Saturday, April 18, 2015

Private Valley: Willi F by New Manhattan Studios

'I really had a lot of fun. I got to play in the pool, be around a bunch of beautiful trees under a brilliant sky! I got to play with a dog, and represent California with my state flag that I had brought from home.'

It is always a great day when I get to present the work of New Manhattan Studios. I always know I am going to be sent incredible images, and the stories, always equally stimulating and compelling. This set of images come from Willi's second time in front of the expert eyes and lens of Wes from NMS. Willi, and his incredibly fit physique looked amazing in both shoots, but there was something about this second set that had me wanting to make it the focus of today's feature.

Willi's magnificent face and body, the water, shimmering in the heat and light of the afternoon's Santa Cruz sun... the lush tree's and greenery of the valley location all came together perfectly for a sensual and sun drenched afternoon of California dreaming. Wes recounts that during the shoot, Willi shared a story of biking home from work in San Francisco earlier that week. Willi was in cut-offs and a T-shirt but it was a warm day and he decided that, this being San Francisco, he would take the rest of his clothes off. There, on Market Street, Willi stripped down and completed the ride home in the nude. This story, aside from being incredibly hot, (and wanting me to spend some time on Market St.) also gives us a glimpse into the soul and spirit of the man in front of the camera. As you can see from the images, along with the recollections shared by both Willi and Wes, the shoot was not just an afternoon of working and posing. It was also, especially for Willi, a moment of meaningful transition, growth and change. I thank both Wes and Willi for sharing their images, and the story behind them.

'We had worked with Willi once before, when the Californian had made a trip back east. This time, heading out in his direction, I reached out to see if he was still modeling and if he was still fit. I was pleased that the answer to both questions was yes. The location was the home of eminent photographer friends, complete with gardens, pool, multi-level patios and a hot tub is situated on a hillside, surrounded by orchards and woods, in a private valley in the hills above Santa Cruz, California.'

'I really enjoyed this last shoot with Wes out here in California. it was actually set on the property of a mutual friend of ours in the Santa Cruz mountains. A really beautiful winding drive to a gorgeous setting. Being outdoors with the redwoods, the sun, the clouds and the birds was great. This was definitely the most nourishing setting that I've done a shoot, which made it pretty easy to relax and look like I was enjoying myself.'

'Willi had been correct when he assured me that he was as fit as ever. I doubt he has 4% body fat and, shirt off, his definition was every bit as impressive as I had remembered. He changed outfits a couple of times in our work around the pool and eventually he traded swim trunks for brief white mesh briefs. They weren’t see-through, but they were low-riding and quite brief. To complement the defined abs, I decided that we could get yet more definition if the underwear were wet.'

''It's always nice to work with someone I've worked with before. Finding a rhythm we've discovered before and working with people who appreciate me and my work helps me relax, and when I am relaxed, the work is much easier. I always appreciate Wes, he is very professional and respectful approach to his work. It was great, too, having his assistants on hand to help out, and fun to work with Alex Corso again.'

'I had scoped the property out prior to Willi’s arrival that morning and had a mental list of where all I wanted to shoot but I had not given any thought to the order of the session. Nor had I considered the ever-shifting sun and the movement of shadows through the unfamiliar property. We worked our way, terrace by terrace, up the hillside toward the hot tub. By the time we reached the top of the property around the hot tub, the light had changed considerably and, next to the forest, much of the area was already in deep shade.'

'In the mid-afternoon Alex returned from his own photo shoot in the East Bay and found us high above the house. The two models exchanged greetings but Alex was all work and reached for the reflector as we kept shooting. But in short order there was no sun in the area to reflect. The shots I had earlier anticipated getting in this area were no longer feasible.'

'As we descended back down to the house we noticed that the sun was still hitting one end of the pool. We decided to seize the last minutes of light to get some back-lit shots of splashing water around the model. OK I said, Willi, I want water beading up and rolling off you, 'Into the pool!' Alex was designated as the splash machine. He stripped off his clothes and joined Willi in the water. In short order the carefully orchestrated shots of splashing water gave way to a water fight.'

'In many ways i feel like this was one of my best shoots. It felt more natural and more enjoyable for me than work in the past. I know some of it has to do with the incredible setting- in my own backyard, so to speak- and the familiar energies of Wes and Alex.'

'Without hesitation Willi jumped into the pool. And the effect was precisely what I had hoped for when, dripping with water, he emerged from the water:. underwear, nearly translucent, clinging to every curve of his body.'

''Getting to go swimming and lie in the sun definitely helped. a great part of it, too, I think, was being in a much better place emotionally, spiritually, personally. There's had been a lot going on for me over the last few years- a lot of inner turmoil, transition, transformation, and growth. It was great to feel myself having passed through a lot of the rough stuff and feeling more integrated in myself than ever in my life up to that point. so more than ever I was feeling really me, and I was able to bring more of that to my work, taking more liberty in being spontaneous to whatever impulses were arising, which seemed to work well for me and Wes. Finding some good moments of easy rhythm and flow.'

'It sounds kind of obvious, but I had a simple and profound experience of just being myself naturally and letting that be the work. It ended up being one of my best shoots and one of the easiest shoots I've ever done. Getting to a place in my life where I could be myself more easily (in my underwear, in front of a camera)- THAT felt like the real hard part of the work. I enjoyed the shoot for the setting, the activities, and the professional interaction, and in addition to that, it felt great to me on a personal level to do this shoot and track the growth I had gone through as a model, and as well, spiritually and emotionally as a person.'

To see more of Willi from New Manhattan Studios, including a gallery containing over two dozen photos from Willi’s first photo session with New Manhattan Studios in New York in 2013, plus a video exclusive to readers of FH head over to NMS HERE:

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