Earlier this fall, when Dylan Rosser and I were seeking content for tMf #7, without knowing the other was doing so, each saw an image from ClearEye LLC and contacted Ohio photographer Mason from ClearEye about being in the issue. I love images which are able to seamlessly blend model with location, and these images (not in tMf) of 20 year old model Jason Rafael do so beautifully. There is magic in The Room, with model, the windows and the sunlight and shadow the room, through Mason's eye, so incredibly displays. Although Mason has only been shooting the male form for about a year, his images have a deep emotional base and feel more attuned to someone who has been doing it for years.
'Jason was one of the first models I worked with. He was still somewhat inexperienced, as was I. He made it incredibly easy. He was extremely professional, cooperative and comfortable in front of the camera. The photos in the room were taken during our second shoot together. The house was vacant, it was fall and the furnace was not working. Jason was naked and a little cold, but he worked diligently for hours. We were both somewhat tired, but the conditions were perfect. The light was falling beautifully on the cracked wall, and we were in a "groove." Jason moved quickly and naturally through a series of beautiful poses, with some suggestions from me, and it took only a few minutes to produce some of the best photographs I have ever taken.'
You can see much more of Mason's work in tMf #7, here is an excerpt from that piece.
Clear Eye LLC’s Mason has been an amateur photographer for close to 30 years. Born in Pennsylvania, Mason has lived and worked in New York, San Francisco and now works and resides in Columbus Ohio. About two years ago that he turned to portrait work and in 2012 he began to focus solely on depicting the male nude. tMf talks to Mason about making this change, finding men to take their clothes off, and how the reality of the work lived up to his expectations.
Given you have been shooting for more than 30 years, what inspired you to move towards portraits and nudes?
'It was something I had wanted to do for a long time, but assumed it was impossible. I thought there was no way I would be able to find beautiful men willing to be photographed nude by me. But as I became more confident in my photographic skills generally (working mostly in landscapes and cityscapes), I became convinced that I could produce good art featuring nude men, and that life was too short to not at least try to make a go of it. At the same time, I realized from meeting a lot of social nudists that a many people are completely comfortable being seen naked, so I figured it might not be that hard to find guys willing to model. I put out some feelers on Craigslist and discovered that there is no shortage of photogenic men willing to take off their clothes in front of a camera.'
You state on your MM Page that you strive to normalize and celebrate the natural male form. By natural, does that mean you’re not a fan of manscaping or digital manipulation of your models in the editing process?
'Absolutely! I am not a fan of manscaping and I perform only the most minimal digital editing of my images. I've noticed that a huge number of young men do substantial manscaping -- quite a lot of them shave their pubic area completely bare. The resulting appearance seems unnatural and demasculinizing to me. My current practice is to question prospective models quite specifically about their manscaping habits and if it turns out that they have removed most of the hair from the area around their penis and testicles, I will often delay shooting them until they've had a chance to regrow some of their hair. But even then, the guys are not willing to grow very much hair before they start to trim. One of my favorite models is Corey Garcia, who has beautiful body hair. When I asked him about this he said: "A guy should look like a guy." I wish more men felt that way.'