Then comes the day
Staring at myself I turn to question me
I wonder do I want the simple, simple life that I once lived in well
Oh things were quiet then
In a way they were the better days

~ Dave Matthews

I once spent eight hours setting up and shooting a still-life, carefully arranging pieces of hints and symbols and subtleties so they’d catch the light just right, adding and removing references and call-backs to other pieces, creating a complex piece of art for my first juried art show, just to win Best of Show with a nude self-portrait of me with an apple on my head that took me five minutes to shoot on a lark. The still-life didn’t even get accepted to the show.

There’s something to be said for simplicity.

Shoots are sometimes like that. I’ll plan out with my model some very complex and nuanced piece that we have in our collective head, and we’ll work out details and lighting and placement and angles. And sometimes the shoot just goes sideways. That’s the risk I take when I plan out something complicated. Sometimes I get exactly what I want. Sometimes I get something different, but still awesome. Sometimes, on occasion, things just don’t come out well at all.

So when Abbie came by yesterday, we’d decided to just wing it and see what would happen. We tried a bunch of different things, lots of poses, lots of contexts, lots of lighting arrangements. In the end, this is far and away the shot of the day. Nude, curled, black and white, no distractions.

There’s something to be said for simplicity.

These days, I’m living a fairly simple life doing what I love to do, making people smile and just shooting what makes me happy.

There’s a large part of me that misses all the complication. I miss the caring for someone. I still miss the tousled hair in my face in the morning. I miss watching her undress at night before she crawled into bed. I miss the broke-ass phone connections on her way home from work. I miss the geeky HeFKPScK and Imzadi and Sex Geek paraphernalia.

But on the other hand, I have no obligation to watch a stalker’s Twitter feed, no being ready to drop what I’m doing and drive 12 hours round trip on a moment’s notice to spend a few days with anyone, or make a spoon or flower delivery. I actually loved doing all those things, but those things require a certain amount of physical and emotional energy, potential energy waiting like a spring coiled and kinetic energy like a spring sprung. Now I can spend, as I did last evening, a few hours on the balcony just sipping wine and watching the sky turn, in solitude and quiet and contemplation of the existential ramifications of transporter travel if I want. No obligations, and no phone.

There’s something to be said for simplicity.

I’ve said I’m taking the year off, that I’m not inclined toward romantic entanglements, that I’m not getting deeply involved, and I think that’s a good choice. But I’ve also recently said that the heartache was worth the price of admission, that eventually I’d find my Clara. There will come a time when I’m back in the midst of all the complexity and complication and energetic interaction of a romantic relationship.

But for now, I’m going to go sip coffee on the balcony and contemplate the existential ramifications of transporter travel.

For now, there’s something to be said for simplicity.





Modeling for this very simple shot was Abbie.



To repeat the disclaimer, this is a project about re-discovery. It’s about remembering who I am, what I’m about, what I love and what I do not. Fair warning, this project will be posted here rather than at my SFW site because there will be nudity from time to time. Some of it will be of me, some not, some artistic and pretty to look at, some just raw.

I don’t intend to think of something every day and then shoot it, though I may do that sometimes, too. But sometimes I will just shoot, and then find something about myself in the frames and post about that thing, whatever it is.

All my #365SelfDiscovery posts will be filed here.


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Louis Shackleton is an intimate portraiture artist and wildlife photographer formerly based in Wilmington, NC. After 3 years of traveling the continent in his 2001 VW Passat, he's now settled in Seattle, Washington.

Head on over to the About page to read more about him and his work.

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