Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
On June 4, 1985, a baby boy was brought into this world. This baby boy would grow into a young man with an innate gift for creating beauty. His name is Steven D. Hill and he is based in Dallas, Texas. He thrives in this industry made up of stylists, make-up artists and photographers. His secret weapon is that he excels at all three.
In the golden age of glamour, it was easy to look on in wonder at the amazing images that photographers such as Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton were creating. Women were transformed from pretty to extraordinary by the likes of Max Factor, and artists were combining the skills of stylists, lighting technicians, make-up artists, models and photographers to create images that were larger than life. The visual impact of the efforts from the early pioneers would be studied and emulated, and ultimately reworked in the decades that followed. For a certain generation, Madonna was the pinnacle of creativity, exploring (what was assumed to be) uncharted territory in her vidoes and photo shoots, but a well trained eye, or someone who was familiar with the works of artists and performers from yesteryear, would be able to pinpoint where much of her inspiration came from. Along with her other talents was the ability to incorporate the past into her present, mimicing what had already been done in such a way that she embodied it and made it her own.
Art, in many ways, is about life, and some of the greatest talents were able to see life from a unique perspective and then process it in a way that it could be reflected back to the masses as their own vision. With such an abundance of creativity flowing, it would eventually become more difficult to offer something that had never been seen or done before. Indeed, this would become a cliche of sorts, with the idea being that there were not any avenues left to explore. Instead of being stunted, artists created new works by paying homage to their inspirations.
And then came MTV and a new media - the music video. Directors and artists would still use the past as creative influence, but the public's attention spans were getting shorter, brought on, in part, by this new method of storytelling that relied on quick cuts and impactful visuals to capture and keep the viewer's attention. This process would continue and morph, continue and blend to the point where much of what we see and hear had the look and feel of what we had already experienced. Singers became clones of each other, to the point where voices are sometimes indisguishable, and the world of fashion, as well as photography, appeared to come down to either a decision on which decade to recreate, or whose photographic style we could copy.
Talent is an extraordinary gift, but it is no longer enough to just possess it. In this day and age you have to step up your game and sometimes take a simple idea and push it to the highest level. Photoshop has made it easier for a photographer with modest skills to produce images of astounding beauty, but is this really about the craft of photographing or is it more a reflection on computer graphic skill? The actual answer may be unimportant to many, but there will always be just as many others who are longing for the purists. A person whose talent and vision relies solely on their skill and imagination. An innovator.
Enter Steven D. Hill.
There is a phrase Steven uses to describe his art: "The foundation of fashion, pop culture, and media combined." An ambitious turn of phrase that he has lived up to wholeheartedly. There are countless places where you can journey through the portfolios of models and photographers, including Model Mayhem, Model Coast, Beautful Mag, NEXT, and a host of personal blogs. It is sometimes overwhealming to discover how much beauty there actually is in the world, and just as exciting to see photos that demand a second look, and yet underneath much of it there is a trace of similarity. Paying homage still exists, and there are a few, like Justin Monroe, who can produce a photo that may remind us of David LaChappelle at first, but by pushing the idea just that extra step has allowed him to be in a class all by himself, where he is viewed as the architect rather than the builder. And he is not alone. We could list Luis Rafael, Rick Day, Mark Henderson, Carlos Arias, Murray!, HotSnapz, Bruce Weber, Herb Ritts, Sandro Boss, Lalli, Terry Richardson, Empyrean, Dylan Rosser, Y why Y why Y,Shinobi, Mark Grantham, ASYLUMseventy 7, Flesh & Color, Rundu, and quite a few others.
.......... And, without question, Steven D. Hill.
When you see a photo by Steven, you know that he took it. There's no need to glance up at the SOOAK logo. It starts with the styling, continues with the make-up, and then rests on the image itself, often infused with some creative text, or defined by the negative space at the top of the photo where the logo is often found, resembling a landscpe that has been rotated and presented vertically. What Steven has done is unique and innovative, not just for the exceptional quality of the photo, but for the care and thought that goes into the presentation. This man does not tip toe past a single element, and nothing escapes his keen eye for detail. If make-up is the primary element of the photo, then his mastery of this art is boldly evident. He can make anyone beautiful, but why stop there? In his hands, the face is a canvas, and his hand, coupled with his imagination, work together at creating a living piece of art.
Steven is the missing link between the past and the present, and this visionary has managed to create a space for his work that sits in neither realm. What he offers is a glimpse of the future. His photos practically declare, "this is what could be."
The third issue of BLISS is a celebration of all things Steven - the man, the make-up, the photos, and the models who have had the priviledge to become a part of the SOOAK world. I am honored that he took the time out of his busy schedule to be interviewed, and allow me to include his incredible body of work in my magazine.
©2009 - Sean Dibble
Friday, September 25, 2009
BLISS talks with boy next door Scott Swan, Hispanic hottie Luis Lucas, and alternative model/photographer Caleb Shinobi.
DANCE: Photo spread celebrating the beauty of dancers
Aged To Perfection: Men over 30 and 40, featuring Vic Rocco and NoVa
Cover: BLISS talks with model/dancer Joshua M
Entertainment: The voice and art of NYC singer Coby Koehl
Joey's Corner: Our fab editorialist from NOLA is back
Cover photo of Joshua M: Eric Schwabel
Thursday, September 24, 2009
But times have changed. It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate sexual identity based on appearance. The straight jocks wear A&F, AX, Hollister and any other brand that was brought to their attention through homoerotic advertisements, they get the eyebrows done, and their hair styled and work out to achieve the type of body that has come to typify the gay community. In fact, so many boys are of the pumped up gym mode these days that it almost diminishes the appeal. The boys have become clones, each one less distinguishable from the next. And amidst all the sameness, a classic idea, along with the undeniable appeal offered from it has almost been lost.
What ever happened to the boy next door?
B: It's amazing to me that so many of those places are still around. I'm even more amazed that there is a whole new crop of people who fall for the scam and spend hundreds of dollars on classes. You would think that in an internet era, we would take the time to do some research!
So you found a "real" agency and got work. Do you remember what your first shoot was like?
SS: My friend Lucas needed basically a breathing human to take shots of for his book. I ended up shirtless in a wide wheat field in 30 degree, windy weather, but the photos came out great though.
B: You have worked with a few amazing photographers. Do you have a favorite that you've worked with? If so, why?
SS: I have only worked with about 6 photographers Tthere are some that have done event photos that I was in but my friend Lucas is by far my favorite. I almost forget were trying to make something great.
B: Being friends also helps with th chemistry, and it's easier to relax. Who are some other photographers that you've worked with that you admire and why?
SS: I really enjoyed working with Eric Gregery, he just really knew what great lighting was about.
B: Are there any particular photographers that you would like to work with in the future?
B: That's certainly ambitious. Rick Day is amazing and I am a huge admirer. I love how he seems to effortlessly move from fashion to underwear or artistic nudes. He excels with both men and women, which is another quality I admire. But until the day comes that you get to work with him, what was the best photo shoot you've been invovled with and why?
SS: I would say a shoot I did with New Balance, they had a new camera system I can't explain due to my contract but it was really fun to be a part of.
B: What was the most challenging and why?
SS: Charles Archer, I was almost naked in front of small children.
B: That sounds interesting, and a bit scary. LOL You'll have to explain privately. Do you have a particular favorite of all the images you've done?
SS: Probably me in a Speedo on a camel statue's humps.
B: And let's clarify that you don't mean that money shot! You have posed in sexy underwear, but there are no nudes in your port. What is view of nudity in photography?
SS: I love the human body and think it is beautiful, it just isn't my nude body people are going to see until I get the right opportunity. I want to keep my options open and for some companies if you have posed nude, they won't even look at you.
B: Which is ridiculous, and very narrow minded, but if you're doing commercial stuff, I guess they have to protect the overall image of the company. At least you appreciate the beauty of nude work, even if you can't participate at this time. What is your view on artistic erotica?
SS: It can be beautiful, or porn. There is a fine line that many models and photographers don't see.
B: Or maybe they just have a different interpretation. How would you define the difference between erotic art and pornography?
SS: Erotic art shows the beauty of the human body, pornography just shows the human body.
B: What are your views on pornography in general? Good, bad or indifferent?
SS: It gives a lot of people jobs and a lot of people relief and ability to watch fantasies they may never personally experience, so good.
B: Would you pose for a full frontal nude photo? If yes or no, why?
SS: Yes, but it has to be for something I really see as art and not just full frontal for the sake of full frontal.
B: Are you open to posing for artistic erotica?
B: What advice would you give a new model who is thinking about posing nude, be it artistic or pornographic?
SS: It depends on the person, if I see them having the potential to do real work for big companies, hold off on it, if not, go for it. Or it depends on if they want to go pursue modeling as a job and not a hobby, if they want to try and do real work, give it a good thought, as a hobby they have the freedom.
B: Switching gears for a moment, I'm always curious about model's self-perception. What would you consider to be your best feature?
SS: My lips.
B: They are quite stunning! Along with those eyes.Is there any one thing that you wish you could change about your self, in terms of physicality?
SS: I don't like to think about it since I can't change it but, height. I've been sent out of agencies after that dreaded measuring wall.
B: You would think that would be eliminated by now, since there is so many different avenues of work. Some of the best male models I've seen, and quite a few actors, are on the shorter side. And I'm talking a good 5" shorter than you. It all still comes down to this aestetic, or needed a standard size and fit. But that's not beautiful to me. Beauty lies in diversity. What is your definition of beauty? Is it purely physical, in terms of looks, or does attitude, carriage and personality play a role?
SS: Beauty is only skin deep as has been repeated many times. So, physical, in my mind. But it is a great attitude and personality that allows others to appreciate beauty.
B: Oh, I like that viewpoint. The idea that we can accpet that beauty is a surface thing, but the other elements are what allow us to truely appreciate or take notice. On a more intimate level, do you have any personal heros?
SS: My mommy.
B: Awww. My mother is one of mine as well.
I'm going to lighten the mood even more and ask one of my favorite questions: Tell me 5 fun facts about Scott.
1. I have an identical twin.
B: Thank you for being a part of this. Any last words?
SS: Any talent scouts reading? Or agents? I want more work!
Want more Scott Swan
Lucas Brown Photography
Eric Gregory Photo
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
TV Bitches: Fox has decided to bless us with Glee. With that said I am not sure if it is a blessing or a curse. The cast does offer us a really cute teacher, a jock who is sexy as hell, and of course the little twink that is so gay that I think I heard Elton John call him a faggot. Truth be told my best friend Gavin and I both have this weird crush on the little twink. But, since I watch TV with my eyes and not my libido I must say that Milli Vanilli had more talent with lip singing than the cast on Glee. Even a crack whore, coked out drag queen can put on a better performance before falling off stage on the way to her next bump than that cast did. It’s a cute show and an admirable plot of the loser becoming the popular kid but if the directors don’t step it up then Glee can be replaced with the Sarah Mclachlan ASPCA commercials since I’d rather cry while watching abused puppies than to cry from watching bad acting.
I do have to admit that I am obsessed with The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Before I go farther I think all housewives are pissed that these bitches aren’t cooking, cleaning, and wiping their husbands piss off the front of the toilet. Maybe they should change the title to The Rich Bitches of Atlanta. Nonetheless I am an addict. NeNe is my favorite even though I think that she needs to back off Kim so that trailer trash bitch doesn’t take off her earrings and wig and knock NeNe out with one of them tits. I loved Sheree at first but to be honest I’m over her. You can’t be a diva if you couldn’t keep your man, got evicted from your house, and your fashion line leaves everything to be desired since we haven’t seen shit yet. Take the time to get your shit together instead of wasting your time talking about who you are. Lisa started her line, likely just to punk you, and her models have walked down the runway with clothes on already. So stop calling yourself a designer until someone actually buys your shit. With that said, I still have love for you after "who gonna check me, boo". I have nothing negative to say about Lisa because we all saw that she comes from the hood. I am not pissing off some rich bitch just to have her pull a razor out her mouth and cut me with it and then bitch about me bleeding on her Prada. I like this new bitch Kandi. Now, people say she’s from the group Xscape and the first thing that comes to mind is who the fuck is Xscape. Regardless, she seems like she is a cool bitch and I have to learn how she does that "stank y eye". You know what I’m talking about…that look she gives people when she hasn’t said a word but her face is yelling "this bitch lost her mind". Speaking of a bitch losing her mind, what is up with Dwight thinking he is one of the housewives? He voices his opinion too much and it’s only a matter of time before TruTV does a special "When Fags Attack". Just calm down a little cause you have to represent. Otherwise, they are going to keep giving spotlights to that tragic thing that designs Kim’s wigs. You can’t wear a dress and heels without a wig and makeup! I’m sorry but that bitch looked like a drag queen with ADD…started getting ready and got distracted by the glitter.
Anniversaries: On a serious note, the past two weeks were the anniversary of both Hurricane Katrina and 9/11. Let us enjoy our lives but also let us remember those affected by two of the20most significant tragedies on American soil. I live in New Orleans and I’m still pissed at that bitch Katrina. The next time there is blowing like that in our city it better be during Southern Decadence with my pants around my ankles and that Twink from Glee practicing his lip singing if you know what I mean.
Why do people have to always be so fucking tragic? I had my article finished Sunday morning and then the VMAs played. I’m not writing my opinion on it yet except for one thing…who in the fuck does Kanye West think he is? I mean seriously??? Grow the fuck up and find some class because you made yourself look like a fucking douche bag. Your opinion doesn’t matter as much as you think and stealing someone’s spotlight so you can voice it is not only disrespectful but it proves how much of a cunt you are. Sorry, I guess that was a last minute rant but that bitch pissed me off. That’s plenty f or now, I’ll catch you bitches later and if you do something I wouldn’t do, then you’re fucking nasty. Bye Loves!
©Joey Swinson 2009