The best stories are ones that speak to people individually. We can all read, or see, the same story and take away something different. I was surprised that neither YogaBear Studio, nor David or Samuel mentioned a piece of the story that stood out to me most... that closet.
The closet not only framed both men so beautifully, it also formed the foundation on how I viewed the images. I kept thinking one of the men, must still be in one. I was not sure exactly who, nor that it mattered, but in some ways, made their encounter a little more intense. It could have been a married David, taking a risk on a business trip, after being drawn to Samuel sitting on the beach. It may have been a closeted Samuel, propositioning David, after checking him out drying off in a locker room.
We call come out at different times, when we're ready, when we feel safe. I think when and how plays a role in how we view the world, and progress through relationships. I was in the closet to my family until my mid-twenties. Although there certainly weren't many positive things about that time in my life, there was one thing.... something although I don't necessarily miss, but something pretty powerful none the less.
Sexual encounters were incredibly intense. Trying to keep them hidden, and knowing they had limits in both time, and expression, made them incredibly powerful and painful, in both the physical, and the emotional. I wouldn't go back there for anything, but I remember a few incredibly hot weekends, away from home, diving into a world I usually kept at such a distance. I see this world so clearly in YogaBear's images. From the initial attraction, meeting on-line, and finally finding a time to finally come together. It may not have been the intent, but sexual intensity between David and Samuel is clear no matter how you interpret the story.
The words above are my response and interpretation of the story. I thought it would be interesting to contrast that with those of the artist and models involved. The images, are the end result of the collaboration, but since all stories start with a beginning, that's where I asked David and Samuel to start. Not with their beginning with YogaBear, but there own introduction to nude modeling. From there will progress to how this shoot came together, and their interpretations of story.
'My first nude session was not as fun as some of my experiences. The short story is that I was nervous, the photographer could smell it a mile away, and he decided to cross a line with me. The nude part felt liberating, as I hoped it would. However, the tinge of disgust took work for it to dissipate.'
'My first time was with Tom Bianchi back in 1990, I believe. I was on tour with a show in LA in 1989, and he approached me at the gym, said he liked my look, and wanted to shoot me. I didn't know what to make of it, but someone told me his work was amazing and kind of groundbreaking. I went to his apartment and he showed me his stuff and I was blown away. I told him I was only in LA for a brief time and that frankly, I wasn't ready to shoot nude. He said to keep in touch in case I got back to LA. He was very sweet and respectful. About a year later, I was walking on the beach at Fire Island and ran into a friend of mine from the city...he was with Tom, and we looked at each other like "I know you!!". Tom had a house in Fire Island and he said that he'd still love to shoot me, and my friend said, "David. If you were ever going to do nudes, HE's the guy to do them." So...the next day, I went to the house and though I was nervous, I was excited to do it and it felt really freeing. When he finally asked about using the shot, I kind of chickened out a bit and asked that my head not be shown. It turned out to be a great shot and it's the last nude image in his first book, "Out of the Studio". I believe that image is also in the Tom of Finland Archives, which is kinda cool.'
'Working together was a blast. Yogabear and I were eager to collaborate again, and after seeing his latest work, I was excited to create beyond our previous experiences. When Pevsner became involved, he and I connected, discussed our ideas, then presented those to YB. The three of us merged our ideas, with ways to conceptually create them.'
'I'd worked with David (YogaBear) a couple of times and we got some really wonderful images, definitely some of the most popular on my blog. He emailed me about doing a duo shoot with Samuel because he thought we'd be a good combo. I've done some duos before that were either faceless or masked, but the ones that were not didn't see the light of day...one the other model didn't sign the release due to an angry boyfriend (!) and the other was just not a good match physically...he was way more muscular than me and it didn't seem right. When David put me with Sam, I thought that as long as the age thing wasn't an issue (it's not to me and I didn't think it would be for the guys who follow my blog), it was a good match. Plus, Sam is an artist and juggles a lot of projects as I do, so we have a lot in common. I was looking forward to working with him. He's such a sweet, smart, sexy guy, and it went great. I think we got some fantastic playful provocative images.'
'Both Samuel and David are a dream to work with—they both love being in front of the camera, and they bring a lot of creativity to the shoot. They had been chatting for weeks and came to the shoot with a lot of great ideas. I particularly like the whole daddy/son vibe they brought to it—they both embodied their roles perfectly. Another in a long line of shoots with them, I hope!'
'YogaBear and I have co-created many-a time in the course of almost four years. By now, beyond our friendship, our photography is really playful, thoughtful, and ever-flowing. We push ourselves; together. In fact, during this visit, he and I just held space for thinking outside of the box, and allowing ideas to be uttered without shame, until we sparked on some of the ideas together.
'Obviously you can plan as much as you desire, then during the session things may change, energies differ, and time lasts only thus long. For us three, it was an exciting thrill to be together and finally be as creative as we wanted. YB and I worked on solo pieces. Then Pevsner joined, and we went from idea to idea. Pevsner and I found a helpful language through which we communicated in front of the lens. It was fun, creative and rather fluent through poses, ideas, and even in the midst of waiting for a prop, light switch, or technical pause. It was easy to be intimate, for the two had great chemistry, and we joked often in between sets.'
'I don't think we really had a story going as we were shooting, we just rolled with what the moment was bringing us. However, one thing I love to do on my blog is "curate" the photo sets so that they do tell a story. I choose photos that seem to have a narrative or a specific relationship and post them together with a title that puts them in a context...I think that makes them more erotic and accessible. I put together 4 sets as if they were various elements of this very quickie relationship...connecting and beginning to explore our bodies in "The Strip", a Daddy businessman and his boy in "Role Play", an iPad tryst in "Threesome", and a bittersweet ending in "Morning, A Final Farewell". I think they take on a story when I put them together like that, and it's something I try to do with all my photo shoots when I can, even ones that are straight portraits. Tumblr allows up to ten photos per post, so sometimes I'll use all of them to tell the story, and if there are really diverse shots, I'll expand into more posts as I did with Sam and the beach shoot I did with David. It's fun and a challenge to create something beyond the photos.'
'The main challenge I guess is setting boundaries. I think we were all more interested in doing something erotic than outright sexual/porn. That ended up guiding us through the shoot and I think it worked. Because the three of us are artists, there was a lot of give and take in terms of what to shoot. David certainly knew what he wanted, but Sam and I chimed in with ideas and it was fun. I don't really get too nervous shooting any more which helps to get right down to the work, and we all had that similar mindset. And there was no sexual weirdness because we knew what we were looking for...having said that, it was great being naked and hard with Sam because he's a lovely man and very playful and really good at connecting.'