Wednesday, January 4, 2017
M Kulisch Photography: The Josiah I See
You all know how important 'story' is my presentation of an artist and models work. My joy in continuing FH derives from learning about the creative process and the experiences of both model and photographer. Every story and story comment is important in putting the pieces together. Some photographers and models prefer to share the surface story, basically the facts that played into the shoot coming together. Most though, put up with my questions and give some detail to help me assemble a story that I hope in most cases, does justice to the images I am presenting.
Sometimes however, I encounter a model or photographer who wants to use their FH feature, to go a little deeper, to share something about themselves, their lives and the journey that let them to shoot I am featuring. Model Samuel Boux was one of those artists, and the model that first introduced me to the work of photographer Matt Kulisch. I was first sent images of the model and musician from Chris Teel back in 2010. Over the next couple of years I featured close to a dozen pieces featuring both Samuel's songs, and his modeling work with several different photographers.
Samuel wanted to go a bit furthers, and in Métamorphose, Samuel shared his experience of transforming from a loner and outcast to the more confident and outgoing person he had become. As part of that story, I was lucky to be able to include many of Matt's shots as part of the story. The was tranquil beauty in Matt's images. Part of this stemmed from the natural light Matt used, but the largest part, was Matt's focus. It was clear from the images, that Matt wanted to capture more than the surface, looking at, then past Samuel's beautiful body to the essence and soul beyond it.
That same focus, and that same beautiful natural light were exquisitly present when I recently discovered Matt's work with actor and model Josiah Blount. In addition to his work as a model, Josiah's acting has led to appearances on television shows including Suburgatory and The Mentalist, and on film in The Conjuring, The Gambler and Ted 2. I loved Josiah's look, his expressive face and beautiful eyes. I love the long lean lines the 6' 2" model created and story that he and Matt were telling. I didn't initially know where the story was going, but I knew I wanted to continue visually enjoying every chapter created.
Instagram is a site I joined awhile ago, but only recently have begun to enjoy it on a regular basis. I'm glad I started making regular visits, as it was on Matt's Instagram page, that I saw his images of Josiah. When I contacted Matt, he welcomed my request to feature their work together, and even let me know, that my request to showcase his work with Samuel over six years ago, was his first request to be featured on a website. Given my 'first' theme for this year, it was fitting to wait and feature Matt's work in the New Year. Mine may have been the first request, but it certainly wasn't the last and Matt's work has been seen on many sites showcasing the male form including Fashionably Male
and Summer Diary Project.
This set of images were shot this past September in Los Angeles, and was Matt's second collaboration with Josiah. The original editorial title was going to be How Deep the Father's Love, based on the words tattooed on Josiah's chest. Josiah shares the words are the title of old hymn and that he got it when he was 16, knowing putting a reminder of God the Father's Love on his body was a tattoo he was sure he would never regret getting. Ultimately however, Josiah and Matt ended up shooting many images in which the tattoo was not visible and the focus became more expansive in scope.
It was Instagram again that first connected Matt with Josiah. Matt reports much of his work and finding of new models now come this way. Matt says that many agencies and casting agents are using Instagram, and are are encouraging models and actors to do so as well. The relationship began as only an Instagram established one can, with both Matt and Josiah 'liking' each other's work. Being this was their second time shooting, this one was easy to organize. Josiah already had a plan for location and styling with Matt providing a concept sheet, some mood boarding, inspiration shots, and a few keywords and to help guide the vision.
'I would characterize our shoot as freeing, comfortable, and cozy. Matty is so good at making his models feel safe and open. I never feel like it's too structured and it's lovely not putting on a mask of any sort. When we shoot I am my goofy, talkative, thoughtful self. Which I think helps capture my essence in pictures! I think Matty is so wonderful at capturing specific moods in his shoots. For this shoot I think he wonderfully captured the cozy, laziness of a Saturday morning at home. The shoot reminds me of being in my apartment with a loved one. I love his work!'
That Saturday morning at home feel Josiah mentioned was certainly felt by me. There was certainly a relaxed, peaceful and sensual feel that radiated from each of the images, and the story they created. There was something reflective, especially with Josiah' eyes and facial expressions in many of the shots. I love how Matt captured the morning sun cascading over Josiah's skin, and some of the small choices that made the story feel so authentic.
I noticed some of the underwear looked worn and torn and was sure they were made to look that way for the shoot. I was wrong. The torn, vintage looking briefs are actually gtp, H & M. and the worn look, the result of much use. Matt wanted the clothing used to look comfy and relaxed, more domestic that sexual. When not trying to impress anyone, we usually go for 'comfy' over 'sexy' and most guys don't usually hang around at home drinking Earl Grey in a thong, or our favorite pair of lucky come hither undies.
'Obviously it was Josiah's hair and freckles that drew me. In my experience, gingers comes in one of two stripes: (1) oddly incongruous or (2) drop-dead gorgeous. There's really no middle area... I'm sure you can agree that Josiah fits into the latter category.'
'It's strange, too, because I'd say that my work is oddly incongruous as well--with a lot of the other male form photography I see in the world. I'm not about hard angles or muscles or bravado. My images are not about money-shots, literal or otherwise. The kind of perfection most male form photographers espouse, while often very pretty, feels perfunctory and empty to me. Not because there's anything wrong with possessing a perfect body. But because most ideal forms empty people or experiences of their context. While I do think my work has a signature softness to it, in the end, I want Josiah to be Josiah. At least the Josiah I see, the Josiah I'm presenting to you. It's a trick, of course. But it's a trick I'm aiming for every time I shoot with someone: Josiah is not yours, he's not anyone's, but I hope to make images that entertain the possibility of desire and simultaneously withhold it.'