People who are familiar with this little blog know a while back I did a little series on my inspiration and influences in the field of writing, my 2nd love. Now with me finding my 1st love once again, in photography, I figured I’d revisit that series, but this time highlighting all the photographers that I’ve found influential and have inspired me to try and be a great photographer myself.
First up is Arny Freytag. Odds are most people won’t recognize that name, though I’m willing to bet a great deal of people (mostly men and adolescent boys who eventually grew into men like me) will have seen his pictures. He’s been shooting centerfolds for Playboy magazine for over 35 years and actually holds the record for most centerfolds shot. I think every young man can remember the first issue of playboy he ever saw, maybe copping it from his dad’s sock drawer, or checking out the issue his best friend stole from his older brother. Me, well I had a subscription at 15. What can I say, my family was very liberal about such things, more to the point they knew I had already seen my fare share of nudity on television and movies, whether on purpose or by accident, long before that first Playboy found its way into my hands.
My first Playboy was the Januarary issue from 1991, featuring one Stacy Arthur on the cover. And like many 15 year old boys with a playboy, I pretty much eschewed any and all articles (though I did read the cartoons) to get to the “good stuff.” Now admittedly, I didn’t pay too much attention to the name of the guy taking the pictures, but what I found, even at that age, was how beautiful the pictures that were taken were. And I’m not talking about the focus of the pictures, but the overall pictures themselves. The way the lighting was set up, the glow of the lights reflecting off the model and the overall composition of the photos. It was clear the person in charge didn’t think of these photos as just pictures of naked girls, but works of art, and they were. Yeah, the models were hot, that’s a given, but anyone can take a picture of a naked beautiful women. Not everyone can take a simple idea and make it leap off the page, making those photos look like a living painting with color hues and lighting techniques that play just as much an important part as the model surrounded by it all. Freytag himself has said he thinks of the lighting on his shoots acts as a kind of brush stroke to a painting.
Freytag’s photos pushed me into wanting to be a photographer, partially because, as any 15 year old guy believes, taking pictures of some of the most beautiful women in the world who happened to be naked is a cush job. But also, I realized there was more to it than that. These pictures were art, they were beautiful, and I wanted to create something as beautiful and memorable, with or without the playmates.
Examples of Freytag’s works: