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Tiana Lee--Photographer--Takes Me to Oklahoma!

I recently received the news from Tiana Lee that two of her photos, featuring yours truly, have been featured in the Mainsite Contemporary Art Gallery (Norman, OK) as a part of their “The Art of Emotion Gallery Exhibit.” I am very happy about this…even though neither Tiana or myself will see it in person. Nevertheless! The validation of what both of us believed were very good pictures has delivered—I’ll speak for myself—a feeling of victory.

I would like to take you through what I did to get ready for the shoot and then I would like to discuss my experience with Tiana.




I knew Tiana was coming into town. She and my mother planned a shoot of their own. I needed headshots and also wanted to add to my image portfolio for modeling agency applications; so, while she was available, the Brown fam double booked her services.

I did a “light” peak week to get ready, which involved my regular bouts of cardio and a lower caloric intake 10-14 days out from the shoot. The day before, I performed a bike ride in the morning, and in the evening a death defying ride/race with my COVID bike riding partner extraordinaire, Alex Gross. After the second ride, I drank a bunch of water and ate absolutely nothing. I didn’t eat anything the next morning, either. Why this crazy routine? For a photo shoot, my goal is to hold as little fluid as possible and to create as much of a V-Taper as possible. Without the option of broadening my shoulders overnight, I settled for the much more feasible process of shrinking my stomach. In sum: lose some fat (caloric deficit for about two weeks) to highlight muscular definition, expel subcutaneous fluid for a more defined face and more pronounced muscular definition (sweating, peeing, nixing carbohydrates), thin out the waist for the X frame (caloric deficit and emptying digestive tract). I’m sure there are better ways than what I did for every given person and, likely, even for myself but that’s indeed what I did and…ya know…I’ll let the pics speak for themselves.

If that wasn’t the exploration of the soul you were looking for, don’t worry, that’s where Tiana comes in.

From my experience with Tiana, I gather she is very interested in exposing that which exists in the conscious experience of an unlikely subject but, for a variety of reasons, is unlikely to appear in reality. With older subjects, she likes to capture a joy and healthy triviality more common in the era of youth. In subjects who are not outwardly sexual, she shows us the spirit of their vibrant sexuality. In subjects with a weaker exterior, she finds them in moments of strength. And—in the case of our shoot—in a subject at the prime of his physical life, she reveals softness and pain.

I think people have a palette of personality and emotion that would surprise those of us who aren’t intimates. To open the curtain of persona, search for that iridescence, and, once found, paint with it seems the project Tiana is most engaged with.

Tiana asked if we could do some experimental/artsy shots beforehand and, as you might imagine, this was an exciting idea for me and I immediately agreed. We were shooting in an open area in my parents’ basement where some natural light poured in from a window to the left and behind where I’m positioned in the photos. She asked me to pose in several different ways on the stool, gave me cues for the general emotional state she was aiming for, and/or the character she was trying to photograph. The crowning jewel of the shoot, I would argue, was my fetal position pose on the chair. Interestingly, I did the least amount of “emotional work” for that shot. I was mostly concerned about balancing on the chair, holding onto my feet, and listening for cues. The nascence of that fetal position juxtaposed to my body and the softness of my expression and head position did all of the work—which Tiana directed. We tried some other poses, too, where—I have an emotional memory of this—deep pain verging on insanity was the direction we ventured toward. I would characterize the back shot as the tamest version of that selection. We experimented with some expressions and poses that, upon review, decided were busts either because they caught a bad angle, came off cartoony, or were non-descript. But that—I think—is a part of the process! You try and fail a hundred times and then hit right on one or two of the attempts and, presto, you’ve got something!

So thank you to Tiana and the Mainsite Contemporary Art Gallery! In a weird twist of fate, the gallery is steps away from the music building at the University of Oklahoma (if I remember correctly), which is a school I attended for one semester. Interpret that funny coincidence as you will!

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Tiana's Info

Facebook: Tiana Lee Boudoir

Instagram: @tianaleeboudoir @thegentlemansphotographer

Various Projects of Mine and My Friends (Audio discussions of art)

Instagram: @anabolicoperabros

YouTube: Anabolic Opera Bros

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