Friday, June 13, 2014

Olympiad by Mark Leighton

There are certain times during the year when my mind wanders to images which capture a specific feel or theme. Living in the North East, during the late spring, whilst awaiting summer to officially arrive, and again in late August, as I lament the impending end to beach days, I again find myself beautifully drawn to the work of photographer Mark Leighton.

Mark's panoramic seascapes, capturing incredible men on the breathtaking beaches of Portugal, act as an visual and erotic antidote. Mark's images of sun drenched bodies, posed on sandy beaches; the beautiful blues and greens of the Atlantic, the rock formations and especially those sunsets, counteract much or damage winter has ravaged on our souls.

With the summer solstice just over a week away, I found myself once again drawn toward's Mark's. The timing of my contacting Mark proved fortuitous not only because of the change of seasons. The particular image that I initially asked Mark about, was of a model he is currently working on a book project with. I look forward to featuring some of the images from the book when it is closer to completion. In the meantime, Mark sent on some shot from a project he began a few years ago with the Ancient Olympic Games as the theme.

Originally, the images were created to tie into a project that a model agent was putting together. The idea was to shoot images for the possible creation of a television series along the lines of Spartacus. Sadly, the show never saw the light of day, but Mark enjoyed the theme and continued shooting several other models, hoping he might a use for the images some day.

'Needless to say, there is a fair amount of artistic license within the theme. but the general idea of young athletes preparing or competing in the nude, in natural surroundings, is one that I hope is aesthetically pleasing.'

I have always felt Mark's images, maybe in part due to the location, have had a timeless feel. The land, and men upon it seem beautifully unaffected by time or barrage of forced civilization. The shots were for the most part, taken on the Algarve's west coast. Mark reports the beaches there are longer, with less man made intrusions and most importantly, all very natural. It was a long trek down the beach but that was required to get away from the 21st century population! Living in a small town, Mark says props were hard to come by. Fortunately, the costumes, if there were any, were not complicated and a "distressed" curtain pole served as a javelin.

Mark was never quite sure why the project fell through but by then he had shot five models in the theme. He hopes maybe one day to put them all together in a book and hopes to shoot a few more guys, especially two or three at a time, to get the feeling of competition. Maybe it was the historical reason behind the shoot, but Mark reports less resistance to shooting full nudity with the ancient Olympic theme. With the next summer games just a couple of years away, Mark is considering finding a Brazilian model or two and tying it in with the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro!

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