THOMAS HOLM

I suppose confidence comes from a belief in one's self. I was formally trained as a commercial photographer, and have shot thousands and thousands of images during my fifteen years as a pro advertising photographer. When I first started photography I wasn't very good but I could see a steady improvement over time - of course interlaced with some genuine fiascos. When I started as an apprentice you get more experience and shoot more and more, and if something doesn't work you need to redo it, and potentially lose your client. You can essentially never fail when you work for a client. That puts a certain pressure on you, which means you either can't take it, or you start becoming very methodical. And you learn when you have something that works and keep shooting until you do. You learn to location scout, plan for contingencies, and basically try to predict anything you can so you always get the shot. Once you get to this point where you have the mechanics nailed down, creating becomes more a question of emotion and feel. And once you find out that you consistently can output good images then I guess you have all the confidence you need. I don't work as a commercial photographer anymore (I got bored at some point so migrated into colour management consulting). So what I shoot now is purely for myself and obviously there is a lot less pressure in this. That said, I have not had a shoot over the last seven or eight years where I could not pull at least three good images.

 

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When I started shooting nudes for real (I've always dabbled with it) it was to try and create images for me as opposed to commercial assignments. I also worked a bit with portraits and landscapes and ended up loving to combine women and landscapes. To me, it's much more motivating when you are standing on a rockface pre-dawn after half an hours hike and just waiting for the sun to pierce the horizon, when your model is standing next to you getting ready to drop her clothing. And I love women. As a man, of course the genetic physical attraction of the female body plays a part. But more than that, I like the composite personalities of women. Women are fierce, strong, sensual, competitive yet vulnerable, emotional, and extremely self-critical. Those are some of the traits I try to bring out in my images. I deeply adore the curves, lines a female body can create, but it's the combined emotion I can get with combining a naked body with a certain environment, lighting, and look.

 

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Its very hard to generalise. I can work with anyone and I do. I've done quite a few first time nude shoots, and I've worked with seasoned professionals. I really love to work with dancers, ballerinas, gymnasts, yogis and other women who have extreme control over their bodies and who can use it to project emotion. Consider a ballet: You have a play of perhaps ninety minutes, not one word is uttered but still you are not in doubt about the mood of the different characters in the play, and likely you can see their facial expression. Yes the music helps, but the body can do wondrous things when it is honed and trained and "run" by a skilled operator. I also deeply adore bodies that are flexible and can do unusual things. That said, I really prefer personality and self-confidence. Classic "pretty" is less interesting to me, I prefer character, a bit of uniqueness, and again, someone who can project various emotion. Other than that, I prefer collaborators to have a sense of humour. Having fun is a large part of it. There is not much fun in being with a model who is more obsessed with creating selfies, and texting fans, than she is to engage in the creative process. Humour also helps when you are sitting slightly sheltered under a cliff with the rain pouring down all around you and you ask the model to get into the rain (for the record, I would never do that - unless it is okay to mess up the hair for the remainder of the shoot)...

 

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Some years ago I always made a mood board and this can certainly help, but it depends on the model. I have a fairly distinct style which is recognisable in many of my images. Very often the models research what I do to a degree and we speak about expression in images and, in particular, I'm very clear on what I do not want (glamour). I would never direct anyone by asking them to look sensual or moody or project a certain feeling. I'm inspired by what happens at the particular location I'm working at, and by the interaction and personality of the model. Very often I don't know exactly what I want to do before we start to shoot, but I always have an idea about the mood and emotion I want to convey. This part is rarely communicated, but we almost always get there as a combination between the models' abilities and my selection of composition, lighting, and direction in regard to expression. Frequently with professional models, they are posing freely and I just shoot along knowing that probably nothing will come of it, but that it is important to maintain a flow. I might do minimal direction and obviously affirm the model she is doing great and it looks good. But then at some point something (shape of limbs and composition, or a visual memory) clicks in my brain and I start to take over direction and micromanage bodyparts and refine every detail. There is a lot of "try to lower your chin, point your nose a fraction to your left, separate your lips, twist your upper body away from the camera but maintain the angle on your hips, raise your right hand - erm, the other right…"

 

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I dont shoot fashion any more, I pretty much only shoot nudes. Been there, done that, have half of yard of catalogues to prove it. Fashion is about selling an idea. When you sell something, you define your target audience in regard to demographic, age, income, and what have we. Then you create something which you or the art director believes will sell the idea to the target audience. There are two main purposes of fashion images: 1. To sell magazines or editorials. This give some interesting wriggle room as you can be more edgy. 2. To sell clothing which is generally advertising. For this you will have to be a bit more conservative as people will want to be able to imagine themselves in the clothes in question. If you look at a Louis Vuitton ad, you can clearly see what I mean. You sell the idea that you could be that gorgeous woman with the lovely handbag just walking off the twin-prop water plane in Alaska. You are selling a dream. And apologies for the cynicism. Fashion is about selling stuff, just like social media is about selling advertising and personal information, not about providing a platform for sharing cat images.

 

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Well, as I said initially, my day job these days is colour management consulting. This entails helping printshops, prepress, publishers etc. optimise their workflows and improve their quality, and save some money. So I knew the graphical process intimately from setting up printing presses, making proof prints, optimising colour separation/CMYK conversion (frequently when this is done wrong, Monochrome images end up with a slight colour tint), layouting etc. In regard to the binding, I wanted to go for a "lay-flat" binding so when you open the book on a spread, you don't loose a large part of the image where the pages are joined together, which you will do with a normal binding which is used in 99%+ of all books. At some point, the print shop asked: "Do you want 2, 2,4 or 3mm board for the cover and spine?" This is where you start calculating weight of the book and hold that against prices for shipping. If the finished product ends up over a certain weight, shipping price becomes prohibitive. From a graphical point of view, the hardest part was selecting the images and sequencing them for the book. There were many images that I liked more than the ones that ended up in the book, but which did just not work in the sequence. The thing is, when you make a series of images you have to both create a red line through everything, but also avoid eye fatigue. I started sequencing by type of background and subcategorise by model. Printed about four hundred images and started to create a sequence. Did not work. I ended up with what I think is a good line through and about one hundred and thirty-five images, but it also meant that I had to kill more than a few darlings and omit images I would have loved to see in the book, but which did not suit the rest well.

 

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Sure. I believe in being positive. Photography wise, I like what I do and I'm blessed in that a lot of models seem to agree and want to create images with me. I seem to have a steady following on social media and have surprisingly many women as fans which I attribute to the fact that I depict women in a way they would like to be seen. I am currently working on a larger project which hopefully will come to life near the end of the year 2018 but I'd rather not divulge what it's about presently.

 

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The end of civilization will be caused by: Lack of tolerance, and people setting their own egos and wellbeing over others, but also people who fail to understand the consequences of what they do to others, and fail to see see the larger picture. Politicians all over the world care a lot more about being re-elected (just like we all try to keep our own jobs) than to do what is necessary for the future of the world. As an example, we are having a huge problem with global warming, but politicians in most countries will not close down coal power plants because that would increase unemployment locally which, again, would prevent them from being elected. So, we mostly have politicians who promise to make the lives better for the citizens and these will get the most votes, but even if they do improve lives for their citizens or group of citizens, it will likely damage both the citizens and everyone else in the world in the long term. When the polar caps melt because sea level temperature increases by two to four degrees, because of rising CO2 levels, and we get sixty million refugees from Africa that need to relocate in the near future, that poses a much bigger problem globally than the unemployment of whoever works at the coal plant today. But by the time this strikes through, the politicians in question are no longer in office so it's not their problem and they are not held accountable in any way. In my opinion, democracy and the various electoral systems around the world have shown their deficiencies. The big problem is what can we put instead of democracy? Who could we trust with absolute power? And how would this go about to change?...

 
















01 // Jaquelen Silva // jaquelenzilva
02 // Jaquelen Silva // jaquelenzilva
03 // Shasta Wonder // shastawonder
04 // Anoush Anou // anoushanou
05 // Aja Jane // aja.jane
06 // Roarie Yum // roarie_yum
07 // Dorka Banki // dorkabanki
08 // Roarie Yum // roarie_yum
09 // Denisa Strahova
10 // Roarie Yum // roarie_yum
11 // Gwendolyn Jane
12 // Sonya Lynn // sonyasticated
13 // Sienna Hayes // sienna.hayes
14 // Aja Jane // aja.jane
15 // Shasta Wonder // shastawonder
16 // Roarie Yum // roarie_yum

 

Thomas Holm // thomasholmphoto // facebook.com/thomasholmphotography // commandoart.com

"The Graces" book and prints available // shop.commandoart.com

 

JUNNNKTANK is an online zine which has existed in one form or another since 2006.
For over a decade, the focus has been on highlighting the efforts of inspiring individuals and artists from around the world.

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Submissions are always welcome to junk@junnnktank.com.