Friday, May 25, 2012
Belly Buttons & Nipples: Drew by Robert J. Guttke
'One grows tired of just belly buttons & nipples... and while not trying to photograph any one's inner soul... there is a joy in approaching the shoot with humor and getting folks to laugh or do crazy stuff. It is mostly a visual slant to my own quirkiness.'
Robert J. Guttke
Yes, these images of Drew are incredible. Robert J. Guttke's artistry and skill immortalizing the male form is incomparable. Part of the joy of working with Robert on a piece for FH is not just the images however, a large part of the pleasure comes from the stories. Given Robert's vast experience, and the countless men and women he has captured the stories are both abundant and enthralling. Sadly, most of the stories must also remain untold.
Like any profession with whom one puts their trust in, photographers, like doctors and lawyers, are often the holder of secrets. When you work as a model with Guttke, your not just naked, your often balancing dangerously high in the air, on the ledge of a building, in a swamp, or an alley working at trying to get the shot before being discovered by a looky loo passing by. Given the atmosphere and the inherent vulnerabilities, you can just imagine the stories.
Robert J. Guttke takes his role, and his profession, seriously. There are many sons and daughters, fathers and husbands whose history, and whose stories took place partly in front of Guttke's lens. There stories are varied, compelling, funny, titillating and most of all...safe.
What I can share about Drew is that he was not the initial subject for this post. The post began with a question about a duck. That is where Robert's quote that begins this story came from. One of Robert's rules is, 'bellybutton & nipples must show'. The duck story will have to remain one of those untold stories, but it did lead to Robert suggesting Drew, which given his incredible Adonis looks is clearly and thankfully more swan than duck.
I always wonder what inspires an artist, but with Robert I had sort of and embarrassing 'duh moment' in that it became clear the what is not nearly as important as the how. Beyond the black backdrops, the 'rain', the policeman's uniform, violins and hockey sticks Robert's images stand out not just because of what his images include, but how he includes them. There is a truth, an authenticity in Robert's work that few have been able to replicate. I have often seen shots of a man with a piece sports equipment and it is clear the model would not, could not actually play the sport. Trying to put a model in a situation they don't belong or connect with is a mistake made far too often. It can be done, but only by a certain few. Every situation, every image of Drew is skillfully authentic.
'The water shoots take place center in my studio with a black backdrop. A hose runs into the studio, attached above, and pours water down on the model who stands in a plastic kiddy pool. Much better than the typical shoots of models in shower stalls. This way I isolate the figure in the blackness and the water is evident as silver spears darting off the body or cascading down and locked in shimmering movement. Direction is always to move in a circle so I can see how the water reacts and suggest playing with the water to get it to spritz... forever yelling (the water is loud) "Run your fingers through your hair!" Otherwise it looks like a melted candy bar.'
When it comes to stories of Drew, Robert's memories are of his kindness. The photographer discovered Drew at a body building contest and the rest as they say, is history. Drew was a part of several of Robert's calendars and after they worked together Drew went on to appear in Playgirl and dipped his foot into movies playing James Blonde in the 2006 flick Muscle Impossible. Those few sentences are the stories...that can be shared.
In The Barn
My two favorite images.