Tyrel by Marlen Boro
Photographer: (from the Greek φωτός (photos), meaning "light", and γράφω (graphos), meaning "written"), one who practices photography, one who makes a business of taking photographs
Model (modèle) sometimes called a mannequin, is a person who is employed for the purpose of displaying and promoting fashion clothing or other products and for advertising or promotional purposes or who poses for works of art
When I visit other sites and blogs which focus on the male form, it often seems the definitions applied to photographer and model featured are generally rather narrowly focused. The photographers are often 'the names'. You know who they are, all are talented for sure, yet...generally grossly overexposed. The models; usually ‘fashion’ models, agency signed, all great looking. Their images however, rarely get much attention until that one shoot with that one 'named' photographer when they show a little skin. Then…and usually only then, their shots get saved, copied and spread across every blog, site and tumblr.
FH is certainly not immune to sharing such shots. Some are so great, so impactful and of course hot, I want to feature them here as well. Yet... the longer I work on FH the less interest I have in sharing what is already being so generously shared by so many others.
For FH, my goal is to feature the entire definition of what photographers and models can be. Although I am sure many photographers featured hope one day their practice of image taking will somehow bring a degree of financial gain, many do it from a core need for creative expression. At one time or another all photographers were amateurs, for many, maybe out of pure need, this can be one of the most creative times in their career.
The magic of a great image is for me not as much what I see, but more what I feel when I see it. The specific reaction is not really important, it might be sexual arousal or as simple as a smile. Joy, excitement and even anger or confusion. It comes down to the combination of concept with the skill and creativity used to create it. With this definition in mind It is easy to choose the photographers I seek out to profile. It is not about their name, or the name of the model. It is about the experience I have when spending time with their images.
It was this past January that I first began profiling the work of Minnesota’s Marlen Boro. I had been in a bit of a blog rut. I actually get in these ruts often, sometimes weekly, sometimes even daily. Usually a particular image, artist or idea can pull me out quickly. There are a few artists I ‘go to’ when needing inspiration. The power of Michael Puff’s work generally pulls me back instantly. It was heading back to Michael’s site at the beginning of the year (which led to his work with Oliviero) which took me again to Model Mayhem. One click then another led me, maybe even pulled me to Marlen's page. There was such variety within his work, subtle beauty, raw sexuality, comedic themed shots, and immense creativity and of course...that window. For some reason the combination of hardwood, door moldings, male skin and that window instantly had obsessing to see more.
Marlen became the perfect partner to work with on regular features. Creative, supportive, a massive catalog of work, and an unending amount of energy and enthusiasm. Marlen was also challenged me, especially on what my definition of beauty. Marlen beautifully shoots traditional fashion and fitness models and loves every second of it. Shooting great looking men is not however where his greatest passion lies.
I love all of the men that Marlen has shot that I have been able to interview and profile. The incredible Sean Patrick Davey, Quinn Danger, Shawn M and others certainly fit one definition of modeling. This is the definition that others seem to be most comfortable with. These three models in particular were the ones most ‘saved’ and ‘shared’ from Marlen’s site and their features on FH. Although Marlen loved his work with each of these wonderful men, he is also protective and passionately supportive of all of his models, especially the ones who don’t get the same degree of attention.
It is this passionate support that aided Marlen's decision to refocus his work this year with the launch of Male Boudoir photography. Although I have described my thoughts on Marlen’s work many times the past 10 months I am not sure that I fully understood it until the past month or so. With the re-launching today of The Gentleman of Marlen Boro, my goal is to put it into words.
At the end of 12 or 13 years of school, your diploma, your baseball trophy, your ribbon for the science fair are symbols of your accomplishments. They do not however, speak to the experience. The experience of school is emotion filled, for man it involved huge struggles, happy times, friendships, learning, growing and for some...powerfully painful. A photographers completed image is in some ways that diploma. A final product which although beautiful, does not always speak to the experience and emotion involved in putting it together.
For a photographer, working for an ad agency in New York, talking about the experience might be almost laughable. There are time lines, pressures and money issues which means basically, you have to hurry up and get it done. For Marlen Boro, although not immune to time lines and money issues, living and working in Minnesota has given him the luxury of not having them dominate his intentions or his process. With Male Boudoir, Marlen’s intention is to create an experience for those who step in front of his lens.
You know when you watched Oprah and you see a make-over, the rather plain looking woman who is plucked out of line and transformed with a little, well ok a lot of make-up, hair product and clothes that actually fit. Sometimes these transformations can be quite powerful. The emotion is not so much how they end up looking (if they walked in looking like that there would be no emotion). The power comes out of the transformation, the changes the person may not have ever thought possible. Consider Marlen’s Male Boudoir an sensual make over or awakening. Instead of picking out clothes you remove them. Stripping away the image you have so carefully created, your protection and your shield. Although exposed and vulnerable, with Marlen your also completely safe. Safe to tap into parts of yourself you may not have had a chance to explore.
Men who have never seen themselves as attractive experience feeling sexy and desirable, bankers, usually stuck in suits all day experience a rarely felt freedom. Husbands and fathers who have felt forced to leave their maleness in their past can remind themselves it is time to bring get it back. Bodies, some covered in shame, become covered in light. With each shot, each pose, confidence rises. Like the make over’s on the Oprah show transformations occur. For the men who shoot with Male Boudoir, it is not important if they ever get a contract with Major or Elite, whether or not they shoot for Calvin Klein, whether or not their shots end up in GQ. But... for the time they spend shooting with Marlen, and hopefully for long after they feel like they could.
Even if they never get a campaign, even if they never make a penny in front of the camera, they are, by the pure definition above, as much a model as anyone walking the runways of Milan and Paris. There are thousands of men who actually fit the general look of a fashion model who never make a dime, so why should the experience be restricted to just the stereotype.
You can see by the pure joy on Tyrel's face he is enjoying the experience. His first shoot, his first time naked in front of the camera made for an empowering afternoon.
The images are the diploma, a symbol of the accomplishment, a bonus, a reminder of the experience. They can be shared with a partner, a wife, husband, lover, maybe even a creative blog... The images can also be tucked away, shared with no one. Maybe they will be pulled out years in the future, or maybe they will be forgotten. Many of us have no clue where our high school diploma is, but those years, they still effect almost every aspect of our life.
Male Boudoir Photography by Marlen Boro