Month: January 2011

Art and Science

So, Coitus arrives in my mailbox today. And, I was very happy to see the final results. Now, it might not be some of my more serious ‘fashion’ work. But, it is my fun playful, sexy side that took form here. Take a look at my tastefully scandalous opening shot designed by Sichi featuring Dennis Droemer of Re:Quest:

I can’t impress upon you enough to order copies. It is quite a unique magazine that celebrates the youth and beauty of men in a sexy, non-threatening, non-pornographic way. My story, for example, is a fun kitschy albeit randy story that celebrates the ‘Art and Science’ of being a man. I shot Kevin Freed of Ford Models; Aleg Romanov and Dennis Droemer of Re:Quest; and, Jullien Herrera of Red Models on a very cold Saturday morning stuck in my small studio in Harlem. It was a fun day. Lots of laughs with some of the industry’s newest faces. Here are the boys and what they had to say that day to me:

Special thanks to Dhaniel Doud of Redken, Chelsea Stevens, my photo assistant, Rodrigo Otazu for loaning me his self designed diamond skull that opens up my story, and the models who made a very tight space look spacious and bright. Also, thanks to Oscar at Re:Quest, George at RED, and Maher at Ford for loaning me some of the best new models in the business. And, of course, the ultimate shout out goes to Pantelis, the founder and editor of Coitus. You rock Pants Man! Now, go online and order it.


Sak Passe, Haiti

As I had mentioned at the close of last year, I want to change the format of my blog a bit. I shoot more than just men’s fashion or tests or portraits. And, up until now, I have never had a forum to highlight that ‘other side’ of my brain. When I first started shooting, I really wanted to shoot more documentary style of photography. Or, even, the much looked down upon event photography. There is a value in capturing the moment of something that is ‘real’ and not created in a vacuum of stylists and a make-up team. My original journey was to shoot something that was an ‘ACTUAL’ or a slice of life. So, one of my mentors introduced me to a Relief program in Haiti called Yele Haiti. Yele Haiti was created by recording artist Wyclef Jean. My friend, who I don’t want to name, was one of his many voices in the program’s infancy that was about change. My friend happens to be the real deal when it comes to change. She is one of those people who is fervent and diehard in her beliefs. She is a go getter. She is Lifetime movie in real life. She recognized that I had an eye and suggested that I come to Haiti and document one of their food deliveries.

This trip changed my life and views of the world more than anything that I had experienced save for the death of my Mother who hated my trip to Port-Au-Prince. She was scared for my life. I wasn’t . . . until we delivered food to one of the poorest quartiers in Haiti, Cite Soleil. As we delivered food by the truck loads, a gang had been planning to rob the food from us at gunpoint. Well, let’s just say that their plan went without a hitch. Quickly, a riot followed among the people in disbelief that their food that they lined up for hours was being stolen right before their eyes. I have never been so frightened in my life. However, I could not stop taking pictures. It was exhilarating to watch survival at its most instinctive. Fear is a scary beast when not properly managed for sure. But, I couldn’t stop. In a blink, however, I felt sad, guilty, helpless, hopeless and thirsty. Thirsty? Yep. I kept thinking that while I was capturing these frantic/erratic moments of people throwing bags of beans and canola oil on rooftops to get them away from the gang members that in all of that haste, why was I thirsty?
Now, trust me, I am not a political science major here. But, why can’t this country get this right? Not a fair question, maybe, but I wince at every mention of something else that has gone wrong there. And, watching the news, of course, reminds of my brief time there. There’s lots of devastation. LOTS. And, I witnessed this years ago as my trip was prior to the earthquake. And, I thought that it was bad then. I can’t picture it now. As a Black man, I am proud to have been in a country of Black people; Governed by Black people; Farmed by Black People. There was a lot of beauty that I saw in the culture. And, the irony is that the food is the best meals that I have ever had outside of my Grandmother’s kitchen. However, I watch the news and read reports. And, I can’t help but think that this country is doomed. And, that, I will never see any relevant change in my lifetime. And, now, with the return of Baby Doc? And, his arrival has blindsided the election. Why can’t there be changes NOW? Why can’t Haitians help themselves as a people? Why are they portrayed as helpless? Why did this earthquake hit? And, then, Cholera? What has happened to the money from all of these telethons? And, the questions keep flooding my head. I applaud people who do question and, then, do something about finding a solution. I had the privilege of seeing many people in Haiti do just that from the fellow photographers who gave up their lives to live there to document the corruption; to my friend who still works directly with companies to help Haiti get back on its feet. And, she did this BEFORE it was cool.

I don’t know why I felt compelled to share this experience. But, the news today and of this past week has been a bit much. And, I have never really directly seen this type of devastation. I mean, 9-11 was beyond. I was in NYC when it happened. But, it was just one day. Mind you, a crazy day. And, no disrespect for those who loss and still suffer. But, imagine something akin to 9-11 every day of your life with no escape? I am thankful for what I have. And, I pray for those who need. I wanted to share some shots from that day. I documented my car ride from the hotel to the site. I learned that I didn’t have it in me to shoot this type of photography. I didn’t have it in me at all. It was too sad. And, I felt too guilty knowing that I could get on a plane and go home.

Clark G_Major

This past weekend, I met a very striking new mannequin with Major models, Clark Gibbons. Flawless skin save for a cut on his forehead which I did not photoshop out. I love the ‘defect’. It adds edge to an almost angelic face. But, this was really my first official shoot of the new year. So, I didn’t want to shoot it exactly the same as always. I wanted to try to be a bit more creative in painting my subject with light. As any photographer knows, it can become pretty standard fare and a challenge. You are not only a teacher. But, you have to convey something fresh for the agency. And, shoot something contemporary and relevant for your own photography portfolio. And, mind you, what I came up with wasn’t so revolutionary. But, I love my strobes. Trust me. If we could get married, we would. So, instead of relying on the quick and easy, I decided to make a ‘mock’ studio in front of my window instead. I rigged up some black fabric and hung it from the wall. I shot Clark in early morning sunlight. I wanted the cold, steely light to nuance his fair skin. I chose to blow out the whites in these shots to contrast his dark features. Without using a bounce, I shot Clark at 500iso around F8. My shutter speed was 1/5 with some minor variatons. So, it was really slow and controlled. I really flooded the light as I don’t get too much sunlight to begin with. I like the results.

Again, I did my own styling and hair. And, see who says that little boys playing with their sister’s dolls wouldn’t come in handy one day. I used clothes that the model brought in addition to pulls from H&M and Calvin Klein collection. It is a hard long climb to Avedon land my friends. To see more of Clark’s portfolio, contact the Men’s board at Major Models.

And, here was a little something fun that I shot at the end of the shoot. I always have to introduce something to make it a bit trannie. So, here it is. It is my Paul Smith ‘knock-off’ comforter. Pretty good right? Very Miyake I thought. At any rate, thanks to Sanam for sending Clark my way. This was a great way to start the year.

The Man who would be King . . .

Whatever happened to Allen Roth? He popped onto the scene about 2 years ago. He was 16 when I met him and already 6’1″. Hair down to his ass and such an exotic face that from a distance, he looked like a girl. But, upclose, he was strikingly goodlooking and masculine. I remember that Allen was very shy but extremely confident. We shot about 4 looks from Issey Miyake’s archives in the middle of a landfill. Accompanied by his Mom, we knocked these shots out in an hour on the hottest day that late summer. I never saw him again. And, a few months later, I had heard that he left his agency (RED). There was never an explanation given. That seems to be the way of male modeling. People just kind of disappear. Just thinking out loud. Whatever happened to Allen Roth?

Buy Me Baby . . .

If you didn’t understand yesterday, here it is again. Coitus Magazine’s second print issue officially launched today featuring 5 collectable covers. I didn’t shoot any of the covers BUT I shot a feature inside. Look above, you can see a teaser shot of my story circled in red (Yaaaaaayyyyy). And, for my family and old high school/college friends, I am sure that this is all looking very very pornographic to you. But, it is not. So, get over it and go to the website to see more. And, support printed magazines. I can’t say it enough. The price is right. And, the current cover guys are quite the buzz, financially successful and very easy on the eyes. It will keep you raincoaters interested for your 10 sec needs; And, for you fashionistas, highly entertained to see these big fashion boys let loose like their female counterparts.

Mr. Massa

First portraits of the year: Marc Massa (Fusion/I Love Model Management)

Bon Voyage and Good luck to all of the models that I have worked with this past year for the upcoming season in Paris/Milan/New York.

And, here are a few cards that I shot too: