What is your Secret?

(EDIT 4/2/11 – I updated this with a new HD video, much better than before)
The secret is this.  Fall in love often and recklessly.  Fall in love with your camera, fall in love with natural light, fall in love with the Elinchrom Octa, fall in love with your film but most of all… fall in love with your muse. Rinse and repeat for years, maybe even a decade.
I’ve been thinking a lot about muses lately. Muse is defined as “the source of an artist’s inspiration” which means it could be just about anything. I think models have always been a huge source of inspiration, historically and personally. For me being a muse is more than just beauty, more than just being talented, and more than being able to help create amazing images. A muse needs to make me struggle, to suffer, to really, really feel things I don’t want to feel.
The best of friends in life are the ones that push you the most I think, and by that same token the best muses for my photography have been models that made me work harder. Emotionally and artistically. I’ve had dozens of favorite models over the years but there are only a handful that have transcended to a muse.

Katherine Franco

My first muse, we met in 2001 – almost ten years ago. I met Katherine before I knew much of anything about photography, all I knew was I was interested in it and I wanted to know more. Over the years we have yelled at each other, she has made me cry, I’m sure I’ve made her cry, we’ve gone months without speaking, we’ve been on road trips, we’ve laughed until we were out of breath, we’ve talked for hours about boys, girls, love, life, pain and most of all I’ve tried to convince Katherine (over and over) that she is as close to perfect as anyone ever needs to be.
All the while my photography evolved (and for some years revolved) around her.
I’ve known Katherine longer than I’ve known my wife. She has always been a friend, never a potential girlfriend (even when we were both single) and that is important I think, at least for me. One of my favorite things about our relationship is the proof that you can be close to someone without letting it get complicated with… well, you know. Heather Hankins left a comment on my facebook page that perfectly describes this, “The inspiration from a muse transcends the natural instinct of sexual expression.” So well said.
If you want to become a better photographer and a better person, find a muse and shoot. I shoot a lot of people, and I’m always looking for my next 10 year model… but they’d have a lot to live up to because I absolutely love this one.
The greatest hits of the last ten years with my original muse. You’ll notice her change and my photography style change… over and over. This is important too.

Music courtesy of the INSANELY talented group Mountain Hymns.  Listen to them for free at http://soundcloud.com/mountainhymns – by the way, the singer is also my cousin, Seaver Yates, of Farmington, Utah.  He’s a pretty cool guy, but he sure bugs me about giving him a free steak a lot…  🙂