Thursday, June 23, 2016

Same Old Story? Andrew by The Third Eye

'Andrew had a Craigslist ad in the job/resume selection looking for any kind of work. He had recently lost a job. He responded right away with interest in modeling. He sent along an odd little photo that is still endearing to me to this day.'

Some of the creepiest stores to walk into are the ones that try too hard.  The happy hello's at the Disney Store, and the now non-existent Blockbuster.  Those hello's always...and still do, give me the chills.  You just knew the greetings weren't genuine, but instead, corporate orchestrated direction. Much Like the old Witch's welcome to Hansel and Gretel, the invitation is a facade and far more sinister, and financially motivate, than sweet.

Each time I begin a profile, I ask for stories. Stories about the shoot, the model, photographer and the experiences  of each in the creation of the images.  Most share the truth, to a degree.  Most want to be complimentary of the process, why wouldn't they? Sometimes sticking to the surface is, well just cleaner. Photography and modeling for many, go beyond just being a jobs. When your work is also your passion, often you dive deeper. To painful places, hitting nerves below the surface.

This particular story, starts with the image below, the first shot of Andrew that I saw. I love everything about the image. The window, the lighting,the pose and of course. Andrew.  I love his look, his directed gaze and beautiful body. I think I especially love Andrew's penis. The penis isn't a body part that usually draws me to a model or image.  It can in fact, more often than odd, be distracting. There is something so unassuming and natural about the state of Andrew's penis, not fluffed, not pumped up, nor morphed, as many photographers criminally do within the editing process. What was captured was Andrew, and the truth and beauty of the moment.

Given how natural and organic Andrew's images were, it may not be that surprising to hear, that the images, and the story behind them, began in a garden.  The Third Eye's Jack describes himself as totally unorganised all of the time.  Although he became interested in photography just a couple of years ago, it was his recent retirement that allowed Jack the time to focus, at least at first... on his garden.

'It started when my yard was in a master gardening tour. I began taking pictures and found that I enjoyed some of the creativity in producing unusual shots of the backyard. During that time I had several young men from Craigslist help me prepare the garden and yard. When we would finish working in the yard I started to ask them if I could photograph them.'

'At this time I was not photographing anyone in the nude. One was covered with tattoos and a very weathered young face and the other one actually looked all American. I enjoyed photographing them so much that I decided to rent a small space in downtown Dayton for the purpose of photographing models both men and women.'

At first, Jack wasn't exactly sure how to get models into his studio and in front of his camera. The solution...Craigslist. Jack looked over adds that people posted looking for work, not just for modeling, but men and women looking for any job or source of income. Nudes were not important to Jack in the beginning, shooting was the focus. Soon however, shirts, and eventually pants, started coming off as well. More than their clothes however, Jack had a knack for removing facade leaving just the truth, raw and painful as it sometimes could be, naked and bare in front of his lens.

Prior to retirement, Jack was a social worker..  His years working with people in need, honed both his caring and his listening skills. So many of the men and women who ended up in front of Jack's camera were looking for more than just quick cash, Many seemed in need of a purpose and a connection.  Many just needed someone to listen to their stories. Although Jack sought out both men and women to shoot, most of the models who accepted his offer ended up being men. Many were struggling, broken, or in the mid-point of a life battle.  

Modeling isn't the only job of course that attracts young people in need.  Nor is it the only job with people looking to exploit it.   Despite the sadness and pain in some of the stories Jack shared, there was also something hopeful and optimistic about the stories that he shared.  I think that hope, is actually Jack himself. A man of integrity, Jack takes his role as 'holder of the stories' seriously.  With each of the models and stories that he shared, respect was kept at the core.  Jack was careful in his story telling, honest, but respectful of every model's images, and especially, of their stories.   Jack went back and forth in how much to share, and how dark to venture and I thank him for trusting me to tell some of the storis.

In the feature below, you will be introduced to the images and stories of Redd, Georgio, Ronnie and Cory. Because it was Andrew that first led me to contact Jack, I wanted to use Jack's work with him as a visual prologue.  Andrew had just lost his job and was coming out of a bad break-up with his girlfriend.  In addition to helping him make some money, Jack, along with Redd  (who you'll meet in the piece below) helped Andrew out of more than a few tricky situations...  I have come to believe, the third eye, is actually not another eye, but an ear.  Listening, when done carefully and with intent, can lead you to see things, and people, in a different light, and through a different lens.

'Andrew has lived on his own since the age of sixteen.  He knew the meaning of " charm" and when to use it. We both have adult ADD. So for an hour there were no completed sentences or thoughts. We were somehow intuitive of what the other needed during the shoot. We immediately developed a kinship  When I explained about the interest in nudity, he wasn't sure. I suggested we go ahead with the shoot and we would only go to his comfort level. .Once his underwear came off he was a free bird and had minimal inhibitions.'

'As a photographer, I am concentrating so much on shooting the photos, that I often don't notice much about anatomy until I am editing. I think this made him feel comfortable. There was no difference in how we interacted with or without his pants. He did another shoot a short time later. He was so comfortable with being nude, that the photos really benefited. I think we began completing thoughts and sentences. As is often the case the 2nd shoot was more comfortable.'

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