Wednesday, December 4, 2013
You might think that in the world of photographing of the male form, the ability to skillfully shoot skin would be a given. Not always so... There are some great images of models that just don't work because the look of the model's skin was secondary to how much skin was being shown. This is not a problem for Southampton's Leigh Carter. I have been following Leigh's work on FH since 2009 and one of the things I love about Leigh's work is his ability to capture skin. Leigh not only shows us plenty, especially on his site boy:gender, he also beautifully presents every inch of skin on the men in front of his camera. No matter what the shade or body shape, Leigh places them on sheets and in front of backgrounds and lights, captures and edits the most incredible images of skin
Leigh has compiled some of his greatest images, and some of my favorite models in his first book, SKIN: The photo book, features over 40 stunning guys in their birthday suits. Spread across 92 pages of premium lustre paper and bound in a hardcover with dust jacket. You can check out a preview and order your own copy HERE:
SKIN is the title of Leigh Carter's much anticipated anthology of beguiling male nudes at their most naked and sensuous best. A distillation of the finest images from his widely admired Boy:gender collection, the pages between these covers will deliver an uplifting treat for all admirers of the male form.
Featuring a rich diversity of men from the boyish to the masculine, they are presented here at their most relaxed. Free of the concerns of the outside world and under the warm glow of the photographer's lights, these awesome charmers are displayed as nature intended them to be. As solitary, muscled figures emerging out of the shadows as marvellous new man-scapes the male eye will long to chart. Each picture is a private and intimate moment to which the viewer is granted exclusive access; these are surely images to spend time in the company of.
Leigh Carter follows in the spirit of the photographic greats that have inspired him, such as Mapplethorpe, Gorman, Vance and Freeman. With this exciting volume he proves himself a natural and talented observer who revels in the aura of mystery that surrounds the naked male figure.
I have always been fascinated by circus. I especially love reading abut the lives of the circus performers who travelled with the circus in the late 1800's through the end of the 1960's. The circus was often a haven for the outcasts, the freaks and the forgotten and the life of the performers was not an easy one. Hard, long and repetitive work with months on the road in cramped and dirty surroundings. These images of Austin by photographer Daniel Peebles look like they may have been shot in the 20's or 30's and beautifully capture the tone feel of the time and the life of a circus performer.
'I was told that Daniel was looking to photograph performers so I got a hold of him to see what exactly he was looking fo. The day of the shoot was pretty fun. We set up shop in a warehouse where I rig my hoop and chains to practice. We went through a lot of poses shooting digitally and eventually found a pose we wanted to shoot on film. While we were shooting on film I had to hold the pose for a few minutes which was a bit challenging be because I was bearing a lot of weight by the back of my heel, but it was no big deal, I tend to tear myself up a lot doing circus. A lot of bruises, burns, and scrapes. Daniel is a lot of fun to work with, really laid back. I hope I get the chance to work with him again soon. I think my favorite modeling moment so far has been seeing myself hanging in a gallery for a show in which Daniel Peebles was participating.'
'When I was in kindergarten, I remember crying when my teacher informed me that I, in fact, couldn’t be a dinosaur when I grew up. It was a pretty hard pill for baby me to swallow.'
Although his interests have varied a bit since wanting to be a dinosaur, there remains something mystical, almost primal in nature about model Austin Tacious. It might be the mutton chops, or maybe as Max Woltman noted, it stems from his eyes. There is an intelligence and wisdom exuding through those eyes, his body, and the poses and movements he makes.
With prehistoric creatures not in the cards, Austin turned to a more attainable pursuit, martial arts. He has been studying and practicing the discipline for close to 23 years. Although he had always dreamt at one day competing in the Olympics, as he has gotten older, Austin's urge to participate in competition has dwindled and instead it is performance that has taken over as a passion. In middle school, Austin was introduced to music and loved it. He stayed with it and was briefly a music major in college. Eventually he began to feel he simply didn’t have what it would take so began to pursued other fields of study. When he was about 15 years old, Austin was first exposed to Cirque du Soleil and was completely captivated from the get go. Although music may not have worked out, he still know that he wanted to perform. As time went out the desire never waned, instead only increased in its intensity. Austin decided that he wanted to actually audition for cirque, but wanted to expand his skill set before doing so.
'A friend of mine happened to know of some aerialists that practiced in one of the theaters at our university and introduced me. As soon as I left the ground I fell in love and never wanted to come back down. After practicing with them for a while they asked me to be part of a burlesque show and thought, “Hey, why not?” I wound up having a lot of fun and, later on, started my own all-male burlesque troupe.'
Being a performer most of his life, stepping in front of the camera was a natural step for Austin. Austin has known Albuquerque photographer Max Woltman for half of his live having been close friends with Max's sister for years. Austin says one of the greatest contributing factors to deciding to take it all off was insecurities about his body. Specifically, he wanted to take a step to combat and confront those insecurities and there was no one better to that with than someone not only skilled, but someone he trusted behind the camera. Although it worked out beautifully, Initially, being such good friends made things a little more nerve wracking.
'Abstractly I had thought of doing nude shoots before and thought that the photographer would be someone I have not met prior which would give a certain degree of anonymity and distance in a way. Max is unreasonably talented and very well may be the kindest person on the planet. I trust Max completely and has a way of making me feel totally comfortable, even when I am bent over backwards naked on a wooden barstool. I was in a safe environment, working with someone I trust, and... had a bit of wine. The results of the shoot were very well received when I finally posted them, which was a big relief for me!'
'Austin's eyes were the first thing I noticed about him. Thoughtful and focused, Austin possesses discipline, drive, and athleticism. In addition to being a model, he is also a skilled aerialist, dancer, and performance artist. Drawing inspiration from his wealth of knowledge about history and mythology, Austin always brings specific ideas to every photo shoot I have done with him. He is passionate and fearless and his desire to continually strive to be better inspires me to become a better photographer and artist.'
As far as body parts that garner attention, Austin agrees that hands down it would be his eyes that most people comment on. 'An ex of mine said that my eyes gave me a strange intensity and my gaze had a weight to it, almost like a lion or wolf. It was a pretty cool compliment to receive.' For Austin himself, it would be the musculature of his upper back. 'I just think it is one of the most interesting parts of my body to view.' For me, it was the entire package, Austin's incredible body of course but also that intensity within Austin's face and eyes. The intensity is strong, even fierce, but at the same time almost peaceful. I especially love how Max captured it within the shower shots with the water running down his face, certainly my favorites from this series. I also could not help but ask about the mutton chops as not many men call pull them off a well as Austin does. Although he was recently cast as Wolverine for an upcoming act, Austin has had the chops for the last couple of years.
Although maybe just a small thing their own, the chops seem to be a part of something bigger. Along with some of the other characteristic, Austin's eyes, the intensity mentioned, all help to make up that magical primeval quality that Austin so beautifully embodies within his life, his look, and most certainly his images.