'You know what it says on Love Potions... shake well but don't tell.'
For many, Christmas isn't Christmas without a viewing of It's A Wonderful Life. Although I like the movie, my favorite Jimmy Stewart Christmas movie is actually 1940's The Shop Around The Corner, which helped inspire the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan film You've Got Mail in (1998) Jimmy Stewart is sort of Mr. Christmas, which is why he was the subject of my 2012 12 Days post. (Wonderful Life)
Stewart was in yet another Christmas movie that I just added to my favorite Christmas movie list, Bell, Book and Candle. The 1958 film, co-starring actress Kim Novak, was filmed just after Stewart and Novak appeared on screen together in Vertigo. They make a great combo, and I think their chemistry is even more apparent in this film. Bell, Book and Candle is sort of a holiday hybrid film, combining both Christmas, with a dash of Halloween together in one fun movie.
Novak plays Gillian, a witch living in an apartment under Shep's (Stewart), and casts a spell causing his phone not to work, causing the book publisher to come a knocking to use her. The movie begins at Christmas, with Gillian hanging out and partying with her friends, (coven) played by Elsa Lanchaster and Jack Lemmon.
The movie is memorable for many reasons, two my favorites include Pyewacket, Gillian's cat who steals every scene. Then there's Gillian's Christmas tree which I am sure many at the time tried to replicate in their living rooms. A wonderful winter movie, with Christmas, witchcraft and some great performances.
For my family, Christmas Eve meant being being able to unwrap one present, one package lying under the tree. Seemed a perfect time to feature the beautiful packages under photographer JW Johnson'smany Christmas trees. Now JW didn't start out planning to shoot hot naked men falling out of Santa's sack, but then again, life's most interesting journeys are rarely ones we plan. JW was a fire fighter, who supplemented his income, and his creative impulses, by starting his own photo-finishing business. JW soon added a two room studio and began a new career as a studio photographer shooting portraits.
The Missouri photographer's work was quickly noticed by some local cycle and ski dealers and JW quickly became the 'go to' guy for commercial glamour poster and calendar work, combining stunning male and female models with sleek and sexy motorcycles, jet skies, antique cars and trucks and fire engines. Calendar work meant, that depending on what month that was being shot, JW's studio could be filled Valentine decorations, pumpkins and withes, stuffed Easter bunnies and of course a Christmas tree's and lots of presents in need of unwrapping.
One of the things that always resonates for so many each Christmas, is the emotion and nostalgia that arises when unpacking the Christmas ornaments. Most of us have boxes still containing blue lights, gold garland, thread balls and ornaments given to use years ago by aunts, uncles and grandparents. It's hard to throw these things out, and although we don't put them up any longer, they stay in the plastic totes year after year. Given JW has been shooting models and calendars for over 30 years, you know there were decades of retro ornaments and Christmas fads that made there way onto his calendars.
I am always looking for great holiday shots and last week, while searching for 'sexy Santa's', came upon a shot of an adorable model wiggling his naked body out of a Santa Sack. The shot was on Pinterest, and JW's logo had me tracking him down. The model in the shot was Tim, and when going through JW's large selection of Christmas images, I loved the 'under the tree' theme JW used in various creative and color ways in many of his holiday shoots.
JW's glamour and calendar work spurred him start shooting nudes on the sides. JW began shooting mostly female models, often on motor cycle, or on the side of a fire truck. Soon, male models were added to JW's repertoire, just about the same time the beefcake craze hit. JW says his work with male models just took off, surpassing his work with female models to the point they became his primary focus.
'I got started with the Christmas theme while shooting some of my calendar models on the holiday themed portrait backdrops and it just snowballed from there, pun intended. :) While I was shooting the calendar and poster work, I was shooting guys and gals evenly, but afterwards the work with guys just flat out took over, and I began shooting guys in greeting cards, magazine layouts and covers, and websites, plus calendar companies started asking for my work and then poster companies as well.'
That same nostalgia you experience when looking through old Christmas decorations is beautifully seen and felt in JW's images. Some of the images featured here were taken at various times over the last decade plus. JW also sent along his most recent holiday themed shoot featuring his work with Kris, shown in the three shots above, which were shot just last week. JW shares that Kris really got into the Holiday theme, adding another bulging package underneath the tree.
Although JW has worked with professional models, many of the models he shoots with are actual fire fighters, and first time models he has found and connected with. JW's images have appeared in Mens Workout, Exercise For Men Only, Instinct and Blue Magazine. Although the calendar and greeting card business is not as lucrative as it once was, you can see a large selection of the models JW worked with on his site HERE: JW also a glamour site (Raging Sensations) that features many of his calendar and poster images from the mid 90`s when I was shooting the fire service.