'Every photographer who picks up a camera has a motivation for shooting. For some, it is creating the perfect “commercial” shot; one that will sell well. While that thought undoubtedly crosses my mind on occasion, I shoot to please myself and to learn and develop (pun intended) as a photographer. If a print sells at one of my exhibitions, that is wonderful. but the very act of creating a photograph I am pleased with is in itself the reward and is the best ‘high’ of all.'
Not having to depend on one's art for financial stability can be incredibly liberating. Without the demands of a client or campaign, an artist can focus their creative impulses to generate images and works they are passionate about. Gordon Nebeker is clearly passionate about the male form, he has also devoted a lot of energy in perfecting his underwater imagery. When Massachusetts based model Mark approached Gordon about doing a clothed underwater shoot, an interesting photo story began to visually submerge.
Initial Connections:'I first worked with Mark back in 2009 when he was a student in college and, as he was just temporarily in the area where I was living at the time, we only had one opportunity to shoot then. I have always regretted that and was very happy when our paths crossed again here in Boston and he was still interested in doing some modeling. We did our first new shoot last year just before Christmas and we agreed to do another shoot in the Summer when our pool was open as he was eager to try some underwater work. The photos in this article are from that shoot which we did this last August.'
Coming Together:'In most of the shoots I do underwater, the model is nude or nude but working with a long white cloth I often used in my photography. The formula has served me well over the years but I am always willing to ‘mix it up’ a little to help keep the concept fresh. Mark wanted to do underwater work similar to what I have done before but was also quite keen to do some underwater photos where he would be fully dressed as kind of a fashion modeling concept. I agreed but threw in the caveat that he end the fashion shots with an underwater strip. And that is how this series of photographs came to be.'
'I'm a very creative person who really enjoys doing the unexpected and challenging the normal so I'm always searching and trying to think of creative perspective on concepts. The inspiration came from a combination of a few pictures I found on Instagram, liking the lighting effect I saw in Gordon's other underwater photos, and wanting to add some fashion shots to update my portfolio. You wouldn't expect to see someone fully clothed in a formal style underwater, and the lighting brings the photo to an almost mystical place which I really like. Going into the shoot I had some ideas of how I wanted the photos to turn out, but like all shoots no matter how much you plan and calculate there are elements you don't account for and things get captured naturally and the concept develops as the shoot goes on, but it allows for a more organic photo and a lot of the time I end up liking those photos more than the outcome I had in my head before the shoot.'
Below the Surface:'One of the elements of underwater photography which is most fascinating to me is how the surface of the water can act at times and angles like a camera lens, allowing one to view the world outside the pool like an impressionistic painting. At other times and angles, the surface acts as a mirror to reflect what is below the surface of the water which creates wonderful distorted and surreal images. You can see examples of both of these effects in this series and they are often my most favorite photographs when I do an underwater shoot.'
'I have modeled underwear and body before. I enjoy all types of modeling, there has not been a style I have tried that I didn't enjoy. I really enjoy the shots that showcase the body but leave enough to the imagination of the audience for them to desire more but also enjoy the picture as a concept and not just focus on that specific area. Most of the difficulties for me come after the shoot because with any style or concept I tend to be more critical and hard on myself over small things than I need to be, such as how my looks too tense, my hair is a little messed up or wish i had done this slightly better.'
Gordon on working with Mark:'Mark is a real trooper! He is enthusiastic and willing to try a pose even when I can tell he is not so sure about it. Sometimes his instincts are right and those photos never see the light of day but sometimes the photos turn out better than either of us expected and that makes the risk worth taking. He is a genuinely nice guy and a pleasure to work with. It has also been nice to see him become friends with several of my models and I guess I need to start planning a group shoot!'
Mark on working with Gordon:'Working with Gordon is great, he is such a good person and makes you feel comfortable weather its your first time shooting with him or your tenth. I like that he is open to some of my crazy ideas and makes it more of a collaboration than just what he wants. Yes, working with Gordon now is very different than the first time I worked with him. When I first worked with Gordon I was 19 and it was a couples shoot I did with an ex. My ex set up the shoot as a surprise to me because he knew I modeled and he wanted to see what it was like ha ha. It was fun but I was caught off guard and not prepared that day, the shoot was also less fluid in my opinion because my ex had never modeled and i had to coach him. Working with Gordon now, we have developed an understanding of how the other works. I know I can move and transition and and Gordon will capture a great shot without me having to go pose to pose. Working with him is just very organic and I think it shows in our photos.'