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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Arny Freytag: Master Of The centerfold

With an eye for detail, unparalleled lighting skills and the ability to connect with a model, Arny Freytag’s career at Playboy traces that magazine’s cutting-edge glamour nude photography

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Freytag's talent for the medium and a technical proficiency have kept him gainfully employed by Playboy for more than 35 years. Freytag also holds the record for most Playboy Playmate centerfolds, and he has captured many of the most iconic Playboy images, including shots of Carmen Electra, Pamela Anderson, Goldie Hawn, Dita Von Teese, Bree Olson and many more.
DPP: In the early years, Playboy was a driving force in opening up society, not only with the photographs, but the articles, as well. How does it stay relevant in today's society? How does Playboy keep its own voice?

Freytag: We don't follow other people. When Penthouse came out, or Hustler, or porn on the Internet, we didn't try to make our images look like theirs. We stayed our own course, which is somewhat innocent. We still photograph the girl next door. We stay true to ourselves and our readers. And we still have the best writers, the best artists and the best photographers. They're all top-notch men and women.

DPP: Now you and several other Playboy photographers are sharing your expertise with others through your Shoot the Centerfold workshops. What are they about?

Freytag: Shoot the Centerfold is composed of photographers who have worked for Playboy creating features and pictorials. We began this year and have already had three workshops in Las Vegas and one in Fort Lauderdale. We're going to expand to additional locations in 2012.

We share our knowledge about photographing women, including the lighting, rapport with the model, posing, hair and make-up, styling, and the use of sets and locations. The common bond between the instructors is that we've all shot centerfolds. It's me with David Mecey and Jarmo Pohjaniemi. We show how to create a centerfold step-by-step and light-by-light. In the future, there will be guest mentors from around the globe.

I think the photography we do is beautiful, and I think it's time for us to share how we do it. Part of what the students come to realize is that when I'm creating a centerfold, I don't shoot women. I shoot architecture, I shoot interiors, I shoot cars and motorcycles, and then I put a girl in front of all of it and light her separately. That's where the knowledge I gained at Brooks comes in because it was such a technical school—lighting reflective surfaces, metal, glass, textures, colors— then my art background—studying the great masters at the Art Institute of Chicago—works for lighting people.

The reason I can shoot a centerfold in a day is because I know how to do posing. It's not a girl just standing or lying there. It's a lot of turning, twisting and arching, making the legs look long while not distorting the face—all the little tricks I've learned over the years. For the centerfolds, because of the format of it, there are rules you have to go by. It's a long, skinny layout with two folds in it. You have to be aware of the position of the body in relation to where the folds are. In the 8x10, we had a cardboard cropper, and we now have a digital one on a 30-inch Apple monitor.

DPP: Is shooting tethered to a Mac with a big screen one of the main things that has sped up the shooting process?

Freytag: We used to send the 8x10 transparencies to the editors in Chicago. They would make prints, then vote on them, then send the picks to Hef. Now it goes from my camera to my printer, then to the mansion. Hef wants to see what it looks like on paper because that's the medium that people see it on in the magazine. It's not a transmitted image on a screen.

We continue to evolve, but we never forget what has made the magazine what it is.

To see more of Arny Freytag's photography, go to www.arnyfreytagstudios.com. You can find out about the workshops at shootthecenterfold.


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