Thursday, September 8, 2011

Facebook deleted me!

I've been a user of Facebook now for a few years.  It has been the only social network Internet site that I could relate to and felt comfortable using from an intuitive viewpoint.  I had dabbled with Bebo and one or two others but couldn't get to grips with them and the interfaces felt "amateur" - as though I had created it myself!
I became a member of Flickr (still am) but got tired of the constant use of superlatives on EVERY photograph regardless of quality and also found out a few people had deleted "friends" from their lists if they said anything remotely negative.  Might be good for some sheep but I'm an individual who doesn't like plámás and likes to speak my mind.

Two Facebook friends of mine were recently deleted.  Both women.  Both very nice people.  Both very much individuals.  Both progressive and positive.  One was deleted for having risque photos of herself on Facebook. It was, and is, part of her business and lifestyle but it appears someone didn't like her and her photos and was determined to have her punished.  The fact that her business depended to a significant degree on her Facebook page didn't seem to matter.  She found out how to contact Facebook personnel and despite repeated requests for reasons for her account being deleted and an appeal to have her account reinstated she was more or less ignored.
My second friend found she had been the victim of a sordid piece of work who hired models for art nude work - mainly for sketching/drawing - but was secretly making videos of them.  It also happened to a friend of hers.  She used Facebook to warn others.  She reported it to the Gardai.  Guess what?  The Gardai gave her the run-around for a week or so before telling her they "couldn't do anything".  And Facebook?  Her account was deleted.

So ...... me?
Every time I photograph a model I ask her to allow me to take a photo of the two of us standing side by side.  Initially it was for my private portfolio.  I'm 64.  I have more days behind me than I have in front of me.  At some stage, whether due to age or finances, I may not be able to take photographs of models and this would be a nice collection to look back on.
I give them the option to pose with me me nude or full-clothed.  Most have posed fully-clothed.  Some have posed nude or nearly nude.  Recently I took some of those photos that had a humorous touch to them and started to post them (with permission) on Facebook as my profile pics.

The photo above was one of my first.  As usual I poke more fun at myself than anything else.

The next one (above) was a little more daring.  The idea came from requests in the Dublin Camera Club (where I am a member) to sit in on my art nude shoots.  I felt that these requests were coming from people who were nervous about a naked woman standing in front of a guy with a camera and not getting his face slapped.  The atmosphere at these shoots is anything but tense.  It's very clinical and relaxed and any sexual tension would come about after the model puts on her clothes!
Anyway, 2 of the 3 models knew that I took shots of 'me and the model' and I asked if the three would agree to a funny twist on a threesome art nude shoot where they were in the background and I was oblivious to them, on the phone - probably to my wife telling her I was still busy at work.  They agreed.  We did the shot.  I posted it on Facebook.  It got a few laughs.

Tuesday of this week (September 6th) I had a great shoot with a UK model called Ivory Flame (real name Holly) and told her of my humorous 'me and the model' shots.  Would she be up for it?  I gave her my idea.  She gave me hers.  Hers was better so we went with it.  The idea was that she is famous for being an art nude model and I was being portrayed as being very nonchalant about having her draped on my shoulder.  If you had seen the 5 minutes before and after the shot it was no more exciting than watching the news!  Holly checked the shots after we had done them to be sure they would be Facebook friendly - no female bits on show.
I posted it (see below) yesterday as my profile picture and got great comments.

This morning I was about to go through 240 photos I had put in a private album for an entertainer to make choices from when my account just disappeared.  No warning.  Just left me with a login page.  I'm kind of used to this.  Facebook dumps me out of its pages and I have to log in again.  I always thought this was something to do with privacy or security so this time I thought it was the same.
I got warnings.  Optimistically I figured there would be a path to Facebook personnel somewhere along the line where I could question the account deletion and also appeal it.
Nothing.  No avenues out of the situation.  Just dumped.  What I found even more disturbing later was that all traces of me seem to have vanished as well.  My comments on other's pages - gone!  Like I never existed.  I'm assuming anyone who used some of my photos for their profile pics will find them gone as well.

The realisation of what that meant began to dawn on me.  I could live with losing all my private messages, friends' list, and most of my photos but some people had based their work schedules on me and Facebook was a big part of that.  So my immediate reaction was anger at the arrogance of them.  Very dictatorial.  Reminded me of '1984' and 'Enemy of the State'.  With the lack of responses from Facebook in these situations there lie the seeds of rumour and for people to make unchallenged statements.  One of the reasons often quoted for deletion is that someone has complained about a page.  I find this more realistic than the idea that there are Facebook police trawling the pages looking for illicit material. 

What's bothering me is that I can't find any rules governing what is allowed or not allowed on Facebook.  If it's there it is well hidden. I have found a few Internet sites but again, there's a lot of hearsay on forums which is not definitive.

I realised from my two friends' similar situations that there was little point in ranting about it and wasting energy in futility so I took the opportunity to create a new profile and do some friend-culling along the way.  Ha ha!  Facebook got me again.  I added a few friends pretty quickly and that generated a list of possible others.  I thought this was briliant.  Facebook was making it easier for me to build my friends' list.
I got a new warning that I was sending unsolicited friends' requests and there was reference to "not knowing them".  While I was wondering how I could ask people to be my friend Facebook issued me with a 2-day ban on sending friend requests.  I can't be sure - from a fear of causing me more penalties - but I think the ban may also include sending messages.  Bummer.

So beware fellow Facebookers.  They (whoever 'they' are) may just be worse than most people paint those secret government groups.  God, I'm turning into a 'anti' person.

What started off as a really bad day got worse when I almost alientated two people I know.  Totally unintentional and I put it down to the bad karma that was around.  But it got better.  My friends rallied around and a particular friend of mine (Jen Murray) started the ball rolling by initiating my friends' list. After that, the word spread and things got better.  The cream on the cake was a trip to see a new company called Abstract Theatre Group who put on a musical called "Rent" in the Mermaid Theatre in Bray.  An outstanding night.  Brilliant show (parallels with La Boheme) and a wonderful cast.
So Facebook, I'm back!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A good day

Today, or to be more precise - yesterday, I had a good day!
I've put off updating this blog for some weeks now because it was to part of my website reconstruction (a big thank you to Bonnie Cullen) and also because I was so busy and didn't want to dash something off just for the sake of putting words here.

Early morning saw me up at 5am-ish.  Takes me a while to get up and even longer to wake up.  It takes 2 hours and a bit for me to approach human status where I won't take your head off.  :-)
Visited my new Urologist in Beaumont - a long story that would bore you and gross you out at the same.  Suffice it to say that everything is working pretty well and there will be a few (unreported) tests in the coming weeks to verify that status.  The reason I mention him at all is that my experience of consultants (and I've had a few in the last 20 years) have been quite negative for the most part.  This morning was an exception.  Friendly, courteous, not patronising, helpful, educational.  So the day bode well.

My next event for the day was a  photoshoot with a girl called Ivory Flame (real name Holly) who is just exquisite.  Her name describes her perfectly.  Red hair and alabaster (perfect) skin.  Holly is a very experienced art nude model from the UK who is very aware of how lighting works and how her body works with the lighting and camera.  I had photographed her once before at a workshop and was bowled over by how relaxed she was with 6(?) guys in the studio with her and how pleasant and friendly she was, on top of how she seemed to defy physics (including gravity) with her poses.

She had sent me an e-mail letting me know she was coming over to Ireland for the week and I jumped at the chance to book her for a 4 hour session in the Dublin Camera Club.  I was not the only one!
I had also had a chat with my friend Lily and asked her to come with a special makeup for Holly.
Did the session go well?  I don't know if most photographers have days where the images in their heads refuse to translate into images in their cameras and studio flashes seem to produce results that are completely foreign to what they had expected.  It seemed that was happening to me.  I persevered on a few shots and stopped altogether on others because they weren't working and I didn't want to get frustrated and have it affect Holly.
The amazing thing was that Holly actually guided me on a number of occasions into getting the best shots of the day.  This should be one of the reasons any photographer who is considering art nude shots should get a professional because, like the ad says on TV, they're worth it.
Lily did an amazing job on the special makeup. I'm amazed at innovative she is and a lot of other virtues that I won't mention here 'cos she will be embarassed and then not talk to me.  I'll stop now before I start gushing.
The shoot ended with me having several serviceable shots for the future competitions in the club and my portfolio.  Happy chappy.

The last part of the evening was somewhat special as well.
I had been asked on a few occasions by members of the club if they could sit on one of my art nude sessions.  Afraid not.  They asked about workshops.  Thought about it, discussed it and said no.  I wasn't trying to keep secrets but it seemed to me (and another member in the club) that an art nude shoot was 80% about the model and 20% about the photography.  Unlike portrait photography there are no defined lighting setups (that I know of) and it's a question of deciding what your want and figuring it out.  Also, you don't just take a girl, professional or amateur, and plonk them in a studio, tell them to strip and shoot away with a camera.  You will just record a naked model.  If that's your bag then you're set but you will become know as the "guy with the camera" not a photographer.

You need to do your homework.  Choose the model to suit what you want to do.  Approach the model (usually via email) and ask if she works with amateurs, where she is located, is she available, what her rates or conditions are, etc., etc.  There can be pre-shoot meeting where you can show her the types of shots you want to do and she can show you her work and both can discuss what's on and not on.
Communication is important.  The day of the shoot has its own protocols and so the list continues.

I felt that the reluctance of a lot of members to organise their own shoots might be down to fear of the unknown.  When you think about it, asking a girl who is a relative stranger to take her clothes off in front of you will probably get your face slapped.  Nakedness is also associated with sex - strippers, Page 3 girls, etc.  Remember the model is putting herself into a vulnerable position and it is the photographer who has to instil confidence in her (or him) that he (or she) is trustworthy and serious.

I had a chat with Sarah Burns who is not only a great model but I like to think is a friend of mine.  I wondered if she would give a presentation to the Dublin Camera Club about what it's like to do art nude from a model's perspective.  We worked on the skeleton of the presentation together and Sarah created a well thought out presentation and gave a friendly and warm talk to the members who in turn had plenty of questions for her.  I was delighted on two counts - I'm hopng more will venture into art nude shoots now that they realise the models are human and they have seen the ptifalls that can befall the careless photographer and that the shoot is normally quite clinical and does not reek of sex!
I was also delighted for Sarah to have a wider audience to see the great standard of work that she does.

Yes, I know.  There are no links and no photos.  It's late.  The adrenaline that was keeping me going has started to fade and I think I might be able to go to bed now and sleep.  Links and photos will probably appear over the coming days but don't hold your breath.  I still have a lot of work to get through.