Sunday, August 11, 2013

Weekend Warrior: Tom by Keith Ingram Photo

'The greatest compliment someone can give me is to gaze at one of my photographs for longer than 3 seconds.'

Photographer Keith Ingram's choice of the word gaze nailed precisely what happened when I came upon his images with Tom. To gaze means to look intently with great curiosity, interest, pleasure or wonder. It goes beyond just glancing, and even beyond staring. It reflects not just the time allotted that one devotes to an image, but as well the connecting emotion.

I was instantly taken with this set from Keith. There is an ethereal quality about Tom, his facial features and fine hair and tight, fit physique. It is almost as if my Legolas fantasy came to life, and like the fictional Legolas, Tom also appears to be a fierce fighter.

San Francisco based freelance photographer Keith Ingram has lived nearly half his life on both coasts of the U.S. Originally from New York, Keith studied film making at New York University, then spent most of his adult life working and pursuing his creative interests in California. He has worked in independent film/video production for nearly 15 years, and has honed his portraiture skills via wedding and corporate in-house promotional photography.

His passion for male physique portraiture stemmed from his early appreciation of the classic beefcake photos of the 1940's and 50's, coupled with the "life-changing" influence of late 80's era Bruce Weber. "O Rio de Janeiro and Bear Pond were ground breaking monographs! High end coffee table books devoted exclusively sexy males were not as common back then as they are today" says Keith; 'When I picked up Bear Pond and flipped through it at my local Barnes and Noble, I knew right then and there that that was what I wanted to do with my camera.'

Never really attracted to the high pressure, highly competitive world of commercial photography, Keith likes to think of himself as a "weekend warrior" photographer, who enjoys a laid back attitude of shooting who he wants and when he wants with no editorial deadline to meet. He has built a considerable 'body' of work, of which he has occasionally exhibited in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. At his very first group show, Keith ended up selling one of his male nude figure studies which was a great source of encouragement to continue!

Keith took a break from photography for a few years, and now says he's back with a vengeance, shooting in a fresh style, and updating his MM portfolio. 'I feel like beginner all over again and I'm working to re-establish my online presence'. Currently MM is the only online showcase for his work, but a new blog or website are in the works as well as working on self-publishing his first book of male physique portraits.

'I connected with Tom, a young martial-artist from northern California a few years back, and at the time, he was just starting out and open to any type of style as long as it presented his athletic form tastefully. I was more then happy to accommodate! - Even though I am the director of the shoot, and I know what type of photos I want to see in my portfolio, I like to treat the model like a client - I always ask " how would you like to you see yourself portrayed?". Establishing a comfort level is very important when your model has only known you for half an hour before he has to start stripping for your camera.'

'Tom had very long, baby-fine hair, and of course our location turned out to be the windiest spot in the city. I kept thinking about Ansel Adams and his "decisive moment". I kept waiting for that 1/125 sec window for the wind to die down long enough to get a good shot - I was still shooting on film back then, so I prayed that these shots were usable! We were laughing about the strong wind all throughout the shoot. I like making my models laugh. It would've been a crime to not capture his great long hair.

Once we got back to my studio, things didn't get much better. I had terrible lighting problems that day, and I had him standing in front of a black backdrop. Once again, his hair was the issue - I couldn't get a good highlight on him, so the shadows really overpowered his beautiful hair! Luckily, his physique more then made up for it. I think my shoot with Tom really captured the essence of why I do what I do. I captured moments from a fun afternoon in the life of a young guy just starting on his creative journey.'

'My portraits are a celebration of the male mystique in all of its wonderful diversity and complexity. My favorite photos are the ones where my camera asks "who are you?" and the subject responds with "you tell me!'

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