Last month, while choosing images to celebrate Justin Gaston's birthday, I came upon this great pictorial from 2012. California Dreaming, shot by Doug Inglish for Ponystep features Justin, along with model Austin Victoria in this great series of shots perfect for August's summer peak.
I have written many times about my love of profiling dancers. Not only are dancers able to create incredibly beautiful lines and poses, they also have a deep a connection with every inch of their body. Most dancers are beautifully able to convey this connection on stage, and through images. Gabriel Mata is certainly one of those dancers, and one of those models.
The classically trained San Francisco model, dancer and choreographer has a Bachelor of Fine Arts and has danced on stages and in Opera Houses on both coasts. I first introduced Gabriel's work as a model in Strange Movements, which featured Gabriel's work with NICKET along the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. I loved NICKET's work with Gabriel, and it wasn't long before I was working on a part 2. While working on the last piece, I remembered that I had seen Gabriel's images somewhere before but it took me a little while to remember where...
Gabriel by Don Engle
Finally it dawned on me that it was his work with Wes from New Manhattan Studios that I was remembering. While communicating with Wes about an upcoming FH piece, I asked if he thought Gabriel might be up for an interview. Well, my timing was perfect as Gabriel was with Wes at the time, working on their second shoot together. In between dance performances, Gabriel graciously took my FH questionnaire and help narrow down some of his favorite images of movement.
Photographic Beginnings: 'My curiosity and talking to Mike Tossy and Mark Grantham (photographer friends of mine). They have a superb and extensive collection of their work in their home. After visiting their home many times and getting the idea of modeling on my mind. I don't clearly remember how the conversation got started, but it was a very easy conversation.'
Favorite Themes: 'Whenever I can use my abilities as a dancer. Sessions have involved different environments, flour, rope, a rain shoot, props and even skittles with a trampoline.'
Nudity & Trust: 'All of the photographers that I have worked with are artists. Their work has artistic value and I didn't think too much of it. I trusted the people I have worked with, I knew I was in safe hands and had nothing to worry about.'
Reaction of Friends & Family: 'I solely feel responsible for myself and the decision has been mine and I have not thought of anyone's decision. None of the work that I have done has been responded with negative feedback. Friends, family, and the audience see the work as art and have been supportive. They are also very curious to see what the next thing I will do.'
'As the sun was setting, the crowd in the waterfront park watched the dancer. I remember thinking that we were just a couple of sailors short of recreating a scene from On The Town. But upon noticing the splayed fingers in the finished work, another classic New York movie springs to mind. I'm sure I'm not the only one to think that Gabriel could qualify for the remake of Spiderman.'
'All of the photoshoots have involved me in motion. I use my flexibility, contort in different forms, leap, turn, or suspend myself All of the photographers have used their styles to create images. No two images have ever been the same, I always look forward to see what the end product will be like.'
'My arms are my favorite part. They create lines, gestures, and play a big role in my dancing. What gets the most attention has been my legs.'
'85% of the photo sessions have involved me in motion, I like modeling because it captures moments that last a fraction of a second. As a dancer I like to see what my body can do from virtuosic movement to a simple but powerful gesture. Every image is a performance and I like collaborating with photographers who can really challenge me.'