I recently had the opportunity to speak with Tracy Rose, a digital artist who shoots fashion images in Infrared
Welcome, please tell us about yourself and your background
Thank you so much. My name is Tracy L. Rose , I am currently a glamour photographer here in Colorado Springs who really came from a more landscape photography background. I think I’m known as a rebel and a renaissance man for better or worse. I’ve always really enjoyed doing artwork from drawing and painting to many other mediums. I took art in school most of my life. I currently hold a master’s degree in Information Technology but I also have a robust background in component level electronics and avionics. However, I spent the last decade or so doing imagery analysis professionally for commercial and government employers. It was when I worked a contract with General Dynamics that infrared really started to interest me even more. At the time we were designing an aircraft camera and my mind really wandered off to the many possibilities of using infrared in art and fashion. While it was a fairly short contract I had a few epiphanies there as to what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to keep drilling down further into all the many types of imagery. I said a rebel because unlike the vast majority of my peers I’ve never found love in neither fine art nor black and white photography. Ironically the almost black and white look to infrared has won me over in the last couple of years but I really like the dash of colors in it too.
How long have you been a photographer?
I’ve been a photographer for a couple of decades but didn’t start taking it seriously until 2008. I was never a big fan of waiting for film development or doing light room processing. I was enjoying drawing with only a minor amount of photography there in 2008.
How long have you been shooting Infrared?
I bought my first infrared camera off eBay in 2008 and it was strangely modified in some small European country that I forget. It was an early clunky Canon Powershot. The glass passed more than just infrared and the results were unique but confusing. Full spectrum modifications weren’t too common back then at least to me. Since then I have had two cameras modified for infrared only and enjoy those more due to resolution and speed.
I see you shoot fashion images in Infrared; how is that received by your clients and models?
Initially putting infrared and fashion together seemed odd and was just looked at as somewhat unserious by local photographers. Some even mocked it by painting their real images odd hues with Photoshop and calling it infrared. I heard whispers on the modeling boards of how my models looked like vampires when they were shot in this genre and I took that as a compliment and a way ahead. I kept shooting infrared because it provided a great contrast to the very colorful images I was putting in my fashion portfolio. The two things that happened next were wonderful. First I went from just snapping unusual images to being able to highly predict the outcomes in outfits, materials, and outdoor scene returns. I started painting with invisible light proactively. Secondly, the whole vampire craze took over in the media from Twilight movies to the True Blood television series. Since I had been shooting these vampire-looking images all along now was the time to start publishing them. It was hard not to love this genre because as a science-curious imagery guy, I was also learning some unique things along the way about infrared and people.
What is your best photographic achievement?
While I have had prints displayed in some of the more prestigious corporate offices here such as Hewlett Packard, my interactions with other artists are my proudest moments. No sooner do I come up with a near infrared image idea and I have a glamour model volunteering to help me bring it to life. Inspiring local people has been one of the first achievements. But I believe the greatest achievement I’ve had in my photography is watching the people I shoot go from thinking of it as a novelty to now being so educated about the electromagnetic spectrum.
I knew I was making and impact when I got invited to a shoot with surrounding foliage. The host was reverberating back to me what I said about time of year and how the foliage would appear in the IR camera. They remembered everything I had said. It was like we were all suddenly on the same page talking about images the human eye couldn’t see. Models suddenly had more black lipstick since normal red lipstick often didn’t appear in IR shots. Wardrobes were being more customized to IR like getting leather boots for dark contrasts. We were framing things in iron since that absorbs infrared. We were and maybe still are becoming and infrared art specialized community through my photography in some ways.
What do you like best about IR photography?
I really like how IR changes a models hair, changes her complexion to more pale, and even changes her clothes in appearance. Meanwhile the models head didn’t withstand damaging dyes to the hair or intensive makeup sessions to alter looks. It creates that fairytale world without the dyes or trendy color wigs.
What do you find most challenging about IR?
Seasons in infrared become a bit less important when people are the focus. When it comes to glamour the veins popping out of legs and arms can be challenging. These phenomena changes with light in the room, demographics, and even person to person. What’s more is that almost everyone gets what looks like a black-eye due to infrared penetration around the eye area. I’ve learned now, not to be threatened about this and even Photoshop distracting black-eyes out occasionally if they become too distracting. We do this all the time with pimples and scars in the true color and it would just follow that glamour in the infrared could be allowed this also. Of course many times one can leave the entire vampire-like features just for cool effects. Models love the scary look.
If you could go anywhere in the world to shoot IR, where would you go?
The fans that I have in Indonesia have shown me, that this must be one of the most beautiful places on the earth for traditional IR photography. However, my personal focus has been people and fashion and so I’d have to say maybe Indonesia with some amazingly tattooed models.
If you could pass on just one tip about IR, what would it be?
My tip would be to try and take a regular photograph almost every time you take and IR photograph. Sometimes the IR is so unusual you will need to go back and compare what the scene really looked like. Most IR photographers need not be as enamored with bright foliage. There is so much more going on there in the IR scene. So consider everything that happens in IR as true meaning. By that I’m saying anything odd you see could describe something very profound in infrared.
Do you have any projects currently going you would like to discuss?
Admittedly, I’m too lazy to enter contests. I’ve also been a bit freaked out to just hand all my work over to this or that new online magazine on the rise. My introverted side doesn’t seek awards or publications most of the time. I had a burst of energy not long ago where I created and application for the Apple Appstore and it was meant to help models with posing. It is called AQ Pose-I with a red eagle for an icon. I designed and programmed the thing myself.
I have proudly just finished my pamphlet on IR in a small online ISSUU magazine titled “The Power of Near-Infrared Photography”.
You can see more of Tracys work here.