Thursday, February 16, 2012

Favorite Pic of the Day for February 17th

John Zetterberg by Benjamin Wheeler
-See More Below-

Requited: Special Screening this Sunday!

Requited Trailer from Sal Bardo on Vimeo.


Join the creators and actors from Requited this Sunday for a special screening of the film, preceded by a reception and followed by a Q&A session with the cast and crew.

WHEN: Sunday, February 19th at 1:30pm

WHERE: Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Avenue @ 2nd Street, New York, NY 10003)

TICKETS: $20. Each ticket includes the screening, Q&A, and reception. All profits go toward CHASER, a new film about HIV/AIDS complacency in the gay community directed by Sal Bardo and starring Max Rhyser.

ABOUT REQUITED: The film made its world premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival last year and has screened at festivals across the country, including NewFest: The New York LGBT Film Festival and Reel Affirmations: The Washington DC International LGBT Film Festival, where Sal Bardo received the audience award for Best First Time Filmmaker.

'What I've loved most about people's reactions thus far, is that they are drawn to the piece for the same reason I was: The hope for something real. True love.'
Christopher Schram

Check out more HERE: and if you reserve your tickets in advance and use code FRIEND to get $10 tickets for tomorrow's screening!

Christopher Schram by David Wagner

One of my favorite people to feature, in front of the lens, is without a doubt Christopher Schram. There is just something innately special about him that shines through in his images and through his work. One of my favorite people to feature, working behind the lens, is LA photographer David Wagner. David's work is distinct, dramatic, electric and erotically charged. I have been patiently awaiting an opportunity to share some of their work together last fall.

David Wagner Official Site:
Christopher Schram Official Site:

Hermosa by Benjamin Wheeler

Michael Schell

The images presented here actually depict shoots by photographer Benjamin Wheer at two California beaches. In the first part, model Michael Schell was captured last year in Malibu and in the last seven shots, John Zetterberg was photographed about 20 miles away on Hermosa Beach.

Whenever I begin a profile, one of the first things I do is research about the location, both where the photographer lives and shoots. Benjamin Wheeler hails from Sherman Oaks, a district of the San Fernando Valley in California. His studio, the incredible beaches that line the State's coast. In Spanish, Hermosa means beautiful or gorgeous and given that Hermosa was the setting for many of these shots (and the remainder, so close geographically) it felt a fitting title to showcase Benjamin's work.

Image location is a theme I always love to explore. So often when profiling a photographer, the setting for the shoot, especially when working outside of a studio, can play a huge role in the effect an image can create. Intrinsic to my life is the ocean. I cannot imagine living anywhere that is more than a quick drive to the beach. I love being near the ocean in the summer, I love the ocean in the winter, I especially love it during storms. Living on the East Coast however means our beaches ability to invite us into it's waters is limited to about 40 or 50 days of the year. Swimming in the ocean where I live is usually reserved to running quickly into the water, diving in, then getting the hell out as fast as possible.

I have always fantasied about the beaches on the West coast. Although I have swam in tropical waters while visiting Florida and the Bahamas, there is a feel, a life style, and a spirit I associate with the beaches of California. I have never really surfed (except for wind surfing during a visit to Îles de la Madeleine) but growing up, through movies, television shows and books, I developed my own wonderful vision of what it must be like to live, breath, hear and feel the lifestyle of the California Coast. Now I am not really sure how close my vision is to reality, but when I spend time with Benjamin Wheeler's images, my vision is beautifully brought to life.

On Benjamin's website, subjects are often candidly shot, taken at a distance, with the intention of catching the subjects natural movement, body language and expression. his surfing section in particular captures that 'feel' I described above.

With a master's degree in social work, Benjamin says he is an observer of people by nature and tends to think of then as the compilation of all of their prior experiences. Given almost everything that we do is in some way based in trust and most importantly relationship, Benjamin's own experiences come together beautifully to aid and support the relationship between the artist and his work.

Working as a massage therapist for a few years has given him a comfortability working closely and intimately with the human body while at the same time, honoring others personal boundaries. His counselling experience helps him develop a rapport with the people he shoots, helping them to relax more quickly and respond naturally in front of his lens. Years of art collecting contribute greatly to all things visual, Benjamin's sense of composition and color. Time spent as a men's sexual health educator, helps the artist explore a models comfortableness with the sexualized elements of an image concept in a non-threatening manner.

John Zetterberg

'My life has led me in many directions and it's interesting how many seemingly unrelated experiences contribute to my success as a photographer, relationships built on trust, openness and respect have unlimited possibilities.'

'For the most part my photography skills are self taught. Early on I photographed everything. Only over time did I narrow down my interests. I was privileged to take a work shop from Greg Gorman. Following the work shop I had the opportunity to assist him on a multi day shoot. I learned more from him in that week than in all my prior self study combined. And I learned that I really enjoyed working with models. It's exciting to find the best in someone and try to bring it out in an image. For me, my internal goal is always to "do justice" to the model in front of me. I want them to look at their completed image and say "Wow - I look really great."

One model Benjamin's work certainly did justice to is is 25 year old John Zetterberg. I love John's look! John looks like there is no where he is more comfortable than when on a beach. John only began modeling this past October after a move to LA. When he first arrived, John lived out of his car for about a month until he found a place to live. John's first modeling photos were taken with his apple laptop and with those early shots, he got requests from local photographers to take pictures for various projects. Currently John works as a USPTA tennis pro in the Pacific Palisades.

'Ben did these photos of me in Hermosa and I think he and I worked well together. We worked to create a medium between what he and I both thought could ignite the camera. I think we achieved success, especially with a blue background. I'm interested highly in a career in modeling and cannot wait to inherit the future. I've realized that I'm just a small particle in this universe and that realization pushes me even more to give it all I've got.'
John Zetterberg.

'I initially contacted John about shooting with him after seeing his online portfolio. I felt the images he had up simply did not do justice to him. He is in fantastic shape and I felt like he deserved some images which really showcased his amazing body and his California Beach boy looks. We've shot together several times and he always keeps me laughing. He has a great sense of humor and does not take himself too seriously. At one point, we were shooting below the pier on a relatively deserted beach when a woman walks by. John catches her checking him out over her shoulder. Being the only nearly naked model on the beach being photographed he knew he had the upper hand. He immediately calls her over and before two minutes are up he had a lunch date with her and we were back to shooting. I had to work hard not to laugh at the way he reeled her in. She walked away completely starry eyed and yes they had lunch together.'
Benjamin Wheeler

'All the models I have worked with have been amazing. I encourage them to communicate if their hesitant about anything or if a concept feels like it goes beyond their comfort zone. I think my background in social work helps. I have an incredible passion for photography. I'm constantly striving to take my work to the next level. I'm very excited to see what the next couple years will bring!'
Benjamin Wheeler

Benjamin Wheeler on ModelMayhem
Benjamin Wheeler Official Site:

'Voices Crying, Young People Dying'

I embarrassingly blubbered my way through Marley & Me, get sucked into the back stories of Idol contestants and have to turn the channel when Sarah Mclachlan's animal cruelty commercials come on. I even got a little choked up this week when watching and listening to news stories about Jeremy Lin. I am generally a caring person who feels deeply for the pain of others. I found myself however strangely detached from feeling much of anything when I heard Whitney Houston had died this week. Whitney's music was a huge part of my childhood. Many of my junior high waltzes were danced to that voice, many painful rec room parties contained dramatic teen angst with Whitney's voice in the background. I, like so many of you, listened to 'I Will Always Love You' over and over and over and over again, to the point of saturation.

Cries that the voice was gone felt a bit hollow to me. That voice, one of the world's most powerful, began dying painfully about 20 years ago. It was a slow death, but also calculated and highly predicted. It was not an accident, but one that could have been avoided, caused by the literally thousands upon thousands daily decisions from it's owner, some small, some, but all equally potent and deadly.

Addiction is a serious matter. I remember distinctly my first drink (hated it), my first cigarette (hated it), my first joint (loved it). Almost every human alive goes through these first and almost every human being must then make daily, small and big decisions about how or if, to incorporate these vices into our lives so they don't move from occasional usage into habits then into addictions.

For an addict, the decisions often become quickly beyond their control. This makes it even that much more important that early choices be wise ones. I have great compassion for those who suffer from addictions, I have seen first hand the tole it takes on a person, their families, on one's body and most importantly one's spirit. But...there are those who had no choices, the young parent ravaged by cancer, the thousands of children in hospitals waiting to die, those struck dead so suddenly in 911, those men and women whose lives were cut so brutally short in distant lands fighting for our protection.

It is not that I don't feel for Houston, her daughter, her family. I guess I although my heart is huge and my compassion massive, there are so many people in my immediate life, so many innocents who have zero control over their circumstances, that it is difficult to stretch my boundless caring to a 48 year old mother, famous, a millionaire, who could not get her act together.

I know the pain must have been massive, but equally massive were something nost addicts don't have, her resources and ability to seek support. Most 48 year old addicts who succumb to their decease are not heralded. Most are judged, scoffed at and it is not rare to hear some say they got what they deserved.

What Whitney Houston deserves is respect for sharing her powerful gift, that voice that effected so many of us for so long. As stated though, her voice did not leave us last week, the voice, that gift, was thrown away a long time ago. Houston deserves respect, compassion and our appreciation. She does not deserve or warrent our judgement, but equally, I struggle with whether she deserves our praise. Her voice was perfection, her choices in life, like most everyone's, were often not.

Like with Michael Jackson and so many other celebrities, why do their flaws have to be either magnified or ignored upon their death. Why must we make them be good or bad. Why can't they in death, be the beautifully flawed beings that they were in life.

Ironically one of my favorite Houston live performances was Hold up the light featuring BeBe and CeCe Winans, an anti drug anthem from the 1989 Soul Train Awards.