Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Chiaroscuro: The Photography of Kevin Kurbs


'Light, shadow, texture, and a great model are all the things I need to create a great photo.'


Last week while, while looking for images for a piece I was working on, I was poking around flickr. Although Model Mayhem is a great resource, flickr also holds an immense inventory of artistry and for many, a less complicated space to store their work. As I clicked through the pages I paused when coming upon first image from Seattle photographer Kevin Kurbs. The image, in beautiful black and white, was a nod to Auguste Rodin's The Thinker.

As I browsed through Kevin's port, I was blown away with the pages and pages of breath taking black & white captures of the male form. Although Kevin did have a section for his work in color, it was clear that the artists favorte way to capture the male body, was with his beautiful focus utilizing the dramatic effects of light and shadow.

Kevin remembers that from his first viewing of a Tarzan movie as a child he was fascinated with the male form. This passion continued with all of the beautiful naked Greek and Roman sculptures that filled his art and history classes in school. Kevin began shooting as a hobby about 20 years ago. 'I had a Canon Rebel that took great shots but my creativity seem limited. About 2 years ago I upgraded to a canon 60 D with a much better lens and I saw a change in what I could do.'

Kevin credits one of his clients from Boston for pushing him to the next level. He encouraged Kevin to be less concerned with people's reactions to his work, or whether others liked it or not. Instead, Kevin was encouraged to focus on what challenged him and especially to ensure that he loved what he was shooting.


'The black and whites seem to carry my work to its simplest form, Color is great, I just love the simplicity. The term Chiaroscuro, an Italian word meaning light-dark, seems to fit my work the best.'


Although Kevin has editing programs, he tries to challenge himself to the best possible photo that he can in order to limit the amount of editing he has to do. It helps that Kevin shoots in a very dark studio, where the only thing lit is the model. The look and final images, as well as the process itself, can be an intimate one. The focus being on light and shadow, body and form.

Kevin does his best to make sure his models are comfortable during the entire process of the shoot. Whether it be an experienced model he connected with on Model Mayhem or a stranger who catches Kevin's eye, he approaches while on the street or out in public. Kevin clearly explains his goal and shows them a completed portfolio so they have an idea of how the finished images will appear.


'I love what I do and my passion for the male nude is expressed to each model. I want to show them in a way they have never seen themselves before. I am always fascinated when they tell me that can’t believe how great they look or they can’t believe the photos are of them.'

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