Sunday, December 9, 2012
Perception is a funny thing. Assumptions and bias are not feelings only held by others, we all have them. When this season of The Amazing Race started I groaned at the images and announcement that a team of Chippendales was joining the race this season. almost angry that men might actually be interested in the bow tie wearing strippers.
Don't ask me why, but I have just never really been drawn to the Chippendales. Maybe it is because when I was a kid, whenever I saw a Chippendales image or calendar, I always thought they seemed a bit cheesy, all hair and tan, a group of Fabio wannabees dancing around the stage. Might have also been the fact that Chippendales seemed almost aggressive about marketing to women only and seemed almost angry that other men might give the bow tie wearing strippers any attention.
Over the course of this season, watching James Davis and especially Jaymes Vaughan have had my assumptions taking a pretty dramatic U-Turn. In all the seasons I have watched TAR I have never seen a more likable team. In the first week or two, even though obviously good looking, I barely noticed, but now, every time Jaymes comes on screen I am at full attention.
James and Jaymes are just decent. Fun, smart, talented and great looking. They have such a natural, respectful way of interacting with others, and that is not an easy task when a million dollars is on the line. Although I wish they had not u-turned Ryan and Abbie, not the actual act, that is part of the game, but the group gang up mentality that they seemed pressured by. In a few hours we will see who crosses the finish line first. All four teams left in the race are deserving, but to me, none more so than Jaymes and James.
Last month I first featured the work of Austin photographer Ken from Nohea Dunn. In that profile, I focused on Ken's work with Chez (The Guy With The Camera). Whenever I work on a first piece with a photographer, the first decision is usually whether to focus on one model, or a selection of images.
Depending on the artist, sometimes there are pros and cons to each choice. With one model, it can sometimes be easier for me to focus in on a theme, that quality about the work, often that comes from one image, that first drew me to contact the photographer. Sometimes, a theme or pattern emerges and using a variety of different models, from different shoots, best showcases an artists work.
Choosing to focus on Ken's work with Chez meant having to lose using other of my favorite images. Ken's work with Nate (first and Shane (below) were also some of my favorites. Ken's generosity however meant support for a follow-up so none of my favorite images had to be left out!
'Nate is probably one of my favorites to shoot since he just models occasionally and really has fun modeling. Just a great guy. I especially like the parachute photos of him with another model behind, the shots of him on his bike, and the fur blanket. I took that fur blanket to the shoot just as a "maybe" - gave it to him and told him to just have fun. I took hundred of photos that night and really like some of the images.'
Both Nate, (a tri-athlete) and bodybuilder Shane obviously take great care of their bodies. Shane has a passion for staying fit and living a healthy lifestyle and has been both modeling and acting for about 10 years. Ken say, and I concur that the local model has one of the best asses in the Lone Star State.
The parachute photos of Nate, and the mannequin shots (below) with Shane are visually great examples of the creativity I love within Ken's work. It is the creative process Ken loves most about his work and when the right photographer experiments creatively with a great model and an interesting or new concept, the results reflect the beautiful collision of idea with skill and artist.
Nohea Dunn on ModelMayhem
'Being nude in front of one person isn't too daunting, the reality of being nude in front of a dozen or more was a different proposition.'
As human beings, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is something we spend a an immense amount of energy trying to avoid. Most of us eventually manage to get to a point of being comfortable exposing ourselves to a partner and circle of close family or friends. Being exposed however, both physically and emotionally in front of a large group, for most of us, brings out an intense flight or fight reaction.
The main focus of FH is to spotlight talented men; models, actors, singers and performers and the artists who capture them. For the men who disrobe for art or show, at some point, a decision has to be made about whether to bare. Not just their bodies, but often a deeper piece of themselves. One of the things I am always curious about when interviewing models is what factors went into the decision to take it off for a camera or role. The answer varies from man to man but universally it connects to a comfortably with self and vulnerability.
Getting naked in front of a camera or an audience may be to connected to having a healthy self image. For some however, it may not be confident or pride, but sometimes it be the complete opposite.
When working as a model, there is an opportunity to build relationship and trust with the artist they are working with. Although many may bypass this step, either for time, or financial reasons, the option is usually there. Even those who take it off for groups, like dancers and strippers, there is a degree of control. With their dancing, the music and all the other bells and whistles, the performer can control to a degree, the message they are sending out. A persona or character can be created to assist them from revealing more than they are comfortable with.
Modeling for an art class is an entirely different type of exposure. Your not just naked, your completely bare. I have interviewed a few art class models on FH and the experience of being naked, sometimes in front of 20 or 30 people, under bright lights, without anything to hide behind, is the ultimate test of vulnerability. Many of us have a sexualized fantasy of what it might be like (see video below), but the reality can be quite different.
From the models I have talked with and from what I have read (two interesting accounts HERE: and HERE:)although excitement and nerves are certainly a part, a concentration and focus on pose are what eventually takes over.
The thought of standing, or sitting, having to remain perfectly still. Fighting the urge to self protect, with dozens of pairs of eyes pierced on every part of your body is a frightening thought. Scary, yet still an oddly thrilling prospect. Something to add to the bucket list maybe, as the danger of exposing a vulnerability is a risk we all need to dance a little closer with now and then.