Scott Anderson is a Thoughtful, Self-Taught Photographic Artist

Scott Anderson of Anderson Artwork (OMP Member #8606) first picked a camera in 1999, and immediately started getting positive response for his images. “Right from the start people said I had an ‘eye’ for it, but I really didn’t believe them until a few years later. So I would say it has been about 10 years now that I have taken it seriously enough to call myself a photographer — although I prefer the term photographic artist.”

The Missouri resident’s been a member of OneModelPlace.com since its inception, and has watched it change over the years. “My original member number was in the 2000s! The Internet opened up the world to art in the same way that it allows us to reach out to those we would never be able to cross paths with in the physical world. When I realized that I had found my medium, I reached out from that digital place, by digital means… and there was OneModelPlace.com! A meeting place for others like me. All those electrons we can push around or store as 1s or 0s gave voice to photographic artists and any model that wanted to make art — regardless of whether they fit the mold that old school fashion/glamour, based in film, demanded they fit.”

Scott relates that OMP gave him a place where he could present his ideas to the world. “I could point others to it long before I had the savvy to create my own website or market myself effectively. It still gives me opportunity to see those wanting to get into this type of work and to communicate with them easily Mainly I look for models who have a real commitment to learning their craft and a passion to create great art.”

He prefers working in the digital medium. “Originally, I picked up a digital camera because I saw how ‘green’ of a technology it was. I bought a Kodak 1.3 megapixel camera. My intent was to take family and vacation shots in a way that only slightly inconvenienced a few million electrons, instead of putting a bunch of chemicals into the environment or killing more trees for the paper to print a bunch of images — most of which would just sit in a drawer somewhere. I never intended to pursue it as a career, it just happened.”

Scott’s artwork has been focused mostly on figure work in natural settings. “In reality, it is the story of us, as human beings, that the figure work is mostly about. I look to see if I can capture a timelessness in the shots, and make them tell the human stories that are common to us all. I love shooting musicians performing and people at charity events for that same reason. Since they are usually living their lives at full power in those moments, I get the chance to capture the story of them… not just document what they look like at that moment.”

His approach to shooting female models is an intriguing one. “The female form is a compelling subject. We are, as a race, designed to look at her. It is literally hardwired into our brains. Even women will look first at the female of a couple, before they look over the male, when that couple enters a party or other social event. The earliest piece of sculpture we’ve found is of a nude woman with exaggerated breasts, buttocks and what looks to be a very pregnant tummy. That sculpture is nearly faceless, handless and footless…it is her figure that is celebrated in that small piece of ivory. My intent when creating art with women is to speak to that place in us where we understand her to be beautiful and desirable, yet not to have it be ‘personally’ about her. Rarely do I have my art subjects look into the lens. I want them doing or being something in the shot, because the shot is not about them as a personality! The shots are about the beauty that existed in that moment, not about who was beautiful in that moment. I would hope that I capture the essence of ‘every woman’ rather than just ‘one particular’ woman.”

As for equipment choices, Scott is a Canon shooter all the way. “Canon cameras, lenses and flashes. I’m a real fan of their L series glass! Right now my favorite workhorse is a 50D with battery grip, matched with a 28-70mm 2.8f L lens. At the ranges and conditions I shoot in, most often that combination seems to work best. I usually keep a body with a full-frame sensor in the bag as well as the 1.6x crop model. It’s a lot easier to carry one set of lenses and an extra body than to carry one body and a big batch of lenses. My 50mm 1.4f, 28-70mm 2.8f L, 70-200mm 2.8f IS L, 50D and 5D pretty much covers everything I ever shoot. I also have a 580EX and three 430EX flashes along with the Canon RemoteFlash sender.”

Scott recently started combining two mediums in his work by painting on photos.  “Overpainting my images is a very new thing to me. I am not very dexterous with my hands, so I am still working on my technique in applying the paints to the photo. My work would certainly be classified as ‘Realism’ modern. I try to leave the most meaningful aspects of the shots in that vividly real place that photography allows for… and then move the rest of the piece farther and farther away from that reality until finally it organically blends into the abstract. I want the theme of the shot — it’s story, as it were — to jump into the consciousness of the viewer wherever he or she may be coming from. To blend the idea of a shot into a place that others can fill in for themselves allows me to speak clearer on some subjects than a photograph alone can. You see more and more artists overlaying textures, places and other themes into composited images using layered photo-editing techniques these days. Overpainting is just that, but done in a manual way. My images are a language that I speak to the world in. As in any language, we change our tone of voice, our inflection, the rhythm of the poetic meter. We flavor its meaning with the methods we use for each idea we convey.”

He offers several telling tips for models. “Know what you are willing to shoot and wanting to shoot. Then communicate that clearly and stand by it! Basically, if you don’t know what to do, it’s the wrong time to do it. If you aren’t sure about what all is at issue with shooting nudes, or whatever type of shots, don’t shoot them. ‘Buyer’s Remorse’ afterward is not anyone’s fault but your own. No one can ‘make’ you do anything — you either decided to shoot it, or you didn’t. You need to be able to live with whatever decisions you make. You also need to remember to make that choice before you agree to do the shoot. Remember, modeling is a job you choose to do. Even if everyone is ‘just shooting to have fun,’ it still takes time and resources to accomplish. If you said you would do the gig, paid or not, you need to show up ready to do the project. Be on time, with a positive attitude, bring everything you need to do the shoot, and don’t make up any excuses. The others involved are just as busy living through whatever is happening in their lives as you are. They made a commitment to be there with you, so show respect and be ready to go. If you are having a problem, simply ask for help.”

Scott also offers some advice for photographers just starting out. “Figure out what you are trying to say before you try to say it. If you are just trying to make pretty pictures, then do that. If you want to talk about a bigger idea or a larger concept, then figure out how to do that in your art. Basically, have a vision of what you want and then go after it! I wasted a lot of time — and burnt a few bridges — before I learned to do that.”

He wants to remind everyone that communication is the key to success. “Learn to ask questions if you do not understand something. Speak your own mind clearly, as well. Many of the people you will work with along the way are learning their craft, too. Speaking as clearly as you would to your doctor or lawyer is essential. Demand that you be spoken to just as clearly. They may not know how to say what they are asking for, but you need to make sure everyone involved is on the same page before you shoot whatever you are going to shoot. The give and take of ideas, wants, desires, concerns, problems, and answers will make or break a shoot. If you don’t say it, it cannot be dealt with. If you say one thing while really meaning something else, it sets the other person up to get blindsided when the truth comes out. So don’t have hidden agendas. Let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no.’ It’s as simple as that. If you are pressured about your decisions, don’t be afraid to walk away. However, don’t confuse someone trying to fix what is at issue as pressure! There may be legitimate ways for something to be addressed that you hadn’t thought of on your own yet. Again, good communication is a must!”

Having never studied art or photography, Scott’s accomplishments should be an inspiration to anyone aspiring to enter the field. “I have never read a book on photography, or taken a course. What I have shot and done in my career came from instinct, not from knowledge. I’m not sure if that was the right way to go, but it was how all this happened. I never planned on being an artist, never even asked for it. For better or worse, I shoot how I feel and what draws my attention. I think my Dad, who was an ordained minister, said it best before he died: ‘Your art is not the art that I usually look at, but I can still see that it is a talent that God wrote into you… and therefore it is good. I am proud of you.’ He also taught me to be honest and to always be of service to others — and to do that service out of love. So, I try my best to make my artwork as beautiful and inspiring as I can. If it really is a gift from God, then it should be used with the best care and focus that I can. My dream is that I might touch the future with some small part of the beauty that is here today. There is so much that is beautiful, and there is much still left to learn. Just remember — live and learn, or you probably won’t live very long!”

You can see more of Scott’s imagery on his OMP Portfolio

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