Friday, September 5, 2008

Koren Reyes Shoots Cancer in the Buff

When I first had a conversation about Vivienne's migraines, I couldn't believe this young, attractive woman hadn't found a solution.

nude fine art photos of cancer patientsWe became friends over the next three months and one day Vivienne spilled the truth that she had much more than a solution. She had anaplastic astrocytoma (grade 3 brain cancer).

This lithe, beautiful young woman said it with such calm reserve that it seemed too unreal to take in.

How could a 23-year-old who looked so great be so sick? Her doctors, and she's had almost too many to count, wish they had an answer.

Vivienne hasn't yet found a neurosurgeon who will take her case, so she started the next best thing: chemo and radiation.

In only her second week of treatment, Vivienne chopped her massive mane of curly, blond hair down to an adorable bob.

It didn't last.

Two weeks later, the rate at which her hair was falling out drove her to the hair salon for a more painful visit. It was time to shave her head.

She cried.

And cried some more.

Vivienne's hair meant more to her than something to mindlessly twirl while flirting with a young man. It was a shortcut to self-expression.

Her thick curls were useful in the same way that women with long legs and big boobs push the world around.

Vivienne sucked it up, alone in the ways all of us fear. Her judgmental family in Florida wasn't in a rush to come to her side. Her erratic boyfriend didn't believe she really was sick.

Growing thinner every day, Vivienne's already large, limpid eyes grew even larger. But I wasn't seeing fear behind her look. I saw a resolve to hang in there no matter how bad the prognosis, no matter how alone she might feel.

As her reactions to treatment progressed, I looked for ways to support my friend and feel useful to her. Seven weeks into her treatment, Vivienne finally gave me a really good opportunity. She asked me to take some nude photographs of her.

I knew this was going to be a great thing for both of us because of her understated, sophisticated gift of expression. I had a feeling this shoot might alter the way she saw herself no matter how ugly and unattractive she felt being bald, pale, drawn and thin. I knew this because I already saw her as an incredible beauty with shapely cheekbones and killer eyes.

I was right.

Vivienne tells me that whenever she's feeling exhausted and ugly, she looks at her photos for a reminder that she IS still beautiful.

We got to thinking that this might be a good thing to offer other women in her shoes.

As of today, I'm launching, "Koren shoots cancer in the buff." It's a beauty shoot for any woman dealing with any humiliating, demoralizing cancer treatment.

It's free, it's fun and it will change a woman's outlook not just for a day, but possibly forever.

For more information, please contact the studio.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Before and after photos. What Photoshop can do.

Before and after

Mouse over the images to see the before and after effects
This was a great image to begin with, but the black and white conversion really makes it spectacular. Note the effect of the vignetting (darkening) in the corners.

Ok, so what's the big deal? It's just another black and white conversion. But it's not. Note how the detail comes out in the shadowy lower part of the image. Mouse over the two below to learn more.

Need a little uplift? Want to change your shirt color? Eyes need a little brightening? It's all possible. Look your best. Film will never give this to you.

There's nothing really wrong with the original image, but the finished image has some proprietary color adjustments (black becomes blue, some desaturation, etc.) and I've added some grain to give the background some texture.

She looks great, right? Well, she looked great in the original image, but why not do a little body sculpting to enhance the work of art? Notice the shape changes in her feet, shins, rib cage and behind.

Need I say more? Photoshop is an incredible tool in the hands of the right artist. This is magazine-quality retouching, which I know isn't for everybody, but isn't it nice to know you have the option to look as glamorous as any cover girl?


Blue channel

Red channel

Green channel

Lab color

Speaking of black and white, there are many ways to convert an image. Most of them are really ugly. To make a great black and white print, I take a look at three different ways, and then combine some red and a little blue channel to get the best darks and the most forgiving lights.

The finished photo. Note that my black and whites are rarely cold. My taste is to always make them just a little warm.

Is film better than digital?

I chose to switch from film to digital for two reasons, a) because I saw that the technology gave photographers the ability to produce an image with the personality and characteristics of film, and b) the physical prints are now rated to last just as long.

Some photographers say that people switch to digital to save money. This couldn't be farther from reality. And the photographers who say this are either a) afraid of new technology, or b) unable to afford the enormous costs.

The very sad truth is that great digital photography costs a fortune.

Not only do you need to spend a lot on cameras, but you spend a fortune on all the peripherals.

You need to transfer digital images from the camera to a big, fast computer that only lasts two years. You need to store images in multiple redundancy because of high probabilties of failure. You need to buy software to work on images. And lastly, you need to take lots of classes to keep up with the constantly changing things the new software can do.

All of these components cost money and all of them have very short life spans.

Can you get the same quality digital print versus a silver print?
The short answer is it depends.

A film purist will make a print directly from a negative. There's no "quality" debate; you get a great quality print that lasts a long time when you print like this, especially if you're an expert at burning and dodging and you rinse forever.

However, today's "film" photographers are often scanning their negatives. This effectively throws them back to par with the digital photographers because all of a sudden, the "quality" now depends on what equipment they're using and how good they are at using it.

The reason I say "it depends" is because what we're able to do with digital technology allows us to mimic the characteristics we love in film. Photoshop gives us the ability to impart a particular film's personality into a digital image and high quality pigmented ink jet inks combined with acid-free papers are rated to last hundreds of years.

Second, today's digital world has introduced infinite creative opportunities for artists. When you take a great digital picture, you've just begun the creative process with zero boundaries limiting what you can create in terms of color, texture, mood, emotion and look and feel.

If creativity is important to you and you have a creative photographer, this should open a number of really exciting opportunities.

But what about the print quality?
This is a really important question.

I don't create any ink jet prints for clients; I send everything to a professional photography lab that has been tested and vetted by me to meet reputation-dependent client expectations.

I deal with some of the most demanding clients out there; clients with lots of expertise (magazines), clients with lots of contacts (wealthy New Yorkers) and clients who know photographic quality (fine artists themselves).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Vermont fall foliage photo workshop 2008

Hi all,
It's back! We had such a great time last year that we're doing it again.
Join us for four great days of Vermont fall foliage. We'll hike, eat, learn, laugh and kick a bunch of leaves around in one of Vermont's most charming villages.

This photography workshop is suitable for all levels. Bring a point and shoot or bring a medium format camera. We'll shoot early, hike mid-day and shoot late.

If you like the outdoors, this Vermont photo workshop is for you.

Please join us!

Cost: $995

For more information, please visit:
Vermont Fall Foliage Photo Workshop

I create sensuous landscapes, but what I really specialize in is Pregnancy and Maternity portraits.
To view some work, click here to see the pregnant photos.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hiking to Gertrude's Nose in the Shawangunks

I took a flyer with my buddy Susannah out to the 'Gunks. We met up with an avid hiking group who thinks nothing of going all out all day. I bonked with ninety minutes left to walk and almost cried the last steps down to the lodge.

Some of the best hiking around is only ninety minutes north of New York City at the New Paltz exit. We headed right for the Mohonk Preserve and, after checking in, were on the trail with 28 other, mostly very fit, very retired hikers, at 10am.

We straggled in at 5pm on the dot; a time I'm quite sure of because they very kindly let me into the lodge to use the ladies room even though the door was locked.

We then met up with the gang at the Brauhaus where the Teutonic-looking waitresses even braid the blond hair. The Spaten Oktoberfest hit the spot. I was starving and exhausted and so glad to be sitting down.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Uncluttered web design and elegant newsletters

Yes, I'm plugging the design stuff now. It's beautiful stuff.

Please visit:


And of course, don't pass up looking at my maternity and pregnancy photography:
Maternity by Koren

Monday, April 28, 2008

Spring in New York City

Spring is here - finally. I think the gloves are put away for good, even though it's raining and 50 degrees today.