Gram Ponante wrote:
Carlos Batts, according to a jumble of tweets and status updates from friends, died suddenly last night, found by his wife, muse, and model, April Flores. Born in Baltimore, Batts came to L.A. and slowly but purposefully carved out a niche in “artcore” glamor photography using high-contrast L.A. (in addition to its porn stars) as a backdrop, and joining contemporaries Dave Naz, Ed Fox, and Steve Diet Goedde. Batts was 42.
But it was in April Flores that Batts found his anchor and inspiration. Batts was a relentless promoter of his work, and loved his wife, who was so often the subject of it. I am shocked that this vital young man is gone so soon, and am so proud to know April Flores, a beautiful person.
He sums up his origin like this:
I went out there and I showed them this stuff, all my manipulations, all the images . . . I’m styling, I do the body paint. And I happened to have an outtake–before I beat the image up, I had an outtake of one of the girls, a Polaroid test. And the girl was very voluptuous, had long Bettie Page black hair, and [an editor said] said, “Would that girl be interested in working for our new magazine called Leg World?”
I had photographed a lot of people naked, but not in a superficial sense where it was about them being naked, you know what I mean? So even if she was hot, I’m never like, “Oh, yeah, you’re hot.” It was always like, I’m going to paint her green and do something with her. . . .
From the outtake, I asked my model, I said, “Hey would you be interested in doing this, something like a Bettie Page thing for this magazine.” She said, “Oh, yeah, that’d be cool.”
And growing up watching ’70s porn, ’80s porn . . . I’m driven to warm, deep yellow-orange-red colors. And I light everything backwards. I’m working at the lab, [and] Agfa film was the cheapest film. You get a three-pack for like $2.99 plus [an employee] discount. This film was so warm. And I lit it wrong. I used the wrong bulbs. The stuff came out really deep, really moody colors.
And they loved it, because it was almost like Bettie Page, and it was contemporary, but kind of ’70s. It was really warm. I love lighting it that way. And from there, they were like, “Oh, Carlos, shoot some stuff.”
He was 40.