It has been close to 20 years since Ellen and the headline 'Yup, I'm Gay' were on the cover of Time Magazine. Although I applaud Ellen for her declaration, I hope that, thanks to Ellen, and other celebrities from the last 20 or 30 years, we have moved beyond this. Jussie Smollett and his role on Empire have had a huge impact simply through his character being one of televisions first gay black characters on a network drama. I like that Jussie didn't make it easy on those who wanted a answer.
Coming out is important, but public coming out for celebrities has become very often quite aggressive. I am not talking about the 'glued to the closet' celebrities and two faced politician, but it seems so often lately it is the press, especially the gay press, who are the ones most invested in a celebrity making a formal public declaration. Coming out should be about being who you are, living your true self and your relationships with family and close friends. This doesn't seem to be an issue for Jussie, Matthew Bomer and so many other celebrities who simply live their lives without the need to scream it out on People Magazine, Entertainment Tonight or even as much as I love her, Ellen.
Like any business, modeling and photography often come down to factors involving money and commerce. Everyone needs to make a living and most models and artists want to have their work not only seen, but appreciated and wanted. Sometimes however, the motives can much more personal. So many of my favorite photographers to feature on FH shoot for reasons beyond business, for love, for passion and as a creative outlet in this crazy world that we all must maneuver our way through.
The compulsion to create comes from those on both sides of the camera. I have profiled many models, who describe their experience in front of the camera as transformative, sometimes a life changing experience. Shedding clothing is sometimes not as important as the layers of protection and emotion that are also often shed, especially when part of truly collaborative and creative experience. This was certainly the case when Nathan Scott shot model and musician Corey Ray in New York this past February. The last couple of times that I profiled Nathan's work, I mentioned he was heading to Fashion Week to promote and premiere his new fashion line Fallen Pearls.
When it came to choosing models to best represent his line, model and musician Corey Ray proved a perfect choice! Nathan first met Corey last August while doing some test shoots in preparation for some future shoots and assignments. Nathan loved Corey's look, not to mention his charm and kind heart. Since then, the two have become close friends and through their work together, Nathan had a keen understanding of Corey's comfort level in front of the camera. As their time at Fashion Week was coming to a close, Nathan and Corey planned a shoot before heading home to Texas. This time, Nathan wanted to push Corey a bit beyond his comfort level, a bit beyond his beautiful face and great look in order to bring out some of the emotions underneath.
'I push all my models hard. I want to know what your comfort level is and then push it farther. And I know Corey's comfort level, so I just start pushing it right off the bat. I could tell he felt a little off the morning of the shoot and I wanted to not force him to do something that was unreal. So when I would have him pose with the pillow, the shots where he is looking us dead in the camera, I asked him to show me what exactly he was feeling, 'Don't fake it, let me see how you really feel.'
Nathan loved the results of the shoot, and because of their friendship, the emotion expressed, especially through Corey's eyes, took on added meaning. The images have an intimacy and vulnerability, despite the chaos surrounding them. Not only were both getting ready to leave the city, people were cleaning the condo as they shot and they literally were hurrying to finish the shoot before the Uber showed up to whisk Corey off to the airport.
Corey shares that the experience shooting with Nathan was different from any of the previous work they done together. 'We had planned all week to do a shoot that morning, but had not planned on any specific theme or shots that we wanted.' Corey showed Nathan a few things had brought to wear, as well as a few thing he had bought in New York. They settled on some designer briefs and a jacket Corey had just bought in the city the night before. I loved the results when Nathan sent on the result of their collaboration. I have always thought Corey had a special look, welcoming and unassuming. Corey has a natural, almost hopeful look with his great face and soulful eyes. Nathan went beyond just photographing his adorable face and great body touching on a maturity and depth, one you can see a peak at through eyes, but usually kept hidden behind his youthful appearance
'Nathan proceeded to flourish the blanket off the bed, throw a few pillows at me, and said "Now go. Be natural." I was a little startled, but I wasn't really surprised. Nathan has always pushed me to be better, and it usually involved throwing me in the water then telling me to swim. However, Nathan also has a way of making you feel comfortable even in the most awkward of situations. As we began the shoot, everything seemed to fit.'
'The entire scene was very vulnerable but also relaxed at the same time. All the shots were natural and smooth and I remember being surprised at how things were going. Usually during shoots I'm always self conscious about one thing or another, but this time I wasn't focusing on the fact that I had leftover eyeliner from a fashion show the day before that I had failed to remove, or that I hadn't been able to style my hair. It was just Nathan, the lens, and me.'
'I felt so at ease and like every shot was right. I'd never been so relaxed, especially for a photoshoot. Later when Nathan showed me the shots, I was blown away. He'd captured me at a very vulnerable state and the shots looked so pure to me. We had literally taken the shots in our condo in New Jersey where we had slept in-between shows but they looked as if they were in some perfected studio with flawless props and lighting. I couldn't believe I was looking at shots of me. I'm very lucky to get to work with Nathan and blessed to call him a close friend.'
One of my favorites of Corey's Covers is his version of Britney Spears Everytime. I think it shows both his talent, and the raw vulnerability so beautifully predicted in his work with Nathan. You can check out more on Corey's Youtube Page HERE:
'Look cool, stay fit, honor your feelings, be socially aware and live your wildest dreams.'
I did a small piece back in 2010 featuring model Barrett Paul and his work with The Fearless Project. Recently, I have been spending time at Artisan & King, Barrett's incredible blog full of beautiful images, and Barrett's even more beautiful words. Barrett's commentary sums up so many of the things we all struggle and experience as we live our lives. Check out Artisan & King HERE:
'Time passed. Fall turned into the harshest winter ever. Winter has begun to turn into the most welcomed spring. A rejuvenation, a birth, a proliferation of happiness and excitement has sprouted from the ground inside me. My personal new year has begun and I don’t feel like my old self again, but rather a new, more empowered, evolved self.'