Michael Taggart

And Now For Something Completely Different… And A Bit NSFW

Hold on to your e-readers, folks, because we’re taking a bit of a detour from the review business this morning, and it’s not with an author interview or giveaway either. No, when I say “completely different”, I mean it in a “this post has absolutely nothing to do with books” kind of way.

Today, we have the honor of welcoming photographer Michael Taggart to The Novel Approach. Michael’s come by for a visit to share not only a little bit about himself but also to share some of his art with us.

I hope you enjoy perusing some of the photos he’s chosen to share and will take a moment to say hello and let him know how much you appreciate what his talent.

**Note: All photos are clickable and link to the full-sized image on Michael’s Flickr page**

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TNA: Michael, if you were to share three things about yourself to help us get to know you a little bit better, what would those three things be?

MT: When I met my husband for the very first time I immediately knew I we were going to be together for life. It took awhile for that to happen, though! We were best friends for about four years, dated for 4 more, and have now been married for 10 years. He’s the organization and grounding to my creative chaos!

We live in an old 1920’s house with three beautiful (and very spoiled) cats. Simba is big, orange, and has a cast iron stomach. Bermuda Moses sleeps hard, loves a lot, and is a bit high strung. Halo Harvest is a kitten we picked up on the side of the road while coming home from Harvest Homecoming (a local festival). We’ve never had a princess in the house before but we now love her dearly and she bosses us all around.

I guess the third thing would be that I’m always taking song lyrics and switching them up to fit the current situation. Harold says I’m his very own Weird Al.

TNA: How old were you when you realized photography was more than just a hobby for you?

MT: Actually, it is still a hobby for me! I have a full time job that takes care of the bills and pays for all the camera equipment. It can be difficult to find time to shoot, edit and network but somehow it all happens.

TNA: Are you a natural talent, or did you take photography classes? Is there such a thing as teaching a talent for your form of art, or do you have to have an inborn eye for it?

MT: I didn’t take any photography classes. Instead I volunteered with a local theater company to shoot all their plays. Theater lighting is VERY challenging. The camera freaks out when the actor has a bright light on them and the background is very dark. It’s looking for something in the middle of the light range so it blows out the highlights on the actor and all you get is a white face. Camera noise in low lighting is just terrible and when you add drama and movement it can be a mess.

I began a quest to get good pictures in this environment and that led to learning my camera setting really well – as well as lots of post processing tips and tricks. When I started my own shoots I had a good grounding in dramatic lighting and movement.

If you want to learn how to take pictures I would highly suggest volunteering! I’m sure local softball league, park or theater would love to have your talents.

TNA: Was there someone who inspired and encouraged your love of photography?


MT: I was very lucky to be in the office with Judi Davidson. She is a local artist with lots of experience in painting and drawing. She is always encouraging me to find my zen and create from that space. Judi is always ready to jump into whatever the latest project is and she’s always telling me that everything will turn out fine!

My other inspiration isn’t just one person – it was more of a group. I uploaded my theater pictures to Flickr and ended up meeting a lot of people who were doing amazing photography in their homes and neighborhoods. I’m still very plugged into Flickr and I’m constantly amazed and inspired.

TNA: Do you remember the first photo you ever took that made you think, “Wow! I’m really good at this?” If so, what was the subject?




MT: I had 3 moments like this. The first was titled Young Sherlock Holmes. It was with my first model David R and was my very first ‘story’ picture. I’d had a few comments on my other pictures but this one just exploded. People wanted to know where he was, why was he there, what was the story and what was going to happen? Up to this point I’d been messing around with colored backgrounds and this was my first attempt and a whole new setting.

The second was Oxygen. It was a pure fantasy piece that just really clicked with me. I still haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else.

The third was Selkie. It had a whole story that went with the picture and it was the first time I put the full model into a picture (including his feet). The whole scene is made up but it looks to me like I really shot it on a pier with the ocean behind him. That really was the moment when I thought – I can do this!

TNA: If you could name a thing or two that makes your art unique, what would it (they) be?


MT: I try to create pieces with story – pieces that move, breath, have life beyond what you can see in a frame. When I’m shooting with a model I try to give them a mood to feel and something to focus on. I usually have the model in motion and moving around. You can tell when a picture is static and posed and I like capturing the flow much better. I’ve even given my camera to a fellow photographer – grabbed a sword – and had a full on sword fight with Matt! The resulting pictures were excellent!

TNA: Where’s the most exciting place one (or several) of your photographs has ever been seen/published?

MT: I’ve released all my pictures on a Creative Commons – Attribute, Non Commercial license. That means they can be used for blogs, wallpapers, promotions, etc. just as long as the users isn’t making lots of money off my art. If my art is to be used in a moneyed venture then they have to license it. Because of this I’ve had a lot of my work used with non-profits. I’m most proud of Can’t Bound and Redemption being used by a teen suicide prevention web site in South America.

I love to read – so my dream would be to have my work used as a book cover!

TNA: How do you find and then select your models? What’s the one (or few) quality(ies) you look for?


MT: My first four models – I just asked them! Right after I decided to do my own photography we had a pride festival in Louisville, KY. An underwear designer had a booth there and I ended up doing a runway show and underwear contest for him. Through that I met some models and asked them to shoot with me. My very first model – David R – wasn’t a model and I just thought he would be neat to work with so I went up and asked him.

I found my later models through ModelMayhem.com. It’s like Facebook for the modeling industry. You can find models, makeup artists, photographers, etc. on the site.

Finding models is also a lot like dating – you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince! About half the time the models don’t show for the shoot and if they do show sometimes they look very different than they do in their pictures. I used to get upset about this but now I just accept it for what it is and move on.

When picking a model I look for abs, a cute face, and personality. The personality really shows up in the pictures. People fall in love with the face of a model first – and killer abs can save just about any shot!

TNA: Would the people who model for you say you’re pretty easy to work for, or would they say you’re a tough taskmaster?

MT: LOL – I’m not sure! I do know I want a lot more from them than the typical ‘serious model look’. I don’t think I’m tough – but I am persistent. I keep chipping away at their guard until it comes down and I can get some great shots.

TNA: What’s your idea of a truly sexy photograph?


MT: The face! Everyone falls in love with the face. Hot bodies are wonderful – but it all begins with a certain look. Next time you see a picture of a great guy – take a piece of paper and cover up different parts. You’ll find the face pulls you in and can stand on its own. The legs or abs or chest look nice but they suddenly look ‘generic’ without the right expression. “Cute/Handsome” and “Hot Body” always beat “handsome” or “hot” on their own.

TNA: I know this question is a little bit like asking someone to choose their favorite child, but do you have a photo that stands out in your mind as an all time favorite?

MT: That is a cruel question!!! I’ve spent the last 20 minutes trying to narrow it down to the top 10! LOL

I guess I have to go with Trials of Eros. The original picture had such potential and I didn’t want to waste it on a mediocre idea. I waited several months until I had the right edit in mind – and it came out even better than I hoped. The picture caught fire on Flickr and is now one of my most popular pictures ever.

TNA: Will you share all the places we can find you on the internet?

MT: I’ve been active on Flickr, Google Plus, and Facebook for a while now. I was getting a bit frustrated, though, because it seemed like I was spending a lot of time at each place but it wasn’t building towards anything. I had a blog but didn’t do much with it. One day I went to seminar about inbound marketing for my job and it hit me that a blog could be the center to everything I do. With that in mind I started a new blog on wordpress.com and linked everything to it.

The result has been excellent!!

I’m posting a picture a day and that has really gone over well. I’ve found lots of new friends and the consistent posting has energized my G+ and Facebook fans.

Etsy for prints – http://gay-male-art.com
Blog – http://gay-male-art-blog.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/michael.taggart.photography.1
Google Plus – https://plus.google.com/113025160280391666913/
Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/michael_harold/
Tumblr – http://www.tumblr.com/blog/male-models-by-michael
Twitter – http://twitter.com/taggartm

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Thanks so much for stopping by Michael, and for sharing yourself and your work with us!

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8 thoughts on “And Now For Something Completely Different… And A Bit NSFW

  1. B. Snow says:

    Lovely pics!

    And I just have to tell you, you aren’t the only one who changes song lyrics, especially if you’re changing them to be about your cats. :P

    Like

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