Something is happening all right, and it occurs every time I see actor KJ Apa. It took me a few scenes to get the appeal of Riverdale's new Archie Andrews. There seemed to be a bit of 'playing' in the pilot with how 'orange' to make his hair, and what tone best fit the character. But.. by the time he was sweaty, walking down the street giving us a glimpse of those abs, we were all hooked.
The producers clearly also see KJ's appeal, and how wonderfully he glistens when sweaty. The show's second episode also featured a sweaty Archie, tossing and turning in his grey boxer briefs in bed, and running through the streets of Riverdale. As long as Archie continues to sweat, I'll be there. It helps that KJ is a great actor, and thus far the shows dark 'Twin Peaks' style of storytelling is incredibly engrossing.
Photographer David Ehrlich's comment above is exactly the reason why I wanted to feature his couple shots with Alex and Ken. I have written in previous pieces how rare it is to find male couple images that I really love. It feels to me, that the motivation and focus of many photographers shooting two men together is incredibly narrow. It is so often a photo of two erect penis', that don't really need to have a body attached. If the model's face is shown, it is usually depicted as angry, almost crazed, like some starving animal on the nature channel, as it's about to devour it's prey.
Yes, humans have sex, and primal attractions are an great and incredibly important part of attraction. When two people however, become an actual 'couple', there are hopefully, so many other emotions weaved in. It is those emotions that David so brilliantly captured within this shoot. Alex and Ken both beautifully display a range of emotions from an initial attraction, through incredible passion and desire. There are also seem weaved in moments of pain, and even regret. I wondered if there was any symbolism by having Alex on the pedestal in some images. In some moments, there seem to be differing desires as to why each man is with the other
Both models exude such strong emotion through pose and facial expressions, all perfectly captured by David. I also love all the themes David was able to weave in. Through pose and fashion. David captures both a strong physical, and an equally powerful emotional connection between his models. I also loved the weaving in of cmnm and a bit of fetish, with the addition of the rope. David believes that most photographers shoot what catches their eye, and holds their attention, and that for him, producing interesting images of men in a variety of poses and locations is exciting for him. This excitement, beautiful comes through in his images and is contagious for the viewer.
'I enjoy capturing the full range of male portraits including fashion, casual, underwear, suggestive nudes, and full nudes. I work with both individuals, couples, and small groups. The goal with each portrait is to convey something about the subject and perhaps reveal a bit about their true personality. Additionally, I strive to create images that viewers will want to look at for an extended time or will pull them back to view multiple times.'
David's passion for shooting started early after his father introduced him to developing photos in a darkroom. At age 13, he had his first camera and was beginning his artistic journey. Over the award winning photographers 30 years shooting the male form, it has been the interaction between model and photographer that has kept him motivated and the work continually engaging. David adds that providing support to new photographers and models is especially rewarding.
'For models, I watch how they interact with the camera and usually within one or two shots I get a sense of the model being a natural or the session will take some more work on my part from the posing perspective. Models with confidence and a sense of how they want to project themselves to the world are generally the strongest subjects. If a model has spent a lot of time doing selfies, that is often a good sign they will be more natural in front of my camera. For photographers, one trick is can they see the bigger picture of a shoot beyond the immediate pose of the model. Can they see lighting, camera settings, slight tweaking of the model for pose and expression, and tell a story with their image? To do all that naturally and quickly while working with a new model can be overwhelming for many.'
For David, the best piece of advice he can give is to practice and more time taking photos. Although technical expertise is important for a photographer, David knows that it is equally important to have fun, and to be able to make a personal connection with both the model, and the concept that you're shoot during the shooting process. 'If everyone is relaxed, yet focused and engaged in an end result, the ability to create artistic and powerful images can be more easily obtained.' en the photographer and subject. For me, it can take away from the enjoyment I get from an image.
For me, David's comment above is incredibly important. I often wonder if it is something many photographers, especially new ones, don't spend enough time cultivating. There are many well executed images of hot naked men on the net, but I can strongly feel a 'distance' or 'coldness' if there is not a connection between artist and subject.
'The models often look to the photographer to take some form of control during a shoot. While this is appropriate, I also ask the models to be equally engaged and provide input into what is working and what we might do differently. Some of my best images are a true collaboration with the subject. If I wanted to work independently of others, I would choose landscapes and not portraits.'
David's connection with both Alex and Ken began with individual shoots with each. David typically likes to shoot a model solo prior to pairing them up with another model. David also hosts various group events where they may be as many as 5-10 models in the studio. During these group shoots, models get to experiment with couple shoots and gauge their comfort level with posing with another. It is also a great way for David see who gets along, and enjoys posing with each other. This can be a great way to see the chemistry between models and who might work together for certain concepts and themes. It is also interesting for David to see models with very different looks together, sometimes it's doesn't work, other times, they photography so beautifully together.
'I try to go with the flow and allow the shoot to take me somewhere I might not have planned. I have worked with strong planners, but my approach is more to do basic planning (eg. have the right equipment and confirm time and location details with all involved), and then together try to be spontaneous and allow art to be formed. I do provide sample poses as a starting point which often helps the model get comfortable. -- or ideally they might bring an outfit or prop that will work well with their look. I don’t try to force creativity, rather, I am often pleasantly surprised by the results when things just happen naturally.'
For me, David's images of Alex and Ken provide perfect illustrations of the values that guide his work. The connections, between David and his models, and between Alex and Ken are beautifully evident in every image. David generously provided me a great selection of images from this shoot and it was difficult to narrow down which images to choose. I was originally going to include this piece with yesterday's post which introduced David's work to FH readers, Air Pressure, but with so many exceptional captures, I didn't want to dilute the beauty and uniqueness of pose and image.