'My approach to male nude photography is to be blunt and basic. Here's the guy, here's what he looks like without his clothes on.'
I love's photographer Tom Willard's philosophy about shooting the male form. To the point, and in reality, it is what most who enjoy the genre of nude photography feel as well. It is also an inviting philosophy, one that makes it ok to say that model Sean Smith is smokin hot with, or without his clothes on. When I first saw Tom's images of Sean I knew I wanted to feature them on the blog. Not necessarily your typical model, Sean has an amazing body, great hair, beautiful eyes and skin with his beard pulling together an incredibly sexy look.
Not everyone who shoots the male form makes it as easy to enjoy their work, or at least the subjects within their work. I have noted before that some artists in the field are not as comfortable as others with viewers sharing their appreciation for that naked body that they captured. It is almost as if they want us to act as if we are in a Hans Christian Andersen tale, subjects of the Emperor, pretending we see an imaginary suit when all you want to say is, 'But he isn't wearing anything at all!'
No such pretence from Tom, he doesn't have the time. In my first piece featuring Tom's work, (HERE:) Tom shared that due to a hearing loss as he grew up, he learned quickly not to bother with anything that distracts. 'You will see evidence of this in my work, with many images containing only what is needed to convey a message.' Tom has been photographing the male nude since photo school during his time at The Rochester Institute of Technology in the 1980's. Shooting isn't something Tom does all of the time, it has been a hobby, one he calls an occasional inspiration.
'I had gone almost five years away from the genre, but Sean helped me break the dry spell. We met through Model Mayhem and talked for a while but then he left the site. Fortunately I had kept his email address so we were able to pick up the conversation and eventually arranged a shoot.'
They shot in simple locations around Tom's house and in the garage. I especially love the images set in the garage. There is a bit of sense that Sean has left the house, and all that was going on in there, to be alone, and naked in the garage. I love when photographers contrast the beauty of the form with locations and settings you wouldn't normally expect to see them in. Sean's naked body looks that much more alluring flanked by the garage door, peeling paint, garden tools and the multitude of colorful storage bins around him.
'I used natural light and left the camera on automatic. To me, the camera knows more about what's it doing than I do, I'm focused on how to fill the viewfinder and what the light is doing to the subject and when to click the shutter. One such image, with Sean against a bare wall with window light, (shown above) won the Model Mayhem Pic of the Day contest, so I would say this approach works for me.'
Tom likes to move around a lot, changing set ups and locations frequently. In doing so, Toms says he seldom takes more the 5-10 shots in the same set up. Growing up with film, he maintains the mentality that each shot counts. Although his shoot with Sean lasted less the an hour, the result was close to 200 images. After narrowing them down, Tom sent on to Sean the ones considered the best, the total being 44. 'The reason I might take five pictures of the same set-up is to make sure I get one good one, then the others go sight unseen.'
'I was struck with Sean's matter-of-fact approach to being naked. Afterwards in an email I asked, "How did you get so uninhibited about nudity? Grow up in a naturist family or something?" He replied, 'I'm not sure. I used to be pretty self-conscious but working out and exercising helps. I love to feel appreciated and I love showing off my hard work.'
Check out a few additional images of Sean on The FH Over-Flow HERE: