Saturday, October 25, 2014

Intentionally Exposed: Richard Whitney by Doppel-V

'One of the things I was looking forward to about this shoot was the location. Hotel rooms can either be great or they can be rubbish. Fortunately, this room was good. There were floor-to-ceiling windows, and an interesting charcoal-shaded bed head that was really like a wall of tiled black slates. It was clean, urban, and with a nice view over the Thames.'

I was struck by Richard Whitney's quote as most of us feel that way about hotel rooms, and I certainly feel it about hotel room shoots. It is of course partly about the rooms appearance and feel, but more importantly, it is if the artist and model shooting within, are able to embrace it. Hotel rooms can be incredibly generic, cold and devoid of character. Sadly, so are many hotel room shoots. You can tell when the hotel room is just a make shift studio, a location and just a safe place to take pictures of a naked model.

Hotel rooms can be intimate and sensual settings, they have an inherent vibe and feel that skilled artists know how to tap into. Hotels are where people, even people who would never think of doing so at home, watch porn. Hotels are where people go for sex, for secret affairs. Hotels are home bases for people's trips and dream vacations to new worlds and new ways of living. They are used by people to escape, a place to take risks and to morph into someone new, exploring aspects of yourself that you might never be comfortable doing while at home.

'Before the shoot DV and I had discussed what it was we might do together, and most of it was gently erotic and reflective. The images are soft and intimate.'

Saint Helier based photographer Doppel-V has spent years shooting architecture, nature and landscape images, but only recently began shooting the male form. In fact, these images of Richard are from only his second time shooting nudes. James (Doppel-V) says that each shoot is a chance to learn more and more about the new direction he is taking within his work. 'I think that my amateur theatre background has left me with an eye for shape and setting - and, most importantly - lighting.' James says he has a tendency to throw himself at new projects and shooting nudes was no different. His hope is that his images suggest a rawness and intimacy and apart from a few tweaks with color or shading, tries to present his models as they are, shaving rashes, moles and all!

Living in the Island of Jersey , it can be difficult to find models, although becoming a little easier after his initial shoots were received so favourably.  This means James will mainly be shooting on his travels to the UK, and possibly Greece sometime next year. James's shoot with Richard, was thankfully a little closer to home. It was just this past September, Richard made his way across Vauxhall Bridge to Battersea where he found the hotel and met up for his shoot with Doppel-V.

'I feel it an honour and privilege that models are willing to appear as themselves, totally unencumbered. I am grateful to all who let me into their private world. We are all naked, but to photograph it takes bravery on their part. Richard was great to work with! As well as having a great sense of his own body, he intelligent and a true gentlemen.'

Intimate, erotic and reflective, each of the goals both model and artist had in mind, were all beautifully and successfully achieved. Richard, also an artist and writer, understands story, and I love the story he and James have created with these images. I especially love how the entire bed is used and the poses Richard creates, utilize his entire body over the full surface of the bed. James captures and frames the poses with unique angles, and through the lighting used, intensifies that feeling of closeness and intimacy between Richard, and whomever his incredible blue eyes are focused on.

There is a distinct sense that Richard is interacting with someone. There is a clear, and intensely intimate relationship between the one in front of the camera, and the one behind it. I still however felt that Richard was the only actual person within the room. Alone, naked, vulnerable yet intentionally exposed. I couldn't shake the feeling the person Richard was posing for, the one on the receiving end of his sensual gaze and longing looks, was not actually in the same room. Instead, I envisioned the person to be thousands of miles away, with him but with a barrier between them. Seeing him only through the laptop camera that he had placed along side him on the bed. The camera the connection, linking two people tied in relationship, one within that hotel room, the other far away, maybe back to wherever home might be.

'It’s the ‘tie’ pictures that I like the most. They tap into poses and images we may have seen before — office and call-out boys and so on, that evoke a specific kind of fantasy for us.' -Richard Whitney

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