This man was rather fascinated in the way I was able to abstract some of his personal possessions. He also had some very insightful comments upon his own shots which either re-enforced my own observations of gave me a different angle to consider. Most of the models I have worked with so far see their shots as ‘pretty’ pictures it would seem but it was most enjoyable to have a discussion with the model about the symbolism and connotations of his own shots.
(Fig. 1) Although this is an incredibly simplistic image something about the gradation of tones really appeals to me and the model noted that green is a very calming colour so it could be why this shot has such a serenely banal aesthetic
(Fig. 2) This image has a very vintage feel to it with the scratches on the crystal and dust painted into the windowsill. It has an underwater feel problem due to the aquamarine colour cast. The object itself represents healing and the power of crystals, yet the ship itself is more than a little phallic so it combines the spiritual and also the carnal. The soft focus and film grain create an ethereal mood.
(Fig. 3) The challenge to abstract the representation of a piano was not an easy thing to achieve. I still don’t think it is abstracted enough for my taste. but the overall composition and colour tones make for a gentle shot that hints at his musical capabilities
(Fig. 4 & 5) I started on the course to this project looking at masks and the way we hide ourselves in our day-to day lives so it was particularly fascinating to see his collection of tribal masks. This tradition enabled braves & elders & shaman to leave their earthly persona’s temporarily to put on masks of gods and spirits with abilities their corporeal bodies did not possess. This is a fascinating metaphor for the way we are forced, as LGBTQ people, to hide behind a mask of respectability in order to fit in to a less than caring society.
(Fig. 6) This is my favourite from the masks as it is nicely abstracted so that all we are left with is the sensuality of the lips. They may be carved form wood and painted, but the lurid red light hints at a deep animalistic sensuality.
(Fig. 7) My attempt here to reproduce The Death of Chatterton has mixed results. I really like the simplicity of the composition, with the smooth sensuality of the green leather contrasting with the roughness of the wood-chip wall. His frame is strong and masculine – no callow pale youth here. And I have been able to retain his anonymity without the need to result to decapitation. The model himself appreciated the composition, but was concerned he did not look toned enough as a model. I like the fact this shows how rough and virile the older male can look, but he felt he looked his age in the shot, so I have to respect his point of view.
(Fig. 8) The simplicity of the room with bare walls and geometric sheets make for a nicely uncluttered composition. His pose is relaxed and inviting with hints again at the tradition of the reclining female nude. The pose however does not dilute his masculinity and while his manhood takes centre stage of the image it is only part of the naked form rather than a threat to the viewer. It has been mentioned this looks like a post-coital photograph, yet I feel due to the passionate red colour cast it feels more pre-coital. This is a problem for me as I am trying to keep the suggestiveness of the nude away from my images in preference for the innocence of the naked portrait instead.
(Fig. 9) There are several versions of this shot with differing intensity of colour cast. Some more complimentary to the skin tone & others more cinematic in feel. There is a wonderfully David Lynch feel to this version. I had to shoot it several times looking for just the right framing. Indeed we had to shoot it again in the evening as I was unhappy the van parked outside the window was too visible. The model felt this added to the authenticity of the shot, but I found it distracting. In the end my version won out as the original was too out of focus due to slow shutter speed down to poor light levels. The triangular composition of the shot leads the eyes across the details which while few all add to a simple pleasing composition. The lighting is at the perfect level to be able to conceal his face yet have him looking directly at the camera; while we cannot see his eyes we know he is aware of us regarding his unashamed nakedness. There is a challenging sexuality to the atmosphere. The light also accentuates and compliments his physique – there is no denying his masculinity which he wears as a challenge to us the viewer. Both myself and the subject were suitably thrilled to capture this shot which I feel is one of the strongest images of the project so far. It sets a very high standard for me to achieve in future shoots.