Sunday, May 6, 2018

That Extra Kick: Mark Summers by Palm Springs Men

'Photography started by accident, A friend asked me if I would try my hand at real estate photography after seeing some of my vacation photos from Argentina, in which I concentrated of architecture...'

One of the questions I always asks artists that I profile is how they got started. Not just how they began taking pictures, but how and when their focus turned to the male form. It is fascinating to me how many respond they began in taking images of animals, tree's and buildings. We've all taken those shots, of our dog, our house, of that apple tree in full blossom. Most of our shots however, come out like a year book photo or those family shots taken by the photographer at Sears. Everything's there, yet there's clearly, something crucial that's missing

What's often missing isn't necessarily what's physically seen, it's more what's felt. When we first meet a person, and even when we see a tree or building, what we experience is a combination of what we see, along with with what we feel. These feeling are based on a multitude of factors and great artists attempt to incorporate some of these factors into their images. It might be a model's demeanor, their sense of humour, flow of movement or a specific personality trait. Photographer Benjamin Veronis loves to discover the essence and character of the subjects he shoots. Model Mark Summers describes this as providing an 'extra kick', creating images with an energy and spark that stand out within a model's portfolio.

Benjamin began his career in the fashion industry as a menswear designer. After moving from New York to Palm Springs a few years he was in need of both a new focus and a new career. It was then that his friend noticed those vacation shots from Argentina and Benjamin did his job as a real estate photographer. The images turned out great which led to him getting more and more work shooting real estate. Benjamin had always loved the male form, and through an interesting connection, he took the opportunity to give it a shot.

'I had a fantastic personal trainer who also was formerly a photographer, and we used to discuss photography during our training sessions. I eventually asked if I could photograph him, and he said yes and was very patient while I stumbled my way through that first shoot. I’ve always been a big fan of black-and-white photography from the Hollywood golden era, so I knew that I wanted to approach my photography with that style in mind. Luckily, those initial photos were pretty successful creatively, so that I’ve never second guessed myself and never looked back!

Since then, Benjamin's gone to photograph almost 200 guys. In his first year, he found most of his models through Model Mayhem, but today, most of his subjects, or people that discover his work, happen through his website or Instagram. For two years, Benjamin ran a successful gallery of his male photography in Palm Springs, but ultimately, he decided last December to close it due to the increased work he was getting for his work with male models for magazine and fashion related work.

It was Benjamin's Instagram that first connected him with model and Psychology and Criminal Justice student Mark Summers. Benjamin says the connection wasn't one he pursued, but more on that was actually handed to him but one of his followers who got in touch suggesting that Mark would make a great subject. Benjamin reached out and a couple of weeks later they had their first shoot lined up in Palm Springs. I noticed that 'extra kick' the first time I saw Benjamin's images, especially in his work with Mark. The erotic energy Mark exudes is intense and Benjamin beautifully captures both the visual and emotive within this series of images.

'It was a great day, very creative, he was looking to build a portfolio and so was very open to try any idea, and he has a fantastic body for almost any kind of photography. In the end I really tried to focus on classical shots playing with light and shadow on his very muscular body.'

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