Friday, September 19, 2014

Family Business: Ricardo by New Manhattan Studios

It was over two and a half years ago that I first discovered the work of New Manhattan Studios. I had no idea at the time how many fantastic images, and incredible stories were about to come my way. Photographer Wesley has an enthusiasm for his work, and the stories that accompany it, that makes every return to his site and blog a memorable experience.

One my favorite models that Wesley has shot is Alex Corso. I have featured Alex in several pieces on the blog, the first Sunset Meadow back in 2012. Alex has a great look, beautiful face and body and an infectious grin that makes spending time with his images a joy. Over the last few years, Alex has become an important part of Wesley's work. Not only has Alex modeled regularly for Wes, including being a part of various projects and exhibitions, he has also assists Wesley on shoots involving other models. With his experience behind the lens, and his experience working with Wes, he is the perfect person to support models, especially newer models, some doing nude or semi-nude shoots for the very first time.

With these extraordinary images of Ricardo, Alex's role as supporter was put to the test. Not only did Ricardo step in front of the camera professionally for the first time, shooting fitness, physique, head shots and implied nudes, he assisted through it all by his brother Alex. As you can see from the images, Alex and Ricardo have many similar features, yet distinctly different body types and look in front of the camera. Below, Wesley, Ricardo and Alex share what the experience was like. How it came together, what Alex told Ricardo to expect, stripping down for the first time, and what it was like having your brother share the entire experience!

Coming Together:

'Ricardo had never modeled. But Alex, watching the progress his kid brother was making in the gym, encouraged Ricardo to document all of his hard work with a professional physique photo session. I’m not going to guess whether or not this was an easy sale to make (we had been discussing it since last fall), but in January of this year, Ricardo agreed and showed up in the studio for his first-ever modeling session.'

'My brother is very similar to our father, which is, on the surface, non reactive... He looked at some of my images and said 'Oh that's nice, I want to do that.' When Ricardo started showing interest in modeling, he wanted to start first with physique and we talked about taking starting with print and taking small steps.'

'When I saw Alejandro’s shoot it was not only amazing to see his work but it also inspired me to do the same. The possibility of becoming a serious model, the fact of really doing what I have been wanting to do for quite some time now.'

First Time in the Studio

'Without a doubt, Ricardo walked into the studio in January with an impressive physique and I quickly understood why Alex had been encouraging his kid brother to pay off all his hard work in the gym with a photo session.'

'It was Alex's trust in Wes that made me ease into the idea, seeing that Wes was serious and really professional with his work.'

'I told my brother pretty much what I tell all models that come into the studio, "just be yourself. As a model, you're expected to collaborate with the photographer and do what is needed for the shoot. That might be wearing a bikini in thirty degree temperatures, or being nude." But... since Ricardo's shoot was with Wes, and I have known and worked with him for awhile, I knew he had nothing to worry about. I told him to just relax, enjoy the process and follow Wes's direction.'

Brother May I?

'My feelings at the beginning, were supportive and very proud. As the shoot went on however, and I had to direct him to get into  smaller things, underwear or the implied nudity, my feelings were a little more mixed.  I didn't really want to see my brother naked, yet... I had to see him naked to see how he looked in certain things and for certain shots'

'It was kind of weird at the beginning, shooting half naked with my brother off to the side, but I got used to it as the time passed.   Alex told me, that if it makes me feel uncomfortable, don’t do it! Otherwise, do whatever the photographer asks you. That’s why your modeling.'

'I’ve known Ricardo for a couple of years but I certainly can’t say I know him well. What I did know is that he is a very taciturn young man. He possesses a gentle and quietly engaging personality but he is, definitely, a person of few words. It was hard, therefore, to determine whether or not he was enjoying being the center of the attention in the studio. The flexing and the posing came easy for him but, as with many new models, initially he looked like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights (or strobe lights in this case).'

'Midway through the session, though, he relaxed and we started getting some very natural smiles out of him. By the end of the shoot he did seem to be enjoying himself, enough so that before leaving he agreed to come back for a second session.'

'When I saw the first pictures from the shoot it was incredible to see myself that way. It almost made me think I had been a model for years. I am eager for more shoots as the results of the shoots with Wes so far have been amazing and they make me curious to see what is to come.'

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