'There are some camera's, in the hands of certain photographers, that are less forgiving than others. JR Williams' camera has a definite focus on fitness, strength and masculinity.'
The quote above is from a piece I did in 2013 featuring the work of photographer JR Williams from Island Male Graphics. Whenever I showcase JR's work, I am taken with his skill and ability to so beautifully, yet purely, capture the male form. JR maintains a focus on fitness, on body, muscle and skin resulting in strong and eye catching images. When JR sent on his recent work with new model Kirk Kreiger, I was initially stuck on how exactly I was going to present them best. In each of the images JR sent on Kirk was wearing just his 2xist white briefs and a huge beautiful smile. I asked JR if he could send on a few images of Kirk not smiling as I thought the smile could be distracting if in every image that I used in the feature.
It was interesting when I received a few additional images of Kirk without the smile.... I purposely posted them first in the piece as they made me love and appreciate his brilliant grin and smile even more. One of the things I love most about photography is dichotomy, especially with images of the male form. There is something intriguing, and often very sexy if shot well, about a typical opposing features within a single image of one model of one man. Joy is not an emotion often weaved into images of male models, especially if the shoot is fitness focused, highlighting the models physique. Often a connection is made between muscle and mood with faces often serious and stoic. In some extreme cases, it as if the photographer's direction to the model was to look pained or constipated...
This is not a mistake JR Williams makes. His models although all physically strong, are also presented with grace, beauty with pieces of their personality shining through. With Kirk, his joy, and his incredible spirit, are front and center and so beautifully contrast with his body, muscles, skin and tattoos. Part of this joy might have been the adventure of taking on a new challenge, a new risk as Kirk's shoot with JR was his first experience modeling professionally.
'I was struck by how natural he was without needing to be told very much and how perfect his skin was. It’s like alabaster.'
Kirk maintains his thick build by regular work outs and draws his fitness inspirations from Jeff Seid and the late Greg Plitt. That smile did not only draw me to JR's images, it also proves popular with whomever Kirk encounters, especially the women he lays that sexy smile on. Kirk enjoyed his first experience modeling and working with JR. 'It was a lot easier than I expected, so I had a lot of fun!'