Male Penis Torso, 2001

The third piece to go into the portfolio was originally called “Penis Torso” but for some reason when I have been posting it as “Male Torso,” not that it isn’t obvious. This really starts a movement for me where I am finally beginning gain control of my light and use it more sculptural and face my fear of showing full frontal nudity. I had been studying the lighting style and tonal quality of the photographer Fred Holland Day from around 1890’s. For the era he was working he did a lot of images of nude men that had this amazing soft light quality that I adored. I began a whole series of portraits of men and women in this style. It really made me focus on my process and figure out ways to refine it to get to core of this style. It began a balance of light and perfect exposure and then a manipulation of the film process techniques and then finally a whole new approach to the printing process. For the first time I began to use very flat surface papers so that the tones would look like they where actually receding into the surface of the images. This image mostly works printed on the silver gelatin darkroom paper, and this is what will go into the portfolio. To see the quality of this image in it’s original intended presentation is breathtaking and it works, where as a digital print that has been reduced for the internet to it’s smallest possible constraints the magic is lost. I really debated choosing this one because it did not translate to digital well, but the portfolio will eventually be shown to someone holding and looking at it, so it is a must to see the quality of subtle beauty. This image strove to capture the essence of all was working to create. The subject had the perfect classic body that was the pure perfection of form and shape for this sort of imagery. When I saw it I knew this image would emerge. The model was also a bit reluctant for me to show his face to have it associated with exposing his nudity. It’s very funny because after I printed the contact sheets and gave them to him he showed them to his boy friend who deemed them pornographic and forbid him from working with me again. I never saw him again and he never saw this final image.

I really began to question whether what I was doing was actually pornographic or art. It funny how some people consider showing a man’s penis pushes us over the line of what is actually tasteful or not. To me this was perfection of form and beauty and a strong desire comes from is tonal qualities. I guess we live in world where putting ones wanker out there becomes a standard of porn or looking for sex. But the classic artists like Michelangelo put it out there everywhere as natural and organic without a second thought, but then again he was another gay man, so perhaps it was his calling card for picking up other men as these sorts of images become for the modern internet cruise sites. It makes me laugh to think of the possibilities.