There is on going debate in almost all area's of the arts about the importance of education and skill vs raw passion and emotion. We have all heard songs sung by vocal masters that fail to give us goose bumps. Have seen performances by dancers, ones with years of training, that don't trigger any emotion except that of boredom. It must be one of the most frustrating things to have studied and practiced something you love only to still be told your not good enough.
I read bios of photographers which have included years of art and visual education, all kinds of related jobs and awards from the institute of blabby blah or whatever. Yet... when I see their work I feel cold, no texture, no depth, no emotion. Usually hundreds of images of great looking models, all in front of the same background or posed in the same way. A shot or pose that years ago got them a bit of attention and resulted in the death of their passion and creativity.
The first image I saw from photographer Markus Bollingmo was one of Dominick, standing by the window smoking a cigarette. (see post below). The image told an entire story, a personal moment told in beautiful shades of dark and light. The Norwegian photographer, now based in Paris says all his work consists of personal projects. Markus has never worked in a studio, he shoots on location, at homes, hotels and outside and the models, not usually professional models, but the young men who have passed through his life. 'So far finding inspiring models hasn't been a problem for me.'
If an artists images act as their resume, their bio provides the cover letter. Although I loved his images, I was also impressed and amused by the words Markus has on his Model Mayhem page. Although a lot of professional models and photographers have used MM as a great way to promote and network for work, there are also clearly another group who use the site to meet various other needs. 'Let's be real. This website is mostly a bunch of people perving on each other while trying to be artistic about it. You know I'm right!'
There is an honesty within this statement that I think is also reflected within Markus images. I often scratch my head when I see an image of a completely naked man, face looking animalistic and the photographer wants any comment which connects it to anything sexual removed. The image may indeed be artistic, but at it's core, its foundation is sexual.
'People try to rise above it I suppose, but when you look around MM, it's pretty obvious from a lot of the comments that many of people are just trying to find classy ways of saying "I find you hot". I suppose "I love the juxtaposition of the this and the that" sounds better than "Your butt pic gave me a boner", but it's still very obvious.'
If you haven't guessed already, all of the images in this piece are self pics of the artist himself. I find it interesting that at 29, Markus visually looks younger than he appears which juxtaposes the maturity and emotion he demonstrates within his work. And... to continue with the honesty theme, Markus is not only talented but hot... and so yes, I had my own honest, and personal reaction to his butt pics.
Markus has large presence on the net, so if you want to see more of his work (and him) I would start with his official site, if only for the really cool video graphic on the opening page. I would also head to his Live Journal site, which is not only where I found the set of images of Dominick, but the top of the page contains links to his work on Flickr, Tumblr, Twitter & Facebook.
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is probably one of the worlds most well known streets for its shopping and cafe's and horse-chestnut trees which have been featured in many television shows and movies. It was also along the Champs-Élysées, in a room within the Hotel Mathi where Markus shot 19 year old Dominick.
As I stated in the piece above, the men Markus shoots are not professional models but instead people who for some reason come into his life for brief periods of time. Dominick is a French guy who was dating another friend of his when he and Markus first met. Originally from Nice, but he currently lives in Paris.. 'I liked working with him because he is very relaxed and always open to trying different things'.
Dominick's images embody the honest and personal nature strived for within the artists work. There is clearly a high comfort level and trust between Markus and Dominick and the resulting images reflect this in how natural and un-staged they appear. I especially love how the minimal use of color adds to this. Except for the stripes of blue and yellow on Dominick's Calvin's the images are made up of skin reflected in shades of black and white, dark and light and shadow and sun.
I have always struggled to see the appeal of the boys of BelAmi. Hot yes, but to me, I struggled to see them beyond a group of similar looking Stepford hunks. Similar bodies with far too many mullet hair cuts and the odd need to all be wearing some sort of choker or chain in their videos. My feelings however recently changed by meeting BelAmi superstar Kevin Warhol.
This post did not actually start out about Kevin. After reading a story about porn star Jett Black being kicked out of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Academy, possibly due to his ties with the industry, I thought I would pursue him for an interview. Jett's ballet training always played a part in his work as any clip I saw with him always had beautifully extended limbs, toes pointed and in position.
Sadly I never heard back from my attempts to reach Jett, but while waiting I did of course need to pursue further research. That research let me to Cocky Boys who were in the middle of a Porn Haus film festival with director Jake Jaxson adding an artsy flair with hypnotic and dream like new visuals to the medium. Jaxon's latest project was a film entitled Talk To Me which featured Jett, Colby Keller (who I featured HERE:) and Kevin Warhol, who BelAmi graciously shared with the studio.
Talk Me is a visual masterpiece and with Jett and Colby starring you wonder who could possibly compete, but it was the boy with the dragon tattoo, Kevin Warhol who drew most of my attention. As you can see from this first series of images, although Kevin has many of the classic features of a BelAmi model, he also has a beautiful edge highlighted by the dragon predominately featured on his neck. Photographers for adult sites don't usually get much credit, but I loved searching through the images from CB's photographer RJ Sebastian, whose images matched the feel and quality of the film they are promoting.
Kevin drew me in right away, but reading a bit about his back story reeled me all the way in. I am not sure how much is true, or how much is part of promoting his image, but according to the site, Kevin comes from an extremely difficult family background and the dragon, an expression of his tough life experiences. Kevin, was chosen from Macauley Culkin's character from Home Alone. Abandoned by his family he had to fend for himself, tough by caring all the while maintaining a good sense of humour. Kevin has been on his own since the age of 15 and supported himself through his work as he finished school. Getting to know Kevin has given me a new slant on the boys of BelAmi and just might require further investigation.