Last month, I loved featuring photographer Calder Van Gogh's incredible shots of the delicious Rush Firestone. (A Defender's Debriefing) Although Rush had not appeared on FH before, a piece of material he was holding...had made a previous appearance. I didn't notice it right away, but Calder informed me after I posted the story, that the checkered cloth Rush was holding, played a role in one of my previous posts featuring his work.
'I sleep in the nude but I pull the sheets up.'
If any of you clicked the link back to my piece featuring Calder's images of Julian, (The Backyard) you may have noticed that same grey checkered cloth draped in front of, and around Julian's alluring loins. I initially thought it looked a little like a piece of a tablecloth, one made specifically for picnics or a picnic table. Certainly both Rush and Julian would an appetising picnic spread, but I was off on where the checkered cloth had come from.
For many models, when posing totally nude, it can often be comforting to have something to focus or hold on to. (Besides the obvious...) Much like a security blanket, holding a prop or piece of fashion can make it easier to stand there. Sometimes the prop's use is to conceal the goods, other times it is not used to cover, but can provide balance, or just to give a splash of color to an image.
Almost all of the men Calder shot with the cloth were doing full nudes, but sometimes it's nice to build up to the full Monty with some tease and implied shots. Instead of having his models put their hands over their junk, the checkered cloth has now made it's way into many of Calder's shoots over the years, starting with Julian's backyard shoot. The material was actually a sheet, one that Calder had used when he worked for a few years doing professional massages. Calder tore up the sheet, but it was brought back to life in Julian's capable hands.
'It became a bit of a "running joke" ... it was soft and fuzzy and incredibly ugly! haha... so at group shoots, the other togs would give me a "what the F are you doing?" look. But it was just a random prop and also sorta' a way to cover the "important parts" on the guy.'
Whether accidental, or with thought and intent, the checkered sheet isn't the only prop or personal item that I have seen weaveded within photos of the male form. Some photographers like to make their mark by including important or personal items like books or knick knacks into shoots. Some artists like to ensure that a certain painting or art piece makes it way into the background of a shot. .
Some artists even use fun items ranging from stuffed animals to rubber duckies into their shoots with many different models. Often the prop has a purpose, other times, it is simply to help the model feel more comfortable during the process. Pets also make their way into shots, sometimes planned, but with cats...usually not
I love seeing how each of the models use the sheet, and incorporate it within their shoot. It also provides for interesting and unique visuals. Some models hold in front of them, others like Manzo, wrap it around them, and I love how Gaston, creatively ties it around his body. Rob initially uses the sheet to conceal, making the ultimate reveal, even that much more impressive.