The first Warwick Rowers calendar was launched in 2009. It has since achieved global recognition as a fundraising initiative and a public awareness campaign, delivering products to around 80 countries every year and reaching more than 140 countries through its viral messaging. It has won a large number of awards for excellence, innovation and social impact, including twice being voted the UK Charity Calendar of the Year.
'Firefighter, rugby player, boxer and perfect gentleman.'
The first time I featured David's (Gentlemen Only) work, I felt a deep connection to his process. Although I love featuring well known and professional male models, I love exploring the stories of new models and artists and their experiences behind, and in front of, the camera. David's goal is very much the same. David loves looking in to the lives of everyday guys. Through his work and through his images, David's passion is to strip away not just the clothes, but the superficial layers, exploring emotions that are meaningful to the men that he is shooting.
These everyday guys, men you might see on at work, the street, at the gym, in a nightclub, or on the rugby field are the men David is most captivated by. Those men, the ones who are supportive of David capturing a 'little intimate snapshot into their lives' are the ones that became the creative spark for David's site Gentlemen Only. On the site, David tries when possible to share images of the men he shoots before they first step in front of the camera. (like Roman on the field in the image above) In addition, like FH, David shares, through story and commentary, those layers beneath the clothing and beneath the surface.
When returning recently to Gentlemen Only, my focus was Roman. David has worked with Roman twice and the results are beautifully displayed in three portfolios on the site. The images featured here are a sampling of some of my favorites from each of the three shoots and the stories from David below, are some of his comments that stood out to me. You can read more, and of course see more, of David's work with Roman on Gentlemen Only.
First Shoot: 'In the pics Roman sent me I could see that he had a great physique shaped by playing rugby, boxing and his work as a fireman, and he also seemed like he had quite a fun personality. What his pictures didn’t show was just what a true gent Roman was. Roman was the epitome of the perfect guy – tall, fit, heroic, intelligent, funny, polite and thoughtful.'
'Roman himself seemed oblivious to his charms (which made him all the more charming) and claimed he was doing the shoot as the opportunity to model for a professional shoot doesn’t come along that often, so he thought why not. He didn’t seem to be driven to do the shoot for any motive that men normally tell me about – coming out of a restrictive relationship, interested in modelling, want to impress a girl or girls – and so I take him at face value that he was just grabbing the opportunity to do something unusual.'
Second Shoot: A few years have passed since I last photographed 27-year-old Roman, and since then he has given up being a fireman due to moving and not being able to get enough firefighting work. He is currently employed by a printing company and still plays rugby and boxes. Just like my first shoot with Roman I found him a delight, and very easy to work with. In the two years since our last shoot Roman seems to have matured and is more grounded, perhaps because he lives with his girlfriend and the pair are settled and content.
'Although his rugby mates often google this site and bring up Roman’s images on drunken nights out, Roman doesn’t mind the attention and really enjoys being in front of the camera. He wants to do more modelling, especially if it helps him travel. If we can get our schedules to match up again I said I’d help Roman get a portfolio together which, of course, I’ll feature on this site if it happens.'