last week, Disney's released its first featurette for the December release of Into The Woods. I have written before about my love of the original (Just Because: Ben Wright) and my feelings about Meryl Streep inhabiting the role of the witch. (Careful The Spell You Cast) The just released featurette includes our first chance to hear Meryl sing the role, and it nothing to change my feelings.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, make that a scratched CD, nah, a broken download, Streep will be brilliant, she usually is. My problem remains that the witch, in the stage version anyway, is mostly a singing part, big songs, for a big voice. Streep can sing, she has worked hard on it for years, but although lessons can ensure notes are hit correcting and timing and pitch are perfect, those lessons cannot don't necessarily give someone a great voice. Streep is not a belter, and her breathy voice I am sure has been fixed to be clearer on the Soundtrack.
I have not seen the movie of course, and I am sure I will love it, despite my reservations, Stephen Sondheim's score grabs me every time I have seen the films preview. The music is that good. Whenever a movie is re-made, whenever a great book or play or musical hits the big screen, something is lost. Some shine brighter, but most end up corrupting the impact of the original. For every Grease on film, there is a Mamma Mia, a Rent, a Rock Of Ages & a Phantom of the Opera. I would hate if any of those four films, or their soundtracks, were what someone remembered from what were such incredible stage productions.
If you see the film, if you love the music, do yourself a favour and pick up the original Broadway recording. I have listened to a few versions, including the London Soundtrack, but none compare to the Broadway cast. Bernadette Peters slays as the witch, heartbreaking on Children Will Listen and powerful belting out Past Midnight. Ben Wright, Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien and Robert Westenberg all shine in their roles, and with their voices. Rob Marshall sold me on Chicago, and I wasn't a fan of the stage version, so I am sure he will will do justice to Into The Woods. Then again, Rob Marshall also made Nine...
It it is always a joy to feature the work of William from DAVISICON. There is such grace and beauty within William's work, in part because of the passion and care he brings to his work. Recently when revisiting William's site, a particular model stood out to me. Tarek has an incredible body and face, and almost an organic, and very powerful sexuality that can be seen, and felt through William's images. I immediately sent off an e-mail, William thankfully jumped on board. Whenever I start a feature, after choosing a subject and images, the next step is figuring out story. With William being not just a photographer, but a writer, I got a story, the entire story of their work together. Made my job on this post so much easier. Enjoy the images below, and the day DAVISICON met up with Tarek.
I was looking forward to a new shoot. Two weeks ago I had gone through several of my emails and realized that one had been unopened it was from a guy named Tarek. I read his email and I reviewed his selfies that he sent me that I had asked for previously, as I do with all models. In his photos he had a wonderful smile and a very toned muscular athletic body. He looked to be the perfect model for my newest ideas. That evening I emailed my phone number to Tarek and within a few minutes I received phone call, this I always consider usually one of my final steps when considering a new model to photograph most times during the conversation I can sort of gauge the model and tell how comfortable he is with posing and his attitude and disposition. Tarek seemed very polite and excited about a new shoot and was open to all of concepts that I described. We scheduled a time for the following week and Tarek replied that he was looking forward to meeting me in person and being photographed by me, I was looking forward to it as well, especially because of the enthusiasm he expressed over the phone.
On the morning of the shoot, Tarek called to confirm he would be there at the time we had scheduled. I informed him that I was finished with my idea sheet and was pulling a few things from inventory and that he was welcome to bring some stuff of his own for us to use during the photo shoot. I told him that there were a few ideas that we would use props for, but usually the props are minimal because I like to focus on the model. I rushed around the patio to make sure everything was in place, batteries were charged, screens were ready to be set up and the sunroom was ready for all of the possible concepts I had planned for. 45 minutes later, the bell rang. I finished everything out in the sunroom and walked across the double patio to unlock the side gate. There was a car at the bottom of the driveway. I waved and Tarik got out wearing a red cap, worn blue jeans and carrying a backpack. He came around to the other side of the car to the window to say thank you and goodbye to his friend who had given him a ride. His friend waved goodbye and I began to explain to Tarik that most all my photo shoots took place outdoors and that we would be using the second patio and the sunroom for our particular photo shoot. Tarek had a big smile on his face and said that he was very excited as his last, and only photoshoot, was in a studio setting.
I explained to Tarik after looking at the idea sheet that we would probably do a few nudes, some underwear, and a few creative ideas using liquid latex or body paint. I wanted to keep it simple so we could focus on his wonderful physique. Tarek smiled and set down his duffel bag and unzipped it, he reached inside and started pulling out a selection of underwear and shorts. He had 2 really nice belt buckles that I thought would go well with the boots that he was wearing. While I was going over the idea sheet, I asked Tarik about himself. He told me that he was a great cook and he was dancing part-time on the weekends, he also loves rock climbing. Given his incredible physique, I asked if he had to work out constantly. Tarek replied that he was fortunate and has always been thin and athletic all of his life. Tarek said that his dancing also helps stay in shape and also brings in some money on the side for him to pay bills. My response was a smile which led Tarek to pull out his cell phone, put on some music, fling off his jeans and boots to give me a demonstration of how he moves when performing. I said that I really hadn't expected that much entertainment so early in the day. Tarek's response was laughter.
As our photo shoot began I knew right away that we were going to get great results. I asked Tarik to help me set up the screens on the main patio, he was eager to help in any way he could. We began shooting and as usual I talk during my photo shoots which makes for a lot of missed blinking and smiling shots. but I usually enjoy it anyway. Tarek was wearing a pair of gray underwear and as he looked over at the pond with fish in it and he asked about taking a few photographs inside the pond, I knew the bottom would be slick and slimy, and didn't think he would enjoy spending any time in there. We shot him in the underwear and then moved on to some nudes. I asked Tarik to lay on chaise as if he was sun bathing and with the spray of water to add some wet, and some shine the images turned out beautifully sensual.
We finished up a few nudes on the chaise and I decided that we would move on to the second patio with the screens so maybe we could do something a little Western-style. I told him I picked out the belt buckle that he showed me and asked him to put on his cowboy boots. I picked out another cap for him and Tarek laughed when ten I reached into the props and pulled out a whip. His flexibility was amazing. Not only could you tell by his looks that he was athletic but he was already standing on his head stretching across, flexing his arms and making all kinds of wonderful poses for our photographs. It was very easy to direct him. I gave him some poses that I thought would look great and he created some of his own. It ended up working out very well.
After about 30 minutes of shooting, we were both ready to move on to the next concept. I walked up to the sunroom grabbed the shower gel, a gallon of water and a crate full of liquid latex paint in different colors. I handed Tarik a towel so he could dry off his chest then slowly started to drip colors on him, one at a time, stopping halfway through to take a couple shots, then continuing till we finished dripping paint. I pulled the fan and plugged it in and turned it on from the other side of the patio and pointed it at him so the paint would dry quickly. I directed Tarik into place and started snapping away. I asked him to flex and smile. After removing the paint, and a short break, I handed him the shower gel and asked him to stand in place will I poured water on him. This is when it got tricky, I had to keep him wet enough in the full sun and get enough suds so they would show in the photographs. It took us a while to work up to get the final look, but as you can see from the image below, the process ended with some spectacular results.
Close to an hour and 45 minutes in, we were about close our shoot. I knew because of how well the shoot had gone, the images were going to turn out great. Tarek had done some very athletic poses and we did some very creative stuff together. As Tarik finished towelling off and began to get dressed he made sure to let me know what a wonderful time he had. He was excited and really enjoyed the process and couldn't wait to shoot together again. As he waited for his friend to return to pick him up, I made sure to let him know that he was pretty the perfect model to work with. Not only his look, but his positive and adventurous attitude which I knew would serve him well in the future. There are so many guys that contact me for shoots but after that initial phone call, I unfortunately have to turn them down. I can tell that they are either very uncomfortable with being photographed or have a attitude that won't fit with creative way I like to work.
The processing was very minimal given Tarik photographed so beautifully, and later that night, after editing 6 of the images that we worked on, I emailed them on to him. About 20 minutes later I got a response. 'Wow they look amazing!, I'm so grateful for the the shoot, I can't wait to use them!' I thanked him again for such a great session and that I would probably have a few more images over the next few days and that we would talk soon about planning that second shoot.
Whenever I feature clown themed images I am always looking for just the right word to describe the conflicting themes that are associated with them. Clowns for some, are a symbol of childhood, circus's and children's parities. Flowers spraying ink, balloon animals and silly pranks. To many others, especially adults, bogged down with misery and pain, clowns have morphed from silly to terrifying, a symbol of evil and at the core of many phobias and nightmares.
When searching for words that combine both fun and fear, both joy and terror, the closest word I could find was ooky. Spooky, kooky, gooky and kooky are all words containing ooky and are all words used to describe the odd and the bizarre. Ooky words however, still have a lightness. They indicate odd, but as with the lyrics above fro the Addams Family, they can also be silly, goofy and most of all fun.
This collection of clowns came to me via one particular man under the white face make-up. That man, featured in this piece, was a model that I featured this past year on the blog, make up free. When going through his modeling portfolio I came across an image, full on clown, naked of course from artist Dusti Cunningham. That image had me buying a ticket and entering the Dusti's word of incredible, bizarre, erotic and ooky imagery.
Like the circus clowns who ascend from that little red car in the center ring, when you enter Dusti's tumblr, there is page after page, image after images of clown after clown. So many, choosing images was almost overwhelming. Dusti's clowns are alive and animated, colorful and fun. Well, maybe... more naughty than fun. They're also a little bit dangerous, a wee bit provocative and unabashedly sexual.
A naked body, along with a disguised face is both mysterious and scary and very very sexy. Whenever you see a group of streakers, there are usually more than a few wearing masks or make-up to cover their faces. It is an interesting dynamic to me, to be so exposed on one hand, yet partially hidden on the other. You have to wonder if without the makeup, the poses would be quite as exaggerated or as sexual.
As much as the makeup hides, it also provides almost a strength to the men under it. Strength to expose a piece of themselves they may not be quite as comfortable sharing if not for the protection the clown persona provides. The clown, and their make-up really embody what Halloween is all about. It is the night to shed our inhibitions, cover or mask the parts of ourselves we dislike or deny. By covering the things we don't like, we are actually freed to embrace parts of ourselves that normally terrify us.
Maybe this is why clowns are so terrifying to some of us. With the protection of their make-up, they have nothing else really to hide. They have no need for pretence or dishonesty. Clowns seem to have the ability to look us straight in the eyes and see right through those of us without the protection of make-up or a mask. They know exactly what we've buried deep down within and just their presence threatens to expose our deepest secrets to the world around us. That in it self, is a horrifying notion.