Some long time readers might recognize studio MG photography's Christmas tree's from a holiday post back in 2010. (The Spirit of Giving) Mark shares that the tree's actually had a dual purpose. In addition to festive props for some fun holiday shots, given the tree's were thin and fairly compact, they could be stored in a closet from year to year. So.. some of the tree's ended up in the homes of others, including the living rooms in he and Mike's mothers homes.
I didn't ask if their moms knew the tree's now standing in their living rooms once had other things hung on, and beside their branches, but my guess is it wouldn't have mattered. Given Mark was one of the reason's behind my intro to Jeff, the artist I am featuring in the post below this one, I thought today a great day revisit some of my favorites from his holiday shots.
So the hot guy in the first image isn't Jacob. Jacob, and his incredible images, are the 14 shots that follow. The sexy face, eyes and arms belong in that first shot belong to Jeff, the photographer behind ShutterClickPhxwho so creatively captured Jacob. Whenever I feature an artist, I strive to provide a bit of back story, and given Jeff's back story includes a long and successful modeling career, the image, and Jeff's experience as a model, provide such beautifully essential perspective.
Most models, who move to the other side of the lens, bring their unique experiences to both their work, and their interactions with the men they shoot. There is not a model alive, who hasn't at one time or another, been on shoots, and worked with clients, agents and the odd photographer who treated them 'less than'. A face, a body, just product to be shot and used without considering that they're a important creative piece of the project and final images. Models know what it's like to stand their under studio lighting, often for hours wearing very little or nothing at all. Vulnerable, and dependent on others to ensure the hard work, and final images do them justice.
I could feel right away talking with Jeff that his experiences in front of the camera, were a part of how he now acted holding it. There was not only a respect for the men he shot, but that he formed relationships with them, friendships that go along with co-workers who value the contribution of the other. His goal is simple, to make the men he is shooting look amazing. Jeff has been a model most of his adult life. He had a very successful career, and lived and worked in Paris for 8 years. By the time he turned 35, Jeff had visited and worked in over 100 countries. When he retired from the industry a few years ago, Jeff picked up a camera, initially as a hobby and began shooting guys.
'I have always taken photographs… but up until 3 years ago, I was only shooting nature, landscapes, indigenous people, buildings, things like that. But when I started finding models to shoot, I think my history of being a model really helped me understand how I wanted to shoot the male form. I shoot fast. I know what I want, and how to get it. In fact.. if you look at all the models in my port… I’ve never done a shoot that lasted over an hour. I love shooting on a blank palette, no clutter… and perhaps only use a prop… but for the most part, less is more. And.. I only use natural light. All I really need is a window, and a blank wall… and we are good to go!!'
I first discovered Jeff's work as a photographer after seeing one of his images of Jacob in the spring of 2015. I contacted Jeff, but the timing didn't work out at the time. But... timing is a funny thing. Each of the last two years, when putting together the Utah Features, Jeff's name came up. In both of the last two years, Mark from studio MG photography credited Jeff with pulling together the three models who joined Mark, Gordon Nebeker and Mike Tossy on the shoot. After doing this years stories, I decided it was time to get in touch with Jeff once again. This time, the timing worked out perfectly. When I wrote the piece on the 2016 Utah shoot, I mentioned that I had previously done stories on both Nathan and Patrick, but thus far, had not done a piece on Jacob. Thanks to Jeff, I get to complete my hat-trick featuring the men of Lake Powell with this magnificent series of images.
I love how Jeff frames and shoots the models he works with. Jeff has what I call a 'body wave' shot that goes from the top of a models head down to about their knee's. The poses, shapes and curves Jeff captures are visually interesting, and unique, but also incredibly erotic, not because of what body part you see, but because of how the artist and model display, and present them. Jacob lights up in front of the camera, and has incredibly beautiful hazel eyes and a great body, and body part. Jeff doesn't just capture those individual parts, but skillfully uses his creativity to create a distinctly strong and sexy series of images.
'As for the models I collaborate with, I am very clear with my direction, and I think any model you ask that has worked with me, would tell you the same thing. I tell the model exactly what to do.. where to look… tilt of the head, very subtle changes between each frame. I’m very hands on, where I will place the models hand exactly where I want it. And as far as shooting nudes… I never set out to shoot nudes. I love shooting the male form, and as I mentioned earlier.. less is more when it comes to wardrobe. I do not like branding at all.. so I try to find simple underwear with very little printed on them. Not a huge fan of any patterns, unless I am shooting a head shot, or portrait.'
'With a head shot, I LOVE a touch of pattern… mainly plaids. I think you will find that consistency in my port. I never ask a model to get naked. I leave that completely up to them, if they want to shoot nudes, or implied nudes. It’s funny… before the shoot, many guys have expressed that they did not want to shoot nudes. But as the shoot went on… many of those guys really got into it, and the clothes started coming off. I just keep shooting… I leave it completely up to them, as far as they want to take it. I think the models I shoot, immediately fall into a comfort zone with me. I think they soon realize that I am the ultimate professional, and I take my work very seriously. They soon realize that I do not have any ulterior motive with my models. In this business.. I hear so many stories from models who have worked with photographers, who have pulled some sleazy moves. That never happens when I shoot… in fact, I’ve had a few models hit on ME while shooting, LOL. It’s all good. We always have fun with the shoots, and every one always has a great time.'
'As far as setting up a shoot with a model…. I have VERY little patience. If they are serious about shooting… let’s do it. I have never paid a model. Never. This is a hobby.. and if a model likes what they see in my port, and wants to add my photos to their port… then it’s a mutual collaboration. Nothing drives me more insane, than when I hit up a model who has 4 selfies in a dirty mirror.. and they reply with a ridiculous “rate” for shooting. Really? 4 selfies in a mirror, and you want 400.00 to shoot?? NEXT!! But I love finding guys on Model Mayhem with really weak ports. I see guys, and I know I can make them look amazing.'
'And then there is Jacob. I love this man. He also had a few, dated, weak photos in his port on Model Mayhem. I contacted him in Phoenix asking if he was interested in shooting. He was SO easy to set it up. No drama… a simple “Yes.. let’s do it” And we shot a day later.. and got incredible photos. Then a few days later he called me and said he just dyed his hair dark brown, and I said “get back here!! Let’s shoot you with dark hair” and so we did. 2 shoots within a week of each other, and 2 very different looks. We had so much fun shooting, and he is a total natural in front of the camera. He really needed very little direction. We both got into the groove, and we just went with it. I can tell you something else about Jacob…. he is one of the sweetest guys you could ever meet. Soft spoken… almost comes across as shy, but clearly he is not shy at all. He’s a great guy, and I’m proud to call him a good friend. We are planning another shoot out in Palm Springs the beginning of the new year.'