The design of the human form is specific. Each element born of purpose. We are creatures that move as we should. Yet, when a camera appears there are those that go stiff and awkward and those that maintain their most human of agilities. To represent this in art, the artist needs an understanding of the form and shape of the body, the sway and curl, bend and twist, of our anatomy.
I found the work of New York-based photographer Daniel Anton in my usual way — the neverending clickthrough of links, likes, favorites, and various tags that bind the world of social media together. I was immediately struck by how natural his photographs were. His figures, all women, living as they do. There is photography of style — a voice that shouts over the subject and comes out in the final edit of the image. Anton’s photography, he’s just there. You see the faces and silhouettes, the wrinkles of skin and the shadows that run from knee to ankle. These women are alive and real. His work is intimate and immediate, like sitting at an easel in a figure drawing class. He’s giving you access to a real moment.
Anton is one of the few artists I’ve followed over to the world of Patreon, a site where patrons can make monthly donations to access the work of their favorite creators. Anton will post a single photograph to his Instagram account with the full photoshoot living behind the paywall of Patreon. It’s an interesting business model and being curious about what I would find, I am now paying three different artists to access their work. What follows is a brief exchange I had with the photographer and a sampling of the work he shares on Patreon.
CJ: Is photography your full-time job?
DA: This may be surprising to hear, but it is not and I’m very happy to keep it that way. The reason is two-fold — first off, I have too many expenses to even entertain the notion of supporting myself on a photographer’s salary. And secondly, the minute it becomes a job is the same minute I hang up the camera and find something new to occupy my mind.
I found you through the work of model Jessamyne Rose and looking through your work I see a lot of recognizable faces. Is the world of figurative art photography a tight-knit group? How are you finding your models? What inspires you to photograph certain people?
Oh, Jessamyne is my favorite. There is a classic, timeless beauty to her work and style which instantly appealed to me, and our styles just mesh really well. She’s been in the game a long time and has somehow managed to stay true to her art, and I really admire her for that. And if you’re reading this, you should go support her Patreon!
As for the community at large, yes, it is a much more closely knit group than you would expect. But that seems to hold true mostly among the models in the community. It seems, for the most part, they are very supportive of one another. I wish the same could be said about the photographers, but with a few exceptions, most come to the game with oversized and very fragile egos. But I suppose that holds true for many different professions. I’ve had Fetish models, Erotic models, and Dominatrixes reach out to me looking for a little change to their portfolios. I’ll shoot with whoever wants to shoot with me. The only problem is time. There is never enough of it.
I’m new to giving support via Patreon. It was actually something I was a bit skeptical of at first, but I’m warming up to it, as it gives artists a platform to create what they truly want and potentially make money from it. I like your model for your tiers — pay what you want (From $1 and beyond) and get everything. As a patron, as the work available grows it inspires more giving, where I’m going to up all of my donations. What’s your relationship to Patreon? Are you happy with the platform?
Patreon for me was an experiment. If I offered everything for just $1, could I get enough supporters to quit my day job? Even 1/10th of my instagram followers would do it! As you can see from my page, the answer is a resounding “not gonna happen.” I’ll keep it going anyway because, quite frankly, there is nowhere else to publish nude work anymore, and it’s an easy platform to use.
Your work is incredibly natural — from the models to the light and compositions, each photograph feels real. With nude photography, there is a tendency to emphasize sexuality and desire, or some mystical quality of the model. Do you let the model lead the way for a shoot, or are you directing them and the environment to capture what’s in your head?
For me, the light always sets the mood, and I shoot almost exclusively with natural light. Perhaps some fabric or flowers to help texturize. Once the subject is in the proper light, the rest is a dance between photographer and model. Maybe I will direct if I get a flash of an idea buzzing through my head, but mostly, all my shoots are experiments, and the model and the photographer both play the role of the mad scientists.
“The minute it becomes a job is the same minute I hang up the camera and find something new to occupy my mind.”
– Daniel Anton