
Thank you :)
dreamweaver69 Featured By Owner May 14, 2012
Great Interview thoroughly enjoyed reading it and your take on the faerie world
skydancer-stock Featured By Owner May 14, 2012  Professional Photographer
skydancer-stock Featured By Owner May 14, 2012  Professional Photographer
By the way, I happen to be on the cover of a new book. Just got my signed by the author copies today. [link] Art by :iconmorgu3:
DarGirl Featured By Owner May 14, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
very good interview Marion :)
skiesofchaos Featured By Owner May 14, 2012  Professional Photographer
Thank you Row :D
Earleywine Featured By Owner May 13, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Very well written as usual Marion :). Great interview
skydancer-stock Featured By Owner May 13, 2012  Professional Photographer
Thank you :)
anyman82 Featured By Owner May 13, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
I want to be like you when I grow up. :D

In all seriousness though, this was a very enlightening interview. Loads of great advice, and quite a bit of inspiration to continue to improve my stock. Thanks for the words of wisdom, sir.

(Also, how had I not watched you yet? I thought I did that months ago. Oh well, done now.)
skydancer-stock Featured By Owner May 13, 2012  Professional Photographer
MissNioniel Featured By Owner May 13, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wonderful interview!
skydancer-stock Featured By Owner May 13, 2012  Professional Photographer
Thank you. :)
DamselStock Featured By Owner May 13, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Wow! One of the best interviews yet. He's given strong & solid advice for new and season stockers alike. I enjoyed getting to know deviantART's resident wizard!
PirateLotus-Stock Featured By Owner May 14, 2012
I know, isn't he great ^.^
skydancer-stock Featured By Owner May 13, 2012  Professional Photographer
Very kind of you. :)
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May 13, 2012


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