Fanny Vermont’s Photo lighting workshop on Saturday was a big hit, and after the awesome MU gang were exposed to a bunch of tips and tricks (and shared a few of their own), I figured it would be a good time to shine the light on the artist behind the camera..
Art: Fanny, tell me about your interest in SL photography?
Fanny: Photography is one of my interests in RL, so it has not been a great surprise to me that I felt attracted to it in SL as well. As for Nude Photography, it has been my tummy mumbling and pointing in that direction. Our natural dealing with nudity gets cut off latest when we start going to school. Embarrassment supplants instinctiveness.
…Later puberty casts a new light on nudity. Now sexuality joins the party and somehow it also leaves a sort of note in our mind that nudity is related to sexuality. From this moment on we all have different experiences and ways to get rid of the information of that note. Well, at least it has been my own feeling about it – wanting to get rid of that knot. To me nudity means having nothing to hide behind and thus, if it comes to acting, having to deal, accept and work with my body instead of choosing an outfit to cover it.
Art: That’s an interesting point of view. Actually it reminds me of Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality.
In Second Life I got some experience in a former (SL) existence, but nude photography with the standard avatar’s body is a lot of work in Photoshop to get it to the point where I could be ok with the result. Just after my reincarnation and three months later I stumbled upon mesh bodies. I liked it more than I had expected and yay! Nude Photography caught my interest again, and at the moment I try to get more than just a pose showing a nice naked body (which can be thrilling anyways). The best case scenario is when I succeed in creating at least a small story.
Art: How does this affect your experience as an avatar? Does is influence how you feel about the rl body, versus sl body in anyway?
Fanny: I am afraid this is a rather intricate affair and I am not sure if you really want to know all of it.
Art: I’m really curious to know actually!
Fanny: On the other hand, it’s too late as you already asked.
Art: Oh, uhm..
Fanny: Let me start to tell about what I mostly did before I came to MU. That is, I spare you the first weeks when I was homeless, always on search for a shower which usually had to happen in public places… * looks to you over the rim of her glass while taking a sip of water *
Art: * Smiles back sheepishly *
Fanny: …One abortion and a run away from a pirate later I had some help of a friend to find a place where I wanted to stay. The ‘Naked’ Sims. 9 sims connected, almost 6 of them water to sail across.
Art: Oh, so, after the pirate escape, you became a sailor..
Fanny: ‘Naked’ also has a gallery and it felt a bit like coming home when I found Jessica Belmer’s pictures there as well, whose work I have long admired. One week I checked out if I would like it there, then I bought a Loonetta and rented one of the favorable slips. Sailing is so great and then even naked, feeling the wind and the sun and the spray on ones skin! ‘Naked’ is my place for six months, I got to know a lot of nice and interesting people, and also Jessica. End of last year I became an officer and even now, while I am working and learning at Medici University, I peek over for a control flight on my dragonfly one or two times per day.
Art: How interesting! and back to your nude photography, does it influence how you feel about the RL vs. SL body?
Fanny: So far about how nudity affects my experience as an avatar, you see, not at all. I am used to it. As to whether there is an influence between RL body and/versus SL body – I tend to say Yes. I am not sure, though, if it has to do anything with photography. To keep at least this part short, let me only mention an example: I am a Mama Allpa user and adjusted the RL/SL time converter 1:1. Not only do I synchronize the hud with my period in RL but also my avatar has a tampon attached during these days.
…Next question! * grins *
Art: Wow that’s uh quite, wow yes I see. You give new meaning to the creative flow we encourage at MU haha. Heh. Ahem. * Smiles nervously and avoids eye contact * Well then. Why don’t you tell me about your creative process?
Fanny: In the studio it starts either with creating a pose or with an inspiration by an object. I spend a lot of time on a pose to get it close to realistic, which in first case means that I avoid too much torsion of the joints. Another point is trying to get body tension, the same I would do in RL. There is a difference if you only lift your arm or if you do it out of your shoulder.
At some time during the creation process I start to decide which foot height and which hand poses work best for the set. It turned out that it is good to find the camera angle and focus length as well before finishing the pose. Using a tele lens for the photo while you worked at the pose rather in wide-angle may cause troubles in case you wanted to hide a certain body part behind your hand in the fore. So just after I made these decisions – and saved the camera movement settings with Firestorm’s camera tool – I finish the pose and export the data to a bvh-file on my hard disc.
Before standing up I usually copy and paste the bvh data, the camera focus angle and the hands/feet poses in a Notecard. Next thing to do: uploading the pose and making a pose ball and move/rotate it while sitting on it to get the correct touching points with floor, wall or objects again. Often this is the time when I better go to sleep to avoid an imprint showing QWERTZ on my forehead the next morning.
Art: Hehee. It’s quite a lot of prep work!
Fanny: Setting the light(s) is up next. In case something looks strange then, I may have to redo some joints, else I start to take photos. One without environment light and then a bunch of different windlight settings. This is important to me as I can judge easier outside of SL which one will be going to postprocess.
Last step finally is postwork in Photoshop, finishing and letting the result rest for one or two days. Just then, if all looks still fine to me, the picture is ready for public.
Art: That’s a great backstage perspective! What is the most important advice you’d like to give someone who wants to develop their SL photography?
Fanny: For the technical part, if one is not already a skilled builder, I would recommend to look at the calendar of The Builders Brewery to find and visit the series of classes for Beginning Building and for Photography. Firestorm offers classes for their viewer too, but in contrast to the Brewery I have no personal experiences with them. They will be good anyways to get to know the viewer’s functions.
Most important I believe, though, are quiet, concentration and patience while taking a photo…
Art: Wonderful advice! How has your experience been on MU so far?
Fanny: I do like the creative atmosphere here very much, while Izzy is a great Provost, and I am graceful for every day I can stay, work and learn at the Medici University!
Fanny Vermont’s beautiful work is a poetic reflection of her expressive and charming personality! Check out her studio projects at MU [Nostradamus 20].