ARTIST OF THE MONTH - ANTHONY THURSTON
Another month is nearly over, so it's time again to present you our Artist of the Month in August - Anthony Thurston. His artistic heart is specialized in creating absolutely beautiful images in boudoir and intimate lifestyle photography. You may struggling with self-confidence and having the feeling of not being enough. Anthony is counteracting these social stigmas and is aiming for transformation. You will be leaving his studio with a new light and belief in your new beauty, sexiness and confidence.
How old are you and where are you from?
I am 29 (I will be 30 in January, and am still in disbelief about that fact). I was born here in the Portland, Oregon area, but also grew up in upstate/western New York in the Lockport/Buffalo area before moving back to Oregon. I lived about an hour south of Portland for most of my life, but about two years ago moved back into the Portland area.
Tell us a little bit about your life in the moment?
I am currently married, my wife Brittany and I have 2 kids, both boys. We have been together now for 11 years this month, which is another crazy thing for me to think about. I am really excited about this month because I am finally realizing some of my goals to travel and do more boudoir across the country. I will be heading to Boise, ID and then later in the month I will be in Atlanta, GA to shoot and teach a boudoir Workshop with Kevin Lowery called UnCovered, where we will be talking about both male and female boudoir photography. Then later in September, we are doing another UnCovered here in Portland.
In terms of more day to day life, I have been really pushing for more in-home boudoir sessions. Studio sessions certainly have their place, but my passion is definitely shooting in home settings. It takes a bit to convince most women this is a good idea, let alone having some strange guy they hardly know over, but far and away these are in my opinion some of my best work.
How did you end up being a photographer?
Funny enough, I was attending school for Web Design and Interactive Media. While I was in that course my father started getting more into photography (If I recall he had bought and was gifted a rebel of some kind). So when it came time to choose some elective courses and photography was an option I jumped on it. Even used some of my ‘extra’ student loan money that term to buy my first serious camera for the class, which was a Canon 60D.
After that, I started getting more and more into photography. I was around ~21 at this point, and as many young men would think, the idea of shooting sexy photos was incredibly appealing. Let’s just say that I was horrible at it, I am talking wrinkled white sheet backdrops with bad lighting and models that didn’t help the situation. Looking back on that I sort of wonder how I even got to where I am now, if I could find any of those images (many were lost to Facebook when my original account was permabanned for posting my newer boudoir work) I’m sure that I would be glad they are lost to the ether now. Ha!
Anyway, at some point after that, I don’t exactly recall when. I was watching creative live, and I saw Jen Rozenbaum’s course on boudoir photography. She was an inspiration and her idea of boudoir photography, the reasons behind it, for empowering women and not just wanting to take sexy pictures really resonated with me. I was living in a small conservative town though, and being the introvert that I am in real life it was difficult to get any real boudoir work. So I continued to do other things until Mystic Seminars moved to Portland.
I attended Mystic with the idea that maybe I was going to take up shooting Weddings, but what I saw there actually pushed me into who I am now, I saw Brianna and Ewan Phelan speak. Brianna and Ewan talked about boudoir in a totally different way from Jen, none of the bright and fluffy images, it was dark, gritty, and it was incredibly sexy – as well as sexual. It was not just self-love, body positive empowerment, it was sexual empowerment. The moment I saw that, I knew that is what I wanted to do.
I also sucked at it in the beginning. I really struggled with the darker style of lighting, but I kept at it, shooting as much as I could with whoever I could. Soon my own style and version of the darker and moodier boudoir emerged, and that has what evolved into the work that you see from me today.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
In 20 years, that would make me almost 50. About halfway through my life if I play my cards right. Ideally, I would like to still be shooting boudoir and teaching new generations of photographers about shooting sexy things well without being a creep or seeing their models/clients as objects. I would also love to be traveling the country, and the world more experiencing other cultures and shooting boudoir all over.
What gear are you currently using?
Ahh, the all important gear question. Everyone is always so interested, and then disappointed when I tell them because honestly, I am the most minimalist/basic photographer there is. No joke.
I am currently shooting with the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and usually, pair that with the Fuji XF 35mm F2. That said, I also pair it with some manual focus Pentax film lenses, a 28mm, and a 50mm. I also recently had the Mitakon 35mm F0.95 II in for review and I am very much thinking about buying that and making it my go-to lens. Just incredible.
But other than the above, I have a pop-up reflector and some Yongnup speedlights, but 99.98% of the time they stay in the trunk of my car unused. I am very much in the natural light camp.
What advice could you give out to a new starting photographer?
I would say this to a new starting photographer; shoot as often as you can, try things, experiment. Give yourself permission to suck and fail. It is the only way you will find out who you are as an artist.
Most of my ‘light bulb’ moments along my path in photography have come from experimenting, be that while I am shooting or while I am processing, or they have come from failures. It is a hard road, it’s is discouraging, but as the saying goes ‘the night is darkest before the dawn,’ and you will never know what tomorrow can bring you creatively if you don’t pick up your camera and try.
Did the LLF community changed the way you see or shoot boudoir/models etc.?
Funny enough, yes. The LLF Community has been instrumental in changing the way that I shoot. Not only am I constantly seeing incredible work from other photographers in the community to give me inspiration, and getting ideas for things I want to try myself. But I am also constantly learning so much about my own work from the community, how it is being received by people that are let’s say, more conservative than I am.
It has helped me become more aware of what I am sharing and how that is being seen by a wider audience. This is incredibly valuable for someone like me who tends to walk a fine line between pushing limits and going too far.
What plans do you have for this year?
I sort of mentioned this earlier, but I will be in Boise and Atlanta later this month. Then in September, I will be doing another Uncovered Workshop here in the Portland area, and then in October I will be heading to New York City for Photo Plus Expo which has become a yearly ritual for me.
Beyond that, I don’t know who I will be shooting, where I will be traveling, or what I will be doing. I am just taking it all in as I go and look forward to meeting and working with those who happen to cross my path.