Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Meeting In St. Louis: B-Rad by AANE Photography

'I can't believe it. Right here where we live - right here in St. Louis.'

As is often the case, it is usually one moment, just one image, that provokes my interest in an artist and motivates me to want to both see, an learn more. With AANE Photography, it was the photograph of B-Rad just above. I love the pose, the winter hat, the glasses and especially how B-Rad's head and chin position are posed and how his gaze downward is captured. Usually, when a model places their hands over their penis it is to cover and hide, often to tease. In this image however, the models protective hand position, contrasted with is beautiful eyes and downward gaze, acts to give added strength to the image.

I was even more intrigued to learn more after checking out AANE Photography's profile on Model Mayhem. B-Rad's images were in a folder entitled Meet Me In St. Louis and the photographer (Mike) lists his location as Doylestown, Pennsylvania. So often, sites and blogs which feature images of the male form don't seem to accept that great imagery and can possibly occur outside of New York, Los Angeles, London on Miami. Although many of the world's most well known photographers may now work in these, and other big cities, most of them weren't born there. It is like saying you can't enjoy a great painting unless it is framed and hung in a museum.

One of my goals with FH is featuring photographers and models from all over the globe, and I especially love finding artists and models in small town and cities not as well known as a thriving hub of modeling activity. Most of these artists, like Mike, shoot as a hobby, a compulsion to explore both their passion to create, and their love of the human form as the inspiration for their passion and focus. So many of these artists don't have the space, nor money to rent or own their own studio space. Mike, like so many other artists I have previously profiled, has through necessity become nomadic, often travelling to shoot using a hotel room as their canvas, a temporary, but cost efficient studio in which to shoot.

Mike's portfolio was full of models situated in these temporary studio's, but there was something deeper, something more. Whether an artist shoots in an expensive big city studio, or a small town hotel, you can usually tell if their focus is not so much on body, but specific body parts. Mike's images have a soul, they are raw, often unedited, but there was something beautifully authentic in the bodies and faces he choose to capture. When Mike sent on his images of B-Rad, there were plenty of full nudes, but many of my favorites, like the image above that inspired my contact, were images that hit on a aspect of B-Rad's personality beyond just his body parts. That's not to say B-Rad doesn't have great body parts, and I am sure some readers prefer the images with penis front and centre, but when I compare the image near the top, with other images with B-Rad in the hat, glasses and with similar posse, the image that originally inspired my interest, remains my favorite.

As I mentioned, Mike sent on a lot of images of his work with B-Rad, an overwhelming amount in fact that made picking choices a daunting task. Although I plan on featuring more in the future, the images I chose for this first piece in many ways act as the perfect storyboard for the story of nomadic shooting. Meeting a stranger, or someone you know only from on-line communication, can be daunting. It is an act of trust, a sometimes risky undertaking both model and photographer, especially when trying to gain experience or build a portfolio, often must take. This is especially true if you live in Maine or Wyoming, New Bruswick or Missouri, any location without a large modeling community.

The risk is worth the reward when you connect with someone, and together create images that enhance and add to your portfolio. For B-Rad, the risk was not a new one. He began modeling by answering an ad for a nude model on Craigslist. From there, he used the images to create his MM Page then used MM to hand pick photographers he felt could enhance and build his portfolio. Within just three months of modeling, B-Rad did over ten shoots, 4 runways shows and just recently was signed by a local agency. Passionate about his work, the St. Louis model is anxious to see what else lies ahead and understands that in order to continue, he may need to make a move to New York, LA or Chicago, a larger market that would enable him to take the next step.

Mike considers himself very fortunate to have a job that has taken him all over the world, giving him the opportunity to photograph not only places but the people as well. He has travelled to six continents, close to 20 countries, and all but six States within the US. Mike's hobby, which began as a way of documenting his travels, has has turned into a passion for manipulating light.

'The name of my studio is a constant reminder of my husband. AANE is formed from the Tagalog words for "Edeng's Husband." When it came time to create a logo, I borrowed from my years of linguistics training, and wrote the name of the studio using the International Phonetic Alphabet. AANE when slurred sounds like "any," which describes the kind of photography I will do. It also sounds like my late mother's nickname, Annie.'

Mike often travels to St. Louis for business, so after connecting on MM, a shoot was set. It hadn't always been easy for Mike to find models in St. Louis, or at least ones that would show up for scheduled shoots. B-Rad not only showed up, but was a bit early. This gave Mike time to go over and adjust his shot list. He had not realized just how tall his model was, so a few shots had to be adjusted for the 6'5" B-Rad to comfortably pose and interact with his surroundings. B-Rad was at ease from the first click and his comfort level made the shoot a pleasure, Mike did however, spend much of the shoot balancing himself on a coffee table in order to shoot his models face at eye level.

'B-Rad had been to another shoot earlier that day, and had brought along a suitcase with clothes. He had a hunter hat that I quickly pinned back to create a look that was a cross between Pippi Longstockings and Princess Leia. I gave him a pair of reading glasses, and he was suddenly transformed from a confident person into a shy young man. It was one of these images that initiated Tye's contact. B-Rad was great to work with. I was so happy he was completely comfortable posing nude. His nonchalance made the images that much more seductive. I would definitely like to work with him again. If I could line up another model, I would love to do a Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn themed shoot on the banks of the Mississippi River. Maybe someone can tell me where I can find a wooden raft...'

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