Monday, November 15, 2021

An Alternative Edge: Garrett by The Male Muse

'So many of the models I've worked with have really been muses for me. I chose The Male Muse as my title as it perfectly connects to my series of art nudes and portraits featuring the guys who have really inspired me as a photographer.'

I've often focused stories on the male muse.  Beyond just a model's look,  it's often their capacity to inspire, and their ability to assist in achieving an artist's vision during the creative process.  Working on FH, I've come to feel that I can often see the difference in a final image. The difference between a photographer shooting a good looking model, and a photographer shooting a model that inspires. I felt the passion and inspiration in the image above, and it was one of the reasons I reached out to Mark (The Male Muse) about featuring his work. 

You can feel when an artist see's beyond the flesh, beyond the face and beyond the body parts.  It's clear when the intent is capture a moment of beauty beyond the surface.  Capturing a hints of a model's personality, their emotions, and sometimes a hint of their soul.  When I was browsing through Mark's portfolio, I was struck at the mood he set through pose, and the way he lit and cropped his subjects. His goal seemed beyond capturing a model, but an acute moment of intimacy. 

Like many artist's drawn to the male form, Mark was initially drawn to the camera through a passion for shooting architecture.  While studying photography in college, Mark's artistic direction took a turn when he was given a portrait assignment.  It was then, Mark discovered his passion for working not with static shapes, but with people in front of the camera. 

'Around that time I also developed an interest in fashion, so I naturally combined this with what I wanted to do with my camera. I shot fashion in Los Angeles for about a decade and during these days I built friendships with many of my models. Having conversations with these guys, I learned many had experience shooting nudes for other professional photographers around the city, while some expressed interest or curiosity about doing the same.'

Some of the models began asking Mark if he would shoot them, many of them, requesting nude shoots for their portfolios.  After numerous sessions however, Mark quickly discovered that he had no real passion for shooting the conventional male figure study where the focus was on showcasing a perfectly lit and posed muscular body.  It seem to easy to make beautifully sculped physiques look perfect, and Mark wanted to create something different.

'It was my editorial nature with the camera  that drew me to find a different kind of male subject. I began searching for guys with more natural builds who also had more of an edge to them and preferably with something unique to bring to the session beyond their good looks.  I shoot the clean-cut, guy-next-door type, but I specialize in working with guys who have more of an alternative edge, so tattoos and piercings, facial scruff, shaggy hair are generally preferred.'

'If I have any type of philosophy behind the camera it would be to keep things as natural and relaxed as possible. I've had plenty of sessions where I've put a lot of thought in designing a space for my models, complete with props, backgrounds, etc., but now I really enjoy just working completely on the fly. 

The best thing in my book is to just showing up and improvising. To me its exciting to try and create some sort of editorial narrative, no matter how simple, with a space I'm completely unfamiliar with before a session. My favorite is working in a model's home, as not only does it make them more comfortable, but it can bring hints of who they are in that moment in time. Collaboration with the model is also very rewarding, and the best sessions are those where we have fun bouncing ideas off one another.' 

Mark first connected with Garrett after Garrett responded to a post Mark had put on-line looking for models.  Garrett readily admitted he had zero modeling experience, which for Mark, has never really been an issue. There first session was a standard fashion shoot.  Mark drove out to Garrett's neighbourhood and they shot a very 'Abercrombie & Fitch'  styled set of images on the local high school basketball field.  During the shoot, Garrett discussed his interest in a possible nude shoot. One was scheduled for the following week. 

'Garrett was the easiest guy to work with, super funny and very comfortable being nude on camera. Over time we had at least a half dozen sessions together and he really loved pushing the boundaries, which wound up with me shooting some of my first highly erotic imagery. If I have a favorite shot of Garrett, it would be the one of him standing in our bathroom looking over his shoulder at his reflection with half his body carved by shadows. (Pic of the Day). There's something both sensual and innocent in that shot'

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