Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Reyj Photography: Devoutly Christzen

'I told Tomas that I wanted him to think of the shoot as something for Rolling Stone. Not sure if I captured all of my images in that style, but I'm definitely happy with the way the images came out.'

Back in 2013, I was fortunate to have discovered the work of Austin photographer Rey of Reyj Photography. I quickly got in touch, and Rey about his work and a feature for FH.  The resulting feature, The Rules of Attraction focused on a model some might not see as having qualities normally associated with mainstream male models.  Rey's images of Tomas Christzen however were easily my favorites from his portfolio, and one of my all time favorite shoots to feature.

Rey's imagery, and his work with Tomas, really speaks to why I love working on FH.  Most models we see in magazines, print ads and campaigns, are chosen because someone thinks they'll appeal to the masses.  Although I understand this, it speaks more to commerce than to art, nor does it take into account an artist's ability to create a connection between their subjects, and those who enjoy and view the final images.  I connected to Rey's imagery with Tomas, the poses, the guitar, the facial expressions and his big beautiful, and a little sad and tired, blue eyes.

In returning recently to Rey's site, I came upon new images of Tomas I had not seen, nor included in my first piece.  Here, along with a few favorites from the first piece, are those images.  The first time, the narrative was mostly mine, and why I connected so much with Rey's shots of Tomas.  This time, I'll let Rey share his connection with his subject and the work.  If you want to read Rey's full account of his work with Tomas, check out his blog post HERE:

'I'm drawn to musicians and the beauty that they are able to create. In high school, there was this guy that used to live across from me, but everybody thought he was douchebag. It's funny because I think I was one of the few juniors in our wing that he actually liked and made a point of hanging out with him, which left everyone else confused.'

'He played the violin and would often practice in his bedroom, which was right across the hall from me. It was ridiculous how many hours I spent sitting on the floor outside of my bedroom listening to him playing piece after piece on his violin.'

'Music. It's one of the reasons why I went to college in Seattle and the reason why I came back to Austin after graduating. It's why I make a point to take in as many small venue concerts here in Austin. It's part of the reason why I occasionally wonder the streets of South Congress for the opportunity to listen and photograph street musicians. It's definitely the reason why I jumped on the opportunity to work with and photograph Tomas Christzen.'

'Working with the photography meet-up group, I decided to participate in the November 2012 photo shoot with Tomas based on his image. Of course, the theme of the photo shoot was "Mountain Man" based on his overall appearance, particularly his beard. However, once I found out that he was a musician and had brought his acoustic guitar, I completely abandoned the "Mountain Man" theme and focused on photographing him in his element. It definitely a good decision based on the images that I was able to get with him and his guitar.'

'There was an aura of moodiness throughout the photo shoot, which definitely played to my favor towards the end of the shoot. It was further highlighted by the fact that Tomas was comfortable in his own skin and didn't particularly care about what others thought about him. Throughout the shoot, I wanted to capture that attitude and moodiness as well as the beauty that I saw within Tomas.'

'Given that focus, I think that's why I favored portrait-like images and music photography-like images from this photo shoot. It definitely helped that I told Tomas that I wanted him to think of the shoot as something for Rolling Stone. Not sure if I captured all of my images in that style, but I'm definitely happy with the way the images came out.'

'A man and his guitar. This was one of the first images that I worked on from the series. When I captured the image of his impromptu performance during the photo shoot, I knew that I had captured a cool image, especially since I was able to capture his entire body and the width of the guitar. I also love the fact that it's an implied nude, but still has a sensuality to the image. His focus on the guitar, the fact that he lost in his world of music, and isn't paying attention to the camera definitely illustrates the fact that I was able to capture a moment in time.'

'I know that I do photography as hobby, an expensive one at that, but it's worth it when I am able to capture moments like these. I don't know if I have the skill and vision to make it as a professional photographer, but I am happy to be able to do it as a hobby and have experiences like this one. And I know that I always find something amazing about each shoot that I've participated in or held on my own, but the photo shoot with Tomas is definitely one that is dear to my heart. On top of that, I love that I was able to highlight some, what I think are, amazing portraits as well as some images that could have potentially be found in a music magazine - maybe. Either way, I am proud of the images that I was able to create with Tomas and am grateful to have had that experience.'

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