Each and every time I immerse myself in the imagery of Michael Styles I am overcome with an overwhelming feeling of melancholy laced déjà vu. It seems the winter brings this out more. I didn't realize when I contacted Michael again this January, but while piecing together Light Of Day, I realized it is unintentionally the third part of a trilogy.
In November 2013, I did a piece featuring Michael's work entitled Where You Sleep. I followed this up in January 2014 with a story I called Winter Blues. It was not a conscience that was a dark winter's day that drew me back to a folder that had been dormant on my desktop since last year. While putting together Winter Blues, I put aside a selection of window images that brought the natural light of day into the rooms of the men Michael captured.
As I thought of a way to present these saved moments, my mind again went back to that room I spent much of my teenage years growing up in. Maybe part of the reason is that Michael shoots so many of his models in their own homes. One of my first pieces featuring Michael's work focused on one of his visual themes, The Apartment Project, which featured models in their own surroundings, increasing the comfort level and intimacy Michael's subjects had with their surroundings.
One of the other main reasons for the melancholy feel of déjà vu is the power my teenage bedroom had in forming who I am today. So many things happened in there from my first sexual experience, both with myself and with another, to it's four walls absorbing all of the joy, laughter, sorrow and pain of moving from one's twelve year on year through their eighteenth. It was eighteen that I first moved out (briefly though, I was destined to return for another year).
I was home visiting my family earlier this week and something hit me that I had never fully absorbed before. It was something I always knew, but never quite connected with my current writing and love of window theme images until now. It is only my parents left in the house, all of my siblings and I have been gone for at least 12 years. In the last few years, my mother has shoved our belongings at us each time any of us visit. They seem determined to have every memento and memory we ever owned extracted from the house. They claim it is to clear the clutter, but I think in truth it is to make it easier for us, leaving the house tidy and in order after they are gone.
My teenage room is now vacant, make that desolate. The room is in the basement, a floor of the house rarely used any more except for laundry and occasionally when a tool is needed from the furnace room. In the room There is nothing left of those years I spent in there. There is a new bed, rarely slept in for company, an empty dresser and night stand and not one poster picture or mirror on the walls. Those walls at one time were full of movie and celebrity posters and pictures of all my friends and I> The closet is full, but of empty suitcases and toilet paper and paper towels bought in bulk from Costco. The walls have long ago been repainted, covering up the scars of my youth.
'Melancholy is sadness that has taken on lightness.'
I love that Michael's work continually transports me back to those feeling I had in that room. Writer Calvino is correct that melancholy maybe have elements of sadness, but it is pain-light, covering the worst of the damage with a filter that makes it easier to return to and accept. Melancholy can even be enjoyable. With the right frame of mind, the right piece of music and the right glass of wine it can be something to actually look forward to.
I think I return to Michael's work more in the winter as it is the season that has kidnapped the natural light we all crave and need. Winter holds this light close, giving us just small amounts each day until once again Spring is able to steal it back. Through the windows in Michael's images, the light is always let in, it is always bright and always strong. It is always hovering, illuminating and freezing each and every moment within the room it watches over so that we can return to that feeling whenever we need that emotional fix.
New Manhattan Studio's Wes has become one of my favorite artists to collaborate with. Wes not only shares his incredible imagery, he also shares the story behind the process of his work, from his first contact with models through the final edited images. Wes goes above and beyond, creating video's and image presentations exclusively for FH, giving readers a complete visual experience. I have always loved behind the scenes shots, and Wes has created some of my all time favorites. It was his behind the scenes images of his assistant Alex working with Bond this past Autumn that inspired Behind The Scenes as my theme for FH for 2015. Wes strives for greatness and seems to top himself with each shoot and model he generously shares. Has me always looking forward to what's coming next!
It seems like the 2001 movie The Wedding Planner is on television all the time, but I only got around to finally watching the Jennifer Lopez flick this past weekend. Despite the flimsy premise and former chick flick staple Matthew McConaughey it had it's moments.
Justin Chambers has always been my favorite cast member on Grey's Anatomy. Even with the uneven writing his character has endured, Chambers always makes Alex someone I root for. The former model transitioned into acting in 1995 with his first role on the NBC soap Another World. Small guest shots and movies followed by The Wedding Planner was arguably the role that gained the actor his biggest audience.
Chambers with Alex Rocco
Chambers is absolutely adorable as the sweet, but goofy Massimo. It is a tell tell sign of an actors appeal that I was hoping Jennifer Lopez might choose Chambers instead of the predictable ending with her and McConaughey. Even early in his career, Chambers holds his own and stands out in each of his few scenes.
Sometimes my favorite shoots come from though tout concepts, careful planning and preparation. Sometimes, they happen in the moment, propelled by unplanned events, luck and circumstance. Regardless of the plan, photographer and creator Nathan Scott always manages to pull to things together despite whatever challenges are thrown his way. Nathan is like the MacGyver of photographers, and even if he only had a camera, a paper clip and ball point pen, as long as he had a talented model, incredible images would result!
Nathan's work was a big part of FH through most of last summer and Autumn. As I put together my Quaternate piece featuring Nathan's imagery, I knew it was time to start 2015 with more of Nathan's images on the blog. Nathan has been very busy since I last featured his work, his latest project, raising funds to support his fashion line to be ready for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week next month.
With everything he has going on, thankfully Nathan still finds time to get some of the brightest and hottest models in front of his camera. Jake looks one part athlete, one part Abercrombie and one part superhero. With his incredible body, beautiful face and eyes, not to mention that jaw, Jake looks ready to don the spandex and save the world! As is always the case, Nathan captured all of Jake's best sides showcasing not just his amazing physique, but sexy and steely stare and athletic skills and abilities.
With the snow currently blowing around outside, I especially enjoy Nathan's shots of Jake in the surf. With all of the great shots and set-ups Nathan and Jake managed to capture, the shoot almost didn't happen. Circumstances, and an unfortunate one for another model, had Nathan in Houston, camera ready, all set to go without a model to shoot. This is when Nathan morphed into MacGyver and as you can see from the images, mission accomplished!
'So his shoot was a last minute shoot. I went down to Houston to shoot Michael Hoffman after he had rescheduled from no showing on his first shoot when the videos leaked. Well a gif leaked and I had a feeling he was going to no show on me. So I got on Instagram and contacted Jake on the off chance he would be able to shoot. He agreed which was fantastic because the shoot was literally less than 10 hours away at this point.'
'We got to Galveston beach and it was raining. So we were in a McDonald's parking lot, I went inside and promptly borrowed one of their trash bags and my assistants hair tie. Ripped a hole in the bag and pushed my lens through it, attached my shutter protector and fastened it with a hair tie and we walked down the beach. So for the first shots, I am literally inside a giant trash bag shooting.'
'The shots under the pier we found by accident this abandoned pier that was sealed up. Well we crawled through a tiny opening in the chain fence and started shooting under there with the pillars and the broken wood pallets and my absolute favorite the water dripping down. Prior to this we had been shooting against a stone block that rested up against it, had we looked on the other side of it we would have seen a nice easy opening cut open, that did not require climbing and playing Tetris with our body to get into the cut of fence on the other side.'
'We finally finished up at this gorgeous park in Pearland and that was all the athletic shots. We decided to use some of the new 2015 collection of Blue Collar Underwear and get some really sporty looks of Jake. We got really lucky with him in that we found out at the shoot that he had 2 bad experiences with bad photographers so it was really nice to shoot with him and without realizing any of this, making him feel comfortable and have fun and smile, and deliver some amazing shots. I added several of his shots into my hard portfolio that I take to agencies because of how amazing of a look he has!'