Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Third Of Our Lives: Russ Osterweil

'One function of art is to inform culture, to help evolve the way we think, act and interact.'
Russ Osterweil

I have written many times that one of my main goals with FH is to get to know more about those in front of and behind the lens. Although a great photo can certainly stand on it's own without my ramblings, I increasingly find my appreciation for an image grows deeper and more meaningful as I discover the story surrounding it.

The stated goal of many photographers of the male form is to get rid of the stigma that continues to permeate the art which features it. One could assume that been achieved with Marky Mark's underwear ads being generally well accepted and the Old Spice guy getting so much attention for his television commercials. While all of this is a step in the right direction, these men are not completely naked. The Ken doll version of male sexuality has always been easier to swallow.. As long as the penis is covered in Calvin's people can handle it, but unleash it and the public forces you to either label it 'porn' or else make it the brunt of a joke. (anyone see Hall Pass?).

One of the reasons I believe this taboo continues to exist is because many seem to struggle seeing anything beyond the penis when it is depicted in art. We see it all the time, penises photo shopped to look like something more like a weapon than a part of an anatomy. There is nothing wrong with admiring and enjoying the naked body. The reality however is that at some point we are all forced for one reason or another to look beyond it.

'One function of art is to inform culture, to help evolve the way we think, act and interact.'

Although the men in Russ Osterweil's images are naked, his goal is not just to expose their bodies but equally or more importantly, their souls. 'The Bed' is a location many photographers use but Osterweil is focused more on the bed and it's context within the room. The rooms in Osterweil's photos are not sets, they are not staged. They are as much a part of the story being told as the man within them.

Below: Kenshi

'There is the bed, an empty shelf and some taped-up boxes. “I don’t find out too much about who they are, because I want to find that out while I’m doing the shoot, The boxes are real. Kenshi had just moved here from Utah. He grew up in a Mormon environment.'
Russ Osterweil

'San Francisco is the first place where I was really able to just be myself. It [the photograph] pushes the envelope for me. I love the idea of not being stuck in a box.I think the way women are able to express their selves through fashion is very liberating,and I think men are very restricted. If I want to wear platform boots, I’m gonna wear platform boots.'

The quotes above are excerpts from 'Exploring Taboos in Art' an article written by Matt Dibble about Full Frontal, a 2007 show which featured Osterweil's work.

The Bed:

'A view of a man in bed generates all sorts of physical and emotional tentacles into our psyche. From birth to death we all share experiences of bed, of rest, sleep, sex, passion, intimacy, illness, comfort and discomfort to name a few. We spend about 1/3 of our lives in bed, more if you include the time we are not sleeping!'

'When it comes to photographs of men in particular, it is our cultural habit to look AT men, not INTO men. In all of my photographs I seek to delve beyond the surface, to conjure conscious and unconscious recognition of deep aspects of our common humanity. As a man who loves men, and as an artist, I understand the thrill of the male form. But I love more than form and I cannot have any real, intimate, lasting or meaningful relationship with form. So, when I am making photographs of men I look for the unposed moment. Posing blocks intimacy and intimacy is the antithesis and antidote to superficiality. I feel so strongly that intimacy is what is missing in our world, in our environment, in our politics and our interpersonal relationships.'
Russ Osterweil

Russ Osterweil Official Site:
Russ osterweil on flickr:

Favorite Pic of the Day for March 19th

Above: David Carty by Alex Photopaint.
See more of Alex's work below!

Happy Birthday today March 19th to:

Happy Birthday today March 19th to:

Model and actor Michael Bergin turns 42 today.

Michael by the talented John Falocco.

Love me some Bruce Willis. I still love to watch Die Hard at least once a year. Bruce turns 56 today.

Below: Bruce in 'The Color Of Night'

Kudos to Matthew Bomer

Many may cheer when yet another former boy band member hits the cover of People Magazine with 'Yes, I am Gay' as the headline. I cheer when anyone, celebrities or not, simply live their lives and quietly state their truths. No actor Matthew Bomer did not really scream anything yesterday on The Today show yet his statement was oh so powerful. Take heed Meredith Baxter.

Alex Photopaint: 'A Thousand Beautiful Words'

'If my photographs could speak they would describe a thousand beautiful words'

There are certain values that seem to weave through many of the talented artists that I have profiled from Australia. Tolerance, dignity, equality and most of all respect are all themes that permeate through their work. The work of Alex Photopoint is a perfect example.

Below: Muay Thai

'Every time I take a photograph I put my heart and my sole into making each shot a reflection of the true beauty of each subject. I believe everyone is beautiful inside and I try to bring their beauty to my photographs. All my dreams and my passion are captured within my photography.'

Below: Robin

Photopaint sums up the work of Alex both simply and accurately. Sintawee Sittirangsan (Alex) was born in Bangkok, Thailand and moved to Sydney, Australia to study at the Australian Centre for Photography. Capturing a moment is just part of the process for Alex. Equally important is using his creativity, his artistry to capture the raw essence and emotions in his subjects. Using his models as inspiration, his aim is not just to create a photo, but to use that image as a beginning, a base, for creating a fantasy stemming of his feelings and emotions.

'I use my paintbrush and colours in the same way that I use my camera and lenses.'

Below: David Carty

Check out more of the work of Alex Photopaint at his official site HERE: & on ModelMayhem HERE:

Below: Ivan Scannell

Below: Matt

Below: Stu Dugan

Josh Lomax-Jones by Alex Photopaint

Many of you know that I have a particular passion for the use of windows in the work I profile. The natural light and the theme of reflection, both inward and external is fascinating to me. What is being seen by the person looking out and what is being seen by those looking in. This series featuring Josh Lomax-Jones was what initially drew me to Alex's work.