This past July, I did a piece featuring the site, Entertain Me, and it's writer and owner Michael. Not only is Entertain Me a great site, opening the curtains to share entertainment news and commentary, it's owner is a model, one who is most comfortable being photographed naked! A couple of weeks ago, Michael turned the tables on me, writing a wonderful piece on myself and FH. Check it out HERE:
'I have met wonderful beings with whom I co-create in the realm of photography. Andrew happens to be one of those very special beings who feels like an extension of my many selves. Whether we are photographing, hiking, or simply being, we have achieved a certain element of appreciation, understanding and oneness which is what I believe truly makes the imagery what it is. I can see both of us in there, despite me being the one in front of the lens.'
This piece marks the sixth time I have featured Samuel's images, four as a model and one as a photographer. I think it is that oneness that Samuel references that continually draws me to his work. Most of us spend our lives trying to blend our mind and body, our emotions and our actions and our soul with that of another. It is a life long journey for many but one you can feel has been peacefully, yet sensationally achieved by Samuel. It comes through in his both his movements, and his stillness, incredibly captured here by artist Andrew Graham.
I could tell Andrew was one of those very special human being, not just from his images, and not just from Samuel's words. His bio on his site cemented it with is mentioning living with his his dear spouse Edward of 3-plus decades, his two amazing dogs, two very determined goats, a flock of 13 hens and one exceedingly happy rooster! Andrew's description of his skin, fur and feather wearing family had me dreaming of being one in similar environment, I have always for some reason wanted to raise goats myself, I think it is their determination and stubbornness I admire.
'The unclothed body is an amazing art form, so changeable with pose, light, mood, the energy of the day, and the relationship between the model and the photographer – so many variables, which make a challenging, yet possibly magical photograph. We live in a society where we are often discouraged from being “naked” to the world around us. We adorn ourselves with manufacturers’ logos, auto insignias, job titles, and the four walls in which we live. These serve to define us, and I think on many levels we are satisfied and may prove welcoming of this definition. But is that really who we are? What about our deeper selves – our “naked” selves – that which makes us weep with abandon, laugh out loud, or that which gives us reason to rise each morning? What are our passions? What is it that makes us vulnerable? Can we share these parts of us?'
'Obviously for most to be literally naked before the lens is to be vulnerable. I believe there is a truth inherent and unavoidable when we shed our clothes. It is my goal to capture and share that truth. There have been cultures who felt that the camera steals the soul. There may in fact be some truth to that depending on your definition. I have no intention of stealing anyone’s soul, but I do hope to get a tiny glimpse!'
I think more than glimpse, maybe for me especially within the first two image, staring into Samuel's eyes beneath the white sheer. Samuel connects with both the camera, and the man behind it, and I can't think of a better model to fit with Andrew's philosophy about nudity. Although completely naked in almost every shot, Samuel is always in control, and it never feels he is exposing his physical body. Samuel uses his body to expose a voice, a way of thinking and living that goes beyond any particular body part. Even naked in a photograph, Samuel and Andrew challenge the viewer with images that are both cerebral and soulful as well as quietly, but beautifully sensual.
'Well, in the past year I have built a great relationship with Andrew. He is delightfully boyish, extremely experimental, and most importantly, he is lovable beyond words. When we have gotten together to work, we have tried so many things that it eventually becomes this intricate weaving of emotion and intention.'
'We go through ideas, discuss themes, but when we begin working it is a smooth process of determining our energies in the moment, and how we can build upon it. At times we begin with a mellow base and become ecstatic and titillated in our creative flow. It is quite beautiful. There are times when we have to remind ourselves to stop, not become depleted, and take a break. We often forget, but the physicality of our sessions can be very active and intense. Think of it like the greatest of physical exercises!'
'As for working with Samuel, what can I say? Along our creative journey together he has become a very dear and wonderful friend. He has in fact become family. We have also modeled together for photographer Dok Wright in Vermont, which had added yet another level of depth to the art creation we share. I believe this shows in the work we have done. We now have a comfort level with each other which is wonderful, comfortable, and rich!
'Not only that, but as Samuel is an artist himself, our work is a collaborative effort. I look to Samuel for input and suggestions. There is a lot of give and take... suggestions and exploration from both sides of the camera! And in the time I have known Samuel, I feel he has grown so much as a model. He brings an extremely positive attitude, and expresses his deep emotion for the camera. I guess if I have a muse, it is Samuel, and what could be better?'