Don’t Buy the Meta Hype — Facebook Still Sucks

I hope it dies, get out while you can

I am on Facebook (FB) but I haven’t been active much since 2015. It all started when Trump rolled down that escalator and some people that used to be my friends revealed themselves to be fascists, racists, and downright shitty people.

I thought I knew some of my friends, but I was wrong.

Facebook revealed itself for what it was, a cesspool of the worst of humanity under the guise of connecting people, and it got considerably worse during the Trump years.

I wasn’t surprised when whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed the engagement algorithm and how it amplifies negative messages. I wasn’t surprised when she revealed how Facebook was used to crush people in 3rd world countries.

I hope it dies. I hope Zuckerberg loses it all because the anger that I feel is shared by millions.

I wasn’t surprised one bit.

Now, Facebook is fighting to keep its image clean but it’s slowly being branded by the marketplace as a platform for hate.

So what does Facebook want to do? Clean itself up and do the right thing? Nope, it wants to change its name and hope all this goes away.

Bury your head in the same much Zuck?

Yes, Facebook wants to do just like what Philip Morris (MO) did. It changed its name to the Altria Group, a nice safe name that would hopefully shed its sordid past.

Remember those days? Cancer? Cigarettes? Hiding scientific evidence and internal reports that its products were harmful? Yes, Phillip Morris was the Facebook from the 1990’s.

Instead of fixing the problems it had, Facebook wants to become Meta.

Facebook (FB) stock chart with support and resistance lines

Investors seem to be taking this name change in stride and hope it’ll give them a shiny new image.

Sure it’s been on a bumpy road since mid-September and there’s a lot of resistance to overcome, but maybe they’ll pull it off because “money talks” and there are a lot of hedge funds that own FB.

I hope it dies. I hope Zuckerberg loses it all because the anger that I feel is shared by millions.

Facebook changing their name is like putting lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig no matter how pretty you make it, and that’s the rub. We’re letting him do it because we have no real alternatives to what we crave.

Social media stickiness

I get it, Facebook and social media are incredibly sticky and that’s the problem. We are conditioned to get “likes” and crave interaction. We are socially driven apes and it’s in our nature to seek this out.

The problem is that Facebook and its sister, Instagram, are zoos. You think you’re free and get to walk around the zoo, but in reality, you’re the attraction. Facebook and Instagram mine your data and spit back exactly what you want to see.

On the surface that’s nice, they’re catering to your likes and wants, but down below in the murky water, it reinforces your insecurities. It amplifies racism, hate, fascism, and division. It turns us into the worst people.

Oh, how’s Altira Group doing these days? They’re still there, selling cigarettes and delivering an impressive 8.08% dividend yield to shareholders.

The Altria Group (MO) stock chart with support and resistance lines

Yes, it’s quietly earning money for its shareholders and it successfully shed the bad press it once had.

Don’t let this happen to Facebook. Don’t let them change their name and churn out more hate and reward shareholders with gains. Make them the pariah they deserve to be.

They deserve to die and if you have shares in the company, get out while you can.

Disclosure: No FB positions.

What Is Romance?

Is there hope for hopeless romantics?

Ok, first up, I have a confession to make. I’m a hopeless romantic. Yes, I love the poetry, the new relationship energy, and the constant thinking of your love interest in your mind.

Your heart skips a beat when you see them, your stomach has butterflies, and you can feel the rising heat of their skin when you sit nearby them.

We want our current partners to show us that we still matter to them…

It starts innocently enough, a chance encounter, a swiped connection, or an introduction from a friend. You arrange a coffee date or a movie. You’re interested and they are too.

You put on good clothes, groom yourself, and you want to make a good first impression. The date goes well, your sitting side by side, and then the magic happens, you both lean in for a kiss and everything goes BOOM!

Rainbows! Clouds! Happily Ever After! Stars!

I know, I know, I went off the deep end but we all dream of romance whether we’re single or attached. We want a future lover to bring us flowers or share a candlelight dinner together. We want our current partners to show us that we still matter to them, and that goes for women and men.

Yes, we men want romance too and beyond the “show up naked with a beer and box of wings” cliche.

And, as a man, I want long-lasting romance too.

Romance is Universal

I was brought to think that romance was a one-way street. Men gave romance to women to woo them, attract them, make a connection, get them in bed, and then once you execute the “in a relationship” status with her, you can go back to doing what you’re doing.

What if I were to tell you that Romance is Time?

Millions of men think this way and millions of women are conditioned to accept this as the rules of the relationship road.

Bullshit. All societal norms that fuck up our natural selves. Our natural human selves. We all feel. We all want. We all need.

Yes, I get it. Once the fire of a new relationship simmers down and the realities of navigating the world with a new partner manifest, romance can quickly exit the relationship.

What if I were to propose that it doesn’t have to be this way? What if romance becomes more nuanced, different, but just as fulfilling and perhaps even deeper than ever before?

What if I were to tell you that Romance is Time?

Thinking of You!

I’ve written about this before but the most precious thing you can give anyone is your time. Time is not a renewable resource so spending your time (and being in the moment) with a lover or partner is a powerful example of your intent.

Romance is that signal of intent. The other person is asking you with symbolic gestures to see if you would be willing to enter into a deeper connection with them.

Romance equals time. It’s the time you put into place a person into your mind space and then actively work to put yourself into theirs.

“Its not the wind moving or the flag moving, but the mind moving.” — Buddhist proverb

That flower you get from a suitor, is it the flower you really care about or was it the thought behind it?

The flower is merely a representation of you being in their mind space. They spent time thinking about you, you were running around in their head.

Did she bake you cookies and give you a goodie bag with a nice bow on it? She was thinking of you as she tied the bow. Cookies are consumed, but her thoughts of you are forever.

Don’t neglect desire…

Although my partner will deny it, I made her chocolate chip cookies early on during our courtship as a way to “hook” her. It worked!

Nuanced Romance

If you find yourself in a long-term relationship with a partner that you wooed, romance will change.

Note I said it shouldn’t stop, it should continue, but it will be different.

Romance then becomes small gestures of love, appreciation, and even lust.

I wake early in the morning to write and my partner sleeps in. At 7AM every morning when she’s waking I make her a cup of coffee and bring it to her in bed. Sometimes I even do a silly dance when I bring it to her and we laugh, but I always give her a kiss.

I keep her in my mind space and she knows it.

On the flip side, she knows that romance goes both ways. She makes dumplings for us but always saves me a few extra ones, or we share some sweets together. We spend time together, side by side, skin to skin.

I know that she keeps me in her mind space and it makes me feel desired.

If Romance is Time, then Romance over Time is Desire.


We all want to be desired by our partners or future lovers.

Desire keeps Romance going, but it requires effort. If the desire is lost, you can regain it but it requires a lot of effort. If the desire is there, it requires just a bit of effort to keep going.

Desire is like pushing someone on a swing, at first it’s hard to get them going but once their swing away you just need to give them a slight push.

Don’t neglect desire, don’t neglect to keep your partner in your mind space.

Demand Romance

You, as a living breathing sexually charged human being, should demand romance. Period.

Both men and women should demand it and should use it to gauge the seriousness of any relationship.

You should enter into every relationship with romance at the forefront. Granted, not every relationship will last and some are as brief as a make-out session in an NYC bar (that story is for another time), but romance must be present. Desire must be maintained.

Why? Because you’re a fucking human being. Your body and mind are so amazing and there’s nothing like the feeling of being chased, wooed, and knowing someone right now is thinking of you. To be desired is hot as fuck!

We only have so much time on this plane of existence. I want to spend it being desired and romanced by my partner, just as much as she does. After all, what else is there for us but to love and be loved?

I want to thank Yael Wolfe for inspiring this post after reading her I Can’t Do Romance Anymore article.

Finding Your Voice in Photography

In my most recent newsletter, I wrote about how I’m starting to find my voice for my newsletter.

What about your voice for your photography? For your writing? For everything in your life?

As creative people, finding your voice and style is critical to your happiness and success as an artist. The magnitude of those two will be different for every one of us, but to be happy for its own sake is quite the measure of success.

Why am I even writing about voice and style? Simple, too often we just mimic and do what countless other people do. We like to conform because it’s the safest and easiest thing to do.

We wear the same clothes, we listen to the same music, we become homogenized consumers, exactly what the corporations want.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

What if I were to tell you that finding your voice and style will be one of the hardest creative journeys you’ll ever undertake. It will be one where you question every crossroad, every twist, and every turn.

Would you still want to take it? Or would you just follow the crowd? These are hard questions to follow and every creative person I know struggles with this.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

A few weeks ago I went with my daughter to National Portfolio Day in the City to get some feedback on her current art portfolio. She wants to become an animator and game designer and wanted to know what work she should show for upcoming college admissions.

It was quite a dichotomy of people. Parents, like me, dressed in the most common clothes. We looked all normal, figuring out what lines to get on for what colleges. Doing the parent thing, interested and invested in our children’s future.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

My daughter waited with me and we talked. At first, she was nervous talking to various faculty of a college but then she found *her voice.* She spoke with so many creative men and women and instantly knew if a particular college was right for her. I was so proud of her.

Then she turned to me and said, “there are so many artists here, Dad. I’ve never been in a place with so many artists at one time. It’s cool!”

I looked around and saw young men and women dressed in different fashions. Some wild, some demure. Some dressed to kill and others to make a statement. Some with piercings and others just plain.

When I saw them open their portfolios I was amazed. One prospective student made elaborate masks. Another student painted these most gorgeous paintings. Another student wore clothing she made which she modeled for a fashion school.

There were so many young people with emerging voices and styles that it was inspiring!

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — 
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

What sets these students apart from you and me? The one simple thing, they’re working. They’re making art. They’re creating.

Finding your voice and style feels a lot like a Zen Koan. The only way to find it is to work toward finding it. It requires you to look, copy, experiment, and strip away the societal and cultural expectations that have been placed on you since birth.

The students, they’re young. They haven’t had too much shit to deal with like you and me. They can strip away those layers easier and get to the core of who they are.

We can too but it requires work and a lot of it. The days you don’t want to take out your camera and shoot is precisely the day *you should.* You need to keep working on good days and bad days. You need to push through.

It’s ok to stumble and fall, I do all the time, but you need to keep working to find your voice and your style.

You owe it to yourself. Why? Because that is your truth, it’s who you are, and that is a wonderful thing.

The poem in this post is from Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken.

Lighting and Exposure in Erotic and Non-Erotic Photography

How you manipulate the light depends on how you read the light. That’s called metering and there are a few different ways to meter light.

My last post on Compositional Elements of Erotic Photography talked about Lighting, Mood, and Pose. I wanted to expand more on the lighting topic and discuss exposure with you here.

Lighting can make or break a photograph whether erotic or non-erotic and for this post, I want to review a few photographs from photographer Jan Scholz ( Flickr/ Instagram). I consider him a master of light and admire his work greatly.

I was first introduced to his work by someone on Flickr. He was actively posting his work there and I fell in love with how sensual and tender his photos were.

There’s so much to unpack in this single photograph but let’s start with the light and exposure, our main topics for this post.

He calls himself a hobbyist photographer but regularly shoots female and male models. His portfolio is weighted toward female models but he does shoot some landscapes and lifestyle stuff too.

His choice of medium is film and he shoots 35mm, 120(Medium Format), and large format.

For our first image, I’d offer my readers the model Marine.

(c) Jan Scholz

There’s so much to unpack in this single photograph but let’s start with the light and exposure, our main topics for this post.


First, what is exposure? Exposure is simply the amount of light that hits the film or camera sensor. It’s how you control the light that’s available to you. While you can’t bend light, you can manipulate it to create the mood of the photograph.

How you manipulate the light depends on how you read the light. That’s called metering and there are a few different ways to meter light.

The most common way and automatic way to meter light today are inside your camera. You can do it manually and I still do this when using my film cameras. I have a hand-held light meter that I use to read ambient and incident light.

But the three most common methods of metering light for a digital camera are matrix, spot, and center-weighted.

Let’s take a deeper look at Marine, this time with my markups.

Matrix metering reads the light in the entire frame and for simplicities sake, averages the entire light from the scene and recommends the shutter speed and aperture. Spot metering (I use this one a lot), meters the light on a small area of the frame and then recommends the shutter speed and aperture. The center-weighted meter is similar to spot metering but it takes a larger area of the center to meter and gradually disappears in the frame as you move away from the center.

9 times out of 10, your camera will default to matrix metering. Do yourself a favor and find where you can change the metering type for your camera and switch to spot or center-weighting.

How do we read, interpret, and express light levels? Some photographers use the EV method and other use the Stop method. Both are essentially the same thing but they have different terminology. I prefer the stop method.

A full stop is either 1 unit of over or underexposure from your baseline exposure. If your camera says that the perfect exposure for your photograph is ISO 100, F/16, and 1/125s (0 Stop), then a +1 Stop could be ISO 100, F/8, 1/125s. Or it could be ISO 100, F/16, 1/60s, Or even ISO 50, F/16, 1/125s. Exposure can be adjusted using your ISO setting, your aperture, and your shutter speed.

A partial stop (i.e. -0.5 stop), using the above baseline example, could be ISO 100, F/22, 1/125s. (More info here on aperture F stops).

There are reasons why you might want to manipulate your shutter speed over the aperture or ISO, but that’s for another post.

Let’s take a deeper look at Marine, this time with my markups.

© Jan Scholz / Analysis by Thomas Ott

The model is in a classic feminine pose, her back partially exposed and there is eye contact with the viewer. There’s a wonderful angle to this pose because your eye first lands on the “hot spot” (0 stops) of her back and then moves up to her eyes that hold on to you.

From there you begin to explore the photograph in a very gentle way. Your eye does not hunt around for something interesting. She holds your interest.

Marine appears to be lighted from a narrow shaft of light. Based on Jan’s other photos, I’m going to guess that this is from window light that he’s controlled using curtains. From all the work I see from him, he likes to use ambient light and a handheld light meter a lot.

The light gradually falls off in a pleasing way from the center of the photograph. It’s so gradual that there’s plenty of detail in the shadows, which is a hard thing to do on film.

The point of exposure is right on her skin where my arrow is pointing. If Jan was using a handheld meter (and I think he was) he would meter that spot on her back and then her face. It only looks like 1/3 to 1/2 a stop of light difference between her back and her cheekbone under the left eye. Then light falls off faster. Her right eye looks to be greater than 1 stop difference from the exposure point.

5 Tips for Better Photos

Tip 1 — I highly recommend that you use a camera where you can either touch on the screen where you can take the exposure from or be able to change the exposure settings in the camera. My preferred method of using in-camera metering is the spot metering method.

Tip 2 — You don’t need fancy flash and lighting gear. That great big yellow star in the sky gives you so much free light that you can use. Look around your house. Where’s the gorgeous light? If you have windows, you have light.

Tip 3 — Think about where you want the point of exposure to be? Is it the face? Is it the back? Is it somewhere else in the frame and expose accordingly.

Tip 4 — Think about how fast you want to light to fall off from your point of exposure. In Marine’s case, it was gradual across her body and then faster after that. It can be gradual, fast, or no fall off. That depends on you.

Tip 5 — Experiment. If you have a digital camera then take lots of photographs. Find the ones you liked and the ones you didn’t like, but pay attention to what was the differences in exposure and light for each of them.

Extended Analysis

I wanted to add two more photos from Jan that I adore and wanted to review the lighting.

The first one is from model Danika.

(c) Jan Scholz

Danika is illuminated with full-on but diffused window light. The light is pretty even throughout the entire photograph with maybe a (+1 to +2) to (-1 to -1.5) stop variance throughout the frame.

Once again, I believe he metered the light using a handheld meter and expose her face.

(c) Jan Scholz / Analysis by Thomas Ott

She is in a wonderful pose, reminiscent of the Cassiopeia’s Chair constellation and the focus is on her. Your eyes are instantly focused on her because of all the negative space around her.

The last photo I want to review from Jan is of model Sophie.

This is a classic (partial) nude in nature and this one is a tough photo to meter right.

(c) Jan Scholz

The light around Sophie is even but flat. There’s nothing exciting going with light shafts or sunlight dappling leaves and casting small shadows.

Here’s the best part, you can make great photographs when the light is flat or not that interesting.

From the level of bokeh, it looks like Jan is shooting with his lens wide open. This means he’s using a shallow depth of field like f/4 or f/2.8, or even smaller. Why? I think this was a very low light environment and he wanted to gather as much light as possible to expose Sophie.

(c) Jan Scholz / Analysis by Thomas Ott

There is very little light variance in this scene relative to Sophie. My guess is that the day they shot was overcast
Yes, there’s a big drop-off under the dead tree but who cares? Your focus is on her, then the dead tree she’s resting her hand on.

The thing with ambient light is that you don’t know what you’re going to get sometimes. It’s all weather-dependent.

But, and here’s the big but, you can still shoot in any light condition provided you know how to meter the light and adjust your camera settings. One of my biggest mistakes when learning photography was not shooting on days where the light was flat. You can make some beautiful photos in flat light if you know to expose the scene.

Anyone can shoot a good photograph on a sunny day, that doesn’t make you an expert. An expert is someone who studies the light on good days and bad days. He or she makes mistakes but keeps going. Keeps working and keeps reading the light.

Then, one day, you’ll see the light.

My Son’s First Dividend

It’s the real thing

My son started working part-time over the past two summers. He’s still under 18 but that didn’t stop my partner and me from talking to him about money.

We give both of our children a very detailed education on finances, investing, and debt. It’s an education that I had to learn the hard way, but that’s for another story.

” I did it for the dividends.”

Earlier this year I opened up a Minor Roth IRA for him, it’s a custodial account where he gets to deposit his part-time income into it when he hits $1,000 initially. The max he can contribute is up to $6,000.

After we opened the account, I asked him what does he want to invest in? That led to a lot of great discussions because I didn’t want him to take the attitude of “whatever you think is the best Dad.”

Then he stunned me, he said, “well I like drinking coke, so maybe I’ll buy Coca Cola.” For a moment I thought I was looking at a future Warren Buffet because his sage advice is always to invest in what you know.

We talked some more and I explained to him that Coca Cola (KO) was one of those companies that pay dividends to their shareholders.

He got a whopping $7.13 for the quarter…

He thought it was a cool thing to get paid for owning a company, like a business owner making profits. So we looked up the stock chart, looked at the dividend yield (he was more interested in how much money he’d get per share), and then placed a market buy order.

In a few seconds, he became the proud owner of 17 shares of Coca Cola.

In the summer we were invited to a few dinner and pool parties. These were all vaccinated events and we all felt safe to do so.

At one party some of the topics turned to how well the stock market has been doing lately when my son chimed in that he bought his first stock this year.

He was showered with praise when he told him that it was Coca-Cola.

Then he proudly exclaimed, “I did it for the dividends.”

I just smiled because dividend investing is such a long-term game. Granted, it’s not like investing in (if you call it that) Tesla (TSLA) but this little start at his age should set him up for success later on in life.

I often write about how love is a renewable resource but time is not. Making a smart decision today to invest wisely does have a huge payout later on in life after time has passed.

I look forward to how my son manages his investment going forward.

Oh, he just got his first dividend. He got a whopping $7.13 for the quarter, but that was his first investment income, something I wished I had learned when I was his age.

I Thought I Knew My Friends

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Facebook be damned

I look at myself in the mirror every so often and ask myself, “am I different? Did I change for the better or worse?”

I physically changed, there’s no doubt about that but I look inward toward my morals, ethics, and compassion? Am I still a good person? Do I make my children proud of me? Am I a good neighbor? Do I work to make the world a better place?

It devolved into “libtards” and “pull down your pants and I’ll tell you what gender you are” name-calling.

I had to ask myself these questions again because I recently had to unfriend someone I’ve known since grade school. We were good friends and we used to share fantasy novels with each other. We used to play Dungeons and Dragons together. We used to party together. He was even a groomsman at my wedding.

What caused all this? Trump.

Trump revealed him to be a raging MAGA nut. It revealed his love for autocracy, hating trans people, liberals, Mexicans (immigrants), and everything that was wrong with the US today. Everything that I thought was what made America truly great.

He was all about “fucking shit up.”

The straw that broke my back was a discussion on vaccine mandates. It devolved into “libtards” and “pull down your pants and I’ll tell you what gender you are” name-calling.

When it was pointed out how he had no regard for his community or the health and well-being of neighbors he just loved to stick it to the libtards, even after he stated he had Covid19 and recovered — therefore it wasn’t that bad.

How did one of my closest friends from grade school through college turn into such a seething MAGA?

I don’t know. Maybe it was always in him, even at an early age. I could guess but I’m always left with more questions than answers.

He’s not the only one.

In my early 20’s I was an engineering student by day and an anarchist punk rocker by night. Those two were diametrically opposed but I managed to fit into both worlds quite well.

“I was always a conservative, even back then!”

One punk rocker I knew and stayed lazily in contact with was way on the extreme side of anarchism. He was all about “fucking shit up.”

We reconnected years later on Facebook and he seemed to be well, he had started his own record label, gotten married, and had a child.

Little did I know that he had changed, and I didn’t know by how much until President Obama’s re-election night. He posted his displeasure on Facebook about how terrible the country is going to be under a second Obama term.

Another friend of mine posted “keep it classy” and was unfriended. I posted something to the effect that I knew him as always very liberal-minded and what he was posting made no sense to me.

He then replied with “I was always a conservative, even back then!” and promptly unfriended me.

I was stunned.

I did a lot of stupid shit when I was younger and I learned the hard way but I tried to keep an open mind.

I never thought about how persecuted the LGBTQ+ community was until a coworker came out as trans and saw the hate that was hurled at her.

My entire social circle collapsing and I wonder if it’s me.

I never knew how deep racism was when a friend was worried about all the Chinese in this country because all that would need to happen would be to give them all AK-47’s and there would be a million armed Chinese invasion in this country. He then remembered my Chinese partner and made an exception for her.

Where have I seen this before?

© Dr. SeussFile:Seuss cartoon.png — Wikimedia Commons

I have only two really close male friends. I could call them any day and we’d pick up right where we left off. It’s wonderful but one of them is starting to speak in the MAGA rhetoric and I’m scared to death that I will have to unfriend him too.

…is any hope for us?

This just hurts me. I thought I knew my friends but obviously not.

Was I asleep all these years? Was I the one wearing rose-colored shades? Were these problems always here or did my friends succumb to them gradually.

My entire social circle collapsing and I wonder if it’s me.

What the fuck is happening? Where has our compassion gone? Why is “Love Thy Neighbor” only if he or she is white and a Christian?

I take a deep breath and I look out over a changing world and wonder if there is any hope for us? For humanity?

This has been a year of closing chapters in my life. Chapters that can no longer be written because they’re dead ends, and there are so many of my old friends in those chapters.

I’m disappointed.

I thought I knew them, but I guess I never did.

But, I do know this.

I will not change who I am, and I will continue to live the truth. I will continue to believe in science, have compassion for my neighbors, and lead by example. I don’t need people that couldn’t give a shit about others or want to bully other people into compliance.

I don’t need any of that.

What I do want is new friends.

Friends that lead from the heart, even if it’s hard to do.

Friends with open minds.

Friends who seek the truth and follow it to wherever it leads them.

Compositional Elements of Erotic Photography

I know so many erotic content creators and I think that’s wonderful. I know writers, photographers, and artists that are busy making content so they can make a living or bring notoriety to their work.

It’s hard work, especially if you’re starting, and you want to make sure that whatever you create, it’s on par with what the “market” demands.

No matter what type of content you create (erotic or non-erotic), I find that photographers have it very hard. Mostly because many different variables affect the outcome of their images.

She hints that she’s nude underneath, perhaps she woke up as her lover was leaving?

However, if you have command and even mastery of the following three compositional elements, then you’re on a good path to making some great images.

I’m talking about lighting, mood, and posing.

These three compositional elements make up 90% of the photo, the remaining 10% are just camera settings, exposure, and ISO. While important, you can be forgiven by a noisy photograph more so than by being in a bad pose or having terrible lighting.

We’ll look at all three elements in a recent Instagram photo I came across from artist, poet, and writer .

© GB Rogut, 2021 — used with permission

First and foremost this is a beautiful and very sensual photograph. The lighting is a wonderful even light, diffused, with a gradual fall off into the background. I suspected that it was ambient light and possibly facing north and our Instagram chit chat revealed that it was a north-facing window.

One of the most distracting things you can do is force a viewer’s eyes to hunt around your image…

The beauty in this is that there are no blown highlights and there is sufficient detail in her dark hair, the blackest part of the photo. The point of exposure appears to be on her face.

When dealing with light we often have to be keenly aware of where the brightest and darkest parts of the photograph are, and balance between them (that’s the other 10%, exposure), but you can’t do any of that if you don’t have light.

The second element is mood. The mood is sensual, it’s tender, and it’s personal. She’s in a bedroom, on a bed, and wrapped in a blanket. She hints that she’s nude underneath, perhaps she woke up as her lover was leaving?

This mood is reminiscent of a boudoir-type photo, it’s not an explicit erotic photo but it communicates with the viewer that this “sexy photo is just for you” and that draws the viewer in.

The last big element is the pose. Her pose is a classic feminine pose and her eye contact makes this image so personal. She’s looking right at you and that locks your eyes instantly.

One of the most distracting things you can do is force a viewer’s eyes to hunt around your image, you want them to find a key focus point to lock on and then let them explore your photo. In this case, it’s her eyes and from that focus point, you become aware of the rest of the photo.

She’s looking over her shoulder and slightly up to you. You then notice her bare shoulder, her neck, and her long earrings.

Notice, I didn’t write about the camera or settings she used. The end image is what matters and by that extension your vision. No one asked Picasso what brushes he used, did they?

If you have command over lighting, mood, and pose, you’re well on your way to making an awesome photograph, erotic or not.

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