'A lot of the agencies new guys, most who had never modeled before, would put on the ‘zoolander’ model face, or try to pose like they thought a model should pose like. I didn’t like that at all, so as a dancer i suggested maybe just jump up and down a few times to try to relax.'
FH readers know how much I love a holiday, and last Halloween one of the themes I explored was the male witch. (HERE:) I spent a lot of time trying to find great images and during one of my searches, this one googling 'naked men with brooms', I came upon the image of Andrew (above) from artist Anton Z Risan. Although the broom in question looked more like a work broom than one designed for flying through the night, with the naked Andrew holding it while suspended in the air, it had a haunting fell that beautifully fit the theme.
The multifaceted London based artist is not only a photographer, Anton's resume also includes work as a director, architect, actor, dancer and model. It was actually Anton's work as a model that brought about the recent connection. While exploring his tumblr portfolio, was those hot men in the air that again drew my focus. At first I thought they must be edited images, the models look so still while suspended, without the usually visual signs of exertion most of the rest of us would be showing when jumping up and down. I was curious about Anton's process for the shots, and what sparked his interest in the theme.
'The jumping theme was a funny one, and the main reason it came about was me trying to figure out how to best capture the newbies natural beauty of the model boys from the agencies that never done shoots before. A lot of them would put on the ‘zoolander’ model face, or trying to pose like they thought model should pose like. I didn’t like that at all, so as a dancer i suggested maybe just jump up and down a few times to try to relax. I would shoot them while they did, and when we looked over the images, we really liked the result.'
'As the guys would concentrate so hard on jumping that they would forget ‘fake-posing’ as such. I would ask the guys to stand natural straight up, and just jump with the feet/legs, while keeping the arms / legs and face natural and relaxed hanging down. And as you probably noticed, it turned into a bit of a theme, as both the agencies and the models themselves loved the effect ;-)As a photographer you just have to be a bit patient, and fast with your finger to capture it well, i would say you get one good out of maybe 5 shots.'
'I remember a nude shoot I did in Epping forest with photographer David Zanes who's now based in New York. I was hanging upside down with arched back high up in a tree completely nude. There was a women, who didn't see me up there, walking past with her three dogs and stopped and started chatting with David for like 10 min.... I was in so much pain from the tree bark lol but it turned out a great shoot so all worth it, and it gave us a good laugh after.'
Anton by David Zanes
Anton brings so much of his other talents into his work a photographer. His experience as a dancer supports his work with pose, movement and rhythm. His time as actor (Anton appeared in the Bruce La Bruce film Raspberry Reich) helps with the creation of drama and character and getting the most from a moment. Anton's architecture background helps with lines and design, and as you can see from the shot above, Anton knows what it's like to pose in the nude, even when up in the air. Anton says that being naked was never a big issue for him, and his relaxation also helps many of the models he's shooting.
'As a dancer I did a few naked shoots, and didn’t mind it at all. Maybe it's because I’m Swedish and nudity is not a big issue up there. I mean every summer we would go to a country house somewhere in a forest, and all run into the lake naked to cool off in the summer heat. I also have quite a relaxed, jokey kind of personality, which makes the guys relax even more, and showing mutual respect of what each guy is comfortable with as well as showing them the work during the shoot ensures a happy outcome for all parties.
'As a former model myself I think it makes it a bit easier to anticipate also what a model might be feeling, whether it’s a nude shoot or a fully clothed / underwear shoot.' For a lot of the models that I shot was it was their first proper shoot ever. Some of them were very nervous at the start, but after some joking around, and me clicking away they would all start to relax and make a good shoot out of it.I think it also helped that for the majority of the shoots it would be just me, the camera guy, and the model itself. No camera crew, no makeup artist, no stylist etc, so basically no pressure. We could take as long or as little time as needed for each shoot to get the best result out of it.'
Selvin & James
Anton has always had a passion for photography, even back when he was a professional ballet dancer, he would always be photographing his fellow dancers. On or off the stage, on tour, Anton was always fascinated by dancers bodies and the shapes and forms they could so beautifully create. At 25, Anton decided it was time to stop dancing professionally and explore what other opportunities might be out there for him. A lot of his dancer friends began getting serious injuries, and this became one of my signs that it was time to look for another career.
David & Diego
Although Anton initially thought about photography, with almost everyone having a decent camera these days, he though finding work might be challenging. Instead, Anton pursued architecture, when had similar elements to photography, most of all, allowing him to tap into his creative side. After graduating as an architect, Anton found steady work, and a steady income. This allowed him to afford his first really good camera and lens. Now... all he ne)eded was something, or someone, to shoot.
As luck would have it, Anton had a good friend who ran a male model agency called AMCK. Anton's friend mentioned that they were always looking for test shots of new models. In his first year shooting new models, and only on weekends, when he wasn't working full time as an architect. Anton guesses he shot close to 150 guys in and around London. 'It's a fascinating hobby indeed, and I love every second of it.' You can check out more of Anton's work, and some of those 150 up and coming models on his tumblr HERE: You can also check out Anton's first book (atelier a-z photography on Blurb HERE: