Posts by fa4m:

    With Leonard Lewis

    May 7th, 2013

    Carey Untitled #1 by Leonard Lewis

    FA4M Mag interviews Leonard Lewis.

    FA4M: You still work with film, which is becoming more and more a lost medium. Why?

    The images presented on FA4M are some of my older images shot on film. I now shoot digitally almost exclusively but I do actually prefer the look of film. To me film and digital are two completely different entities and require somewhat different skill sets. A film camera is primarily a manual instrument. A digital camera is a computer with a lens. Film produces images that are more similar to what the human eye sees. Digital has a crispness, a sharpness, due to the images being reproduced by minute square pixels. It also tends to saturate the colors more intensely than what the eye sees depending on the camera. Film images are composed of small round dots or grain, which creates a softer image, closer to the average human’s vision. But as technology advances, digital is addressing these issues and matching film in many ways.

    Digital saves money in film and processing expenses, as well as many hours in transportation to and from labs, delivering contact sheets or film to clients, and most importantly it gives the photographer much more creative control over the final image. It saves time in this ever increasingly fast-paced world. Clients and editors want to see the results ASAP.

    Although I shoot mostly digitally, I still do most of my work manually. I take my light readings, focus, and light balance calculations by hand or in my head. I have become skilled at this from so many years of shooting film. Digital cameras will do most of this for the user.

    There is much less flexibility with film. You have to get the shot right the first time or spend many hours and a great deal of money and energy to alter the image. With digital I am now able to retouch my images myself instead of relying on a second party with whom one needs to build a relationship, an understanding, in order to be in tune with my vision. I can now tweak or alter my images in any way myself without a darkroom, another expense. Whether I print my images myself or send it out to a print lab, I am now able to completely control the print as well. It either matches the image on the monitor or it doesn’t. A poorly executed print can completely alter the feel of an image.

    So it is really a trade off. Art photographers have the luxury of using film with its visual benefits if they prefer because they work on their own time, but for commercial photographers, the work needs to be turned over fast and as inexpensively as possible.

    FA4M: What is the most satisfying moment of your production process?

    The most satisfying moment of my production process happens after all of the preparatory work has been done, the shoot has begun, and slowly the model and I are in complete simpatico, in the present moment with no interruption, feeding off of one another’s energies. They position their body in a certain way or I give them a specific description of what I want and they interpret it from their point of view and execute it. The adrenaline is pumping. The magic happens. Everything at this moment is crystal clear, and I know that something beyond description, the illusive essence of human spirit, is being captured and translated onto a two dimensional form, the photograph. It is one of the most elevating, and at the same time, grounding, life-affirming experiences that I am fortunate enough to have on a regular basis.

    FA4M: You make it sound like sex.

    For me, emotionally and spiritually it is like sex in many ways except that I know that something has been created that can be shared with many people, not just another person and myself.

    FA4M: How do you find and engage your models?

    Most of my models are professional models, fitness or fashion, who are looking for, or are willing to do body/art shots, nudes. Occasionally, I will see someone at the gym and I approach them. I observe how they carry themselves and move their bodies. This gives me some idea of what I can draw out of them during a shoot. I always refer them to my websites so that they can take a look at my work to assure them that I am legitimate and to get them excited and confident about the shoot. Many of them have some type of dance background, an awareness of their body and how it moves, or are someone who seems flexible or moldable who can take direction. I look for a well-proportioned body. Proportion/balance is everything. It doesn’t necessarily matter how big or how small someone’s muscles are. Good skin is certainly a plus, although some of my models have very scarred skin due to their sports backgrounds, but thanks to Photoshop this is easily remedied.

    FA4M: How would you describe your work?

    Sculptural, human, timeless, classic, tactile, ethereal. I strive to capture a yearning, striving quality, for something beyond this physical life.

    FA4M: You have a chance to work with an old master. Who do you pick?

    Don’t know if I could name one. My first choice would be Michelangelo. I think that we loved and appreciated the same things, or have a similar “aesthetic.” His work embodies physical beauty as a physical representation of spiritual beauty, human emotion and inner struggle, a yearning quality, to me at least. Actually we are both Pisces and were born on the same day. Maybe it’s a Pisces connection? 🙂

    If I had a second choice it would be one of the great masters of old Hollywood portraiture, specifically Josef Von Sternberg or George Hurrell. Their lighting was genius as were the moods they captured. The lighting for many of my nudes is directly referenced to them. Their images are very “dramatic.” I call it – heightened reality. I think they both encapsulated in their work a contemporary version, in their time, of what Michelangelo did in that they worked with actors and movie studios that were consciously attempting to build their stars’ images as god-like figures with human qualities. I do the same thing in much of my work. It is very exciting.

    FA4M: Who are your contemporary influences?

    My most contemporary influences would have to be Richard Avedon and Herb Ritts, although they have both passed. Again, I feel that their work embodies that illusive, human/spiritual, almost god-like, essence I keep referring to.

    Avedon’s work ran the gamut from portraits that sometimes emphasized and even exaggerated human, physical “imperfections,” the physical results of time shown on one’s face, to creating the opposite extreme of imagery of perfect, physically beautiful, god-like fantasy personas and situations such as in “Dovima With Elephants,” my favorite fashion image of all time. It is much more than a fashion image. It is a work of art. His fashion work was brilliantly inspired and set a new standard in fashion photography. I constantly see his work referenced today in fashion and advertising.

    Herb Ritts’ work embodies these same qualities usually using mostly natural light, which was one of the fashion/portraiture photography trends of the 80’s and 90’s. He also set the contemporary standard of his time.

    As for today, I purposely try not to dwell on any one artists’ work. I am too easily influenced and I want to speak my own voice through my work. I grew up in the world of art through my family, their friends, and business associates. I have that as my foundation. When I see beautiful imagery in galleries or magazines, or anywhere, I take in what speaks to me and I move forward. There are so many talented artists in the world today. We as a culture have become a very visual animal and digital has made photography more accessible and easy for most anyone to take a solid, quality image.

    FA4M: Where do you find motivation and inspiration?

    I find inspiration in anyone or anything that exudes life, or gives me a sense of healing, calming, soothing, as does for instance something in nature, of the earth. If it is a person, it could be a particular emotion or energy that they emanate.

    I am inspired by movement. Movement indicates life. I might capture a person’s energy through the way they move their body, combined with the flow of their clothing for instance. Hands and feet are particularly expressive. I try to capture the essence of movement in my images even if there actually isn’t any.

    Sometimes a particular piece of artwork inspires me. I see an image that projects a particular feeling and I want to capture that same or similar feeling from my perspective. Or I see a style of lighting that I feel is very complimentary to heightening/accenting a human face or body and I use it as a model to build on.

    My inspirations vary as society and our world changes. It is infinite.

    FA4M: What is beauty?

    I think it is definitely true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there is physical beauty and there is illusive, spiritual, emotionally based beauty, whether it be describing a living thing or an inanimate object.

    Once a person, or anything for that matter, has touched our hearts we find it to be “beautiful.” We love it. We feel an affinity, an appreciation, a commonality, an understanding, a oneness with them or it. Don’t our loved ones appear to be more beautiful to us, even physically, the more we get to know them?

    Sometimes I go to a gallery or museum and have no immediate attraction to a piece of artwork and then I read the information plaque and gain a greater understanding of it’s background and/or the artist’s intention and learn to appreciate it and then find it to be more attractive to me than at first glance. I learn to see the beauty in it.

    So what is beauty? All I know is what is beautiful to me and that varies from day to day, moment by moment, as my consciousness expands.

    FA4M: What is erotic?

    Any one or anything that invokes the physical, sexual, carnal desires within us, igniting our senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch as well as our imaginations. It causes us to want to be in physical, sexual, communion with them or it, to be one.

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    With Kathrina Zakharova

    October 7th, 2012

    Stawberry 01 by Kate Zakharova

    FA4M Mag interviews Kathrina Zakharova.

    FA4M: When and how did you start working as a photographer?

    KZ: I often read interviews with photographers, and so many of them say that them started shooting with grandpa`s old school Leika or Polaroid or something like that. But, as for me, I only started to be interested in photography a few years ago – six years ago if memory serves. I had a friend who needed a camera to pick up girls and so we bought it together. My friend had the camera on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I got the camera the other days. It was really fun. But when I got my turn with the camera there were always a couple of photos of naked girls on the camera’s memory. One day, as a joke for the camera’s co-owner, I took a few photos of a naked male model. “Eww, that’s gross!” my camera partner reacted. And so he sold me his share of the camera at a very cheap price. But I liked that experience and those photos, and so I started shooting men more and more. So far, that hat was the one and only successful business deal of my photography career.

    FA4M: What is your motivation, your inspiration, to do what you do?

    KZ: Why I do what I do, is a question I never know how to answer. Truly, I have no idea. Maybe the reason is, in part, because in Russia, very few photographers work with the naked male. And this is really unfair. I believe the male body is beautiful, strong and gentle at the same time. For me the male body is full of inspiration. Each part, every part, of it. I adore men’s hands, clavicles, neck, chest, abdominals, bottoms. It is awesome to see the growing penis, how it fills with power, and how delicate I need to be to shoot it. And I love shooting two boys together at the same time – it is a double portion of tenderness and handsomeness and strength too. Of course, in Russia, it is a bring problem, you know. My country prefers to hate, and to be afraid of gay love. Hatred of man loving man, unfortunately, is commonplace still even in large cities and in the capital too. As a female photographer, I often receive threats and hate mail too every time I publish my photographs on the web. I so appreciate, and am grateful too, for the braveness of my models. And I hope that I will not be deterred, I hope that I will not stop. And I wait for the day when this situation will change. And maybe that is the answer, that is why I shoot men.

    FA4M: It might not very revolutionary anymore to photograph male nudes – at least in much of the world. But for you, it remains a revolution. How difficult is it to find willing models for your work?

    KZ: It is very difficult to find models for my ideas. Most of the time, the subjects of my photographs are my friends. They are, every one of them, angels. I cannot express my gratitude enough.

    FA4M: Besides revolutionary and brave, your work, your technical skill and your aesthetic are extraordinary and so well-informed. How have you learned and developed your artistic sensibilities?

    KZ: Thank you for saying that. I know how boring it is to hear, but I am always invested in spending a lot of time looking at other artists: Magritte, Hieronymus Bosch, Tiziano, Vecellio, etc. Last year, I went to Venice twice and I fell in love with Vittore Carpaccio’s Apotheosis of St. Ursula. It is really incredible. For hours, I stayed in the gallery and could not take my eyes from it. The gallery staff started to worry that I was going crazy. After that experience, I started exploring crosses and other religious themes in my work. This is how the process goes: I saw something that took my soul deeper and then I just started shooting those ideas.

    FA4M: Other favorite artists?

    KZ: Besides Magritte, Bosch, Tiziano, and Tintoretto there are photographers too, of course. Such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Jan Saudek, Joel-Peter Witkin. Why? All you have to do is look at the genius of their photographs. Once you see one of their images, you never forget it. I have always dreamed to have even a little part of their talent – to make such a brilliant, iconic, and finished image.

    FA4M: If forced, how would you describe your work?

    KZ: Sex, boys, and rock n roll.

    FA4M: What is the most satisfying moment of your process?

    KZ: Shooting is the most satisfying moment for me. It stirs me. It makes me feel alive.

    FA4M: What is the most challenging part of your process?

    KZ: Really, it is the trouble of having enough friends who will agree to be my models. Maybe I need to start feeding them?

    FA4M: What is your definition of beauty?

    KZ: Love. I know it sounds very hippie, but for me, beauty is love. Or love is beauty.

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    With Domenico Cennamo

    September 12th, 2012

    The Locker Room 21 by Domenico Cennamo

    FA4M Mag interviews Domenico Cennamo.

    FA4M: Why are you a photographer?

    DC: It never occurred to me that I could become a photographer – even though my mother was always telling me that this could be my world since I was painting a lot. I always loved to work with images.  That first day, that first day I found myself with a camera I realized that I wanted to express myself with it, and that I could live off that.

    FA4M: Where do you find the motivation, the inspiration, to produce the kind of work you do?

    DC: For every work, it can be something different that inspires me.  Most of the time I’m working on instinct.  Sometimes I start working with a precise idea, a picture in my mind, but while I am shooting I start having fun with the rest of the team or because of the situation and these are the pictures I keep at the end of the work, without thinking of my original idea. Sometimes it’s the person I have in my camera or the location that takes me in one direction or another.

    FA4M: How would you describe your work?

    DC: I don’t like to describe my work. I can’t describe it.

    FA4M: What is the most satisfying moment of your working process?

    DC: The moment I’m shooting.  Having the camera in my hand.  Having something to shoot.  I almost feel like a child playing.

    FA4M: Your models have a level of charm and comfort and authenticity and joy too that is uncommon in male photography.  How do you create this energy, this comfort level with your models?

    DC: I don’t know if I’m the one to create this atmosphere during the shooting. What I can tell you is that I’m seduced by guys who own these characteristics. I think that beauty is not only a good body or a perfect face, but an attitude. And the right attitude for my models is to be authentic, joyful and comfortable with themselves and the situation. I would never choose a model that acts like a statue or doesn’t interact with the location or the other guys.

    One of the other reasons why I think my models are so easy-going during the shooting is that I don’t want any sexual reference in my pictures. It’s just about nudity, acting naturally. If there was anything sexual in the shootings, I’m sure there wouldn’t be any authenticity in it.

    The last reason to explain this is simply that I’m joyful.  I like to have fun and I like my work and I never feel any pressure to have to get a result at the end of the day. So the shootings are always very friendly, and this is true when I work with nudes, with fashion or with food.

    FA4M: You like to photograph sports boys.  What’s your favorite sport to photograph?  Why?

    DC: I don’t have a sport that I’m eager to photograph, but there is a certain kind of sportsman that I like very much. Usually they are guys doing team sports, especially soccer and rugby, both very popular in Italy. These guys have a different spirit. They are very natural, and they have the typical “locker room” behavior that I’m looking for. They are used to being nude by nature with other guys and they don’t think there is anything wrong at it. They feel at ease and it’s easier for them to play in front of my camera. You can see at my pictures that I want this playful atmosphere. Guys who play individual sports rather than team sports are not as accustomed to interacting with others in this way.  The other reason, of course, is that I like the kind of body that soccer and rugby players have – a very healthy body created by game and athleticism rather than a body built artificially.

    FA4M: Your compositions have a strong artistic sensibility.  Where does that awareness of composition come from?

    DC: I never know how to compose the image. When I organize a shoot, I just have a few models and a location. All the rest is totally intuitive. I’m totally dependent on my intuition. I don’t have to think when I work, I just feel it.

    FA4M: What is your definition of beauty?

    DC: There’s no definition for it. It’s something you can’t have in your hand, that’s why I go on in searching for it.

    FA4M: Is there such a thing as gay art, a gay aesthetic?

    DC: There’s no such thing. There’s a gay market but not gay art.

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    With Carmelo Blazquez Jimenez

    August 20th, 2012

    In God We Trust by Carmelo Blazquez Jimenez
    FA4M Mag interviews Carmelo Blazquez Jimenez.

    FA4M: Why are you a photographer?

    CBJ: I have always been passionate about the world of art in all its forms, but I do not believe I have the required qualities of a painter or sculptor. Since as long as I can remember, there was always a camera in my house – in general, my family has always liked photography. I remember entire mornings with my mother and sisters, lying in bed and looking through old family photos that my mother kept in an old cookie box. I liked photography in general, but I especially responded to travel photography and black and white nudes. Only five years ago, did I start my photography studies at the School of Design and Image IDEP in Barcelona.  And I was fascinated to understand controlling light in photography is like learning to do magic. I took up the desire to be a sculptor, a sculptor, but different, a sculptor of light:  the darkness in my photographs is my marble.  And light is like my chisel.  Photography allows me to paint and sculpt with light.  I extract from the darkness of the black backgrounds my models’ bodies, sometimes incomplete, as with a half-finished sculpture or as with those ancient sculptures that have deteriorated over time. To generate an image from my imagination, from concept to finding the right model, to execution, still seems like a mystical act. It is the closest thing I will ever find to the feeling of giving birth to a child and it still excites me.

    FA4M: How long have you been producing your work?

    CBJ: I started my photography work about five years ago focusing on the play of light and shadows especially on the male body.

    FA4M: How do you select the subjects of your work?

    CBJ:  My compositions are most often informed by Art History, an inexhaustible source. Sometimes, in my process, I am engaged only with the model and the body.  I am inspired, say, only by the posture, or a hand, or an arm, or a leg that fascinates me. In some cases, I merge this gesture from a source such as a painting or a sculpture with the minimalist re-interpretation of a myth, or a historical, religious, or literary event, or with a feeling or emotion.  In other words, my sources and my inspirations are varied but often pass through art history, myth, religion, and literature.  I also love the feeling of manipulating perception for the viewer and playing with symbols and signs. My raw material might be a young man with an object in his hand.  But suddenly the young man is no longer a model, no longer his name, now with fruit in his hand. He is transmuted by history, by an ancient history of symbols.  Like, when I was young, looking at the image of the nearly naked man in church – only the crown of thorns, the wounds, the skimpy loincloth.  A mortal man with beautifully perfect musculature; and also the son of God.

    FA4M: Who are your favorite artists?  And why?

    CBJ: I’ve always been attracted to the world of art – for  the philosophy of aesthetics, for the beauty of a painting, a sculpture or a building. And for the elevation of contemplating the beautiful.  My passion for the aesthetics crosses cultures form anywhere in the world. Art-making is the sublime expression, almost divine, of human beings.  My references are the great classics of painting and sculpture, starting with the sculptors of Classical Greece (Phidias, Scopas, Praxiteles, Polykleitos, Lysippus, Myron, among others) moving through all the ancient and unattributed treasures including: funerary masks, jewelry, the fresh Egyptian royal tombs or the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii. And then the long list of Pre-Renaissance, Renaissance, and Mannerist painters.  The tenuous dark of Baroque painters seems fascinating to me.  And finally, the neoclassical artists.  I take from this long tradition much of what I like for my work:  naked bodies half-hidden, light and shadow, innuendo, darkness, allegories, myths, symbolism, mysticism, tragedy, death.  I also want to mention the great printmakers of the nineteenth century, such as Gustad Doré, and though less popular but very beautiful, the works of Sascha Schneider.  And sculptors Arno Breker and Thorak – although they were disgraced for having developed their work in the shadow of Nazi Germany and mostly discounted by art history as well.  In photography, my admiration is directed to such greats as Wilhelm Von Gloeden, Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Avedon and, someone more contemporary, David Vance.  I also almost owe my start in  male nude photography to a Spanish photographer, Manel Ortega. There are other contemporary photographers as well, Spanish and other nationalities too, with fascinating works and projects.  Finally, one other source of inspiration are social networks like Tumblr and Behance. A long trip from ancient art to Tubmlr.

    FA4M: How do you describe your work?

    CBJ: My work is an intimate and humble craft. My photos are a tribute to those many and anonymous model studies necessary for painters and sculptors to develop their work. There is also a tribute to the beginnings of male nude photographer.  I hope in my work there is no great pretension. During the shoot, there is just me and the model.  I endeavor to create a welcoming environment for the desired results.  But mostly I need the complicity of the model and his comfort to give one of the most intimate aspects of his life: his nakedness.  Nudity is usually reserved for when we clean ourselves or when we love physically or when we are sick and have to be cared or when we are shrouded in death.  The naked man feels vulnerable and fragile.  It is much to ask a model to be naked with you. I prefer my models natural.  I do not use makeup or stylists or assistants.  I seek the natural and authentic beauty of the person.  I seek the unique and fleeting moment of collaboration, of a shared experience. When we are finished with the photo session we will both be closer to death, but thanks to the magic of photography, we can turn mortal men into eternal and beautiful gods.  While my work is very traditional, I do not avoid the progress of digital photography. I use photo editing software to make any small improvements. I prefer to take a good picture in the studio than to spend many hours tweaking the image on my computer.  But I am, I am economical.  For me too much styling, too much makeup, too much manipulation can damage the eye, the aesthetic.

    FA4M: What is the most satisfying moment of your production process?

    CBJ: Actually there are three very gratifying moments in my production process. The first is when I make a sketch on paper, that moment of concept is pure creation.  I am there with my passions, my phobias, my desires.  Someone, perhaps, can copy my image but they cannot copy my soul.  The second moment is only for my eyes.  When I have the model in the flesh before me, giving life to the idea in that sketch.  And at last, the third moment of satisfaction comes after the battle in the quiet of my home when reviewing the photographs I have taken and I can see the image I dreamed of, the sketch, has come true and is more perfect than I had imagined.

    FA4M: What are some of the challenges of your process?

    CBJ: In my work, the challenge is always practical: taking naked photographs. I do not work with professional models, and although my photography is not always nude, nudity is the state in which the human being is most fragile and vulnerable, but also closer to his animal nature. Working my model nude, even though we have never met before, even though we have only spoken by email or over the phone requires effort and managing expectations before and during the shoot. For this reason, I like working with models that make my job easier – they have seen my work and want to work with me and they trust me. I put no limits on creation. The very practical challenge of making my models comfortable, and the implied trust in that effort, will be reflected in the result and authenticity of the final image.

    FA4M: What is beauty?

    For me, beauty, while hard to define, has always been related to the world of emotions and almost mystical.  You cannot really impose standards. Beauty, of course, is subjective.  In the presence of something beautiful, we stop, we feel overwhelmed, and in our contemplation, we feel pleasure and a sense of the mystical.  In my case, since I was little, I have been attracted by the beauty and the perfection of the male body.  In beauty there is also the mixture of admiration and the forbidden, of sin and desire.  The first time in my life where I saw a nearly naked man, with perfect musculature, was in church: the icon of Christianity.  Since then there has existed this passionate mix of eroticism and tragedy in the Baroque religious imagery – a terrible agony in the face with bleeding wounds conflicting with the beauty of the perfect male body.  So it was that in a world full of taboos regarding nudity, in the church, without shame, you were welcomed, encouraged even, to contemplate for hours the image of a naked man.  No one construed this as problematic – the symbol, the wounds, the crown of thorns, the cross, transformed the image of man into the child of God (I’ve done the same in my Mythos series).  You could study each muscle, the armpits in tension, the perfection of his ribs, the transfixion of the crucifixion, desire transfigured into devotion or devotion transfigured into desire.  It was shameless.  And I soon discovered, outside of the church, this was also true of art.  For hours, you could look at a sculpture or a painting of a naked man, and no one would stop you.  It was this contemplation of art, of symbols, of beauty where I felt free. It is an experience that still happens to me, where a work of art will stop me, and I become fascinated with forms and color and content.  And I can reach an intermediate ecstasy – the point where we do not know if we experience a feeling of mysticism or of the erotic.  I undoubtedly believe that man is one of the masterpieces of nature and therefore I want to work to enhance and exalt that natural beauty.  I think anybody, any body, is beautiful in its natural perfection regardless of the stage of life.  Leonardo DaVinci says “Beauty dies in life but is immortal in Art”.   In front of my camera, my models are most often young.  But in the work, in the image, they are as immortal as gods.

    FA4M: What is erotic?

    CBJ: The erotic is the waiting room where lives hidden sexual impulses.  Gestures, forms, hints, containing reminiscent moments of carnal pleasure. Eroticism plays with our imagination and with our subconscious, but also with the memory of the flesh. Yes, my photographs contain a lot of the erotic.

    FA4M: Is there such a thing as gay art, a gay aesthetic?

    CBJ:  In my opinion, art is universal. No sex, no sexual orientation. We respond to a work personally, individually, based on our ideology, our culture, our desires, or mood, our own personal erotic.  It is necessarily subjective.  Michelangelo’s David, the Sistine Chapel full of male nudes: is it gay art?  Is it gay for its subject?  Is it gay for its concept?  Is it gay for its creator? The work, in the end, is universal.

    What’s more, there are works of art that have produced in me the blush of erotic orgasm that did not contain a single nude.  Creative processes are driven by what we love, and hate, and want – sometimes explicitly, and sometimes more implicitly.  But the artist’s creation should not be classified into different drawers.  As a species, humans have the pestering need to classify everything in order to control it.  I have no need to go messing in drawers, whether art is considered gay or erotic or pornographic or fine art.  That’s not my problem.  I only create the images.  I do what I want without stopping to classify, although clearly my photographs have certain implied sexual instincts that inhabit and preoccupy my imagination.

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    With Marcus Mok

    May 14th, 2012

    X 2005 by Marcus Mok

    FA4M Mag interviews Marcus Mok.

    FA4M: Why are you a photographer?

    MM: Photography is my outlet for creative expression. I feel most at home and most myself when I am behind a camera, and I feel I express my true self through my work more so than through my words. I have an active imagination and love conceptualizing and creating images.

    FA4M: How long have you been producing your work?

    MM: I have done fine art male nudes for 10 years now and still have great passion for it.

    FA4M: How do you select the subjects of your work?

    MM: I look for something in a model that is more than a beautiful face or body. Some people have an electric quality which helps bring an image to life. Sometimes I think I can detect a latent potency which I try and expose to both the model and the audience.

    FA4M: Who are your favorite artists?  And why?

    MM: My favourite artists are those who went to the edge and beyond in their work, such as Mapplethorpe. He really was the prime inspiration for my work, even though it is very different from his. He challenged the dominant paradigm and in doing so, changed it for the better.

    FA4M: How do you describe your work?

    MM: My work endeavours to capture the ethereal beauty of the human form, trying to suggest the spiritual as well as physical. I hope the images are more than pictures of beautiful people, and that they provoke thoughts beyond the corporeal.

    FA4M: What is the most satisfying moment of your production process?

    MM: I derive the greatest satisfaction when someone – the model or a viewer – tells me there is something about an image that speaks to them and provokes thought.

    FA4M: What are some of the challenges of your process?

    MM: Finding suitable models with that extra something is often challenging, as is shooting nudes outdoors. It can create some interesting situations.

    FA4M: Example?

    MM: One shot titled “Samson” is of a guy straddling huge metal cylinders; it was shot at an industrial site in Sydney. Every five minutes or so, hordes of people would walk past when the trains arrived. It was quite harrowing. Then there is “Release;” we shot the photo in Melbourne — it’s an image of a guy lying precariously on the edge of a pier. During the shoot, a woman walking her dogs was approaching and when the model started covering himself with a towel, she just smiled and waved, and said, “don’t worry!”

    FA4M: What is beauty?

    MM: John Donne wrote that beauty is truth and truth is beauty, and I think, subconsciously, that is what I am trying to reveal. I try very hard to get to and to reveal the truth in an image, and to me this is the most beautiful, even if it would not meet traditional notions of beauty. For me, beauty does not just relate to pretty things but also the most mundane of things that most people hardly take notice. It could be wilting flowers in a vase. These things really speak to me and I try and retell their story through my work.

    FA4M: What is erotic?

    MM: Something is erotic when it tantalizes the senses, be it a sound, a smell, taste, sight or a feeling.

    FA4M: What is Capital-A Art?

    MM: I think Capital-A Art is meant to refer to art so classified by the cognoscenti, but the interesting thing for me is, it changes. Music or paintings may not be deemed to be art until hundreds of years after a composer’s or painter’s death.

    FA4M: Is there such a thing as gay art/a gay aesthetic?

    MM: I believe certain kinds of art appeal to gay people. From my experience, nude images of men, whether in the form of sculpture, painting, photography or anything visual, is a good example of such art. Of course gay men also love anything that is beautiful including fashion and decor.

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    With Sothea Thang

    May 11th, 2012

    Honeymoon by Sothea Thang

    FA4M Mag interviews Sothea Thang.

    FA4M: Why are you an artist?

    ST: In September 2009, I felt depressed mainly because of my job working with architects. And in my personal life as well. To fight my melancholy, I started to paint.  And that was satisfying by itself.  And then came the encouragement and support of my friends. Shortly afterward, the owner of a new gay hotel-resort in Siem Reap – where I had been involved through my employer with the architecture project – saw my first painting and commissioned me to paint six others for the décor of the resort. That’s when I decided it might be time for me to study and improve and discover myself through my painting.  I made the risky decision to resign from my job and to concentrate full-time on my painting, although I had some freelance architectural projects.  In the summer of 2010, less than a year, the Meta House (the German-Cambodian cultural center) exhibited my first foray into painting with a show called “Happy Together”.

    FA4M: How do you select the subjects of your work?

    ST: At that time, I was in love. I let my imagination wander without limit and was not afraid of what people would think. I surprised them, I think.  My friends did not recognize me and could not believe that I was the creator of such paintings. On the other hand, they still encouraged me and their support gave me the drive to continue on this path. And that is how I came by the subject of my work.

    FA4M: Who are your favorite artists?

    ST: Until I had the chance to travel to France in the summer of 2009, I did not know anything about western artists. I was exactly naïve.  I had never read about this or seen any example.  As with many Cambodians, my education and culture were basic.  When I went to museums in Paris, I discovered this artistic world, this rich artistic history. Now, of course, I know Michelangelo, Picasso, Miro and many others.

    FA4M: How do you describe your work?

    ST: I don’t know how to describe my work. I just do it.

    FA4M: Much of your work is figurative. Do you work from models, photographs, sketches?  Or is it all imagination?

    ST: I do not work with the models. I work with my imagination. Sometimes I work from photographs, either as reference material or to spark a concept. Then I will develop it as far as I can until I am satisfied.

    FA4M: What is the most satisfying moment of your production process?

    ST:  Of course, as part of the whole concept, there is the design and the choice of colors and the texture too. I am satisfied when the thing follows the concept, when it follows the plan of my imagination. However, sometimes an accident happens during the process and the result surprises me, sometimes delights me, and I will redirect my intention, I will change my plan.  That moment when an accident changes my plan, alters my intention, that is the most satisfying moment for me.

    FA4M: What are some of the challenges of your process?

    ST:  As a self-taught artist, I have made my own experiments, in particular with the mixture of colors and above all the construction of texture. And my challenge has been with my materials.  However, now, my treatment of my materials – the cracks, the trickles, the crackled drips – has become almost a signature of my work, a kind of trademark of my emerging art.

    FA4M: You describe the process of painting a little like an architect: concept, plan, execution.  How much do you think your training and experience as an architect influences the way you create art?

    ST: I studied for six years in the department of architecture and when i graduated (2007), I worked as an architect for three years with a French company in Phnom Penh (2007-2010). I started to paint in 2009. Many people have commented that when they see my work, it feels a little like architecture design, remarking on the proportion of balance, the structure of form, the purity of line, and elements of texture. In the absence of an art education, I am sure I have borrowed both process and elements of design from my experience in architecture.

    FA4M: There are so many artists in history – Henri Rousseau and Paul Gaugin, for example – who have studied the rich history of art and then tried deliberately to forget it and create art like a child creates art, from a more naïve or primitive perspective. But you almost have that experience the other way around. As you become more and more exposed to art history and art training, how do you expect it might influence the way you make your art?

    ST: Honestly, I did not expect to go so far with the way that I make my art. I only know that I enjoy what I do and sharing it. I am genuinely thankful to people who are touched by my art. And however it influences my intentions or my process, it pushes me to discover the artistic world and artistic history.

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    With Anthony Boccaccio

    May 8th, 2012

    Young Blue Eyes by Anthony Boccaccio

    FA4M Mag interviews Anthony Boccaccio.

    FA4M: Why are you a photographer/painter/artist?

    AB: I’m all of those things, and a sculptor. I began my artistic career drawing on the walls of my bedroom; by the time I was 16 I was oil painting on commission, making more per painting than the mortgage on our house. I had 2 years of prepaid commissions, and winter was coming. A client wanted his barn painted (on a canvas!) and I didn’t think I could get to it before it snowed. My art teacher, Mr. Turner, took me out with his camera and made a photo of the barn so I could paint from the photo over the winter. He dragged me into the school darkroom and made me watch him develop, and then print the photo. When I saw the image appear on the photo paper, it was like a light suddenly went on inside my head. It was an epiphany!  I went home that night and, at the dinner table, declared I was going to be a photographer, not a painter. My father, being an Old Italian, reached over the dining room table, grabbed me by the throat and began choking me and screaming “You will stop painting when I tell you to stop painting!” Being an Italian boy, I gave half of everything I made to my mother and my father didn’t want to lose that income. So I ran. Later my mother told me I could be anything I wanted, and that she’d take care of my father. The rest is history.

    FA4M: How long have you been producing your work?

    AB: I began serious photography when I lived in Brazil in 1966 as a teenager. When I returned to go to college at the University of Rochester, I met Mr. Peter Braal, the director of photography at Eastman Kodak Company. He became my mentor and gave me all the film and development I wanted for four years, and open access to the photo illustration studio and his photographers. Just before I graduated, he asked me what I wanted to do when I got out of school.  I told him I wanted to be a professional photographer and work for the best company on the planet.  He beamed and asked “And who would that be?”  I smiled and said “National Geographic Magazine, of course!”  He frowned; I gulped, and realized I had just bitten the hand that fed me for four years. I must have turned bright red. Then he laughed and told me that I was right, and he loved my honesty.  “And how do you propose to work for National Geographic?” he asked.  I told him I’d just go to Washington and ask them to look at my portfolio.  “They don’t look at portfolios,” he said.  “They call you, you don’t call on them.”  I was 20 and stubborn and told him I was going to sit on the front steps of the Geographic forever until they let me in.  He picked up the phone, called Bob Gilka, the director of photography for the magazine, and called in a favor – “Look at the boy’s portfolio and then send him home,” he said.

    Gilka looked at the portfolio, seemed unimpressed, asked me if that was all I had, and then sent me home. I felt dejected. Two weeks later he sent me a one line letter inviting me to photograph for the magazine. I photographed on and off for them over a period of 20 years. My last assignment was Mount St. Helen’s volcano.

    I began shooting nudes seriously in 1978-79. My first male nude was a young man whose body was completely covered with blond peach-fuzz. I was fascinated by how the light shone off his torso, like he was covered with a soft layer of gold. The photograph remains even today as one of my finest. This success led to other friends asking to have their portraits done; most of my nudes are simply friends or acquaintances. I’ve never used a professional model for nude work.

    FA4M: How do you select the subjects of your work?

    AB: By feeling and instinct.  If I can watch a man walk 10 steps, and hear 20 words come from him, I generally have a good idea if he would be a good subject.  And his eyes.  I look closely at his eyes; they tell you a lot about the soul.  And that’s the point of a great image:  you have to photograph what can’t be seen, and let the body express the invisible power and grace of the person’s soul.  My very first photograph was of a man:  the constellation Orion – little dots of light in the night sky.  (I still have the negative.)  Looking into the abyss, the infinite night sky, at something that was virtually invisible to the naked eye, and pointing my little box camera upward to “capture what couldn’t be seen” was a first impulse, an open path, that led me to look always for what “couldn’t easily be seen” and try to capture that on film.

    FA4M: Who are your favorite artists?  And why?

    AB: My favorite artists are the Renaissance artists – because they combined spirit and flesh in ways that are iconic, everlasting, and yet very human.  I guess I’m a romantic.  In the world of photography, my favorites are W. Eugene Smith, Arthur Tress, and Duane Michals.  I like Smith because he took risks and didn’t give a damn about his editors.  He shot according to his own vision.  I like Tress because he brought the homoerotic to the forefront with disturbing yet extraordinary imagery that gave me courage to do the same. I like Duane Michals because he understood the mystery of flesh and spirit, and understood how to destroy the illusion of time and space while using a photographic medium that freezes time, and flattens space. Extraordinary!

    FA4M: How do you describe your work?

    AB: If you mean my nudes, then it’s Classical, and perhaps with an erotic twist.  I like to use the word sensual. I prefer black and white; it’s more emotional.  I love photographing the male body because it is active, full of motion, energy, possibility, and grace. It’s masculine, and that means penetration – into the abyss, into the light, into the world. Sometimes the combination of pure masculine strength with a hidden feminine grace beneath the skin is breath-taking and overwhelming. I like those moments; when my eyes stop seeing the outer and something deeper appears, something too beautiful and mysterious to call simply erotic or sensual. It’s more like the spirit takes on flesh. It’s an incarnation. I believe that all my nudes are simply an attempt to capture the Incarnation on film.

    FA4M: What is the most satisfying moment of your production process?

    AB: When I have the “Aha” experience – usually behind the camera. I don’t like post-production. It’s like trying to make what’s perfect more perfect and it only makes it worse. That’s why I like film. You shoot 12 negatives, you print one, and with very little fussing around, you get the best image. I call the digital world photographic masturbation – just keep snapping away hoping that eventually something will come out, as it were. The computer and the manipulation of the digital image are dangerous. It’s like a denial of one’s initial instincts behind the camera. I trust my instincts.

    FA4M: What are some of the challenges of your process?

    AB: My greatest challenge is to capture what can’t easily be seen – something that’s not “skin deep” as it were. I want to photograph the soul, the light, the mystery of the person before me. The body is only a vehicle, the outward expression of what is deeper, more intimate, more beautiful and graceful …more Imago Dei!  To accomplish this, I must create the environment where the subject will feel safe enough, and comfortable enough to “be himself honestly and completely” allowing his emotions and feelings to express themselves fully while I’m photographing.  Many of my most successful and perhaps provocative images of male nudes are of subjects who, during the shoot, became physically aroused, but were not embarrassed by it.  This happens perhaps 80% of the time.  I know that this is the moment where the unfettered, unembarrassed, nature of this unique person will begin to appear.

    I’m a painter. My artistic life began as a painter and drawer. But you can’t paint on a canvas like you photograph on a film plane. So, I try to combine both approaches, which complement each other. Over the years, many have said my photography looks “painterly”.

    FA4M: What is beauty?

    AB: Whatever you want it to be.

    FA4M: What is erotic?

    AB: Like beauty, anything you make it. But if you ask what is “The Erotic”, or Eros, I would say that, like the word love, it’s generally misunderstood. The Erotic should not be consigned simply to the question of sex or sexuality – to the body in particular. The erotic is a moment in which our deeper, more basic and animal instincts flow into consciousness, and connect us or ground us more completely to the mystery and fullness of ourselves. Eros is more than an emotion, or a biological response to a sexual stimulus. It is the awakening of the deepest of all human imperatives – to leave ourselves and move toward another – in a word, to merge, to be in union or communion, to disappear into the “other”.  I believe that our puritanical society is fearful of the erotic, not because it is wrapped up in human sexuality and the body, but because it is a threat to the egocentric notion of our “individuality” and the “idealized” notion that to BE you have to maintain your “individuality” at all costs.  As a society, we tend to identify with the “me” of our ego, and wrongly believe that we are autonomous beings, empowered by our egos (which is the hallmark of separation), and that this separation must be protected at all costs.  This is in contradistinction of the idea of the erotic, which is the loss of ego, and the merging, or losing oneself into the “other”.

    I believe that this explains why artists, and particularly those who express the erotic/sexual nature of humanity, are always attacked first by the despots who want to control society.  We artists are the ones who express the idea of authentic human freedom, (nudity is only one symbol of such freedom) and therefore the first to be burned to the stake, as it were.

    FA4M: Is there such a thing as gay art, a gay aesthetic?

    AB: Of course.  Who better can express the mystery of one’s sexuality and humanity than the artist himself?  If he is gay, he creates a gay aesthetic.  Masters and Johnson say as much when they suggest in the opening paragraphs of their book “Homosexuality in Perspective.” (1979) that the heterosexual world could learn much from the gay world regarding the question of relationships, love-making, and human sexuality. They got tarred and feathered for that one! I believe their research speaks eloquently to the question of a gay aesthetic, a gay culture, a gay-being-in-the-world.

    What is sad is that this aesthetic has been labeled Gay. I think that it should be understood in a deeper, more inclusive manner. The labels Gay and Straight only work to divide people and promote the erroneous idea that human sexuality is only two things: straight or gay. There are as many sexualities as there are people on the planet; and while we can identify ourselves as primarily heterosexual or homosexual, human sexuality is at the very least, a continuum, and I think that the gay aesthetic must be careful not to fall into the same trap as the straight aesthetic, by identifying with a position which is seen as “opposite” or “antagonistic” to the other side.

    Personally, when someone asks me if I’m gay or straight, I always respond by asking “Are those my only two choices?”

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    With John Falocco

    May 6th, 2012

    Bodyscapes 30FA4M Mag interviews John Falocco.

    FA4M: Why are you a photographer/artist?

    JF: I am an artist first. Photography is another media in which I am able to express my creativity. I was especially attracted to photography because of its black and white capabilities which were unique to photography.

    FA4M: How long have you been producing your work?

    JF: I have been working professionally as a photographer since 1979.

    FA4M: How do you select the subjects of your work?

    JF: I primarily shoot individuals that have something interesting about their face, a quality that will be interpreted well by the camera. Next is the physique. I am classically trained as an artist so I am more inclined to lean toward individuals with classical proportions.

    FA4M: Who are your favorite artists?

    JF: My favorite artists are two of the great geniuses of the Renaissance, Leonardo DaVinci, because of the way he interpreted light, and Michelangelo, because of the way he interpreted form. In photography, it is George Hurrell for the same two reasons.

    FA4M: How do you describe your work?

    JF: My work is classically inspired.

    FA4M: What is the most satisfying moment of your production process?

    JF: Post Production when I am alone with the image and can create the final look that is most satisfying to me.

    FA4M: What are some of the challenges of your process?

    JF: Every aspect of production: pre production, production, and post production all present challenges that are unique within themselves.

    FA4M: What is beauty?

    JF: This illusive quality is truly in the eye of the beholder and varies from individual to individual.

    FA4M: What is erotic?

    JF: I have asked myself the same question myself.  The lines are blurred as to what is sexy, sensual, artistic, graphic etc.

    FA4M: You are also a fashion, fitness, beauty, and commercial photographer. What qualifies as fine art photography for you?

    JF: Fine Art Photography incorporates the same compositional elements that apply to traditional painting, drawing, and sculpture coupled with style. A photograph can be technically correct but not particularly artistic because of the lack of compositional elements.

    FA4M: You are also a designer/producer of swimwear and activewear. Tell us about that.

    JF: Comfort, Fit, and Style is the goal that I have set for my swimwear/activewear collection. The collection of designs and quality-made products use the finest fabrics with attention to detail, are manufactured entirely in the United States, and create a truly masculine look for the body-conscious active man.

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    With Aurelio Monge

    April 28th, 2012

    Dioniso by Aurelio Monge

    fA4M Mag interviews Aurelio Monge.

    FA4M: Why are you a photographer?

    AM: After 20 years of working as photographer, I needed to explore my own ideas and my own creativity – for passion and not for work.  My art helps me feel realized.

    FA4M: How long have you been producing your work?

    AM:I have now been producing art photography for the last 4 years, in particular, my series Academics.

    FA4M: How do you select the subjects of your work?

    AM: I love Art and the master pieces of the Great Painters so, after years visiting museums, reading and observing, I have had a question in mind: if Caravaggio was born in 20th century, what if he used a camera instead of a brush? Why not try? Additionally, many of the great works that inspire my Academics series have been forgotten, almost forbidden. It’s time to take a look to our past, to the origins of our culture, our heroes, myths, and to rediscover the evolution of Art. My vision of the Renaissance and Baroque artworks is a means to explore my own past, my own culture, myself, who I am.

    FA4M: Besides Caravaggio, who are your favorite artists?

    AM: I love chiaroscuro so that is the reason I love, besides Caravaggio, Velazquez,  Ribera, Tiziano, etc, the Great Painters of the Renaissance and Baroque.

    FA4M:  How do you describe your work?

    AM: I try not to describe what I do. Let’s leave others to describe it.

    FA4M: What is the most satisfying moment of your production process?

    AM: Definitely that moment at the studio, with the correct model, the correct pose, expression and most of all the control of the light, where I can “preview” and imagine the ending artwork once it has been processed. It’s a magical moment because in my mind I can see the final artwork and the experience is so satisfying.

    FA4M: What are some of the challenges of your process?

    AM: To control and catch the light, especially because I am used to working with a very poor light, only 6W of continuous LED light.

    FA4M: What is beauty?

    AM: Beauty is anything that is able to transmit peace to the spirit.

    FA4M: What is erotic?

    AM: Erotic is anything that is able to excite the senses.

    FA4M: If beauty transmits peace to the spirit and the erotic excites the senses, are the two conditions mutually exclusive for you?  Can something be erotic and beautiful?

    AM: Sometimes a quiet landscape, the color of the rainbow, or a simple drop of water can serve as all the peace that I need. Other times, I need to feel excited to feel alive. The erotic and desire go together – and when beauty mixes in, this becomes sublime, an ecstasy for the senses, the brain, and the body.  Many of the masterpieces of painting contain the erotic. If I can blend the beautiful with the erotic, then I am happy.

    FA4M: What is big-A Art?

    AM: The creative or artistic process is inherently human. This is possible because of the gift to dream and imagine. Every human feels the need to create in one way or another in some point in their lives.

    But Art also requires the level and quality of its creation to stand up to history.  When creation can match historical masterpieces that is Art.  Creation must be submitted to the criterion of time.  In other words, only time will tell.

    FA4M: Is there such a thing as gay art/a gay aesthetic?

    AM: Gay art and the gay aesthetic are very subjective and depend on the individual.  As far as I am concerned, the gayest icon of all time, according to the principles of a “gay aesthetic” is Jesus Christ. He was a handsome young man, most represented in art as naked, surrounded by a group of unmarried men who were seduced by his words and demeanor. The crucifixion too follows the principles of the gay aesthetic: starkly naked, not just nude, bloody, suffering, spiritual, and sadomasochistic too.  And our runner up, for all the same reasons, is San Sebastian.

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    Karoll of Havana

    April 24th, 2012

    Karoll of Havana, aka Karoll Studios, aka Luis Cuento, 1920s – 1979.

    There is very little known or published about Karoll although, for the opening of the 3rd Latin American Photographic Conference in April 2012, the Hispanic Culture Center in Havana (Centro Cultural Hispano de La Habana) gave Luis Cuento (also known as Karoll) an exhibition with Joaquín Blez, calling both men pioneers of nude Cuban photography.

    Luis Cuento worked mostly in the 1940s and 1950s producing mainly portrait work for business men. But recently his physique pictorials, working with musclemen and athletes, has surfaced and become quite collectible.

    It is commonly reported on the internet that Karoll was arrested shortly after Castro took power in 1959 and that the photographer died in prison. However sources with the exhibition, and relatives of Karoll, report that he never had a prison record and that he died in 1979 after suffering many years with Alzheimer’s.

    © FineArtforMen.com

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