American men need to get over their Freudian fear of showing off their junk.
Summer is here, and again I am seething with frustration. Why? Every year I scan the beaches for men in Speedos and every year I am disappointed. The ridiculous board-shorts trend shows no sign of waning. I had high hopes for change after last year’s Olympics, when the entire nation was gripped by the spectacle of those jackknifing water sprites in their micro-briefs. (Those preposterously teensy swim skivvies worn by Tom Daley et al could only be explained by some kind of harsh polyester-rationing scheme: “Sorry, boys, but only 1 square inch of fabric per customer. Don’t worry. It is quite stretchy.”) I just assumed that, come this summer, one might see an increased willingness on the part of the U.S. male to embrace a little European savoir-faire. But, yet again, all I see are men in billowing shorts.
When profiling a photographer, especially for the first time, I try to get to know a bit about who they are, maybe in an attempt to connect the work, the images, with the creators behind them. I first saw the work of Baker & Adams a couple of years ago and loved it instantly. I was especially impressed with their ability to capture pose, beautiful and unique head to toe depictions of their subjects.
I first profiled the San Jose artists back in July of 2011. Sadly, as sometimes happens, circumstances beyond our control brought on a request to have the piece removed. I didn't like losing the images, but because the piece was as much, or more, about the artists, it was equally disappointing to lose the text.
Since then, I have been looking for a way to bring back the body of that post with new work. When recently revisiting their portfolio, I saw new images of a model who I was excited help with the task. J Phoenix has an impressive body of work, some which I have been fortunate to have been able to share on FH. J is one of those models who simply has that 'it' factor. An incredible body, one he knows how to use in front of the camera bringing forth both dramatic and erotic results. J has a great face, and beautiful alluring eyes that draw you in to each image. It is no wonder J has been shot by some of the best, not to mention some of my favorite, photographers of the male form.
'J was delightful to work with. He's one of the few models we've worked with who completely understood and was open to the creative process. While he had ideas of his own, he respected and had fun with our ideas as well, he's painfully photogenic. He's also very open with his body and expressions which was truly refreshing. After the shoot, I was surprised to find we'd shot almost 1600 images of Jason in just four hours. A new record! I was also surprised with how intimate and sensual many of the images were. in nearly every image Jason seemed to fully connect with the camera; sharing with us his heart and soul.'
Baker & Adams
Below is much of the text from the original post from 2011. Thanks to Baker and Adams, and J Phoenix, for an opportunity to resurrect it.
It is always nice to get a compliment especially from someone whose work you respect. In communicating with Baker and Adams about a feature on FH, they very kindly said they liked the sensitively which I portray through my posts and that my blog was both respectful and elegant. Those words, especially respectful, are important to me as respect is something I strive to keep front and center on FH. Those words also struck me as they are precisely the words that initially drew me to their work.
With all the thought and care put into each shot, in each detail, it was not a surprise to learn that the images are not the creation of just one man, but two. Baker and Adams are a creative team (creative director and photographer) whose goal is to capture the male form in images that are classical, playful, and occasionally disturbing. The classical makes them beautiful, the playful...sexy and erotic, and the occasionally disturbing...that makes them compelling and immensely interesting.
'I'm an avid collector of vintage male photography. As a gay kid who grew tired of only seeing pictures of beautiful women in the media, I enjoy creating tasteful male images that are artistic but don't take themselves too seriously.'
Baker describes himself as the 'finder.' He looks for models who are uninhibited and have a playful sense about them. He says he likes to get to know a bit about a model before a shoot and tries to have a few telephone conversations with them before a shoot. Photographing a person, not just a body, means getting to know them. 'I can get a sense of who they are, and then I try to build a look around that sense using clothes and props. The more fun those elements are, the better.' This is when Adams steps in and takes Baker's initial ideas and tries to find a complementary lighting style for the themes chosen. Baker creates a story for Adams to capture, and Adams writes it down in pictures.
'I'm a bit of a control freak so I like to fuss and tweak the costume, the pose, hair and props. Adams enjoys taking whatever I put in front of the camera and adding mood and texture to it with light and shadow. We don't tend to step on each others toes much, and our models appreciate that by splitting up our duties we get a lot done while keeping the mood low key and fun.'
'Adams is a passionate commercial cinematographer with a large portfolio of TV commercials and web projects. We very much work together as a director and cinematographer normally would, but with the added dimension of an eleven year relationship. Creating art together is something we both greatly enjoy and we both grow artistically as a result.'