Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Promise: Michael Annese by Dale Pierce Photography

'I enjoy working with models who are beginning their careers. The enthusiasm a new model brings to a shoot often can result in some beautiful shots. I had promised Michael a portfolio that would not only get him into Model Mayhem, but bring him modeling opportunities! I would give him 100%'

What does it take to make magic. Sometimes all the ingredients might be there, but you just need someone to support you in capturing them all together in just the right way. Michael Annese certainly has all the right ingredients; a series artist, committed to his career and making great imagery. Killer good looks, amazing body, great facial structure and the most beautiful hazel eyes. Michael joined Model Mayhem, uploaded some images, added a bio but nothing happened. Until that is, he found a artist who exactly how to utilize Michael's skill and ambition and knew exactly how capture him in the best light possible.

Dale Pierce had photographed Michael's cousin, Brian Pool a few years earlier and felt he could assist Michael with building a portfolio. Having worked with his cousin, there was already a connection and trust, so the Syracuse based photographer asked Michael to send on the images he was using to see what was up. 'No surprise, the shots were ok. But... there was one shot, a nude selfie in a bathroom mirror. When I saw that, I knew Michael had something special.' Dale was just getting ready to head to out of the country, to Madrid for his first international show. On the eve of his trip, Dale made Michael a promise, he would ensure Michael had what he needed before he left.

Into Dale's studio they went! Although Dale was confident, and knew Michael had what it took physically, he has worked with enough models to know that isn't always enough. Dale had nothing to worry about however, his initial instincts proved spot on. The studio is actually a very large four story converted warehouse that Dale has shot in every part of. The window shots were taken on the 4th floor, by stairway that leads to the roof. The entire shoot for Michael's portfolio took just under five hours, using many rooms and hallways within Dale's building to capture the best images and utilizing the best light.

'I had promised Michael a full portfolio with a range from portrait, casual wear, and some nudes. We hadn't discussed the nudes but the bathroom 'selfie' was a nude,so obviously he was comfortable with that. We started with some casual shots, then when he was in the zone and I began to have a sense of what angles really worked best, we moved on. Before Michael arrived I walked around looking at the light in various locations. it was important to use different locations, a variety of light set-ups, in order to give the illusion that the portfolio had been done over a period of time and not all in one day.'

'After we finished the nudes on by window, we came downstairs. There is a freight elevator shaft, that around 4:00 pm in the afternoon, gets the most gorgeous light from a high window above. I explained the concept of 'gorilla photography', metered the light, took a few test shots, then asked him to drop trou, which he did with no hesitation.'

What impressed Dale most was Michael's attitude, and their combined skill and commitment brought about this series of images that immediately grabbed my attention when I came upon them. Soon after posting the new images to MM, Michael's portfolio caught fire. Within days, he was getting offers from photographers all over the country. 'I have had models who were successful but have never seen anything like the response Michael received.'

'Working with Dale doesn't feel like work, mainly due to his excitable demeanor. His approach toward his work is disarming; as the model I never felt like I was being forced into a mold, rather I was encouraged to employ my own creative agency as the subject. It is not surprising that the better shots manifested as time passed, because Dale appears to think of his shoots as a shared experience between photographer and model, one that changes in the same way that people change as they get to know one another. Guards are let down, and the aesthetic morphs into something honest and genuine. Dale puts his models in a setting and waits for something beautiful to happen before he opens the shutter. His nack for trusting his instinct is what sets his work apart and connects him to his viewer on a personal level. The guy certainly digs deep.'

Dale still remembers the first roll of film he shot back in 1991. He was having a mid life crisis and decided to take a b&w 101 beginner course at Syracuse University.  In the beginning, Dale started as a street photographer, but soon moved into a studio that he shared with a friend. Dale still remembers the experience of shooting his first nudes.  'The model, Mike, arrived in a truck, already stark naked. He didn't seem the least bit bothered, walking through the busy building hallways completely naked. ' When Dale was invited to submit a photo for an exhibition entitled CENSORSHIP, ART, AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH for the Leslie Lohman Museum in NYC.  Needing a 'priest' for the shoot, it was Mike that Dale called first.

'Photography is a my passion. Although I love shooting portraits and male nudes. I will also do occasional portfolio, but only with people I like and truly believe in, like Michael.'  Sadly, Michael and Dale will just have one more opportunity to shoot before Michael heads to NYC at the end of the month.  I eagerly await seeing what they come up with this time!

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