As someone who is always has his eye out for a great image, I often find myself delving into the portfolios of others. When I began FH, I remember being struck by occasionally seeing similar images of the same model within the portfolios of different photographers. It was not just that it was the same model, but the same location and background, similar props and themes. At first I naively wondered if the photographer had different names associated with their work. This is fairly common I have learned. One professional name for more mainstream, portrait, children or wedding shots, and another for their work with figure and form... the nudes. This ended it up however, not being the answer to the mystery. I was intrigued to learn that some artists shoot together. They choose to pool resources, share studio space and the financial investment in equipment, travel and model fee’s.
Above: Aaron by Tom Clark
I think one of the first time I remember seeing images from a group shout were images from the BMSO shoots sponsored by Prairie Visions Photography. I have since enjoyed the collaborative shoots from many of my favorite photographers including Mark Leighton & Mark Montovio, Dennis Nauert & RJ Velazquez. I became fascinated with the differences in view when two or more artists shot together. It wasn’t so much they were seeing things differently, it was more that what they were seeing was being filtered visually through their past, their skill, and individual lens of experience.
Ten different people may look at a model and all see the same 6ft, dark haired, well built man or woman. Each of those ten individuals though also bring their own story to the process, both positive and sometimes intensely painful. This mean the lens in which the visual is filtered must expand in ten different directions to meet the expectations of the person behind the camera.
Above: Aaron by Gordon Nebeker
It can also an incredible learning opportunity, watching and experiencing another artist work. When a friend of mine was entering the world of photography a few years back, I remember before he posted his first image he spent months connecting and watching the work of those he respected in the field. I have loved to share, and write about different, yet connected visual experiences. I have done it in the past on FH, most notably with Bill McClaren with Michael Puff and with Mark Grantham and Mike Tossy. In most posts, you get two, sometimes three perspectives; the artist, the model, and my own. When the focus includes two or more artists, I usually speak less about what I am feeling, and instead showcase each piece and let those enjoying the images experience the similarities and differences.
What has always intrigued me though, is that I have always have a preference, one set that I am more drawn to than the other. What is even more interesting is that in almost every case, including these incredible images of Aaron, is that after I begin the piece, through the time I press ‘post’, my preference always changes. Here, are two visions of Aaron, from the perspectives of photographers Gordon Nebeker and Tom Clark.
Sometimes there is an image, a sculpture or a painting that becomes a part of your daily life, your routine. It hangs your living room, maybe in your office or on the side of a building you pass each day. It is something you feel, experience and enjoy with such regularity it permeates a small piece of who you are. You have all experienced the work of photographer Tom Clark, even if you haven't quite connected image with artist. His images, fusing bodyscapes and landscapes, form and texture hit senses beyond the visual. I am grateful to Gordon Nebeker for helping to make Tom Clark's work a part of FH.
Tom Clark, Perspective:
A few years back I invited a photographer friend along on a shoot because he'd indicated an interest in learning a little bit about how I work. I was hesitant because my work with models on nude shoots is a very intimate, one on one process and I didn't know if I'd be comfortable working with another photographer at my side. To my amazement it worked really well and since then I've enjoyed shooting tandem with a number of professional photographers. Turning the tables a little bit my friend Gordon Nebeker invited me along on a shoot to work with Aaron who by then had become a close friend and one of my most treasured muses. I jumped at the chance to work with these guys since both were friends and I knew well what they were capable of creating.
Two photographers with their cameras aimed on the same model at the same time could in some sense create a redundancy of imagery. But I was fascinated to see how Gordon and I could come up with such different interpretations of Aaron doing the same thing in front of our cameras. This is where it becomes obvious that each of us as artists and photographers crafts our own unique vision of that model there in front of us. One is never better than the other; just different ways of seeing the same subject.
As for Aaron I'm guessing that having two photographers giving directions at the same time could be a little confusing. But he handled it swimmingly as each of us stepped back when it was obvious the other was wanting to get him into a particular place. In the absence of ego it's easy to give another photographer the space he needs to work with the model and then step back up to re-position and work with the model when it feels appropriate to do so.
Many times I dropped my camera to my side and just watched Gordon work; fascinated by how he directed and positioned this guy who I'd done so much work with over the year and a half since I'd discovered him. Aaron's skill at working with a photographer isn't limited to just me as his modeling for Gordon and other artists has made abundantly clear. He's completely at home in his body and when nude expresses an inherent gracefulness and strength that compliment his beautiful physicality and maleness.
Aaron is a rare gem in the world of nude figure modeling and Gordon is a brilliant interpreter of the nude male. Working with them for a few hours out on the desert of northwest Utah was not only a privilege but a chance to deepen my understanding of who each of them is and how they work. And I'd do it again in a heartbeat if given the chance.
There is a spirituality that permeates the work of photographer Gordon Nebeker. It comes from the passion for his art and his ability to capture the flow within the movement of model. It doesn't hurt of course that Gordon so often shoots in Northwestern Utah and when ever I spend time with his images, I want to book a plane ticket there to re-energize
Gordon first introduced FH readers to his work with Aaron last July. (Earthly Embrace) Gordon returned to Utah this past September, joined again by Aaron and this time photographer Tom Clark. Gordon sent me some preview shots in October and since then have been looking forward to seeing, and sharing more.
'How can one even begin to capture its magic in a photograph? Then it hit me! The landscapes needed a worthy foil; someone in the scene to give it scale and relevance. In short, a man to match the mountains.'
I loved the quote above from the last piece and it certainly continues to apply. Aaron has an incredible body that equals the beauty that surrounds it. More impressive however is Aaron's ability to use his body, with, on and within the rock and sand he so breathtakingly interacts with.
Gordon Nebeker, Perspective:
'My photographer friend, Tom Clark who is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, kindly introduced me to Aaron who had modeled for him a number of times during the previous year. I did a shoot with Aaron in June of last year and was looking forward to working with him again when I returned to Utah on a trip in late September.'
'Aaron said it might be fun if Tom came along with us and I whole-heartedly agreed. Tom and I had never done a shoot together before so it was a great opportunity to trade some tips and observe how we each approach the shooting process. Aaron was terrific as always and didn't seem to mind two photographers issuing posing suggestions that were sometimes at variance with each other. "Look this way", Now look that way". Tom and I have very different styles but we also like and have a great deal of respect for each other's work. It has been fun and interesting toy see what results we got photographing the same subject from different perspectives.'
Although I grew up playing video games, most of my playing mostly took place at the Mall’s arcade. I think I was in high school before my younger brother received our family’s first game system one Christmas in the early 90’s. I am sort of glad I grew up when imagination based games were still the norm for anyone under 10 years old. In my mind, my back yard and rec room were often transformed into the locations for huge battles of epic proportions.
One of the games that occupied so many hours of make-believe was Cowboys and Indians. The words and terms used to reference Native Americans have changed since I was running and jumping around my yard, but intrigue and folklore connected to the history of the American West remains. It is a world of heroes and legends, great battles and villains all taking place on majestic fields and prairies. Although usually depicted as at odds, there was a nexus between both cowboy and the Indian and that was their connection to the land that surrounded them. The mountains and valley’s the never ending sky, nature’s untouched beauty made up the foundation for their spirit, and an energy source for their soul.
This spirit also acted as the theme for the work of Gordon Nebeker and Tom Clark and their shoot with Aaron. In each of the set of two images displayed here, I attempted to find a similar shot to compare and contrast. In each case, the first image is from Gordon, the second from Tom. What struck me most is not the visual differences as much as the difference in feel. Each masterfully captures both model and the majestic surroundings. There are however, distinctly beautiful differences in how each uses Aaron, and their artistry, to achieve the atmosphere and texture which complete their vision.
'Being part of a shoot with two great photographers was quite a treat. I was honored that they would both collaborate that way with me as the muse. It was fun to see them pick the angles and areas from which to shoot, because they didn't gravitate to the same places. It's pretty rad to observe a difference of perspectives in action, to see different stylistic points of view, neither of which is less or more than the other. They both arise from the source of creativity that shines in us all, and from their shining lights comes an allowance of others to let their light shine. I definitely evolve a bit more every time I work with them. Thank you Gordon and Tom!'