Wednesday, March 28, 2012
An Empowering Process: DREW by New Manhattan Studios
Often putting together a feature on FH can take hours, sometimes days and even weeks. (there have been a few that have taken months...) When I choose a subject, or see a shot I love, the first thing I do is research the artist. Because I like to feature original material. when I can I look to see if the work has already been featured on other sites and look to see what information I can find out about the work.
Next up comes contacting the photographer. In the five years of working on FH I have had only a couple of No's, but many non responses. I know life is busy, but still wonder why a simple 'no thanks' is beyond so many these days. Most of those who do respond however are happy to share their work, many tell me they are already familiar with the blog and happy to be a part. From there it is the difficult task of choosing images and gaining information from those involved with the shoot. Once all the information is gathered the task becomes compiling it into some sort of presentation that not only does justice to the images, but presents them in away to ensure the photographer doesn't regret entrusting me with their work.
Why am I boring you with my process? Well, not exactly sure really, but for more than a couple of reasons, when starting to put together a way to present these amazing images of Drew, process continued to come up. It came up both in my thoughts, and as well, within the words sent by photographer Wesley from New Manhattan Studiosand model and subject DREW.
I always have questions when I start a feature and the words sent on by Wesley not only answered all of them, but also hit upon the core reason his images of Drew spoke to me so clearly, and so loudly. Asian models, maybe Asian male models especially, still are not close to being represented in the way, and in the numbers, that they should be within the industry. The few that are are often restricted to stereotypical scenarios and situations. When I first saw Drew, there was just something, not quite sure I can put my finger exactly on it, his build, his facial expressions, the poses and fashion choices from Wes, all combined to bust most of the traditional stereotypes I usually see out of the water. Wes voiced a worry that using the sword might be too cliche or play to the stereotype, but I believe it's inclusion actually works to demolish them. Drew's comments on how the process of working with Wesley evoked such freedom, only strengthened my love of the images, and the power within the process of creating them.
COMMENTS FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER ON PHYSIQUE ART PHOTOGRAPHY
While I am hugely impressed by many of the photographers who are creating art with the human body today—many creating truly stunning images—I remain an ardent admirer of the pioneering male physique photographers of the mid-twentieth century. Their style appears dated and corny by contemporary sensibilities, but their use of light and shadow and their reference to classic Greek and Roman art remain instructive to photographers today. I draw creative inspiration from them and stand in admiration for what they (and their models) accomplished in such a repressive legal and social environment.
Both their style and their livelihood—along with the commercial market for male physique art photography—was virtually wiped out with the emergence of mass-produced and distributed hard-core pornography in the 1960s and 1970s. While the rise of the Internet has not provided a sustaining business model for most photographers practicing this craft, it has at least enabled them to find an audience that appreciates the male form as, simply, "art." And we can be grateful that the audience is now much larger than it ever was.
COMMENTS FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER ABOUT THE SHOOT:
When I started working with Drew I wondered if I was going to need studio lights. This New Yorker actor and professional model has a personality and enthusiasm that light up the room. His professionalism and desire for perfection demand respect. On top of that, he's just a hell of a nice guy and of the many models I've worked with, Drew has been among the exceptional few with whom I have developed a personal rapport.
Our first session lasted almost three hours and we covered quite a bit of ground. As we moved into the physique art portion of the shoot, Drew volunteered to put on oil to bring out highlights. I agreed and busied myself rearranging the lighting for the next set-up. When he stepped back onto the set I didn't realize just how much oil he had applied. But glow he did.
It wasn't until I was processing the files the next day saw the images on a large screen that I realized we had a problem. In some shots he was so oily that I worried he might slide right off my monitor as I edited the pictures. He agreed to a re shoot and about three weeks later was back in the studio. With both of us feeling more comfortable around each other, I suggested using a prop that I'd been reluctant to introduce the first time: a samurai sword. We were concerned that it might be a bit of a cliché and neither one of us wanted to play into any Asian stereotypes, but he consented to try a few shots with it.
The sword turned out to be a great prop and as we clicked away it was pretty obvious that Drew was enjoying wielding it. It brought out his inner warrior. We got some great shots with it but next time I think we'll play off his American identity and trade it for a bat and stick a Yankees cap on him.
COMMENTS FROM DREW:
Posing completely nude wasn't what I thought I signed up for initially, but it was my choice to do so while working with New Manhattan Studio's photographer. Not only did he make me feel comfortable enough to be nude he also showed me how liberating and free being nude can be. At the end of the day he managed to bring to the table a piece of art that, no matter how I look at it, I still see art. It evokes sensuality, confidence and freedom simultaneously. Now I know what it means to be a model. Being a Model means being free. It is the freedom that continues to make me do what I do.
Check out more of Drew's work on ModelMayhem HERE:
Check out New Manhattan Studios on ModelMayhem & Official Site HERE:
Also thank you to Wesley for setting up a special gallery of images of Drew set up exclusively for readers of FH at NMS-New York HERE:
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