One Truth to Rule Them All

Hi! My name is Chris and I’m asexual.

Hi Chr…wait, what?

So this seems like a very odd way to begin a post on a website devoted to photography, but trust me–it is totally relevant. As I said: I am asexual. Not that you could tell by looking at me: outwardly I look like a typical cis, white male. But take a peek under the hood and…not a lot is going on. And I’m cool with that. Correction: I am cool with that now. For several decades I had no idea and every time I got close to getting a clue denial came crashing down like a million-pound shithammer. It’s only been over the last five to six years that I’ve learned to come to terms with who I am.

In most of my life, asexuality has been something of an albatross. I don’t want to relive much of my past, but spending all of your adolescence and most of your adult life feeling “defective” isn’t fun. Presenting as a cis, white male has cloaked me in a tremendous amount of privilege and I haven’t faced nearly the level of discrimination and hostility as others in the LGBTQIA community. All of the scorn levied at me has been internal. The important thing is that I’m in a good place now. I’m more comfortable in my own skin, more open with others about how I roll (i.e. I don’t), and almost always willing to talk.

As a photographer asexuality comes with its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to sensual/erotic/fetish photography, but also comes with some delightful perks. Models never have to worry about me touching them for starters, because ewwww. Mission creep is also not a thing: a portrait session will not turn into an implied session and implied into nude. An aversion to spontaneous nudity is a singularly odd trait in a <checks notes> art nude photographer, but hey…you play the hand you were dealt. Even the challenges I experience as a result tend to forge a really lovely sense of collaboration and mutual experimentation.

But those are all posts for another day. Today is about speaking my truth and laying the groundwork for discussing life as The World’s Best Asexual Art Nude Photographer.* I assure you, there are a lot more “wait, what?” moments to come.

*At least until someone else steps up to claim the mantle. Until then, it’s all me, baby!

And Now For Something Completely Different

Ivy Sublime, local burlesque artist

For those looking for headshots: welcome! It looks a bit…different…around here. Less head-shotty, more NSFW.

The cold, hard reality I’ve been dealing with is that in the era of COVID, specializing in headshot photography is just too risky. My studio is in my home, which I share with a nurse, a college student, and a first-grader. My wife treats COVID-positive patients. I, myself, travel frequently for work. We follow strict health and safety guidelines–only going out when needed, social distancing, hand washing with gusto–but the reality is that half of us have to go out and when we do we’re engaging with people waaaaay outside our pods.

I like making money with my photography and I love making people look their best, but there is no way in hell I’m going to put my clients at risk. I’ve watched way too many episodes of The Good Place and I know what a casual disregard for others gets you (spoiler: it’s The Bad Place).

Headshots were only one part of my oeuvre. Outside of that I enjoy exploring the more sensual side of the photographic arts, from art nudes to fashion nudes to kink and fetish. Which, as an asexual, is kind of hilarious, but that’s a post for another day. I have largely been sharing this work on various photography and social media sites, but as they have begun to get more aggressively and indiscriminately puritanical I wanted a place of my own where I can share these creations with the world.

Turns out, I have a website where I can do that! But I also wanted to be true to myself and not hide these works off in some dingy little corner where you feel creepy viewing them and I feel shameful for needing to hide them. I love this side of my craft and I’m proud of these images. It is my hope that you’ll enjoy them as well.

And, gods be willing, when COVID is wrestled to the ground and life returns to some semblance of normal, I’ll return to the headshot game.

A Tale of Three Images

I grew up in the wet darkroom era, shooting with hand-me-down cameras, crap lenses, fast-and-grainy film (hey, Kodak Tri-X), and printing on the most affordable paper I could buy. When I first dipped my toe into digital on a serious level I instantly became hooked on both the ability to really work in color and having sharp, detailed images. I was done with grain, done with muted images, done with black and white.

And I still largely am. Here are three images that represent how I normally process images.

Jo Rose, Durham-based Burlesque Artist

This is my Platonic Ideal image. White balance is very much on the cold side. I shot it at ISO 160 so it is clean and free of digital noise. I used a one-light setup so the image has a lot of contrast. It is shot in a minimalist setting to highlight the subject.

Some would say it lacks artistry. I say get bent. I spent years not being able to financially afford to create works in color and now that I can I’m not going to toss a bunch of filters and effects on them and make it look like I’m back in the wet darkroom using shit equipment. I’m a photographer, not a digital artist. I am Richard Avedon, But With Talent.

Lately, though…my resolve has slipped. I may have spent all of my formative years tethered to black and white imagery against my will, but at some point Stockholm Syndrome catches hold.

This is my First Love image. Still very clean (fuck off, Tri-X), still very contrasty, but yes, I’m back to the monochrome world. In fact, over the last three years I’ve adopted the practice of shooting with my camera in monochrome so that I can see exactly how my light is falling. In the last year I’ve gone back to creating images with the intent of having a black and white final print. Spare me the romanticism of how black and white is a more “pure” art form, but I will totally cop to the belief that shooting with a monochrome end product in mind changes the way you see things.

Plus, it’s classy as fuck.

This is my Where Did I Go Wrong? image. Ok, I caved. I went warmer than normal. It is a bit noisier (but just a bit). I’ve gone the matte route. I haven’t added a ton of filters, but I’m definitely playing with a more artsy look.

And I really dig it. Not love, or at least not True Love, but sooooo, so close. I am enjoying the creativity and getting out of my comfort zone. I’m enjoying how it can take a “meh” image and breathe new life into it. There is just a part of me that says that I’m straying from photography and into the realm of digital artistry.

Most of the images you’ll see here are going to be either Platonic Ideal or First Love, but I have gone down a deep matte processing rabbit hole lately and in the short term you might see more of those here. I assure you it is temporary and I’ll be back to stale and sterile in no time.

Welcome to Chris Ubik Photography, LLC

Hello, interwebs! It’s great to be back. Back? you say? This is your inaugural post. Here at UbikPhotography.com, sure, but I’m an old-school blogger going all the way back to 2003. This was a time where only half the households in America had internet access, DSL was the king of the hill, and I was running my own blogging software because content management systems like WordPress were a) primitive beasts, and b) just starting to appear (WordPress debuted a month and a half after my first post).

It was also a different time personally and creatively and I will NOT be revisiting any of my old posts. There aren’t enough fainting chairs in the country for that kind of madness.

So why begin anew? There are several reasons for jumping into the photoblogging scene, circa 2020:

Social Media is a Dumpster Fire. I will undoubtedly have much to say on this subject, but the TL;DR of it is that Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and their ilk have, thanks to SESTA/FOSTA, become unfriendly places for those who like their art with the barest hint of sensuality. I occasionally like more than a barest hint of sensuality, so it’s either stay there and be shadow/perma-banned or go back to the Old Ways.

I enjoy writing. I was the nerd throughout college who inwardly did a fist-pump when I saw a term paper of twenty pages or longer in the syllabus. My specialty is non-fiction: I have a BA in History and an MA in Museum Studies, so writing dry, persuasive text is my forte. But I am also a huge smart-ass, which doesn’t mesh well with, say, the traditional tone of a historical monograph or business proposal.

So in order to scratch that particular itch I have always indulged in more personal (read: generally snarky in tone and peppered with four-letter Anglo-Saxonisms) writing in one form or another. This will give me the opportunity to create the melange of style and substance that I (and, ideally, my readers) enjoy. And what better way to indulge in a passion than to do it for free!?

Maybe I should re-think this…

I enjoy talking about my artwork. Photography is an intensely personal pursuit and I enjoy few things more than talking about my work and how and why I created a particular image. Some have stories behind them, some have none at all, and a handful are total rejects whose value I only noticed years after the fact. Those are my favorites.

I want to make a lot of money. And hey, if the arts isn’t the path to limitless wealth, I don’t know what is!

I may have to rethink this, too…

So let’s begin, shall we?!

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