Portrait Photography

New Portraits Available in my Etsy Store by Neal Auch

“Extreme seductiveness is at the boundary of horror” ― Georges Bataille

I've added prints of these three portrait images to my Etsy store. These shots are all somewhat old, but they have not been available for purchase until this moment.

These portraits, like all of my works, are very much informed by the idea of memento mori (Latin: "remember to die") and draw inspiration from both religious portraiture and also 17th century vanitas still life paintings. These images might be thought of as an invitation for the viewer to reflect on the certainty of death and the fragility of life. In all three compositions we see beautiful models posed alongside decaying and rotting animal flesh, a reminder of the proximity of death and the vanity of pleasures of the flesh.

The first image of this series features infamous queer model Oscar James Grace holding an arrangement -- perhaps an offering -- of dead birds and dead flowers.

In the second image of this series model Laura Dynamite tenderly nurses a dead duck. I like the juxtaposition between the image of a woman nursing (an act associated to reproduction and the rearing of new life) with the decaying flesh that she cradles.


Finally, in the third image of this series model Sarah Samedi poses alongside a real lampshade that I built out of raw and fetid goat stomach. This piece employs the rotting flesh lampshade as a reminder of the omnipresence of death. The eerie mottled orange light falling on the model's face reminds us of the spectre of mortality and juxtaposes nicely with the cooler tones of the studio lighting on her right hand side.


Self Portraits with Pig Organs by Neal Auch

It's just a couple of weeks until the Shadowood Collective's group exhibition Betwixt & Between the Monsters we Dream, and I'm yet again gearing up by sharing some of the images that will be part of the show. 

This diptych consists of two self-portraits, both with pig digestive organ meats.  (That's stomach in the first shot and intestines in the second, for those keeping track of such things.)  These shots are something of a departure for me in that this will mark my first time stepping out from behind the camera and sharing a photo of myself in public.  The idea of temporarily taking on the role of a model was a bit intimidating since I'm generally pretty shy about sharing my own image, the pose here is both revealing and unflattering, and I am absolutely in no way qualified to be a model.  Nevertheless, I decided to push through my initial discomfort and I'm happy that I did.  Indeed, I think a certain amount of discomfort in art is a good thing, and ultimately it was a lot of fun to try something new.  So enjoy the diptych of dick pics!

Cover Art Review: Tom Waits' Rain Dogs by Neal Auch


The second instalment in my series of cover art reviews is Tom Waits' 1985 album Rain Dogs.  Waits is a bit of a departure from my usual musical diet of creepy dark ambient and weirdo experimental, but this is an interesting piece of music accompanied by an absolutely wonderful and perfectly matched photo by Anders Petersen.

Over a career spanning decades Waits has honed to near perfection an image of himself as a kind of vagabond poet who sleeps in ditches and stirs his brandy with a rusty nail and croons passionately in a gravely voice about long lost loves.  He's kind of like Bukowski meets Captain Beefheart meets a 1920s train-hopping tramp.  Along with Swordfishtrombones and Frank's Wild Years, Rain Dogs is an album about the urban dispossessed and, fittingly, the album was composed during a two-month stint in a basement room in a rough part of Manhattan.

The cover art for Rain Dogs is by photographer Anders Petersen, whose work I greatly admire and who I've written about previously on this blog.  The shot comes from Petersen's famous work Cafe Lehmitz, which life at a dive bar on the Reeperbahn in the late 1960s with stunning intimacy.  Petersen's subjects were on the fringes of society: many were drunks, addicts, sex workers, etc.  In other words: Petersen's subjects were precisely the kinds of people Waits' songs seek to give voice to.

In my inaugural cover art review I suggested three criteria for a piece to work: relevance, consistency, and quality.  I intended these as vague guidelines and I can certainly imagine a successful piece that flouts one or all of these "rules".  That being said, the cover of Rain Dogs fits my criteria as perfectly as I can imagine.  The image is relevant thematically and consistent tonally, as is evident simply from understanding the context of both the record and the photo.  But the relevance goes deeper when we note how much the man on the cover looks like Tom Waits.  This guy is absolutely not Tom Waits -- the couple depicted are named Rose and Lily -- but the resemblance is so striking as to almost be a bit creepy.  The last criteria, quality, is also undeniable, at least for me.  I love Petersen's work and I love this image, I love how intimate the moment is, how real the emotion is.  I love the weird crop on the laughing woman's face.  I love the odd peacefulness of the man, perhaps drunk and near falling asleep on her chest.  It's all fucking perfect. 


Help Sarah Make Ends Meet by Neal Auch

Sarah, the model whom you might remember from my last portraiture shoot, has been fighting uterine cancer since well before I met her. She's been out of work for some time, her partner is currently between jobs, and they've set up a Go Fund Me campaign to try and make ends meet during this difficult time. She's an awesome person and a talented model and if anybody out there can spare some cash to help her out that would be hella awesome.  Go HERE to help Sarah out, every little bit helps.

Model Shoot: Sarah Samedi by Neal Auch

I recently had the pleasure of working with Hamilton-based model and makeup artist Sarah Samedi.  Sarah has a great look and is fantastically talented.  On top of all that she is also very courageous an inspiring: not only is Sarah still booking model shoots between chemotherapy sessions, but she was enthusiastic about working with me.  And, it probably goes without saying, my portraiture sessions are a high bar to clear for any model: they are long, tedious, smelly, disgusting, and completely unglamorous.  It was a pleasure and an honour having Sarah in the studio.  Above are some of my favourite takes from the session, there's more in my Accord gallery.  If you want to see more of Sarah have a look at the following links:

Model Shoot: Jessicka by Neal Auch

I recently had the pleasure of working with Jessicka, a very talented model based out of Hamilton.  Jessicka has a great look, was terrifically fun to work with, and was super open minded about getting into the gore on set.  The images above are probably my favourites from the shoot.  You can see lots more shots of Jessicka playing around with dead stuff on my Accord page.

If you want to see more of Jessicka check out the following links:

  1. Instagram: @make.you.sin
  2. Jessicka on Facebook
  3. Model Mayhem

Model Shoot: Laura Dynamite by Neal Auch

I recently had the pleasure of working with Hamilton based alt model Laura Dynamite.  Laura is very talented, has a look that goes perfectly with my visual aesthetic, and was delightfully willing to get into the concept.  The images above are some of my favourites from the shoot, there are lots more to peruse in my Accord gallery.

If you want to see more of Laura be sure to check out the following links:

  1. Twitter
  2. Zivity
  3. Tumblr
  4. Facebook



    Model Shoot: Glodeane Brown by Neal Auch

    I recently had the pleasure of doing a model shoot with the talented Glodeane Brown, a model, interior designer, and writer who blogs about art and culture over at Culture Fancier.  (She's on instagram as @culturefancier, if you wish to see more.)

    Glodeane was lots of fun to work with and a great sport about getting up close and personal with all the nasty things in my studio, especially since the goat stomach lampshade hadn't been properly refrigerated and was getting ripe by the end of the shoot.  I've put a handful of my favourite captures from the shoot above.  There are lots more images, which you can peruse in my Accord gallery.

    Model shoot: Craig Scarr by Neal Auch

    I recently did my first model shoot with local talent Craig Scarr; you can have a look at some more images in the newly-added Portraiture page.   I built a bunch of fun props for the shoot, my favourite being the lampshade pictured above, which I painstakingly sewed together out of raw sheep stomachs.  Craig was a great sport about being on set with a lot of raw meat products, especially because the tumbler full of pig blood he was pretending to drink from smelled unbelievably horrible.  Of course, I could have used water and red food colouring and gotten the same effect, but there's something about the authenticity of having real blood on set that just feels right to me.  Enjoy!