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    Nothing is Real but the Girl
    Joseph Francis uses real models and photo-realistic virtual sets in his photos.
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    Background




    As an artist Frank had many styles. He was a strong draftsman capable of great realism in sculpture and drawing, but he often worked in a modern art idiom, using mitered cylinders. When he did this kind of work he called himself an Analytic Constructivist.

    I once asked Frank why he liked cylinders so much. He explained to me that he liked the dual nature of the cylinder: when it was tall in comparison to its radius, the cylinder's resemblance to a one-dimensional line emerged; when it was short in comparison to its radius, its quality as a curved two-dimensional surface dominated.

    More on Frank Smullin here.
    What is your background Joseph?
    When I was in high school I was interested in both art and computer science. I thought combining the two and studying computer graphics might be a good idea, but in 1981 there were few such opportunities, so when I went to college I studied both subjects as separate majors. I attended Duke University where I met a sculptor named Frank Smullin who was very influential to me. He was using computer graphics software of his own invention to design and manufacture sculptures. I worked with him from the time I entered Duke until his untimely death from a sudden illness in 1983.

    Upon graduating I was fortunate to join the fledgling computer graphics department of R/Greenberg Associates in Manhattan. The company, now known as R/GA, focuses on interactive media now, but at the time it was an influential force in motion graphics, particularly in movie main title design, but it was strong as well as in commercials, feature film visual effects, and print. I was at the NY office of R/GA from the time of my graduation from Duke University in 1985 to 1993, when I joined the new west coast branch of the company, RGA/LA, to concentrate on Hollywood work. RGA/LA eventually gave rise to Imaginary Forces, as this Variety article describes.


    This was my first time working with a model. I remember as Art Director I gave her a long explanation about what I wanted the image to accomplish. She looked at me and then turned to the photographer with an expression of slight panic. He told her, 'There's jewels in the box!' And with that she went to work.
    When I was still in NY I devoted a lot of attention to the print division of the company, RGA Print. We were particularly interested in leveraging or procedural digital work to print applications to try and do new and interesting things. Some of the work I did there is credited as kick-starting the rise of Photo Mosaics (see the wiki page on the topic, History section, 1993) -- Some other print work I contributed to at the time included this cover for American Cinematographer and this cover for Newsweek. The most interesting project that arose from my work with RGA Print, however, was this cover I designed for How Magazine. Although I was not the photographer, this was the first time I worked with a professional model, and I attribute a lot of my interest in continuing to work with model photography to this project.

    How did you got into photography?
    I got into photography because I wanted to continue to do the kind of work I did before at R/GA, except I wanted to creatively control the entire project. Photography can be expensive, even as a hobby, but it is not so expensive as to be impossible to do on one's own, and with every passing year cameras were getting better and cheaper. In 2005 I bought myself my first decent quality digital camera, a Nikon D200. I spent a lot of time in retrospect wondering if I would have been happier with a Canon 5D, but I was happy enough, and I had started to invest in lenses, so I continued along the Nikon path. I avoided the smaller DX-sized lenses, banking on Nikon one day creating FX-format (so-called 'full frame') sensors, and today I have a Nikon D3s whose low light performance makes me very happy.

    I had always been interested in the theatricality of fetish fashion, so in order to learn more about photography I chose a workshop created by photographer Robert M Sanders called FetishPhotoBox. Which took this subject as its focus. There I met additional instructors Perry Gallagher and Michael Helms, both known for their ability to see and use available light. I also met a number of the world's top fetish models, some of whom I continue to keep in touch and work with today.

    Warning: The next pages contains nudity.
    Adversitment
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