Photographer Robert C Cochran

Photographer: Robert C Cochran

Model Meluxine
Model: Meluxine
Model: Brooke Lynne
Model: Carlotta Champagne
Model: Anne Duffy
Model: Claudine Photographer: Robert C Cochran
Model: Anne Duffy Photographer: Robert C Cochran
Model Brooke LeBree Photographer: Robert C Cochran
Model Meluxine
Model Anne Duffy
fine art nudes story telling travel

Tara Tree – Illuminata

Tara Tree - Illuminata ©2016
Tara Tree – Illuminata ©2016

Tara Tree – Illuminata

This is another image where I’m fairly sure I can’t say I came up with the concept. Tara Tree and I were scouting locations in Kauai when we decided to explore a cave. We were taking phone photos of various places we visited and I believe it was Tara who snapped a photo of me standing with the wide entrance of the cave behind me. An almost alien silhouette.

I say I believe it was Tara who took the photo that inspired this one, because going back through my iPhone photos from that day, I don’t see the image I remember us both being excited about. In other words, not on my phone, so I didn’t make it. It was Tara. Definitely Tara.

I kept that happy snapshot discovery in the back of my head when Tara and I returned on our actual shoot morning. And we began deep inside the cave with the light coming in from the entrance, our only light source, directly at Tara with me in between. After about an hour of making beautiful photographs of Tara from that vantage point, I remembered the alien silhouette snapshot. And we traded places.

Tara began a series of dances and poses that were all quite lovely, but it was one that we made at the beginning that caught my eye weeks later. And I’m fairly sure it’s one of Tara moving between poses actually. But I love the simplicity of her near genuflect in that light. Almost as if she’s emerging from a cocoon of darkness into this dazzling light.

It just feels like a new beginning to me. Which is what I was truly feeling on this subterranean day of discovery. Thank you, Tara Tree!

fine art nudes story telling travel

Jessamyne – A Million Miles Away

Jessamyne - A Million Miles Away ©2016
Jessamyne – A Million Miles Away ©2016

Jessamyne – A Million Miles Away


“I said, that’s good! Lean forward like that again!”


I held my index finger up to Jessamyne in the international gesture of, “Hold on a sec.”

You see, she was outside on the deck of our Hawaiian oceanfront villa and I was inside, photographing her through a window. And that pesky relentless ocean roar, was making communication beyond hand signals more or less impossible. Such are the hazards of beach living.

We had a quick conference out on the desk and I ran back inside. This was our 12th setup of the day. We needed few words anymore at that point to communicate. We were in a groove.

A few days earlier we had gone through her luggage and picked out several beautiful things to photograph her in. Beautiful lace, sheer and vintage fabrics, so even though Jessa is gorgeous in nothing at all, it would have been a missed opportunity to not photograph her wearing a few of these one of a kind designs.

This day was my first time photographing Jessa, although I had been an admirer of her work for some time. She’s originally from Perth, Australia, but happily, we have both ended up in Los Angeles at the present time. And we’re already planning more collaborations, which I couldn’t be more excited about. Thank you, Jessamyne!

story telling travel

Meluxine – Dress Handfuls

Meluxine - Dress Handfuls (color version) ©2016
Meluxine – Dress Handfuls (color version) ©2016

Meluxine – Dress Handfuls

“Aw, we lost the sun,” Meluxine said, as she noticed the gorgeous shafts of sunlight that until very recently had been beautifully falling on her through the window, had faded away. I pulled the camera away from my eye and walked over to the window. I had noticed it too, but I was wondering if the sun had dipped behind the clouds for a few seconds or whether it was going to be gone for a bit longer.

That’s the thing about Kauai. It can be sunny one minute, cloudy the next, and then rainy-sunny somehow, or any combination in a period of 20 minutes. But even the cloudiness or the rain is quite lovely. By the end of our 10 days on our island paradise, even we were starting to say, “Look. Another rainbow,” more matter of factly and with a slightly lower amount of surprised enthusiasm than when we first arrived. Funny how you can begin to take even double rainbows for granted on this island. There are just so many! Every day!

Anyway, it was Meluxine who suggested maybe we head out to the beach and just see what we could make in the overcast for a bit. “Just until the sun comes back.”

But as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, even the, this probably won’t work but let’s try it anyway, setups, were turning into magic. And we hadn’t been down there on the beach shooting for more than a few minutes when we both started to feel like the overcast was working like crazy. Beautiful non-directional light. The sky was a giant softbox above.

I had turned the color off on the display of my camera, so we were looking at B&W images when we stopped to review. And what we were seeing was reminding me of images you might see in those great British mod fashion shoots from the 60s. I don’t know if it was the light or what. More likely Meluxine channeling something wonderful in that lovely striped dress we had been shooting inside with a few minutes earlier. She was so on.

And as it always did, after about 20 minutes, the sun began to peek out from the clouds again. But since the clouds were moving in a direction from over my head towards Meluxine, we started to get some great light on her, but with the still brooding clouds behind her along the beach.

And so we had a dilemma. A good dilemma. As we began to review the photos weeks later remotely, me back on the mainland in Los Angeles and she in Sydney, Australia, I had processed this particular image two ways. First in b&w as we had originally intended, but also in color. And there were good qualities about both of them. We really couldn’t decide.

Meluxine - Dress Handfuls (b&w version) ©2016
Meluxine – Dress Handfuls (b&w version) ©2016

But for me, even though I’m really an artist who loves b&w, I think the color one edges out the b&w in this case. But only very slightly. I think the photos from a few minutes earlier than this one will still look best in b&w. But this particular image, with the sun juuuuuuust starting to peek out, color wins.

What do you think, Gentle Readers? Color or b&w? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

fine art nudes story telling travel

Meluxine – Looking Inside

Meluxine - Looking Inside ©2016
Meluxine – Looking Inside ©2016

Meluxine – Looking Inside

You know when you’re having one of those days when everything you touch turns to gold? They don’t happen often, but when they do, the feeling is extraordinary. Meluxine and I were definitely having one of those days the first time we ever shot together. Even the, this probably won’t work but let’s try it anyway, setups turned out to be magical. Which leads me to the distinct possibility.

Meluxine might well indeed be magic.

I mean, I don’t know that for certain. Just throwing the possibility out there.

Meluxine was one of my beautiful housemates on the island of Kauai. I met her and Anne, who was also staying with me, at the Lihue airport, when I arrived from Los Angeles and they from Australia, to drive us to our lovely resort suite. So even before photographing her, I had a lot of time to get to know her.

I find that always helps when photographing someone for the first time. Because I’m not only learning the physical characteristics of any new model I’m collaborating with, but also learning her point of view. What’s on her mind. What she’s about. Having a head start on knowing those latter things, always makes for better photographs. Because then I’m not just photographing what she looks like, I’m really photographing her.

But whatever the reason, as Meluxine and I have discussed since then, what we did that day was some of the best most personally satisfying work either of had done in a while. We’ve really enjoyed going over the images since then. Picking out favorites. And there are a lot!

And I’ve queued up another beautiful photo of her for tomorrow. So stay tuned, Gentle Readers!

fine art nudes story telling travel

Anne Duffy – Crown of Shadows

Anne Duffy - Crown of Shadows ©2016
Anne Duffy – Crown of Shadows ©2016

Anne Duffy – Crown of Shadows

Anne has one of the most beautiful faces I have ever come to know. I’ve felt that way since before I actually got to work with her years ago. Her portfolio is full of some of the most striking images I’ve ever seen.

All week we’d been talking about shooting her in a specific lingerie set she had brought to Kauai with her. The mood of the shoot. Where it would be. How it would look. And sadly we just ran out of time to do it the way we imagined. But I did have a lighting setup in place for the equally lovely Meluxine who I had just finished shooting, when Anne and I realized we both had a free hour. I made a few adjustments and Anne and I decided to use the small time we had. Better something than not, you know?

But the glorious part of it is, we created some beautiful images, regardless of our original idea. Anne knows light so well that without even looking she was able to create wonderful shadows with her body and limbs. She always looks so effortless with her poses, even though there’s nothing effortless about them.

The lingerie she’s wearing is actually Victoria’s Secret, which came as a surprise to me, because I haven’t been wowed by anything from that brand in over ten years. But this piece was beautiful. Something I’d expect to see from La Perla or Agent Provocateur, honestly. And it worked so well with Anne’s porcelain skin and dark brunette hair.

Sometimes an hour with Anne is all you need to make something incredible.

fine art nudes story telling travel

Christian – Hands that Hide

Christian - Hands that Hide ©2016
Christian – Hands that Hide ©2016

Hands that Hide

I really didn’t understand until the midway point of my shoot with Christian, but it was to become one of the more profound shoots I experienced in some time. As my alert Gentle Readers will have noted, I photograph a lot of women. Not exclusively, but pretty damn near. Before Christian, it had been over 20 years since I had made any male nude photographs. So I was looking forward to shaking things up a bit.

In fact, that was one of my goals at Zoefest XIII this year. Come back with something unexpected. Come back with, not the usual.

I had a great long talk with Christian the day before we shot. Immediately I could tell we were on the same page, not only in our appreciation for the art we created, but as fellow human travelers. Lots of shared philosophies and beliefs.

Christian and I agreed it might be nice to go back to the cave where I photographed Tara to see what else we could artistically mine in there. I try not to reuse very distinct locations, but I felt what Christian and I would create in there would likely be very different from what Tara and I had done.

We headed out at first light to get to the cave before the tourists were even thinking about their first cup of coffee. I’d be making long exposures on a tripod again in the dim subterranean light. And we’d need more time to work than quickly getting in, shooting, and getting out before being surprised with cave wanderers.

A little back story for a moment. In the late 90s, I spent three truly wonderful years working with a therapist called Charlie. And during that time, he helped me to come up with a way to visualize the idea of my art. My art center. Where it came from, deep inside me. Taking a vague concept and making it something a little more real.

I’d imagine a huge cave-like space. With walls that looked like the roof of your mouth more than anything else. Definitely an organic space. Dark. And in the center of this cavernous room, was small stump-like thing. Almost like a nub. And that was my art core. The center of me. And I could visit this place from time to time.

As long as my art was working, as long as I was creating, as long as I was making art that inspired me, I could manage any challenges in any other areas of my life. Because my art center was thriving.

However, much like the canary in the coal mine, if for whatever reason I wasn’t creating work that moved me, or that I had gone too long between personal art projects, the light in that subterranean space would dim. And it would become very difficult to see my art center in the darkness. If my art wasn’t working, it would be difficult to face whatever else life might be throwing at me during that time. If my art wasn’t working, I would begin to feel broken.

And what I realized halfway through photographing Christian in that Kauai cave, is that I wasn’t making images of Christian as much as I was making images of myself. Of my cavernous art center. My art nub. The truest me that I could express.

Christian was giving me so many pieces of myself through what he was emoting. Things that cycle through the state of who I am from day-to-day. Strength. Focus. Determination. Positivity. But just as often, isolation. Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt. And sometimes the need to hide when I wasn’t feeling at my best. All of these things.

You’ll be seeing examples of these emotions being expressed from other images with Christian in the coming months.

After we finished about an hour and a half of shooting, we packed up and headed back to our temporary ocean-side home, Christian asked me an interesting question.

“What were you thinking about while you were shooting?”

And I had to laugh, because I knew I was going to have to explain my little art nub visualization to him. It does sound a little weird when I say it out loud to people. But as I mentioned before, Christian and I had found ourselves to be on similar artistic frequencies. He found it more interesting than odd. And I think it’s because he also has a similar sensitivity to the world as I do.

I mentioned before that it had been over 20 years since I had done any nude photography with men. And I remember one of the reasons I decided to experiment with it all those years ago was because I wanted to make sure I was photographing nude women for the right reasons. That there was something more to the art than simply having women take off their clothes in front of my camera. And me. That is wasn’t a creepy thing. I couldn’t exactly explain at the time why I found it so important to make art with these generous women. Just that it was.

And I photographed a few men during that time of artistic introspection. The first two were body builders. Certainly powerful masculine figures. But with a tone of aggression that I didn’t feel I had in me. I tried to find the beauty in their form that was perhaps like a panther or some other top-of-the-food-chain animal. But what was missing was the sense of awe that I experienced when I photographed women.

The third man I photographed was an art school friend of a friend. Just a normal guy. And the poses he was giving me, what he was emoting, was 180-degrees away from the body builders. Quieter. Almost vulnerable. Wrapping his arms loosely around himself, as if for protection. This. This was more of something I could relate to. Something I had felt before. And I realized that I was photographing women because they better helped me express something perhaps more prominent in myself than the first two men did. The need to feel wonder. Awe. Getting lost in feminine curves cascading into curves. A sense of empathy and nurturing. Something that is more prominent in the many layers of beauty that a woman possesses. What is profound inspiration to me. That’s the art I wanted to create. And still do.

Yet now with Christian, that same feeling again of a subject channeling something very personal to me, was a very welcome outlier. A surprise discovery and realization.

A few days after the Christian shoot, I was having another conversation with Zoe Wiseman, the namesake of Zoefest. I mentioned that in photographing another man in Christian, it was really the first time in a long time that I could remember feeling like I was photographing myself. Photographing women certainly contains pieces of myself projected along with who they are. But I wouldn’t say when I photograph a woman, it truly feels like I’m photographing myself. Although that’s something I may explore in the future. Food for thought.

“Oh, I always feel like I’m photographing myself when I photograph women,” Zoe quickly responded.


Happily, Christian also lives in California, so the chances of our paths crossing again more art creation are quite good. He certainly helped me create something unexpected. Not the usual.

And as a very good artistic friend of mine said when I gave her a preview of today’s photograph, something raw, honest and inspiring.

fine art nudes story telling travel

Tara Tree Subterrane

Tara Tree Subterrane, ©2016
Tara Tree Subterrane, ©2016

“Is it too dark to shoot in here?”, asked Tara Tree, as we were exploring one of the Kauai caves during a location scout one afternoon.

“No, I think there’s enough light. If I bring a tripod and do longer exposures,” I said, as my eyes began to slowly adjust to the darkness.

I was looking to create something a little unusual. Actually that was my internal theme during the entire 10 days of shooting at Zoefest XIII this year. Come back with things not expected.

I had scheduled Tara for my first shoot on the island. Which was wonderful, because we’d be talking about wanting to make art together since the first time we collaborated nearly five years before. And finally, we were in the same place at the same time. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, on an island created by volcanic eruptions about a thousand years ago. And here we were, inside one of those volcanic creations.

The entrance to the cave was a very wide shallow opening, probably 25 meters across and maybe 3 meters tall. There was a line of trees across the road from the entrance that limited the daylight coming into the cave for three-quarters of the entrance, leaving a slightly harder light source coming in from one end of the opening. This odd happenstance of light was really quite spectacular in that it was both hard and soft at the same time. It created fairly strong shadows, but there was a soft diffusion about it at the same time.

The only challenge was, that you couldn’t really see the shadows very well with only your eyes. It was just too dark. So occasionally, as long as I didn’t turn around and look at the brighter light coming in from the entrance, or look at the display on the back of my camera, my eyes would stay dilated enough that I could see my own shadow falling on Tara, or on some other unwanted place. Whoops. Stay off to the side, Billy. The light was better on Tara if I photographed her from a three-quarters angle anyway.

It was a fairly deep cave, the back wall of it maybe 100 meters from the entrance. And even though we were shooting shortly after first light, we still had to keep an eye out for the odd tourist out for a ridiculously early walk. The good thing was, we were far enough into the cave that we’d see them long before they would see us, and certainly it would take a minute or so for their would-be surprised eyes to adjust to the darkness anyway. It’s an occupational hazard we always face when creating fine art nude photography out in public. We’re all used to it.

Tara was brilliant. She immediately dialed into the vibe of this environment. Wonderful poses that were all at once feminine, animalistic, defiant, and the suddenly peaceful. We’d shoot a bit and then take a minute to review what we were getting on the back of my camera, since it truly was a challenge to actually see what we were doing with our eyes while shooting. We’d scroll through the images, see what was working and what needed a little adjustment, and then make those for the next series of images.

We even shot some motion footage once we felt we had what we needed as far as still images went. I knew we were pushing our luck a bit as far as being tourist free as the morning progressed, but it was too good of an opportunity not to roll the dice. I’m anxious to begin editing that footage together. It’s going to be strangely beautiful.

And as we packed up our gear and began to walk out of the cave after about an hour and a half shooting, we passed a couple of tourists wandering in through the cave entrance. Couldn’t have timed it better. Nothing like making photographs under the cover of darkness.