About Me

I am a classical fine arts portrait photographer, and I specialize in the human body, the form, the figure, and the well-done film based analog portraits using large format negatives.

My favorite artists tools are my large format cameras, a simple set of tungsten lights, and large sheets of very fine grained, quality film. I prefer to shoot with panchromatic black and white film in order to capture the subtleties of skin tone and use no filtering on the lights or camera. I carefully illuminate the model with the lighting, define the form, figure, and character, sculpting with the light and reflectors, and use the camera to create fine art with a great attention to the technical aspects of the image creation.

I enjoy creating a portrait of a person in a way that they may not have previously seen themselves. Initially I create images, as the people believe themselves to be, then images of how others may see them, a professional or formal image of them, and finally an abstraction of the various elements of their personality or their profession. I seek in short to capture their very essence, their personality, and their spirit.

I embrace the purity of the black and white image in larger prints, but also color photography that is rich in saturated tones and warmth. I am humbly reminded that, the most complex of all creatures and creations is that of the human being, and that ultimate beauty is found in the human figure and form. With color photographic portraiture, I endeavor to create an image that is as near an oil painting as possible.

I seek to present the figure both as a well-done portrait, and as a transformative abstraction that tugs at the soul and evokes emotion in the viewer. I create emotion with the figure by placing it into places and spaces where it is unexpected and where it merely appears to be a shape in a composition. The eye is drawn towards it as a familiar shape, and then the viewer’s eye is drawn to follow the lines, and is drawn into the figure.

My photographic sessions begin by first seeking the person’s character, and finding that inner flame of life in them that makes them unique - I use this as my initial lighting source and point of reference. I then work to draw that inner light out where it can be documented with my camera, and add external lighting only as required or as an accent. I then begin to slowly transform these images into an evocative series so that the viewer and the photograph begin a kind of conversation, the result of which is a change in how the viewer thinks, emotes, or see the world afterwards. In short, I endeavor to create abstract and non-abstract images that bring about a profound change in a person.

I possess a scientific, technical, and medical background, and understand the human body from the inside out, down to the smallest organ, fiber, hair, and cell. I recognize the organic body as a complex system of systems, held in careful balance and control from a physiological perspective. The bones, skin, muscles, and tissues of the body form a grand machine, and each mechanism of this grand machine is an art form in its own right.

My professional artistic goal over the next four years is to create the most comprehensive medical and artistic anatomical reference of the human body that has ever been published. My book will contain over 1200 large-scale fine art photographic plates created from large format photography, with highly finished graphite drawings and pastel overlays on vellum. My vision is for this set of books to be utilized by every artist or medical student in the country, as well as physicians and health care providers. Every muscle, joint, bone, and skin surface will be presented and explained in detail in this set of books as well done photographic images, and I anticipate the initial version will be an over sized set of 18x24 books with huge, carefully crafted 16x20 images. I do not merely seek to create a collection of images formed into a set of dry textbooks, but rather I seek to create images that dramatically change the way that the viewer thinks, how they recognize things, how they relate to others, and to influence or effect their very essence.

Leonardo DiVinci started such an anatomical project in 1474 as a reference medium and study for his own art, but was never able to finish it before his death. Henry Gray carried on a similar work and created a well-known anatomy book with ink and paper in 1858 that has stood the test of time, and in 1933, Dr. Frank Netter attempted the same with his watercolors of human anatomy. Each of these prior anatomical reference books stands in revered places on the shelves of almost every physician… and now I humbly endeavor to do the same, but with large format fine arts photography and modern medical imagery, but in a highly transformative way. There have been countless books on anatomy for artists and physicians published over the years, but few have been well executed, and certainly not provided in a transformative way; but I will change that.

I seek to follow in the artistic footsteps of Edward Weston, Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, Yousuf Karsch, Edward Steichen, Thomas Eakins, Richard Avedon, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

It is always best to contact me by E-Mail, or by text message.

I own all of my own professional photographic equipment, and can shoot either regular film based images in 35mm, medium format, large format, or I can shoot digital images. I am skilled in the lighting methods of the old masters, skilled both the artistic and technical sides of photography, and have been using PhotoShop for as long as it has been on the market, but prefer to edit the image with the camera.

I am very skilled with working with either professional or amateur models. I also behave professionally at all times with models, and do not flirt with them, touch them, make sexual overtures, or behave in anyway that would make them uncomfortable, or try to use photography as some kind of dating ritual. With me it is all about being professional and creating outstanding art. I welcome a modeling bringing an escort or chaperone if that makes them feel more comfortable.

I am also a rare kind of photographer where I fairly pay models a competitive rate for their time, and never ask them to pose for free or just TFCD or TFP. I pay cash on the day of the assignment, and there is never drama or delay about a model getting paid.

I have a number of active projects at any given time, and when I am not working on a project for a specific client, I will shoot for my portfolio, or for the anatomy book I am working on.

I am currently seeking both male and female nude models who will be posed on a grid for a book of reference photography that I am working on currently. Each session 4 hours in length, with follow shoots of the same durations. I also pay cash on the day of the modeling assignment, once the releases are signed. Please email me is you are interested in posing for my book.


Copyright 2010, James M. Atkinson