'No one can look back on his schooldays and say with truth that they were altogether unhappy.'
Old abandoned spaces are on the top of my list of favorite locations in which to enjoy images of the male form. Over the last 10 years on FH, I have featured artists and models who have shot in abandoned buildings, houses, farms, steel mills, cotton mills, coal mines, churches, electric and water plants and even an old historic abandoned bank. Although I have featured images shot in a school before, I believe this is my first time featuring a shoot in an old falling-apart abandoned school. .
Long ago closed, but not long ago forgotten. With the exception of our homes, I think schools remain one of the most significant buildings from our past. Our days in school, make up a huge piece our emotional history, with a range of memories from joy, friendship through stressful days and brutally raw terror and pain. Almost every milestone in our early lives occurs during our school age years, and not matter what experience occurs, both the good or bad, are flanked by homework, classes and school.
The last two times that I featured the work of Virginia photographer Doug Vetter, abandoned houses served as the location for his work with the stunningly beautiful Felix, (A Window) and the hunky ginger Cameron. (A Craving for More) I loved the location, and the way Doug so perfectly blended model and pose with lines, corners and structure of the old home. When Doug shared his work with Nick Anthony with me, it was his shots of the 25 model in an old abandoned school house that grabbed my attention and sparked my visual imagination.
The shoot at the old school was actually the third time Doug and Nick had worked together. Every year, Doug visits an private cabin in the Endless Mountains in Pennsylvania. On these long weekend getaways, Doug tries to connect with a model or two to join him to shoot while there. Four years ago, through Model Mayhem, Doug contacted Nick who lived nearby, and arranged for him to visit for a shoot on Doug's last afternoon there. 'Nick was extremely friendly and quite comfortable posing nude. We only had about two hours to shoot, but we got some great images around the property and enjoyed our time working together.'
'Three years passed before Nick was available again for a follow up shoot, He visited me in Virginia and we shot at an outdoor location during twilight on the way home from the airport. Nick had bulked up a bit, but still had that easy smile and relaxed attitude I remembered from our first shoot. We got right back into a comfortable working rhythm as if no time had passed. The next day, we spent some time working in my home studio. After we did some straightforward portraits, Nick was game for a complicated sequence involving paint splattering; and even though the paint turned out to be quite cold on his bare skin, Nick was patient and supportive and we got the result I was hoping for.'
If you look closely, you can see I weaved in a couple of favorite images from their first two shoots at the top of the post. The remainder of the shots, come from the third shoot at the school a few months after the shoot Doug described above. Doug did share some of their studio work, and some of the body painting images, but there were so many incredible images from their location work, I have put them aside to feature in a separate piece in the future.
Doug had previously worked at the abandoned school in central Pennsylvania in a workshop he participated in with a photographer friend of his, David Ehrlich of Images Male (whose work I have previously featured HERE:) After getting permission from the owner, Doug arranged a shoot and met up with Nick at the location.
'We were able to spend a full afternoon shooting there in natural light. The school is a great location with lots of unique rooms, hallways, and stairwells featuring various textures and colors. I particularly enjoy creating compositions that place the model within an interesting environment, highlighting the visual contrast between the space and the color and texture of the model’s body; while connecting the model to the environment by having him physically interact with it, or embracing the shadows cast by the ambient light. It was an exceptionally satisfying and productive weekend, and I am looking forward to working with Nick again in the future.'
The school is conveniently located along the way to the private cabin Doug visits, so after shooting at the school, they continued on to the cabin and spent the next day shooting around the property, looking for images that would complement those from three years ago. The shower images near the top come from this second part of the shoot. Once again, Doug masterfully blended model and pose with location. One of the reasons I love abandoned spaces for locations is the ability of a talented artist, and a young energized model, to bring life, and a buildings rich history, back to a space.
Doug' images of Nick, especially in the school's gym and classrooms, evoke thoughts of the hundreds of students who passed through those spaces. You can just imagine the memories they hold. Memories of school dances in that gym, not to mention all the great wins and great losses for the school's athletic teams. Memories of classes, both stimulating and boring, note passing, head bobbing, test taking and staring at crushes sitting a few rows ahead while sitting at those uncomfortable wooden desks. No matter what our academic and social experiences were, school memories are universal for most. The location, and Doug's images of Nick within, capture so many of pieces of these memory fragments that continue to impact our lives, well into adulthood.