Saturday, October 31, 2009

JOEY'S CORNER - Porn For Thought

“Pornography is literature designed to be read with one hand.” –Angela Lambert
A couple years ago, before I came out, I found myself driving to a small magazine shop next to the Morning Call Café in Metairie. A couple days before, I had stopped by Morning Call with some friends for some beignets and coffee. As I was leaving I noticed that there was a discrete magazine shop next to the café that was completely filled with both newspapers and magazines. After returning home my mind started to engage the idea of how simple it might be to stroll right in there and buy a gay magazine. Even though I lived in New Orleans and had a dyke for a roommate I still found myself deep within the closet; which was pointless since I discovered that the only person that wasn’t aware I was gay, was me. My heart was racing as I pulled into the parking lot to the magazine shop. I sat in my car full of emotions. I was scared, excited, ashamed, and horny to be honest. I couldn’t wait to find the perfect magazine so that I could rush home and unleash the fury that I had attempted to suppress for so long. As I walked into the shop I felt as if every single person knew exactly what I was attempting to do. I feared that the second I pulled the gay porno off the rack that sirens would ring and people would line up prepared to beat me mimicking the scene in the movie “Airplane!” I grabbed the first magazine I could find; it was a copy of PlayGuy. I ran and paid for it and of I used cash instead of a credit card because god forbid that visa discovered I like cock. In a brown paper bag, I carried my new most prized possession to my car and drove it home with my heart beating faster than a drum roll. I ran inside eager to rip open the magazine and experience gay porn for the first time. I had never looked at gay porn before; I always watched straight porn while paying close attention to the guys. I mean I could have watched gay porn online but what if my laptop crashed…how a “straight” boy explains Turk Mason being on his hard drive is confusing. I sat there looking at every page with detail. I sat there intensely staring at every hard peck, every line of a six pack, every vein of a cock, and every variation of an ass. After switching through multiple pages and allowing pre-cum to drip it didn’t take long for me to finish what I had just started.
Porn is of the Devil! Recent history with the Catholic Church and their grand abilities to cover up thousands of child molestation cases leaves me to ponder how such a holy organization can have such a widespread cancer within. Perhaps it boils down to a very simple issue; is it mentally healthy to deprive a person of sex? We have natural instincts and sexual desire is one of them. The idea that sex is meant only for reproduction is bullshit. Whatever god you worship that created us did so by placing very unique parts that are full of nerves and for one reason or another; we are able to experience pleasures that can only be felt and not explained. So, I fully understand how restricting a man from releasing natural desires might cause the sick bastard to take advantage of certain situations. So go fuck someone or jerk it so you don’t become one of them. Sex is natural! Sex is fun and exciting and should not be about shame or filtering. I mean, I can get pretty kinky and even though I may not understand some of the things people like to do, like scat, I mean really! I fully support the idea that as long as you aren’t hurting someone else (unless they like that) then explore away. How does porn come into the picture? It allows people to release desires that they may not be capable of experiencing in life. It also can be a visual show and tell of new and unique ways to experience sex on a new level. It can be addictive like everything else in life but suppressing natural desire can fuck you up a lot more in the long run. As Sean pointed out in a recent article, there are too many people paying into the porn industry for it to not be an industry that is needed in our society.
A special shout out to Turk Mason who graces the cover of Bliss this issue. OMG! Like seriously? How can one person be so fine! This boy deserves every bit of attention that he receives, no pun intended…maybe. He has a perfect body with an AMAZING ass and a beautiful face; if only we were in Rome many years ago with him. A single look at him creates fantasies that never existed and causes desires and urges that would make any man lose his bearing and explode with anticipation. He is beautiful, talented, and fucking sexy. I keep looking at Sean’s article that was just posted as I write this and I’m about to say fuck this article and go handle some of my own business because I’m finding it difficult to just sit here and type while viewing such a hot guys pictures. If I haven’t made my point, find Turk Mason and include him in your daily routine…yea, yea we know, you don’t masturbate (Bullshit!).
©2009 - Joey Swinson

Friday, October 23, 2009

BLISS ISSUE #3 - Dave Lewis Cover

by Dave Lewis
This issue of BLISS

JOEY'S CORNER - Art Through The Lens

“You don't take a photograph, you make it.”
-Ansel Adams
In today's society we often find ourselves surrounded by many forms of art. No matter where you are or what you are doing there is a guarantee that you will be influenced by some type of art. When asked, what is art, many of you will automatically default to some of the magnificent paintings of Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, or my favorite Leonardo da Vinci (don’t even try and play like the Creation of Adam isn’t hot). However, we often over look many other art forms that are created without canvas and oils; when I say “oils” I don’t mean the ones you use when you usually look at this site.
One stroll down Royal Street in New Orleans will showcase many art forms. You may hear jazz music being played from a hobo's trumpet as you walk pass galleries of art, while appreciating the tap dance that a young Creole boy performs on the street; you, my friend, are encompassed by art. One particular form that we often take for granted is photography. It may be the form of art that we are most surrounded by. Every time that you open a magazine or browse a website you view photos that we all too often pass up without acknowledging the true beauty that is offered to us, that is unless you are looking at the newest edition of UnZipped. Society has trained us to accept what we are told and to follow the guidance provided to us without question. Let us use our own brains and ignore that training the next time we view a photograph. We often look at a photo but many of us rarely take the time and energy to actually see the photo that is being presented.
Of all the different types of photography, nudes are my favorite (Go Figure!). Nude photography, (and Sean) have been deemed filthy, perverted, and shameful by our society and we have allowed little room for its acceptance. America's puritan beliefs restrict the beauty of our bodies. We are told that nudity is not pure, and is pornographic and vulgar. I mean really? Last time I checked “Adam” wasn’t created wearing Marc Jacobs! I’m actually not fond of the idea of Adam being created; I think we evolved…have you ever seen a Bear on Bourbon Street, the proof is in the back hair! How can we allow ourselves to be constrained to such an idiotic thought? Our bodies are structured with different contours, shades of color, and textured by hair and there is nothing more pure than the naked human body. We are each unique and beautiful in our own way... well most of us. Thankfully, there are photographers out there that will not allow their art to be restricted to clothing; God knows there are plenty of queens at Vouge capturing fashion in their lens. Since there are photographers with the balls to do it, thankfully we are blessed with artists who manipulate bodies and capture beautiful raw images. Most of us are not aware of the emotions released when we finally acknowledge how stunning the small of a back or the curve of an underarm can be. Nude Photographers remind us that beauty is not found just in the face, but that a navel, a nipple, a foot, or a penis can be alluring without being sexual. When I first discovered the beauty of nude art, I assumed it would be an erection, followed by the need of a Kleenex, which justified the quality of it. However, I quickly learned that it was the deep, slow breath (calm down, it’s not that type of article) that I took while my heart skipped a beat that separated nude art from pornography.
Photography is a complex beauty that is a far cry from a simple picture. That’s the difference between the photos you see on this site and those pictures you have in a hidden folder on your laptop. Allow yourself to open your heart while you open your eyes to see the photograph, to acknowledge the photographer's vision, and to appreciate the elaborate expression of his or her art.
©2009 - Joey Swinson

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


"The difference between art and porn is lighting."
-Robert Mapplethorpe

FNC Platinum: The Feast photo: flesh and color

I believe that art is subjective. People react to creative expression in different ways, be it paintings, sculpture, photos, writing, or music. What is considered offensive by some may be hailed by others. I will not go as far as to say that either side is correct in this arguement, but I will hold firm on my belief that no one should have the right to decide what I, or someone else can view, read or hear. I deplore racism, misogyny and homophobia, yet I listen to Hip Hop artists like Eminem whose lyrics are often a platform for all but racism. It may seem contradictory, but I embrace his creative genius and am constantly awed by the skill in which he wields his pen and spits his verses. In my eyes, he is a poet, and arguably a genius, so I applaud his talent rather than fixate on the words. Add to that the fact that I do not think he is serious about the things he says, but uses his gift to create humorous situations out of ugly ideas. To me, that is art, which I believe is supposed to stir emotions, provoke thought, create a dialog, inspire or disgust, bring fantasy to life, or force us to confront the harsh realities that actually exist in this world. It is to be appreciated, valued and enjoyed. It is to be mocked, protested against and defamed. It is like a page out of a diary, come to life, from the mind of it's creator, that evokes a particular moment in time. And it is for this reason that so much of it leads to controversy.

Curve photo: Jay Plogman Photography

Robert Mapplethorpe was at the center of a huge controversy over his notorious collection of photos that led to the pulling of funding for the Endowment for the Arts. Those shots would eventually find a home in a collection entitled PICTURES. Some of the photos that were deemed that most offensive depicted underground S&M rituals, including one man pissing into the mouth of another, and close-up images of men getting fisted. There is even a self portrait of Mr. Mapplethorpe with the bottom of a leather whip inserted into his own anus.

Are these images hard to look at? Sometimes. Are they offensive? Not to me, but I could understand why some people would view them as such.
Prior to this, he was behind another scandal regarding one of his most famous photos, "Man In Polyester Suit", which depicted a large, uncut, penis hanging out of the fly on a cheap brown polyester suit. There are some who argue that what people really found offensive was the size, and that the organ belonged to a black man. His work was labeled pornographic and promptly dismissed by those of a certain sensibility.

But what truely defines pornography? At what point does erotic art cross over the line into pornographic territory?

Model: jj adams photo: Adam Livermore

Joey as Stephan Sinestro in "THE WILLING" photo: Y?NOT CREATIONS

It is no secret that we live in a somewhat hypocritical society. As a nation, porn is often demonized vocally and loudly, yet sales of the genre generate more revenue than the Hollywood film industry and the music industry combined. If our attitudes towards porn are so negative, who is buying all the stuff?

How many right wing conservatives have been caught up in scandals involving the very things that they are fighting against? How do those people who use the church and it's teachings as the moral code against porn react over the mind boggling number of sexual abuse cases involving Catholic priests? And how can you put the visuals in a gangbang video into the same category with something as incredible as the statue of David?

Models: Diego Moran & Latysha Lucas photo: rSEANd PHOTOGRAPHY

Breaking Free Model: Salvatore M photo: Charles Archer Photography


In addition to the hypocrisy, there is the matter of double standards. We need only look at movies or magazine covers to understand that there is in big difference between seeing women's breasts and being confronted with the male penis. I am always amazed at how men react when it comes to a penis other than their own. Unless it is in a humorous context, like Forgetting Sarah Marshall or Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, men literally squirm in their theater chairs. Many of my straight male friends will turn their head if I am editing photos and one of them happens to be a nude shot that shows the dangly bits. It's as if they are scared it will leap off the computer screen and proceed to throttle them. I always found this reaction to be disingenuous considering they have no problem enjoying a pornographic DVD. No matter what excuse they come up with, there is no way around the fact that the action in those videos are all centered around the phallus. The girl may be the star on the box, but the dick is the star of the show.

Model: NarcissisticHate photo: rSEANd PHOTOGRAPHY

Model: tatoo23 photo: Mike Lidbetter

The truth is that there is no definitive answer to the art versus porn debate, because of our individual perceptions. But this does not hamper my curiousity, so I have decided to explore this avenue on a regular basis, both visually and by asking various people what they believe.

So now it's your turn...
Is it art?

Model: Vic Rocco photo: Edendale Studios, LLC

Or is it porn?

Model: JaySin photo: DSI

© 2009 Sean Dibble
Do not repost without permission

To view more work by tatoo23

To view more work by Vic Rocco

To view more work by Edendale Studios, LLC

To view more work by flesh and color

To view more work by Jay Plogman

To view more work by Charles Archer

To view more work by Y?NOT CREATIONS

To view more work by JaySin

To view more work by jj adams

Sunday, October 4, 2009


D A V E - L E W I S

The human form is a thing of beauty, and we have admired it throughout history. From the moment the earliest photographic process was invented, people began to use the naked human form as subject matter. When the Polaroid camera was introduced, it provided the means in which to shoot nude imagery, without fear of shame or embarrassment. The revolution continued with the advent of digital photography, as more and more people cast themselves in naked scenarios, unhampered by the need to have the film publicly processed. It is these actions that prove that a huge percentage of the population reveres the nude form, regardless of the puritanical viewpoints expressed vocally. The body, in all its glory, is a work of art that is meant to be adored.

A glance through the portfolios of Dave Lewis makes it clear that he is a true body enthusiast. He frames his subjects with light that enhances their natural form, defining the musculature, and illuminating his models as if on pedestals. No body part is ignored in the quest for the most flattering pose, which is evident by the positioning of the arms in his beautiful nude portraits. Even his more erotic photos retain the feel of classic bodyscapes, with the same attention to detail regarding light, body posture and positioning.

Dave Lewis, who is based in Seattle, Washington, is entirely self taught, continuously learning, and seems to constantly be on the lookout for the next beautiful photo. He focuses his attention on the work of other photographers, as he says “to try and determine how an image was made, how was the lighting achieved, how was the background achieved, in order to continue to expand my own knowledge and skills.” He is immensely supportive, speaking as one who has had the benefit of being on the receiving end of his wonderful words of praise, and easy to communicate with. He respects his models as much as he respects his art, remains humble about his various achievements, and appears not to limit himself in regards to the types of photos he eventually wants to create.

A recent comment on his Model Mayhem profile from a model states, “You are the gold standard by which all other photographers should be judged.” Dave Lewis would probably disagree, and therein lies the beauty of the man himself.

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When did you first get interested in photography?

I first really became interested in doing something with photography as a teen. I had a friend in high school that was into photography, he was the school newspaper photographer. He used a twin lens Rollei with Kodak Tri-X film. The school had a makeshift darkroom where we would develop the film and print the images on primarily Ilford paper. I was between a freshman and sophomore the summer of 1969 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. My friend and I used the school's twin lens Rollei to photograph the TV screen as Armstrong took the first steps onto the moon. From that point on I was intrigued with photography, especially watching the astronauts using the Hasselblad equipment on the moon.

Do you remember when you got your first camera?

I was about 20 when I was able to afford to buy my own camera, I did a lot of research on 35mm equipment and was pulled to the Canon equipment over Nikon, I just always preferred how Canon felt in my hands and the user interface over Nikon, and the same is still true today. My first camera was the Canon EF (FD lens mount). I had that camera for about 13 years until I traded it for a new T90.

How did you start out and what type of images were you creating?

I read everything I could get my hands on for reference and information on exposure and composition. During this period I was nearly 100% focused on landscape, architecture, and travel. Looking back, I think I was afraid to actually admit that what I wanted, and felt in my heart was that I should be photographing nudes. It would be years (30!!!) before I finally was able to realize that heart felt dream. I am entirely self taught, I did not take any college classes or major in photography (although now I wish I had!).

When did you start photographing men?

Believe it or not, my first session with photographing nudes was in 2003, and that was with a male / female couple.

What is your definition of beauty? Is it purely physical, in terms of looks, or does attitude, carriage and personality play a role?

Most certainly for me it is a combination of personality, attitude, looks, and how easy it is to approach the model with ideas, pose suggestions, etc. In addition, how well do the model and I relate, how easy do we talk to each other and feed off each other for ideas, all contribute to how beautiful the person I am photographing is, to me.

Your models have incredible bodies. How important is the physique in your images?

Well believe it or not, contrary to the primary body type in my portfolio, a super developed physique is not a requirement for me, it just happens that the models that I have been able to work with tend to all be very well developed, with incredibly muscular physiques. In reality, I am as attracted and appreciative of a gymnasts build, a swimmer or runners build. I would love to be able to build out my portfolio over time with models of a variety of body types.

You've shot beautiful artistic nudes. What is your general feeling about nudity in photos?

I love nudity in art, and it clearly shows in my portfolio. To me there is nothing more beautiful than the human form sans clothing, just the person in their skin, with their form, their personality, their life experiences and story captured by the camera with no artificial filter imposed by clothing.

What are your views on erotic art?

Likewise, I love and appreciate erotic art, and have created some myself (in fact several of my pieces have been jury selected for inclusion in the Seattle Erotic Art Show in two different years, all for images shot since 2003). The thing I have found most interesting with respect to "erotic" art is the vast differences in what even the models consider erotic. I have had models who consider pubic hair showing (and nothing else) erotic, while for others it is intercourse, oral sex, use of toys, or for males ejaculation. As a result I always have a conversation with any model that indicates that they are interested in doing some erotic images what they mean by erotic. We discuss the model's definition and limits before we start, I will not push a model to do more than they are comfortable with. At the end of the day the model needs to feel comfortable, confident and view the resultant images as beautiful.

In your opinion, what is the difference between erotic art and pornography?

Frankly, for me, there is little to no difference between the two from a technical standpoint, the difference comes down to if the model has a connection with the camera, with the viewer, does the image, art, or video connect with the viewer as a work of art and beauty, if so I consider that erotic.

Do you view porn as a good thing, a bad thing or are you indifferent?

I see porn as a good thing, porn has a place and need in society. Trying to legislate morality of what an adult can see, partake of, and enjoy is not what I think government should be doing (and here I do make a distinction, erotic art and porn are not for children, using the regional/locally acceptable age of consent/adulthood as the dividing line between child and adult) .

What was the biggest challenge you've had, in terms of a shoot?

Trying to work with a model whose personality was flat, who was tired and not really engaged and expected me to try and come up with all ideas and poses for the session. As stated earlier I really work best where the model and I have a collaboration and feed off each other.

What was your most memorable photo shoot?

Vancouver, BC, working with Yvan Cournoyer in an old industrial warehouse. Magic happened and we got some of the most amazing and best images I feel I have taken.

Do you have any favorites amongst your models? If so, who? Why?

Yvan would certainly be one, Alex Hahn, Eric Gordon and Julian Fantechi as well. In the case of Yvan, he a has malleable appearance, his ability to dynamically change the feel of pose and resulting image in a heartbeat, and his absolute wonderful personality bring him to the top of my list. For Alex it was his boy next door almost shy feel and appearance, I honestly do not think he realizes how beautiful he is. For Eric, his incredible body and willingness to try pose after pose to get the right look make him a pleasure to work with. Julian has such a strong presence, an intensity to him, that came out in the images we did together.

Where does the inspiration for you images come from?

From other model and photographer portfolios, I see something in rSEANd's portfolio and go "wow, I want to do that!", I see other photographers portfolios on Model Mayhem and think about how they achieved a particular image. I see people like Jeff Palmer, Tom Bianchi, and Howard Roffman who have multiple photo books published and I envision trying to build a sufficient portfolio to try and publish a book myself, even if only self published via Blurb or a similar service.

How do you set up a shoot?

Honestly, not with a lot of forethought beforehand. I may setup a basic light arrangement and background, but I really try and let the energy flow once the model begins working with me to allow the session to flow where it wants to try to go and to get the most natural, or at ease, responses from the model.

Where do you find most of your models? Are there any physical requirements to shoot with you?

In all sincerity a vast majority of my models (at least my male images) have been via workshops. I have found that where I live in the Pacific Northwest has been very difficult to get models to work with willing to do nude images, or if willing that do not want the equivalent of the national debt for their modeling fee. The workshops have given me access to a number of models over a two to three day period, typically with at least two locations. Indeed, Yvan, Alex, Eric and Julian were all photographed at various workshops I have attended over the last three years. As far as physical requirements not necessarily, more a combination of physical build and personality as we discuss the potential session.

There are certain models whose only desirable attribute is their body, yet they refuse to reveal it in their photos. What is your viewpoint on models who refuse to incorporate nudity in the work?

In all truthfulness I really do not have much interest in doing a clothed only session. I have done a few and it becomes much more of a job and less fun and enjoyable for me. Clearly, anyone has the right to decide to not bare their body, but I also have a right to prefer to not work with someone who prefers to not bare their body.

What other photographers do you admire and why? Can you describe their style?

As mentioned above, numerous photographers on MM, rSEANd, Louis LaSalle, Jim O'Blak to name a few. As well as at a commercial level people such as Jeff Palmer, Howard Roffman and Tom Bianchi. From a style standpoint all are different and that is what I find attractive about their work. I enjoy variety and different approaches to capturing the beauty of the human form, and all of the above do so brilliantly.

What advice would you give a new model just starting out?

Make sure you are comfortable with the photographer, but even more importantly, if this is your first nude session, make sure you are doing it for yourself, that you do not feel you are being forced into something you may not be happy with after the fact.

What advice would you give a new photographer?

Make sure you understand the model's limits and respect them.

Is there any idea that you have wanted to try but have yet to incorporate into your portfolio?

Oh yes, I would LOVE to be able to do a duo or more session of male nudes. This is something I have not had the chance to do yet and really want to do. I envision two possibilities: A potential setup that is for lack of a better word romantic, where there is an implied relationship between the models. But I also envision a setup where there are multiple nude males where there is no overt romantic connection, but just men in the same place. I think it would be a hoot to do a session of construction workers all wearing nothing but work boots, hard hats and tool belts, or firemen with perhaps just the helmets or turnout coats, being nude around each other, with an at ease relaxed feel to the image.

Do have a particular favorite of all the photos you've shot? If so, why?

Yes the image of Yvan that won the 18+ Pic of the Day on MM. The combination of model, light, pose, and interaction between Yvan and me all just gelled and created an amazing image.

How would you describe your style?

Eclectic, some very simple images with single strong lights, and some with more complex light setups, and some just simply in the outdoors under the biggest light source we have on planet earth, the sun.

How do you keep your models motivated during a shoot?

Positive feedback, let them now when they hit the look and pose I was after.

Have you ever worked with a model who was exceptionally difficult, could not follow directions and made the shoot unpleasant? If so, how do you handle this type of situation?

Yep, been there, and it can be very trying. The best one can do is to try and work with the model, to explain what one is after, to perhaps show them the concept or pose, either using your own body, or via a photo in a book or on a web site. But at the end of the day, if it becomes obvious that we are not clicking and that the model is just not into the session, it is time to terminate the session and cut the aggravation for both of us.

How do you direct a new model who is uncomfortable in front of the lens but has tremendous potential?

I try and reinforce the positives, how good a pose just looked, how well the light sculpted their body, how great the images will look when printed. If the model is brand new to nude work and reacts when they fully undress and shows signs of obvious embarrassment, we will take a break, discuss that the reaction is a natural thing, it is a new experience for them and their body is simply responding. I let them relax, perhaps get a snack or a cool drink, and let them feel comfortable to proceed.

5 fun facts about Dave

1) I had a chance to look down inside a running, active water cooled fission reactor and saw the ionization glow at the bottom of the reactor vessel
2) I worked on a computer at the Nevada test site with a device in a hole in the ground waiting for me to fix the computer so they could have their test
3) Although I prefer photographing male nudes, I love the human form and enjoy photographing female nudes as well
4) In my 33 years of professional corporate work I have only worked at two companies
5) My first real job while in college was designing and building high end audio reinforcement systems for public spaces such as churches, the speaker enclosures were hand built by me and my business partner, we applied wood veneer, oiled the cabinets, designed the active crossover networks, the whole mess, all driven by a program I wrote using Fortran on a deck punch cards that was about 350 to 400 cards.

What is the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I am actually very shy, in a large social setting I would just as soon sit in the back and observe.

29. Any last words?

This is one of the most amazing and well thought out questionnaires I have ever filled out :-)

© 2009 Sean Dibble
Do not repost without permission

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For more information on Eric Gordon

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by Steven D. Hill
This issue of BLISS

Live Through Your Work - Steven D. Hill - The BLISS Interview


Steven was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to sit down and answer a few questions for me. Meet the man behind the magic.

BLISS: So when did you first get interested in photography?

STEVEN HILL: I first gained an interest in photography about 5 years ago.

B: Do you remember when you got your first camera?

SH: Back in 2006, a Sony Cybershot DSCH1 in which was a 5.1 Megapixel camera.....It was stolen actually...

B: You've advanced a great deal in such a short period of time. How did you start out and what type of images were you creating?

SH: I don't remember how I started out. I was born an Artist...but when I started out I was creating images of the caliber like now but not as intense. Fashion Photography was my first venture!

B: Your models are undeniably attractive people, and there is a great deal of diversity in your choices. What is your definition of beauty? Is it purely physical, in terms of looks, or does attitude, carriage and personality play a role?

SH: My definition of beauty, is pure physical but also you need to have a overall personality that carries the word beauty.

B: I love that idea of having to "carry beauty" because it basically validates the arguement that a nasty personality can detract from looks, no matter how gorgeous a person may be.
Now, you also know how to create beauty. You are also an incredibly gifted make-up artist, as well as a stylist. When did you first develop an interest in both?

SH: My interest in Make Up Artistry came years before I even thought about photography, only because I watched my mother in the bathroom as she prepared her face for her day. I have always felt the power behind looking and feeling beautiful, but being able to make others feel that way through a make up process is amazing. Styling became my interest once I figured fashion would play a major part in my photographic art...although I studied fashion design while in college. Not to forget my assistant/teammate Traci Moore has done the majority of the styling for my photographs.

B: Your photos are very conceptual, incorporating all three elements - make-up, styling and photography. Where do your ideas come from?

SH: People never know the answer, sometimes I never do either. I always have stuff going through my mind, but ideas comes once I meet the model which usually is the day of the photo shoot. Just a few times I will already have my idea in mind, but it all depends on the chemistry with the model and I. Let me say this about the Make up, it comes to me as I'm doing it...meaning I just go with the flow.

B: I feel as if you are making statements with many of your images. Some of these statements are very bold, but at times, I am not entirely sure what is being portrayed, yet I am completely riveted. Do you use your art in this manner, or is that merely the viewer's interpretation?

SH: That would be visual interpretation along with the creative energy in the room.

B: Everything about your work is very meticulous, right down to the SOOAK logo. What does SOOAK stand for?

SH: I believe in the right to express myself through every detail in my photographs. Also, the word SOOAK stands for....Steven One Of A Kind...I took every first letter to make the word SOOAK. A bold word that I believe I have lived up too.

B: Most definately. It's the perfect moniker for what your are presenting with your work. How would you describe your style? What makes it a SOOAK image?

SH: The foundation of fashion, pop culture, and media combined.....a twist on fashion and photography. Art. Style. Eye opening. Creative. Form. Body. Soul. Mind. Urban. Editorial. Edgy. Wondrous. Inspiration of color. Definitely unique. It's rough. not too polished. Grainy. Authentic. Refreshing. Beyond fashion. Crisp. Clean. Pure. And has a southern urban feel.

B: That is an impressive list of bold adjectives, and I can say, from my perspective, that your work truely represents each of them. Presentation can make even the simplest image stand out, and you have a unique way of cropping that adds height, using the negative space to draw even more attention to the subject. It appears to be your trademark. Was this a conscious decision? If so, what was your intention?

SH: That actually was something I thought to be a brain teaser and leave the viewer wondering like, what's going on. My own idea of presentation is to have people wanting more. The idea of the extra space was actually a conscious decision.

B: Visually, it is very striking, and has put a stamp on your work, defining it as uniquely yours.
How do you set up a shoot? How much planning is involved?

SH: When I'm shooting just for portfolio reason, I just find a model; pick location if not just in the studio. Set date, time and go from there. Most of the paid gigs when I have them, it's just about the same thing, except money is received.

B: I reviewed some of the portfolios of models who have posed for you and noticed that the other images are vastly different from their shoots with you. Do your subjects understand what you are creating intuitively or do you have to explain the concepts to them?

SH: Normally, I tell them the concept; they are always down for the count because it's so DIFFERENT from what have done.

B: Have you ever received a negative response to a final image from a model? If so, how do you address this?

SH: Actually, I have never received any negative response.

B: I have known and met quite a few make-up artists, and they seem to prefer working with female models, which they say gives them more freedom. You have successfully pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable, and use make-up in a non-traditional way. In spite of this, do you have an affinity for shooting one gender over the other?

SH: No, I actually made my point; shooting male models is just as amazing as female models. Society has peoples' minds messed up. People are stuck with the same thing, and think following the cycle is the way to be. I decided once I first started, I would be different from what you normally see.

B: Those of us outside of the make-up world can rarely name any famous make-up artists. I can think of two: Way Bandy and Kevyn aucoin. Were you inspired by anyone in the field? If so, who?

SH: Kevyn Aucoin, who believed in his vision and not only that, he lived it.

B: Are your sessions defined more by Steven the make-up artist, Steven the stylist, or Steven the photographer?

SH: WOW! Actually, Steven the Photographer.

B: Are there any ideas that you have wanted to try but have yet to incorporate into your portfolio?

SH: What I choose not to discuss but you will see in my future photographs.

B: If budget was not a factor and you could create any type of image that you wanted, what would it look like?

SH: I'd rather not say.....There's so much I could do..but my ideas mean a lot to me.

B: Completely understandable. What other photographers do you admire and why? Can you describe their style?

SH: David Lachapelle. He has evolved his photography into an idiosyncratic and highly personal combination of reportage and surrealism.

B: We are totally on the same page there. I'm a huge fan of his. What was your most memorable photo shoot?

SH: Being able to shoot at the top of the Mosaic Lofts (Downtown Dallas) on the 21st floor inside what I call my glass house....2,874sf. It was amazing.

B: What was the biggest challenge you've had, in terms of a shoot?

SH: I don't recall anything.

B: One of my favorite images is the painted face on model Josh Lofty. Another is "Beauty in a Box". Do you have a personal favorite? If so, why this image in particular?

SH: I don't have a favorites, I like everything the same. It's all my work. I like some more the others but I don't call them favorites.

B: You know, I always ask that question, but I'd have to answer the same way you did if the question was posed to me. My favorite image of my own work is constantly shifting.
There are certain models who are featured often in your portfolio. Do you have any favorites amongst them? If so, who and why?

SH: I wouldn't say I have a favorite. I love them all. Each model has something special about them.

B: Where do you find most of your models? Are there any physical requirements to shoot with you?

SH: Most of my models are from online or random people I come in contact with, but I actually use most of the same people because I gain a personal bond. It's easier for me to use the same models because I know what they are capable of.

B: I'm not sure if people really understand how important that is. There are people that I've wanted to work with, and then when the opportunity came, the shoot felt difficult or flat, because the model just could not produce an expression or emotion that was needed for the photo. I use some of the same people over and over for the exact same quality that you do.
If you could work with any famous person in the world, living or dead, who would be your dream model? Why?

SH: Alek Wek - she's the definition of BEAUTY...and from the looks of it....I could only capture it even better. Standing at 5 ft 11 in...from her dark skin tone. She understands the uniqueness of fashion and the creative world!

B: What type of camera do you use?

SH: Samsung GX-1L

B: Do have a preference in terms of cosmetic brands?

SH: M.A.C. Cosmetics is the way to be as other make up artist would say. I love M.A.C! There are other brands that are great, you just have to find what works for you. I use just about everything you can think of. It's not the brand it's how you use it.

B: Have you ever thought about creating and launching your own brand? If so, how would it differ from the many brands out there?

SH: I have thought about it to be truthful, but as far as it being different I haven't gathered enough information or brainstormed that yet. Although we all know it would be different.

B: What advice would you give a new photographer?

SH: Express what you feel no matter what people say or do. Live through your work!

B: I LOVE that! That needs to be the title of your feature. What advice would you give to someone who is interested in becoming a model?

SH: Know who you are, understand your boundaries and go for what you know never fall or anything...STAND FOR SOMETHING.

B: What is your ultimate goal as an artist?

SH: To become international known, make a name for myself. Show the world how art plays a major part in photography, and make up artistry can be use not only to make people feel and look beautiful, but to create something. Being able to express my creativity through a digital process. To be publish in magazines all over from Wonderland, Zink, WAD, V Magazine, and Vogue, and many others. To have open galleries throughout the country and to publish photograph books that would be sold throughout the world.

B: I follow your blog regularly and absolutely love it. You are also on Twitter. What made you decide to incorporate these mediums?

SH: Yes, I'm on Twitter! I feel you can reach out through the internet faster then you would trying to afford to travel..

B: Do you have any personal heroes?

SH: Of course, my mother, grandmother and my aunt.

B: Can you tell me one thing about you that people would be surprised to learn?

SH: I'm really not a people person, if you know what I mean.

B: On a lighter note...tell me 5 fun facts about Steven.

1. I love COLOR.
3. I love text messaging.
4. I look like my mom.
5. I have short legs.

B: Any last words?

SH: Thanks for being interested!

©2009 Sean Dibble

P H O T O - The Art of Making Art Pt. 3

S T E V E N D. H I L L
Sight is the primary sense with which we used to navigate and understand the world around us. It is also a sense that we take for granted, unable to understand what it must be like for those who do not have the luxery of using their eyes. Our vision has the power to create thought, provoke reaction, and even cause arousal, and it is responsible for our initial judgement of all that is around us, be it the places we see or the people that we come in contact with. When it comes to the visual art forms, our eyes are more than just the faculty for one of our senses - they become our guide.

Painting and photography rely on sight to be fully appreciated, and it would be a safe guess to say that every person on earth has come across an image that has stuck in their mind, no matter what the context. Something about what we saw caused a stir within our brains, leading to a chemical reaction that could be positive or negative. Images of beauty or creative wonder can elict the same passionate responses, though in a good way, that depictions of violence and hate can inflame on the negative scale. Our attention is captured and we are unable to look away for a period of time, unknowingly imprinting the image in our conscience so that we can carry it with us long after we have left the source.

The first time I saw a photograph by Steven D. Hill, I had one of those reactions. Other photographers had photographed beauty, and other make-up artists had expressed the full extent of their creativity on a face, so his work should have, in theory, not been new or different. And that is what caught me off guard. Others had done it, but not in THIS way. Others had imagined it, but did not present it in this format. Others had envisioned it, but their methods of bringing an idea to life did not fall into the same category. It was in the details, his own personal stamp, that Steven was able to create something new from a timeless concept.

The selection of images featured in this issue do not even begin to tap the vast catalogue he has amassed, nor do they show his incredible range as an artist. In addition to photographing people, he is also a highly skilled product photographer, and some of the best examples of his work can be found on his website. And from there, it is possible to take an amazing journey through the mind of a true artist who is constantly evolving.

Steven D. Hill, is the BLISS pick for ones to watch.

©2009 Sean Dibble

David Costa