Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cool Confidence: Bond by New Manhattan Studios

Having just-turned 25 last January, Bond came across as the teenager from down the street. He didn't have a pretentious bone in his body. And while he was conventionally cute, it was the unassuming cuteness of the boy next door. With a naturally sunny, non-threatening disposition and a keen interest and enthusiasm for everything, his engaging personality was his most arresting trait. If you can remember Tom Hank’s character in Big, then you know Bond.

A fitness buff and avid jock and sportsman (“all outdoor sports”) from Upstate New York, Bond had arrived in the city after college seeking his future in the Big Apple. You had the sense that his pursuit of modeling was just a lark, something to try while he was young and in the City. Indeed, he had scant experience at modeling when he showed up in January. He didn't come across as the proverbial deer caught in the headlights, but there was nothing about his bearing or demeanor that suggested any measure of experience or confidence. He had the smarts to define his limits and to test his wings slowly, but mostly it was about having fun.

Clearly the camera loved the kid that night, and why not? He seemed to pour his heart into his photo session, radiating eagerness and an honest enthusiasm. He had worked hard to achieve and maintain a great physique and it photographed well. And if I call him a kid, please excuse me; he’s long chaffed at being mistaken for younger than he is. We met when he was 25, but a 25-going-on-18. Clearly he’s smart—very smart—but he has an unpolished bearing about him and he still possesses an enthusiasm and naiveté that many of us loose too quickly in this city. And he operates with none of the attitude and sense of entitlement that so many models in this city bring into the studio. Indeed, that’s part of his charm; he seems to have no sense of the potential power of his looks.

But I get ahead of myself. I was no more aware of the potential of his looks than he appeared to be when we first started working together. At the end of the first night, it was his eagerness and enthusiasm for what he was doing, not his looks, that earned him a callback session in February. I thought “two sessions” would do it for Bond. (How many pictures of the Tom Hanks-kid-next door did the studio need?) But at the end of his second shoot, his passion for what he was seeing on the back of the camera earned him a third session. (Hint to models: enthusiastic appreciation of the photographer’s work will get you more work.)

Late in the summer Bond announced that he was moving to California at the end of the year. Having noticed a new potential in the young man, I put him on notice that I wanted to get in one more session with him before he left. That fifth session finally came in October, just a week prior to his departure from New York.

We plotted for a full day of work, starting in the gracious home and studio of a designer in midtown Manhattan, then to shooting in the streets, then under lights in the studio, and finally under the stars in what was to be a fitting farewell tribute: a night-time shoot with the New York skyline in the background. We got most of what we wanted that day, but ultimately we never made it into the studio and I was disappointed that we failed to get a planned session of art nudes.

For our final session I asked that he give us a different look; I asked him to loose the goatee and show up with some scruff. I knew that his facial hair was partially designed to avoid “looking like a kid,” but he agreed and shaved off the goatee. I hadn’t seen him in close to three months when he arrived for work. I was impressed by his looks and the scruff looked hot. However, again, it wasn’t until that night when I started editing the new images that I was struck by just how different his new look was. And after a while I realized that the biggest difference wasn’t the hair on his chin: it was the hair on the top of his head. In this session he had a glorious mane. And in this session he radiated something that I had not seen before: cool confidence and boldness.

Bond’s new sense of assurance as a model left me both elated and depressed. I was elated at having captured what was clearly our best work yet and depressed that we’d failed to make it into the studio one last time. In his final days in New York I prevailed upon him to try to find the time to schedule one last session in the studio.

As I have said, Bond’s most appealing quality is his eagerness and enthusiasm. He made the time and we literally worked into the late hours of the night on his last day in New York. Wanting to capitalize on his new confidence as a model, I told him my objectives for the shoot were for him to push himself into new territory. Knowing that he could nail Tom Hanks cute, I wanted to see if he could do Marlon Brando’s smoulder, James Dean’s bad-boy swagger and cockiness. I told him his challenge was to go from being the boyfriend of every mother’s dreams to the boyfriend of every father’s nightmares.

To be honest, I didn’t know if he could pull it off. But I was impressed with his determination when he showed up in the studio with a pack of Marlboros rolled into the sleeve of his T-shirt and told me that he’d been on-line studying pictures of James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. "OK! Sit down and let’s go for it!” (By the way, the cigarettes were just props for this serious athlete.)

I will let the viewer decide how well Bond measured up to the challenge. For my part, I look at the pictures we captured last January and have a hard time reconciling the kid in those pictures with the confident hunk I see in our work in October. Yes, he’s more mature. He’s better looking, no doubt. But he doesn't have to worry about not looking his age any more, he’s nailed “twenty-five.” Handsomely. But from a photographer’s standpoint, the most impressive (and for me, surprising) change is something he’s projecting that hadn’t been there before: Sexiness.

On a technical note, I regret to report that I had serious camera issues during the second half of the final shoot. Fortunately the studio’s stylist and production assistant, Alex Corso, was shooting with a second camera. Many of the pictures in the Halloween post (including many of the best) were taken by Alex

I am pleased to announce that Bond has been chosen as the cover model for the studio’s 2014 New York Models Portfolio, Gramercy Square. It will go on sale in December and feature previously unpublished pictures of Bond and five more models that passed through our New York studios in 2014. You can see a preview HERE:

You can see more on the studio’s New Manhattan Studios website. Readers of Favorite Hunks are invited to view a special video presentation of Bond’s photo sessions HERE: It quickly takes the viewer through the past year of photo shoots from January to October, with many images not seen on FH.

As disappointing as it was loosing so many great shots from the last session, Bond will return to New York City one more time before moving to California at the end of the year. He’s agreed to try to make time for a reshoot. That would be session number seven. But who’s counting? Stay tuned.

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