'Nude is always a winner, adding something to that... adds another layer to the work'
Earlier this year, while working on a model feature, I was introduced to the work of Dominick Avellino. In the piece, I was sent on a few images of the model wearing a denim shirt, leather jack and white long johns. I loved the fashion combination Dominick chose. I also loved how the choice of clothing made the images stand out, adding an intriguingly seductive tier to my enjoyment of the images.
I headed off to see more of Dominick's work on his Model Mayhem page and feel in love with so many of his images. In almost all of them, there was a piece of clothing, long johns or underwear, a jacket, t-shirt or piece of fabric. Dominick's images, had me seeing the connection between fashion and the naked male form in an entirely different way. In most shoots featuring a naked model, fashion is an after thought. It is something used to tease or to temporarily cover, but only for a short time.
The fashion isn't generally that important. It's often used like a garnish. Great for initial presentation, but not really that important to the end game. Eventually, we know, whatever the model is wearing, will end up in a pile, just out of camera range. In Dominick's imagery, fashion is not a garnish. The Massachusetts photographer uses fashion not to cover, but to bring out layers and features in his models, aspects that might remain hidden, if they were totally naked.
'We all know you either you have it or don`t. When a model has a sense of style without any clothing, and, is able to project that that, it`s in his DNA. When a model puts on some form of clothing or gear, he`s than able to, create, using his own sense of style ( whatever that may be) a character and attitude he may not be able to achieve without it. Generally the models i`ve worked with, love the adventure and feel a bit more sexy doing this. Nude is always a winner. Adding something to that, adds another layer to the work.'
It probably won't surprise you learn that Dominick spent many years working as a fashion designer. As part of his work, he was often part of the photo shoots for his designs. Dominick saw the relationship between the model and photographer and how electrifying it could be during the creation process. Dominick's goal, is to recreate that same feeling and creative spirit during his own shoots.
That electrifying spark is certainly evident in so many of Dominick's images. To create this, Dominick's goal is to make his models feel comfortable, so the best his models has to offer, comes to light in the final images. It's interesting, but totally understandable, how using fashion, can help support this.
Not every model, can stand completely naked under the lights of a studio, and look totally at ease. Sometimes the smallest thing, even a teeny tiny pair of white briefs, can provide layer of comfort to allow a model to relax, letting their personality and emotions come to the surface. The briefs don't necessarily hide, or cover very much, but they can provide a model with something to grab and hold on to and focus on during a shoot.
'During the shoot, when all else disappears -except for what is in front of the camera- it becomes a kind a of meditation. One of the reasons why I'm continually drawn to this kind of work is being able to meet great people and work creatively and collaboratively with a single focus in mind: great images.'
I've never heard an artist use the word mediation before when describe working with a model. The more I thought about it however, the more I thought that it fits photographing the male form perfectly. I have written several times before, that being naked, doesn't necessarily expose anything about the model in front of the camera. I have profile many models who have shown literally every part of their body in images, but are hesitant to share much about who they actually are. A model's goal, even when naked, can be to hide, whereas an artist, is all about revealing.
This can lead to a kind of mediation, a back and forth between the artist's creative goals and a models emotional boundaries. Some artists, seem to see everything, their lens, cutting through any barriers or layers of protection a model has built around them. Dominick, through the relationship he is able to create, has clearly has learned to remove those layers, interestingly enough by adding, not removing clothing.
In so many features I have done, the image order is all based on reveal. As you scroll down the site, less and less clothing is featured in the images. Now, as you can see from the image below, I still like the big reveal. As breathtaking as the nude shot is below, one of my favorite images, of the same model, is the image I used as pic of the day. Although the model is exposing his beautiful naked backside, the exposure is much hotter, and far more visually interesting by the hat, plaid shirt and chaps that he is wearing. With Dominick's images, I am less interested in seeing the fashion removed, and more interested in seeing how he and his models, incorporate it into overall concept and look of the image.