Monday, February 2, 2015

Journey to Blacks Beach: Yoni by YogaBear Studio

'We ended up getting together for a shoot at Blacks Beach. I had not shot there and was a bit nervous about taking my clothes of in a "public" setting. I focused on David and his fantastic locations and went to work. It's very easy to communicate with David as in some regards I am still new to this business, and he has been a great help!'

I usually choose to focus on one model or shoot when I profile an artists work on FH. One of the reasons is that inevitably, when featuring a variety of models, there is always one model in particular that strikes my creative imagination and interest. One model whose images, on that day and time resonate more deeply than the others. When I was working on RePose last month, one of my favorite themes from David of YogaBear Studio, that model was Yoni Baker.

I love when model and artists are able to weave strength with beauty. So many artists photograph masculinity with such firm limits, a series of muscled body parts, serious faces and traditional tight and often stiff poses. Yoni is visually undoubtedly masculine, a strong face, serious soulful brown eyes that show both a depth of spirit and life being lived. His body firm, fit and muscled and extraordinarily taken care of. Yet, in RePose, (Yoni is featured in the second two images) Yoni was also light, beautiful, vulnerable and elegant. There was something artistic not only about David's images, but the man within them, something I wanted to know more about.

My intuition proved on point, not a model and body builder Yoni is a makeup fx artist who is perusing character and acting opportunities in both film and video using his education, skill and experience as an fx artist to enhance his abilities and what he can bring to any project he is involved with. Yoni's passion for both the building of his body, and his skill with the visual arts stems from a rather arbitrary yet perfectly logical source.

'It was 1980 something, and while playing with my action figures , my Abba (father in Hebrew) tells me to come and watch a movie with him. A science fiction fan, he puts on the original Terminator…at 10 something year’s old, eyes wide, mouth open I was both inspired and terrified. Inspired, because this was the start of my bodybuilding, sculpting /makeup effects and terrified because the machine would not stop… It would never stop.'

Yoni shares that many years later, influenced by his deep artistic and cultural background, his parents, film and Judaism, he attended a make-up trade show where someone, just in passing, mentioned that he become an art model. Initially he gave it little thought. A couple of years later however, that passing comment took root and Yoni decided to give a try. 'The day of my first modeling gig I thought I was having a heart attack, and realized thanks to my love that it was just a panic attack! Since then the thought of taking my clothes off does not bother me, but what does, is not being creative, and not pushing the artists skills that are there with me.'

Yoni first met David at a photo event at a San Diego Art Institute event in Balboa Park. Yoni was modeling for a group of about 8-10 photographers. With that many artists looking for the just the right pose, just the right feeling and look, the group process led to a rather exhausting night David was one of the photographers Yoni quickly bonded with. 'As a photo enthusiast, make-up artist and model I have spent time in front of and behind the camera. Met a lot of great directors, cinematographers and not so great. So inevitably I was drawn to David's camera eye as I picked up on his vision and laid back, but focused personality.' David was as well drawn to Yoni, especially his classical approach to posing which David says brings so much artistry to the work and images.

'I like David's story telling and painterly characterization of my personality and body...The body mind connection, with the subtle yet powerful impact of the environment I am in.'

If you check out YogaBear Studio's blog entry on his work with Yoni, (HERE:) you will see that David has shot Yoni in a variety of themes and locations. For some reason, David's shots of Yoni on Blacks Beach were some of my favorites. In some ways they seem to visually illustrate so much of what I love about both David's and Yoni's work. I especially love the majesty of Yoni's strength and powerful form set against the powerful Pacific waves. In some images, it is almost if they are going toe to toe, in a timeless, almost epic merge of man and earth with Yoni keeping the waves at bay.