Artist Statement & Influences
I’m asked quite often why I took up photography and why, in particular, this kind of photography. The short answer is that I appreciate the male form but not its hypermasculine, bro’s bro representation that is all too regularly what we see. I’ve dabbled with photography since high school, studied figure drawing in college, and modeled a little myself just after college, and all of those experiences combined with my desire to see different representations of male bodies combined into what I currently do.
That’s me, but I also owe a debt to the photographers and artists who came before me, or who are working now and inspire and challenge me with their art. I could provide a long list of names, but instead and for greater context, I’ve highlighted (chronologically!) those artists who have been most important to my development as an artist.
George Platt Lynes
I used several of his prints as references for my first nude shoot without having any idea who he was. Still can’t believe that he was already producing shots like the one to the left (Charles Vincent) in 1930! There’s a simplicity of design and composition but also a dramatic way of lighting that informed (and still informs) how I think about each of those things.
Hey, this photo (Thomas, 1987) was taken the same year I was born! Seriously, of course Mapplethorpe is on this list—he’s one of the male nude photographers, though he had plenty of other subjects, too. But there’s a clear line from the George Platt Lynes work I like to photos, like this one, from Mapplethorpe: the same simplicity of staging and scenario (a lot of minimal backdrops, striking but not obscuring lighting) and a focus on the body, what it can do, and how it can appear (or be made to appear).
Most of the photographers here identify (or can historically be identified) as queer or gay men. Dianora Niccolini, on the other hand, offers a fascinating view of men as softly erotic in a way that (sometimes literally) places them as complementary to women. Her images linger on muscles and tend, like some of Mapplethorpe’s, toward a more “ideal” vision of brawny muscularity while at the same time making those burly bodies vulnerable. Stockton Bending (1996) exemplifies this—and my love for the reduced backgrounds continues, along with high contrast (though note that this image tends more towards obscuring with its lighting).
…was the first male form photographer whose work I followed for years before I thought about doing it myself. A lot of his work exemplified this kind of New-York-ness—bespoke fashion crafted specifically for a particular shoot, an incisive irony that insisted both that his photography could never be important and that nothing could be more important—but! What I loved from the start was the everyday casualness of it all, as though his models were friends who posed because they wanted to (and I think some, if not most, were). This was inspiration for me to start asking my friends, who (shockingly) were also mostly willing to take their clothes off in the name of art. Then, too, his images are often soft, with little contrast, obscured focus, and light that washes out wherever you think you ought to focus. The series from which I drew the image on the right (Brian Hockaday, San Francisco, 2010-2014) doesn’t do all of that, but you can certainly see the casualness, the resistance to perfect posing (but at the same time, that ironic acknowledgement that it’s a photo, so of course it’s posed).
I don’t mean to imply that these photographers are somehow only worth seeing because of or on Instagram—but in each case, Instagram is how I first discovered their work, and provides a platform for easily accessible portfolios. Each of the photographers I’ve chosen to feature here kicks my ass in some way and so I pull inspiration from their work however I can!
I’m not shilling for Instagram, either, especially since I have plenty of concerns about how copyright retention works, their data collection practices, etcetera etcetera—but building a portfolio there has connected me to an international community of photographers and models that I wouldn’t have been able to access otherwise.
Censoring sucks, though. No peen on the ‘gram (among other “objectionable” body parts), and so you’ll see a lot of (my and others’) work with ugly black boxes, emojis, or other ways to obscure so as not to be shown the door.
The photographers’ feeds featured here all include their profile names, and here are direct links for each: