Billy Monday has been interested in photography pretty much for his whole life.
Billy’s father, an engineer, worked briefly for Argus Camera, the company which pioneered and popularized 35mm photography in the United States.
During the during ’60s and ’70s, being thus presented with the opportunities of a lucky lad living in a house full of cameras, Billy rapidly gravitated to become the family photographer by documenting the events and trips of his youth.
Ever the documentarian, Billy today secures income from photography, mainly through shooting weddings and other events.
Art photography provides an outlet whereby Billy keeps his creative interests up.
“I do not consider my work to be ‘glamour’ photography at all.
My objective is not to sexualize women or to produce titillating images.
Rather, I seek to capture the beauty of the human form and to create photographs which speak with emotion and the purity of clean graphic design.”
Well, I think they are glamorous … would I rather be right, or just enjoy the photos…?
Gotta love Billy’s photos, decides I.
“Photography is to me both a love and a profession. Work or play, I usually have some sort of camera in my hand.”
Billy uses a variety of equipment, both film and digital.
“Normally I make photos with a 35mm-format digital camera of one sort of another.
I have a strong personal preference for rangefinder cameras and also for fixed-focal-length lenses.
I find that zoom lenses get in the way of my creative process, adding a compositional variable I do not need. Additionally, they are heavy, less sharp, and very expensive. So I am happy to ‘zoom with my feet.’
When I shoot with film, the film goes straight from the processing tank into the scanner and is treated like a digital image thenceforth.
I decided to find out more about Billy after viewing and being captivated by his image ‘Committed‘ of Model Mila Avani leaping off a cliff in her Model Mayhem portfolio.
Whenever I look, I am delightedly struck anew by this poignant image, a frozen timeless instant of a beautiful woman’s spectacular leap into a sunset.
What power and freedom are seen here, yes?
Driven to know more about the creative impulse required to capture such an image, I asked Billy directly as to its genesis.
” ‘Committed‘ was made in 2010 near Marquette, Michigan, on the shores of Lake Superior.
The model, Mila Avani, and I had just wrapped up an early morning session on the rocks along the coastline there, and Mila said:
‘I’m jumping off that cliff now.
You can either take a picture or don’t, but I’m jumping.’
That cliff is at least 30 feet high, so I figured that her husband and the police might want some record of her final moments and I set up my tripod to get ready.
If you set the D300 properly you can get 8 frames-per-second, which is nearly like making a movie.
Thus, capturing the frame was not difficult.”
Not difficult says Billy … Ha!
“I pressed the cable release, shouted ‘go’ to her and she leapt.
The sun was behind her but there was enough reflection off the water to fill in the shadows on the viewer’s side of the frame, so the image is not a pure silhouette.
As with all my images, the photo was captured as a raw file and processed through Adobe Lightroom. So there was a little exposure latitude to play with once I got the image to the computer.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having a good collaborator when making images such as these.
It’s obvious that trust between the artist and the subject is important, but perhaps less obvious is the talent needed by the model. There are a lot of women on the internet and elsewhere who claim to be models. Some are making a decent income at it, but a legitimate artist’s model like Mila is rare indeed.
Working in the natural environment can be uncomfortable, risky, and frustrating. A true professional model can get past all of that and still focus on the creative concept, guaranteeing successful images.
I’ve been lucky to know a few such models, and to count some of them as good friends.
I’m looking forward to creating more images with them, both in the studio and in the natural environment, in 2011!”
Thank you Billy for sharing your art, time and thoughts!
To view more of Billy Monday’s works, click here.
Images © Billy Monday
For a listing of Photographers Profiled on GlamourPhotography.co, click here.