Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Patience Payoff: Ajuna Montano by Gordon Nebeker

It was just this past November that I first featured the work of Pennsylvania based photographer Gordon Nebeker. I mentioned that I had loved Gordon's work for some time but could not find a way to contact him. I did not have a ModelMayhem account then nor could find a site or e-mail to get in touch.

I have often mentioned the folder on my desktop. The folder that holds images I stumble upon and fall in love with. They are all saved within. They are often not fully credited, or simply credited by the first name of the model. In that file was the incredible shot of Ajuna Montano I used above as pic of the day. Each week as I profiled other models and photographers whose images were in that folder, Gordon's shot of Ajuna remained. As the images surrounding Ajuna were moved, uploaded onto FH and eventually deleted, I maintained hope, that if patient, I would eventually be able to get in touch with Gordon and the wait would pay off.

'Beautiful, classic and wonderfully dramatic with an immense respect for the men he shoots' were the words used I used in that first post to describe my feelings about Gordon's work. I believe the pic of the day image is pretty much close to my ideal of a perfect photo. The composition, pose and lighting, Gordon's skill at capturing with such detail, Ajuna's back muscles and yes, that truly magnificent butt!

There was something else though that stood out to me right away and has struck me each I time I see the image. A fascinating and certainly revealing contrast in the close proximity between Ajuna's bicep and his eye. His arm and bicep muscle show strength, speak to his determination and perseverance. But Ajuna's one visible eye, so close in proximity to the arm, expresses a gentle kindness and humanity that pulled together the image and it's beauty for me.

Although Gordon was supportive of my using more of his work, connecting with Ajuna about the profile proved a little more complicated. Although he jumped on board when Gordon contacted him last fall, patience again came into play. Between travel and moves it was just last month when everything came together. Gordon, who loves to escape those Pennsylvania winters, spends much of the season living and working in Florida. Ajuna is from New York but last month, he and his partner happened to be in Florida on vacation. Over lunch, Gordon and Ajuna helped me pull the new feature together. Gordon reported that he had not seen Ajuna in about a year and there were small changes in his appearance.

'Different haircut, but essentially the same handsome man who lights up any room or restaurant he enters with his infectious smile.'

Below, over that lunch, model and artist share their experience working together and answer a few of my questions as well:

Gordon: How long have you been modeling?

Ajuna: About three years now. I was a go-go dancer for a short while and several of the weekly entertainment magazines in New York did cover shots of me for their magazines but yours was the first real photo shoot I did. I've done one or two small projects (including a fun Christmas shoot -yes, I was Santa) since then but I've been busy with my work in retail and haven't had a lot of extra time to do much modeling. I am ready to get back in it though!

Gordon: What do you do in your spare time?

Ajuna: I go to the gym a lot and enjoy that. I am also a video game dork and sometimes they have to pry the game controller out of my hands.

Gordon: What is something that most people do not know about you?

Ajuna: I think most of my friends know I love to dance but they probably don't know that I know how to do a lot of different dances very well, especially the Latin dances.

Gordon: You told me you were in the military. Did being gay ever cause you any issues?

Ajuna: Yes, I did two tours in the Middle East and am proud of my service and my honorable discharge. I think one or two of my commanders knew I was gay but I didn't flaunt it and they didn't make any big deal out of it. They were more concerned about what kind of a soldier I was and I did my best to give them nothing to complain about. I am happy things have changed now for gay men in the military.

Gordon: How was the experience working with me on the shoot, was there any unease or nervousness that first time?

Ajuna: Very good! Another model you had worked with introduced us and that is how we got connected. It was my first big shoot and you made me feel relaxed and welcome which allowed me to feel very comfortable. It made me want to do my best in front of the camera. I liked how you didn't push me into a bunch of standard poses but tried to work with my body type and come up with shots that worked well for me. I like being in front of a camera. It gives me a rush of self confidence and satisfaction and a real sense of freedom. No, no nervousness at all! It was about everything I expected it would be and more.

Gordon: So you were comfortable doing the nude photographs?

Ajuna: My partner thinks I am TOO comfortable being nude. If I am coming from the shower at home and other people are visiting, I just walk to the bedroom without a towel.

Gordon: What is in the future for you?

Ajuna: I look forward to being back in front of the camera for you later this Spring and would like to do a shoot with my partner as well. I am really enjoying my work in retail and hope to do well with that too and I have a physical fitness competition in June I plan on entering. That all should keep me busy!

THANK YOU to both Gordon and Ajuna for getting together for the interview and sharing their work with FH!
Look for more of Ajuna on ModelMayhem HERE: & More of Gordon's work on ModelMayhem HERE:

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