Shadowplay - Alaina Wulf & Chad Johnson

Best Of Nude 2022 Issue, December 2022 Nude Issue - Interviews - Posted:

01) What does boudoir photography mean to you?

Boudoir photography is simply fashion photography without clothes. In this particular case I used the female body as a canvas for my projections.

02) What kind of creative process is there behind boudoir photography?

As someone interested in making money and business, I am a commercial photographer, but I like to experiment in other forms and I especially like it when I can combine my technical and artistic skills. Like so many before me, I find great inspiration in the female form. About a year ago I got interested in AI generated art and have been experimenting with it since. I was drawn to the Midjourney bot (similar to DALL-E or Stable Diffusion) and found it made the kind of art I was most interested in. I wanted to find ways of using this technology creatively in my work, in a place where the body meets the mind, and primal instincts meet reason. In a previous shoot I used AI generated backgrounds that were added in post-production (see “It’s a Mad, Mad, AI World”, Malvie, October 2022) but this time I wanted the AI generated art to actually be part of my photographic process. I’ve been interested in projections and using projected light, so I decided to project AI designs on a nude model for this shoot. Around the same time that I was working on this, a talented model, Alaina Wulf, approached me about collaborating so I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to bring it all together for this shoot, “Shadowplay”.

03) How do you communicate with a client or model you’ve just met to make them comfortable for boudoir / nude photography?

My sets are very busy places, with my staff and assistants around to help. Everything that goes down, full nudity or partial nudity, is discussed and agreed upon prior to the shoot day. Plus, a killer playlist.

04) How do you educate yourself to take better photos?

I experiment constantly – new equipment, new techniques, and new subject matter. Sometimes I get inspired by other photographer’s and artist’s work, such as the late Melissa Rodwell who I was lucky to study under, but that’s only a starting point and I always want to take it in a new direction and make it uniquely mine. I also work every day of my life.

05) How would you describe your photography style?

Dark, sometimes with a twist of deviancy but always pretty – I want to bring out the hidden nature of my subject and make them look stunning while in their rawest form. As a commercial photographer, I’m usually trying to sell a product at the end of the day and that carries over into my art as well. I also insist on technical perfection, I have a science background and that eye carries over into all of my work.

06) What kind of other gear do you use for boudoir and/vs other?

My equipment is always different depending on the shoot and what I’m trying to achieve. In this case I shot with my Hasselblad H6D-100c tethered to a laptop. I like this camera because it’s very responsive, has a high resolution, and as a traditional DSLR it has an optical viewfinder. I use mirrorless for still life photography, but I find optical viewfinders best when working with models and other moving subjects. The only light came from an Epson projector. The projector was connected to another laptop running MadMapper which handled animating and projecting the images onto the model.

07) Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?

I’m always in love with my newest work, so for now, it’s “Shadowplay”! I especially like this one because I got to be creative by making AI art, resourceful by turning it into a projection, coupled with everything else that comes with model photography.

08) What is the most rewarding part of being a boudoir photographer for you?

When my photos are published, and I can hold them in my hands, I am finally allowed to enjoy them as a viewer, and take in the beauty, now that the job is done.

09) Just for fun, if you could shoot in any location, what would it be?

I’m most comfortable in my Midtown Manhattan studio where I have total control so I probably wouldn’t want to change that.

10) Do you have any other profession or anything you are passionate about?

I specialize in jewelry. I’m always thinking about ways of bringing my new experiments into my commercial business and you might find hints of it if you look closely!

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