Photography of the naked body can be pornographic. It can also be artful, celebratory, and reverential. I begin with a straightforward, primal appreciation of the human body, and add layers of light, geometry, and personality. I hope to not only glorify the body, but also the complex dance of personality, time, place, mood, light. I work in spontaneity and improvisation, with an openness to possibilities, and the collaborative pursuit of vision. I encourage my models to express themselves, in even the quietest and subtlest of ways.
I believe the human body is among the most beautiful 'things' on earth. From a purely geometric point of view, the body, especially the female body, has deep primal roots in our being, as the creator of life. Our culture has repressed this, fearful of the awesome power of the feminine. But that power cannot be denied, and so we have bad pornography and misogyny running rampant. Can we not celebrate the glory our bodies - of sex and eroticism even - without losing grasp of our humble awe and heartfelt appreciation?
Feliz Paloma Gonzalez is a pseudonym I use, because not everyone has an open mind. I have had to accept that and make compromises accordingly. Feliz Paloma is the name I would have been given had I been female, so the story goes.
Over the years I have shot with a variety of cameras. My first shoots were on 35mm film, using a Minolta X-700 my mother gave me. That was stolen at Waterloo Station, just in time for the digital revolution. I played around with some of the early digital point and shoots, then got the first digital SLR, the Canon Rebel 300D. Eventually I stepped up to a Canon 5D, and am now using the 5D Mk II. My favorite lens for shooting women is a 50mm, the faster the better. I'm currently using an old Olympus Zuiko 50mm on my 5D with an adaptor. I also have the 16-35mm/f2.8L lens that I use sparingly on people, as the lens distortion can be pretty extreme.
A few years ago I started shooting film again, and I must say many of my favorite images are on film. I have a Canon Rebel 35mm, which I rarely use any more. I have used a few different medium format cameras, including a Yashica D, and a Hasselblad 500C/M. I also occasionally shoot in large format, and have a Linhof Technika 4x5 field camera. I get a lot of film secondhand, and so use a great variety. There is lots of expired film, sitting in refrigerators and freezers all over the place, waiting for me to get my grimy hands on it. ;-)
I have done a few shoots using my iPhone, and have had decent results. The camera in the new iPhone is pretty amazing actually, for the size. I like the Instagram App a lot, but not the latest version, and so I have downgraded to the first version, which has much better filters imo.
I don't own any lighting equipment, although I have in the past. These days I prefer 'available' light, for the natural feel it provides. Reflected sunlight is my strong preference, but if circumstances necessitate, I'll make do with whatever is about.
Here are some testimonials I have received over the years, mostly on my Flickr photostream. [I have changed references to my old Flickr name]. At some point soon, I hope to upgrade this site to allow comments/feedback/testimonials.
"I really like how [Feliz Paloma] doesn't let concepts like composition, tonality, mood, and focus get in the way of his photography. Apparently, he isn't too lecherous with his models, either. :)"
"[Feliz Paloma] has managed to convey grace, humor and the beauty of the human form in a remarkable way that is neither crass nor tasteless. His work is remarkable for its honesty and directness, a true window of excellent taste and great skill. His muses and the landscapes depicted are a breath of fresh air that invigorates body,mind and soul."
"Nude photography usually is either tasteless and raunchy or dull and monotonous, but that's not what happens with these photos!"
"Images that speak of a comfort about the body, a peace with the body that is rare today. In the biopolitically-dominated world, every time you turn your head, whether when you go to the doctor or turn on the news, you get the message that your body isn't yours, that you don't know yourself. Men and women. I am glad to see work that liberates in this sense, without enslaving the body further to simple visual candy. Starring models who own themselves and show it."
"[Feliz Paloma's] photos remind me of an epigram from Oscar Wilde: "The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible." While his book title, Beneath The Skin, reflects the depth that sets his work apart from so many other photographers, I think it's not so much that he sees beneath surfaces as that he truly sees the surfaces and takes it upon himself to make us see them. For many photographers, the nude body is a sort of interchangeable typographical symbol to be recognized but not really seen. [Feliz Paloma] has the gift of vision, and it's apparently a gift that grows the more he gives it away."
"There is so much to say about [Feliz Paloma], and so much that has already been said. My favorite part, the icing on the cake of consistently wonderful images, is the way his photographs radiate respect for his models. He says that people have become "fearful of the awesome power of the feminine." Indeed, but [Feliz Paloma] has embraced it, explored it, and shared it with us :)"
"[Feliz Paloma's] photos, to state the very obvious, are very stunning. It's easy to take photos of nude women and get loads of comments and loads of faves and views. It's extremely difficult, when photographing beautiful women, to let their personalities and their quirks, their moods and likes to shine through despite the obvious titillation. [Feliz Paloma's] photography and the women who are his models does the latter with great ease. Each photo, every girl is unique and beautiful. Above all this, each photo shows the ease with which he treats his models, the fun and frolic of the moment. Stunning, jealousy inducing stuff, in short."
"Quello che mi piace di queste fotografie Ŕ la semplicitÓ, la naturalezza che ne traspare, le modelle donne e non bambole, la loro "presenza reale" nelle immagini."
"I like so much that natural naturality of [Feliz Paloma's] photos and his models"
"This mans work is amazing! He has ways of capturing a women's beauty like nothing else I've seen in so long or maybe even ever. He ranks high with other artists of his genre present & past with the ability to create & capture beauty within beauty. I always look forward to whatever he posts next, it's always a delight. A true spectacle to the minds eye."
"[Feliz Paloma] is a master. His photos are very balanced. They are not flashy but natural. Not obscene, but very desirable. It is obvious that when one looks at [Feliz Paloma's] photos, one sees not just the master taking great passion and pride in his works, but also the models themselves who have a spirit of l'amour de la vie."
"I'm learning a lot just by looking at [Feliz Paloma's] photos. There's a certain quality to his work, i'll call it delicacy, until I can think of a better word. Always beautiful stuff, with a mastery of photographic technique."
"I have to tell you that I'm one of those who rarely gets the time to view the work of his contacts, yet it seems whenever I do, your work jumps off the page and into my mind. You have a unpredictable sense of humor and a real talent for bringing out the unusual aspects of your models. When blended with the masterly skill of your technique, this makes for some very powerful photography."
"[Feliz Paloma] is a star! It's rare to find a guy who takes pictures of beautiful girls and who lets their personality shine through beyond a mere pose for the camera. These pictures are works of art, but also works on humanity; that makes these gorgeous pictures just so special! And if it's not stunning girls you want to see, his heart is big enough to take pictures of many other things."
"[Feliz Paloma's] photostream is always one of my favorites. It is a source of inspiration and appreciation. Really a wonderful ever-expanding body of work I continue to find new enjoyment in."
"This man captures beauty with an unmatched eye. His passion for the female form is apparent. His photos make me proud to be a woman."
"your photos seem to dance with joy and celebration of life.....medicine 4 me...thank you"
"One amazing photographer. A maestro"
"[Feliz Paloma] has a sense of style that he brings to the women in his photo shoots. He builds them up instead of tearing them down as some nude photographer's unfortunately do. Take a look through his photo stream to see the artistic ability that nude photography should always portray!"
"[Feliz Paloma] has a wonderful way of bringing something different to nude photography. He is able to bring out a very personal sense of intimacy with his models, something that allows the viewer to connect in a special way....to feel involved. Sometimes quite erotic, and other times boldly innovative (but best of all are the times when the two are combined), [Feliz Paloma's] stream is delicious and inspires me to step outside of my own photographic comfort zone."
"FINE, WITH A TECHNIC THAT SHOWS NO TECHNIC, I ENVY YOUR MODELS, I ENVY YOUR WORK BUT MOST OF ALL AND IMPORTANT IN EVERY IMAGE I LEARN, THANKS FOR LET ME SEE YOUR WORK."
"[Feliz Paloma] and his beautiful partner __________ were pretty much the first people I discovered on Flickr, in that lovely way that we stumble across images by accident. I have been so touched by the wonderful energy between them that I feel better and more loving myself through enjoying their work. Excellent architectural and model work too. Thank you, you two, for sharing your world with us."
"A dear and trusted friend. One hell of a photographer. [Feliz Paloma] is one of my Flickr heroes."
"Almost every time i have a new shoot, i look to [Feliz Paloma's] stream for inspiration."
"Amazing, beautiful work appears on this photostream on practically a daily basis. [Feliz Paloma] is a major talent, and he works with such stunning models. You cannot afford to miss this."
"One of the most prolific fine art nude photographers on Flickr! Not only is he able to capture the essence of a woman perfectly, his love for architecture and the pics inspired by it leave me constantly perplexed as to what I like more...his architecture or nudes....regardless, Keep it up!"
"I can't say enough about [Feliz Paloma]. His work is inspiring. Studying his photographs has improved my own work, and he's been very gracious in sharing insights and tricks whenever I have asked. He also allows his sense of humor to show through in his work, something too many photographers are afraid to do. For these, and innumerable other reasons, he has become one of my favorite photographers."
"Great guy! Fabulous photographer to work with: totally relaxed, fun and comfortable. And his work is just gorgeous!"
"fucking master of female nude photography!!!! and a charmer with his lovely eyes LOL!"
"My favorite photographer! What a joy to work with (and to dance with)."