Feature Article: Burn2 – Burning Man in SL

If you’ve never been to Burning Man in RL, and you don’t see yourself traveling to the playa in Nevada any time soon, you can find the next best thing in SL!

It’s called Burn2.

This time around, Patrick and I were very fortunate to be invited by Lee Olsen to share his plot to exhibit and display Patrick’s surrealist art. Without much of a plan, we began to build a monstrous maze that evolved from some research about the principles of Burning Man, and some suggestions from friends. In the end, truly almost like magic, we ended up with an amazing build that embodied the theme of this year’s Burn2 which was “Metamorphoses.”

I have to say that during our experience displaying art at Burn2, surrounded by people who truly take the meaning and message of Burning Man into their hearts, both Patrick and I felt a connection to everyone there and a common purpose: to share, to give and to be our true selves as wildly as we wanted to be while maintaining respect for others.

In fact, there are 10 principles that are followed precisely. A few of them are “radical self-expression,” “radical inclusion” and “radical self-reliance.” By the use of the word “radical” they mean not just a little bit. They mean include EVERYONE. No matter the differences that sometimes keep people apart. Another principle is “Immediacy” which I understand as living in the absolute NOW – not over-thinking what people may say in response to our art, not limiting ourselves to standards for fear of being considered brazen. This is truly an event where people are encouraged – and even expected – to be as weird as you want to be! It is the manifestation of the words the poet, Rumi, when he wrote “Don’t you know Yet? It is your light that lights the World.” It’s not just my light or your light. It is the communal light we produce that lights the world. The light that so many of us are hesitant to uncover. When immediacy is added to the mix, there is no time to be anything but happy, and free – in a radical way.

There are long-time burners there that keep the noobs from breaking the rules like ‘Decommodification” which is a great big SAT word that means no commercialization, no selling things – taking the monetization and consumption right out of the picture. Alternatively, gift-giving is encouraged. A gift is a gift. There is no commerce exchange. A gift is given and hopefully accepted with the intended effect of creating more happiness.

Lastly, there is a burning down of the art installments. Patrick was not at all a fan. It was a fun period of time where people enjoyed the gifts we had to give, and we actively enjoyed the gifts of others. And to destroy it seemed like the destruction of all that effort to him. But one of the principles is “leave no trace.” Our fun was had, but when it was time to move on, we had our memories and peace in the knowledge that next year, we will build something just as fun again. However, we DO have pictures to remember it all by, kindly taken by Radioactive Rosca. Here is a link to his album. BURN ON!

Feature Article: Who is Alaia Fashionable for Men?

Alaia Fashionable was born on Flickr as a group for bloggers, photography lovers and enthusiasts. Men’s Fashion was born out of necessity. Guys love to look good too. One’s physical appearance in Second Life is like a business card, just as it is in Real Life. The care you take in creating and dressing your avatar is another’s first glimpse of who you are on the inside. The problem is that men’s fashion tends to suffer as women’s fashion takes center stage in Second Life.

Cynthia Lenoir is a young woman who loves fashion so much she made it her work in Real Life as well as a make up artist. In SL, she studied successfully at the My Light Fashion Academy, and from that experience a beautiful and fruitful collaboration was born. Alaia has grown to include 15 Models, 2 Assistants, Managers and Administrators of all respects, 2 Machinima, 2 DJ’s, and 2 fantastic choreographers.

Cythnia is full of dreams about the future of Alaia, and she continues to dream happily, about combining Art and Fashion into perfect harmony. She couldn’t have enjoyed as much success without her talented family and associates.

Cynthia Lenoir
Cynthia Lenoir

Caesar Langer ƛƦƖƧƬƠƇƦƛƬ’s life in SL has been a quite long journey. He came to SL because people were speaking about the experimental character of virtual creations, like visual arts and architecture, allowing one to build and create simulating RL situations as well as fictional ones. When he first joined, he wasn’t sure what to expect but he knew he wanted to have some kind of relaxing occupation. He accidentally casted for a magazine and won a spot in the model crew. After that, he found himself more involved as a stylist and that is what he still does now. He’s trying develop skills in photography, and thanks to the fashion industry, met his husband.

Sαian ƛƦƖƧƬƠƇƦƛƬ Langer didn’t plan to be a model. Then one day he did a casting for the fun of it and was hired. Step by step, he met amazing people and grew as model. His husband, Caesar, was crowned Mr Virtual World 2015 and encouraged Saian to try a contest as well. He entered MR SL contest and was crowned MR SL 2016. Since then he has worked a lot shows and was very involved in the Miss SL organization. He has recently joined Alaia as a collaborator.

Kaid Hawker is a designer and founder of Hawker’s House stores. When he first began designing, he knew nothing of GIMP or Photoshop, or designing in Second Life. He just knew he had a love of fashion, color, and fabric, and designing seemed to be a passion. It gave his creative mind an outlet and a focus in SL. His goal with Hawker’s house was to make everyday clothing that was affordable for the majority of SL residents. He recently completed modeling classes to get a better idea of designing from a model’s perspective.

Joy$ Cuttita likes the idea of an agency aimed at the male audience. She feels that here in SL, fashion in general is aimed at women and she was struck by the idea of concentrating on men’s fashion.

John Noone is the Director of Museum Island, a museum of that began 10 years ago with an idea by Carlolello Zapatero who built a beautiful collection of some of the most awesome monuments of Mediterrean Area and Middle East. To keep the museum relevant, they host SL artists and special events. Last, but not least, they support 2lei which is dedicated to the great issue of violence against women. Their friendship with Alaia will create a connection between art and fashion, because fashion is culture and art, after all.

HaRLeY NooNe is an Administrator and Assistant to Alaia Fashionable for Men, and proudly says she is very busy but loves it as the Fashion Agency is still new. She is also CEO of Museum Island, sharing the goal that it be an inspiration for people, encouraging them to discover more either in second or real life, and a place to learn, to have fun, and to socialize.

Raquel Wild started with a market stall in Manchester, England and paid her own way through a Fashion and Design degree in London. She is a buyer and marketing
consultant. For her, SL is a fascinating world of fast fashion and exciting designers where she can relax, play and create. In RL, Cynthia came to see her finals show and they have worked together for some of their most creative projects. In SL, they love to work with each other and it is part of the creative spark that is Alaia.

Luka Benton is a professional model, stylist, blogger, and photographer in Second Life. He began his modeling career, after graduating from Furelle Academy. Since then, he’s appeared on the catwalk and taken photos for several agencies, organizations, and publications. He also takes part in theatrical productions, doing fashion theatre, musicals and rock shows as an avi look-alike.

Feature Article: Alaia Fashionable for Men

Beginning on November 2nd at 1:00 pm SLT, Alaia Fashionable for Men will be holding the first of three exciting contests featuring 4 male model finalists who will compete to win a educational course for models at the My Light Fashion Academy. The first event will formally present the challengers, and they will be choosing their own fashion for the runway. The first theme of the evening is “Represent yourself” and the second is “50’s Rockabillies.”

Lichi Moonwall, one of the best known DJ’s in SL, will be emceeing the event.

There are two more events for the competition on November 9th and 16th – both also beginning at 1:00 pm SLT. These events will be a spectacular – and incredibly rare – opportunity for men who are fashion conscious in SL to see what clothes and stores the professional male models choose from. There are so few stores for men, and even fewer male models. Any man who cares how about his avatar’s appearance will want to attend!

Lastly, on November 30th Alaia Fashionable for Men is holding a Fall/Winter fashion show. This event will feature Alaia’s seasoned models as well as feature the winner of the first three competitions of the month. Then event will also at at 1:00pm SLT, which is a bit early for Americans – as many of the models, coordinators and attendees are European. However, it will be held on Saturday so hopefully the event will have an international attendance.

If you’d like more information about the events or about Alaia Style and Men’s Fashion, the best Models and trends for the refined and elegant Avatars in Second Life, please contact Cynthia Lenoir, Owner of Alaia Fashionable Agency for Men and Co-Owner of MyLight Fashion Agency. See you there!

PHOTOGRAPHY: An Interview with Jos Yohkoh and Nikki Herron

Once in a great while, you meet a person that has such a bright light that is truly beautiful, and you are attracted to this light for it’s inspiration and brilliance. Then you meet their significant other and this person, too, is like a breath of fresh air. Together, both Jos and Nikki Herron-Yohkoh, create incredibly creative art. Both are an inspiration to me personally, and I couldn’t be more honored to have them as our featured artists for November’s FOCUS!

Patrick: Just so we can get to know you a little better, as is our tradition at FOCUS, let’s begin with fun icebreaker: Tell us about one thing that at first bothered you about the other, but now you can’t get enough of that part of their personality! Nikki why don’t you begin and share what that might be about Jos.

Nikki: Thank you for having us Patrick! Well, this question is easy! It’s his ability to read me like a book. He seems to know almost everything without me having said a thing! Not that is a bad thing, mind you. We often say we were lost soulmates because I don’t often have to explain – he just gets it. He knows! I remember once asking – and even found myself looking around – “Do you have a camera somewhere, Jos?” I admit it bothered me at first, but now, I love that I can stop mid-sentence and he knows how I am feeling or what I want to say.

Patrick: Jos, now it’s your turn.

Jos: First, I want to express my gratitude towards the whole FOCUS team for inviting us both this month as your featured artists.

We learned during our time together as a couple in RL and a team in SL, that we both have personalities with a strong tendency to focus and get caught in what we are doing. At first, I have to admit, it was difficult for me to grasp this dedication Nikki has since it resulted often in me chatting away and getting no answer back. Now, we laugh about it. Nikki dedicates her heart and soul to her works and yes, this is one of her many admirable qualities that I respect and appreciate.

Patrick: Where does much of your inspiration come from, and – knowing you both share in most of your photography – does sharing challenge you to be stronger artists?

Nikki: For me, I am very much a romantic and sensual person. I also love to show my emotion –which can lead to some more dramatic pieces from time to time. It all depends on how I am feeling in the moment. Some- times, something will come to me whilst away from the computer and I ache to get back there to create what is in my mind. Other times I can be somewhere in SL and think, “I see a picture here.”

Jos is very inspiring and supportive to me here. We are both each others critiques as well as support and will sometimes make suggestions.

Jos: Most of my works are born out of little moments or a “flash” idea that pops-up, fueled by a certain circumstance. This doesn’t guarantee that my idea will materialize since I tend to change whilst building. I reckon one can call this self-inspiring? One idea triggers another.

As Nikki is more the story telling part of us in her emotionally driven-scenery and portraits, I go for another edge. I work with symbolism, puzzles and unusual ways of colouring and WL settings. Often, I try to dare the viewers to see beyond what I seem to present at first sight. My art tends to be a bit quirky. I like to explore my ability to express emotion through an image powerfully enough to incite a response.

Nikki and I share our raw works with one another – often several versions – and ask each other to comment on it and discuss opinions. We also can learn and improve ourselves by observing each other and discuss works from other artists.

Patrick: I know, Jos, you use a lot of music and poems in your presentation. Tell us a little about that process and how your themes and ideas are influenced by other artistic mediums.

Jos: Yes. The combination of image and sound (i.e. music and lyrics) completes the image. For me, it changes an apparently self-contained image into a composition. As if one is linking prims to build something in SL! In this way music and their lyrics combined with a strong, emotion-driven poem, related to the subject and/or the message I want to send, takes a picture from a prelude to a suite, as in classical music.

Patrick: Nikki, you are so beautiful in each of your compositions. What artists have given you inspiration?

Nikki: Thank you! Music is very inspiring to me and definitely affects my mood. How I am feeling in the moment will almost always come through in my work. I am very diverse with my tastes although I think I annoy Jos that I don’t really know many early 70’s musicians. I am an 80’s gal! That was my wild time. So, to really answer your question, I like anything from Indie to pop and moody love songs to rock. It is more the words I am listening to in a song. I could be listening and think “OMG, this is exactly what I am trying to bring through in my work!” Then I will add the song in hope that people will “get it” a bit more.

Patrick: In your work, what excites you about the creative process the most?

Nikki: Truthfully, I hate setting up for a shoot whereas I know Jos loves that part of it. You are more likely going to find me wandering SL sims than Jos. I absolutely love playing with windlight and rely on that to do most of my work. I love post editing. That is the most appealing part to me. I like to call it “tidying up.”

Jos: Nikki is so right here; I LOVE setting up scenes. You will not find me wandering around in SL with the intention of posing unless we are together. And let us not forget the fact that being able to share our work with others is inspiring. What is a painter without an audience? Or a poet without public?

Patrick: So many of us enjoy seeing your pictures as a couple. How do you come up with your ideas when working together?

Nikki: When we are taking pictures together, we both snap away madly. I love poses that mimic RL. We do have to put a lot of edit time into our poses because, as most are aware, poses are not a one size fits all. We’ve invested in editing tools for poses which are very worthwhile. We have our own ideas but we are very much a team. Jos is definitely the more experimental one and will use settings leaving me wondering “what will he do with that?” We have a rule now: not to publish the same picture of the same angle or windlight. We both grew into our own with how our pictures are presented anyway, so we’re not likely to take the same shot.

Jos: Nikki and I definitely differ in how to approach a shot as it comes to angles and WL settings. We avoid publishing the same works but if we can combine in a more funny way, we do. A good example of this is linking to each other’s work to complete a story, where one can see Nikki waving in the distance in one picture and then see Jos from Nikki’s point of view in linked work.

Working together is about communicating constantly about ideas and how to present. It may be also that sometimes we “borrow” Nikki or Jos to complete an idea when the other is not available due to our difference in time zone, as we do have a huge ocean in between us. But often, Nikki poses while I am the one with the camera or the other way around. We seem to have reached a perfect co-operation in this. It even stretches to “you pose and sort inventory” events. But this is also part of the fun of working together.

Patrick: Do either of you have a background in art or photography?

Nikki: I am pretty much self-taught but I think I have always had an artistic side. Back in 2008, I opened up an SL business designing classic clothes (no mesh then) and everything was hand drawn, shaded and detailed. It was a successful little business for the time but more of a hobby for me and the delight I got from seeing my work on another person was such a nice feeling.

When Jos and I reconnected we were just taking everyday snapshots and popping them into an album on Facebook for us to share with only each other. I recalled Flickr, having used this as a platform years ago to blog my clothing designs and suggested to Jos that we should place them there. So with a big burst of enthusiasm we threw everything and anything of our SL adventures there. It was definitely more about the “Adventures of Jos and Nikki in SL” and were basically many double ups from each others view. We quickly learned not to flood poor Flickr and to put more effort into presenting our works. Then it became a matter of pride and effort. As in my business I had, the delight I feel knowing somebody has viewed my picture and enjoyed, smiled or even added to their favorites is such a nice feeling.

Jos: During my high school period I had the possibility to choose two extra subjects to complete my study and one of them was History of Art. I enjoyed that so much! So, I am a bit familiar with some techniques (theoretically) perhaps, using some here and there at my convenience. Also, I was raised playing the accordion, the grand piano and other instruments with keys to hammer on. So I’m sure all that is influencing my works in the background.

Patrick: What advice would you give a new artist?

Nikki: Don’t be afraid to take many, many pictures of the one scene! I will usually take much more than needed and of course only one will make it but I have been thankful I did as something may not be captured correctly and you may never get that exact moment back.

And practice! It’s all about fun and practice. Once you have learned the basics, you can go on to learn the basics of editing.

Lastly, make a story. People love to see a story in a picture but be aware of the windlights as some can be enhancing or devastating to your composition.

Jos: Keep in mind that art is not a competition. Never be afraid to publish the hard work you completed with the fear it would look “of lesser importance” compared to what already is posted in Flickr groups. It is YOUR picture, YOUR idea, YOUR share with the world. And you deserve respect and admiration. There are no rules. There is no law dictating how the perfect picture should look like. All your work is a gem!

Then let the inspiration flow. Open your eyes and ears and start to discover several ways of presenting. Experiment and learn how one approach can result in different outcomes. And remember to keep notes on how you achieved photos you particularly like.

Patrick: Lastly, how has Too Sexy for This Group (TSFTG) influenced you?

Nikki: The artists in the group are very inspiring indeed. Sadly, due to my timezone I haven’t had the chance to meet many but have had the opportunities to of course admire the works. Your in-world gallery is something for every artist to feel proud of being involved in as one is alongside some of the best. I would love to do a collaboration with someone from the group. I feel it would be refreshing for Jos and I to do something new with somebody for the experience and to perhaps see something from a different view.

Jos: Yes! I’ve met some artists out of the group and discovered their drive and went to see how their works contain and express their passions. Practically on a daily basis, I open up the group and view every last work till the picture appears that I already have seen. There are artists I can tell are on the “same frequency” as me. They might even work like I do and that makes it even more interesting. There was a day I was honored to have a look at your side, Patrick. You were in the midst of creating and that was super inspiring. Perhaps it is an idea to have some “open moments” at a stage of
creating work, where a group member invites interested friends to the scene whilst busy doing it. In my case, this would be a platform for example. Thus sharing “a way” not “THE way, of working.”

Patrick: I’m again, so honored to have this time to get to know you more personally as artists and a loving couple who both share their passions for creative digital art with so many around the world! You are both so inspiring to me, and I continue to grow and get better in my craft from enjoying your gifts!

Nikki: Thank you so very much Patrick! It’s very much an honor for us to be involved in your magazine. We do feel quite proud that we have been
asked and thank you very much for the opportunity.

Jos: Yes! I agree with what Nikki is saying here and it works both ways. We all are inspiring each other and isn’t it sheer fun? We do hope our future works will be appreciated and seen as a source to inspire. Furthermore, I thank the team of Focus for providing us both the platform to communicate with you all and for inviting us to talk a little bit about ourselves.

Ok, in Dutch then, for just one little second, on behalf of us both: Dank jullie wel voor alles!

FOCUS Magazine – From the Editor, November 2019 Issue

Editor's Note by Angela Thespian, April 2019 Issue

Letter from the Editor

It’s another amazing issue! First and foremost, we are still reeling from our incredible October. I can’t shout it loud enough that we had the goal of L$50k and we felt a little nervous about meeting that goal and then because of the gracious and amazing people in this group, we doubled it!

This month we feature the work of Nikki and Jos Herron-Yohkoh. I have to say that I’ve always enjoyed their art but only now that I have stopped to really look at it from an editor’s perspective do I see how sophisticated and emotionally expressive their art really is. They are a fun couple in timezones that, without SL, it would have been unlikely for Patrick and I to have ever had the pleasure of getting to know.

Next, FOCUS highlights two big upcoming events. One is Alaia’s men’s fashion competition that begins on November 2nd and continues through the month, culminating with a giant fashion show on November 30th. The other is MADD Modelz’ debut of their MADD College, with a grand opening on November 2nd too. It’s a big month for SL fashion! There is also a short story from our group’s friend, CybeleMoon. I recommend not missing it!

Please enjoy.

Angela Thespian

PHOTOGRAPHY: An Interview with Brique Topaz, Chairwoman of Feed a Smile

“Whatever can be done to make life worth living for others will make your life even more worth living by helping.”
– Brique Topaz

Lavender Fields

Angela: Thank you for joining us for this interview in our October Awareness issue, Brique! I’m so excited to ask you a few questions and help our group and other readers get to know you better! My first question is what inspired you to begin with
Feed a Smile?

Brique: As the RL chairwoman of Live and Learn in Kenya International, I am always looking for ways to raise funds for the cause. Besides providing everything that nearly 500 desolately poor children need to go to school, we also provide meals for them 6 days a week. Feed a Smile is a fun, enjoyable and entertaining way to do this – giving the children a reason to smile as well as the Second Life residents who come to the events – and as I always hear from the performers – a joy to be able to really help poor children in a realistic way by doing what they love to do.

Angela: When did you realize SL would be a good vehicle for fundraising?

Brique: I actually joined SL to become a member of Nonprofit Commons. It proved to be a fabulous and well-known platform for charity organizations. After being a member for some months I got the idea to open my SL home to the public for concerts. That led to being given the use of a sim, which was the beginning of the Lavender Field – nearly 10 years ago. Sadly, the sim owner left SL and we were forced to rent a sim. We cut down to ½ a sim to save money. Most of the monthly tier is being donated by a very generous person. The rest is donated directly at the Lavender Field in a donation box designated for the tier. We are able to provide hundreds of meals through Feed a Smile every month. We also give out our donation boards to shops, stores, private people for their parties and venues. They are attractive boards in 3 sizes and people really like having them. Anyone could contact me about having one.

Angela: How do you maintain hope in the face of the impoverished slums, dangerous gangs and crime in Nakuru?

Brique: Where people are forced to live in poverty, there will always be crime. That is just a fact of life – and one that needs to be politically faced, questioned and solved. There is enough to go around for every man, woman and child on this beautiful planet of ours – if only there wasn’t so much greed. Nearly 20 years ago, when I founded Live and Learn in Kenya Int’l, I decided to leave my mark in this world with the possibility for people to pass it forward from generation to generation. What better way is there than through eduation? Knowledge is power. When you know what it’s like to have lived in poverty you use your knowledge to make sure that – at least – your own children will not have to experience it. Our motto is “Education is the Key to the Future.”

Angela: Lastly, I think we’d all like to know what does it feel like when you go to Nakuru and see these heathy kids, knowing you are helping them have a better life?

Brique: When I am preparing to go to Kenya – I take a large group of up to 30 volunteers with me every year – I am too busy to be very excited about the trip. There is so much to organize. I don’t especially like flying – it’s so uncomfortable and the flight is so long… But when our van pulls up. The the Live and Learn in Kenya Education Center and I see all of “my” children waiting for me – I jump out of the van at the front gate and run to to them while they cry out MAMA BRIQUE, MAMA BRIQUE and nearly knock me down. Then I know why I work an average of 8 hours a day, 365 days a year for them! It is a joy to watch them grow. We have several “children” that I guided up the educational path from kindergarten to a university degree. During an annual visit we had a group of doctors come for check-ups. After all of the children had been checked, I asked the head doctor if there was anything else that we could do – healthwise – for the children. His answer was “Mama Brique, I have never seen such healthy slum children in my entire career as a doctor”. It’s a good feeling.

One thing that I would like to make very clear is that everyone at Live and Learn in Kenya International – except for the Kenyan staff who need to live from their work (teachers, for example) are volunteers and receive no money whatsoever. Myself included. In fact most of the members donate a good amount of funds every year to keep things going and to sponsor children.

If you want to see a nice replica of the school, please visit Lavender Fields. We are now raising funds to build the kindergarten classrooms – in RL. Our website in English is: http://llk-selb.de/?lang=en and in German: www.llk-selb.de.

FOCUS Magazine – From the Editor, October 2019 Issue

Editor's Note by Angela Thespian, April 2019 Issue

Letter from the Editor

FOCUS Magazine – October, 2019

I remember the first time I saw a Feed a Smile donation box. I was wandering SL with Marque Shergood (our copy editor) and we ended up sitting at a coffee shop. There, stretched to fill an entire wall, a sign read “Every 100L$ pays for a warm meal for a child.” How can anyone pass a sign like that and not leave 100 lindens? So I did. Immediately, the reality of that hit me: each time I donated 100L$ – which isn’t even enough to buy hair in SL – I was filling the belly of a child all the way in Nakuru Kenya! The incredible feeling that, with my few lindens, I was actually positively affecting a child’s life across the globe was addictive. So I kept clicking the board.

But then, after I donated a few thousand lindens to this random sign, I began to regret it. I became skeptical and thought “feed kids in Kenya from SL? Yea right.” Annoyed that
I might have been duped, I started to research “Feed a Smile.” What I found is an incredibly effective, vetted and verified charity that really does turn 100 lindens into a meal for a hungry child. I also discovered an ingenious, generous woman and role model named Brique Topaz who realized the opportunities in SL and is changing the world.

Last October, FOCUS had a fundraiser for Feed a Smile. We managed raise about 30k lindens – enough to buy lunch on October 30th for the school’s 400 or so children. Then a few weeks later, Brique sent me a photo of all the kids standing beside a chalkboard with words thanking us for our efforts. I broke down into tears. The feeling was indescribable, and it was such a positive community-building event for our group.

So this year, for our 2nd-annual fundraiser, our goal is 50,000 lindens. Brique said that L$44,500 will feed all of the children for one day and the remainder will go toward fresh fruit. October is a special month to become aware of many health and social issues including World Food Day. And as we know, malnutrition is a root cause of many other issues. So I invite you to enjoy this special awareness issue of FOCUS,
to learn more about this charity, and help us reach our goal!

Please enjoy.

Angela Thespian

MEMBERSHIP: Focus on Jos Loll

A Dutch charmer, a talented photographer and a TSFTG group member, Rachel Magic (Larisalyn) sat down with her long time friend, Jos Loll, and asked him a few fun questions to help FOCUS readers get to know him a bit better.

Rachel: We usually start interviews with an icebreaker question so here it goes: If you could be a famous singer in a band which band would it be and why?

Jos: I would like to be Max Verstappen the Dutch formula one driver because he shook up formula one driving and takes risks. And when he sees a gap. he jumps right in, much like my myself.

Rachel: How long have you been taking Flicker pics and what inspired you to start?

Jos: I started in 2015. My friend, Iris Okiddo, kept saying I should start photography and I always refused. Then I decided to just start and I liked it, so I kept doing it.

Rachel: Can you tell us the process and ideas you have to taking your pictures?

Jos: When I started, my photos were not planned. When I saw something I liked, I took a picture and it was just a standard upload to flicker. But then, I started to replicate pictures from sites like Tumblr and Pinterest. Due to the fact that my current computer cannot handle laggy sims and high graphics, my focus is more on human forms. Of course, it is much more interesting to have interaction with people than with static landscapes anyway. What I always try to do is raise the eyebrow and, when people scroll through their Flicker, make them stop for a moment to figure out what they are seeing. For instance, images like the close-up of the kiss on the forehead I did with you can express more than a photo of the whole body.

Rachel: My next question is a bit cheeky but as we have known each other a few years, I feel I can go there. Do you find it hard to find clothing to wear in your pictures? Is that why the majority of them are naked or is it more about expression of the human form?

Jos: Actually, my most faved pictures I have are when I am wearing suits, but I do like variety.

The images that inspire me from Tumblr, and couples pictures are generally naked and erotic. Plus, I am a dirty bastard.

Rachel: I know you have assisted and worked collaboratively with myself and other photographers with using the anypose posing system. What are your top three tricks in SL photography?

Jos: First, I would say try, try, try and don’t give up. You will face difficulties but that will help you learn for the next time. Also, when I create a pose, I sometimes stand in front of the mirror and look at my RL body to test the pose and see if it feels natural. Sometimes it is necessary to adjust your avatar’s shape and appearance to make a pose work. Make sure to keep a copy of your original shape though!

Rachel: Great tips, Jos. Lastly, what does TSFTG mean to you?

Jos: I use the group mostly as an excuse to meet women! But also I like to be a member of this group with good photographers and I’m proud to be in this group.

Rachel: Thank you so much for this interview, Jos! Jos’ photography can also be seen in the FAIR gallery this month. Please stop by!

PHOTOGRAPHY: An Interview with Doc Romano

“I ‘m a realist. I am indecisive at times, I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle but I’m genuine and honest to a fault sometimes. I don’t give up easily, when I do then I’m done for good. I am stubborn, sarcastic, outspoken, very, very blunt.” – Doc Romano

Angela: Thank you for joining me for this interview, Doc! Jumping right in, what is the most important thing you’ve learned in SL so far? It can be philosophical or technical. Anything you wish.

Doc: That is quite easy, actually. The most important thing to me is to keep in mind that every avatar has a RL persona attached to it with RL views and talents, and all influenced by each individual’s experience. While SL is a game to some it can be – and is – a RL to others.

Angela: You have been taking photos in SL for many years. What has inspired you in the past and what inspires you now?

Doc: In the past when I first started taking photos, my inspiration came from my own land designing, making it look as real as possible and capturing it through my eyes, so to speak. Now, still much of the same but music and my thoughts at the time play a much bigger roll. Things going on in my RL sometimes or simply a much needed excursion to a destination sim will spark a thought or idea. I don’t have time to do my own landscaping anymore so that inspiration is gone! LOL

Angela: Do you have a routine you follow when you take pics?

Doc: Sometimes a song will prompt an idea but more times than not I will think of a song to join after the picture. And let me tell you, that has led to many photos not being posted. If I cannot match a song or a thought or quote with the feel of the picture, it may come back at a later date but often it is in a lifetime abyss folder! LOL! My favorite windlights are Jay Battlescars but I most always tweak them. As most people probably are, I am very picky in my lighting choices. I do use an editing program called Paint Shop Pro. I dislike Photo Shop.

Angela: If a new photographer were to ask you what is your secret for taking the photos you take, what are the top three things you would advise them to do?

Doc: First thing I would advise is create your own style first and foremost. Your style is what will set you apart from others. Secondly, have patience because without it you won’t have inspiration. And lastly, never be afraid to ask for help! A photographer should always be willing to share tips and tricks. No one can steal your style once you establish one of your own. Always remember where you came from – your beginnings and the ones who helped you along the way. Pay it forward.

Angela: Awww! Great answer!

Doc: One more thing I would advise is to join photo contests. They will improve your skills. Completions sometimes will challenge you but a lot of them are fun and have themes which, in turn, will feed thoughts and breed inspiration.

Angela: Great advice! Back tracking just a bit, what led you to begin taking photos in the first place? You joined SL in 2009 but didn’t open your Flickr until 2015. Did something happen to cause you to start sharing pics with others?

Doc: I just saw others taking pictures and started asking questions. Most things in the beginning were trial and error and youtube videos. I had an old Flickr in the past and an older Facebook too, so I had tinkered with them some before I actually established my permanent Flickr.

Angela: Do you recall any of the youtube videos? Did you have a favorite channel?

Doc: I never really watched one certain channel on youtube. Mainly, I would search for things related to SL photos, and then the editing which, at first, was quite overwelming!

Angela: So, Candlewood is a destination sim you began with your partner, Addy. Can you tell us how it got started and is there significance of the name Candlewood?

Doc: When I first met Addy, I quickly realized she had a talent for designing sims and always would encourage her to do it. In order for that to happen, we purchased a sim and she created a destination sim under a different name. Things changed in RL due to some health issues with my mother and we had to give that up for a while. Once I was able to come back more often, I promised to once again open a destination sim and Candlewood was born.

The name was inspired by a truly funny private joke about Motel 6. I dont recall the exact wording but it all boiled down to the saying “We’ll leave the light on for you.” So I was looking for something like “We’ll leave a candle burning for you.” It was quite funny and you hadda be there, I suppose. But… true story!

Angela: It’s a beautiful name! So the last question I ask everyone… what has the TSFTG group meant to you? Has this group “Too Sexy for This Group” affected you in any way? I know you haven’t really been around much lately to be a part of it but do you have any thoughts?

Doc: While I am not around much to partake in events, etc. I do follow what is going on in the group, participate whenever I can and read the magazine. I am impressed with how much the group has grown to much, much more than it was just a year ago. I’m also impressed with the help it provides for new photographers and experienced alike. For that, I certainly give huge props to you and all your staff that make all these super things possible. And if there is a reader out there who is a new photographer – or even an Oldie like myself – and not part of the group, then what the heck ya waiting for? Go hit that JOIN button!!

Angela: Aww! Thank you so much for your continued support, Doc! It’s been a pleasure to interview you. You are awesome!

Doc Romano

FOCUS Magazine – From the Editor, September 2019 Issue

Editor's Note by Angela Thespian, April 2019 Issue

Letter from the Editor

This issue is one of my favorites so far. There are a lot of fun things going on this month. The month began with my birthday and – while I’m glad I was born – the date is most significant as the start date to my third annual “Happiness Walk.” Sound corny? I suppose it is a bit. But it’s also great fun! For the past three years, I have asked most everyone I know (usually at the last minute!) to gift me a picture of something that makes them happy in their everyday life. The result is truly overwhelming each year. I set out about 50 photos of adorable dogs, lover’s bright
smiles, cheeky coffee cups, shiny motorcycles, funny-shaped trees and fancy cars that cause a smile every day on route to work. It’s hard to browse around the photos and not find a reason to smile – but the trick is that it isn’t just a smile for ourselves, but a smile shared with our friends. Still sound corny? Just trust me! Make a visit to the sim and you’ll get it.

This is also a terrific issue because of our good friends Doc Romano and Jos Loll. They are both fun guys with silly (sometimes naughty) senses of humor, as well being talented artists. My long-time friend, Tyler Cross, also chimes in this issue with a “travel” feature. I know his dry wit well, so his article had me giggling. I’m sure you will enjoy it too.

Lastly, there is a live music section that features our own advice columnist and TSFTG friend Mahogany Soulstar. She made her singing debut recently, so Susan Aloix snatched her up for a quick interview.

Please enjoy.

Angela Thespian