Alonzo Gault of Jaymz Sapphire Photo is a raw talent who works without bugets, sets, props, make-up artists and mulitple assistants. What he does use is his creativity, and an ability to connect with his models on a personal level, that is evident in the relaxed and confident demeanors of his models. It is a necessity that he is well aware of, having been in front of the lens many times himself, and he does not take for granted the importance of mutual trust between the photographer and his subject.
Alonzo was recently featured on DNA's online site with a photo shoot he did with model Viktor Jordon, whom he has also published a calandar of. And now he comes to BLISS, where he took time to answer questions for Sean Dibble of rSEANd PHOTOGRAPHY.
We will be hearing and seeing more from this emerging artist in 2010.
BLISS: One of the aspects of your images that is so appealing to me is that you manage to capture personality in your subjects. The models don't looked posed or overstyled. Is this something that you strive for or just what comes out during a photo shoot?
ALONZO GAULT: Well it is something I believe is important to me with my photography. My mission is to capture a photo of my model that shows them what and/or how others around them see them which is what they can't see for themself. I also find it very important not to have the model trying to pose to much if they haven't been taught by a posing coach just because it can show in the actual photos. So, having the model be natural and themself and more free during the shoot is what works and proves best for me when I'm shooting.
B: You work with both genders, individually and as couples, but do you have a preference?
AG: I do work with both genders but would probley prefer to work with male models if I were given and had to make a choice.
AG: Some might think its wrong or a little to much in the way I go about getting ready for a shoot, but I do it because it works best for myself and for the model as well as its been shown. I tend to talk with the model on a regular basis up until the day(s) of the shoot. It allows me to get to know them, find out things that they are into and interested in (ie. hobbies, talents, etc) as well as serving as an ice breaker as well prior to shooting. We will talk via email, phone, text, IM or plan an actual in person meet to talk ideas and everything about the shoot before hand. Talking with them and getting to know more about them as a person and individual allows me to take all that into consideration for planning and creating the shoot around them so that when we are shooting the focal point is on the model in an environment or setting that they are into or have an interest in. Therefore im able to capture the real self image of them.
B: Are there any specific physical requirements that you ask for, when shooting for personal use?
AG: It all depends on if I am shooting a particular look and/or project as to if there's any type of physical requirement from the model that I would require. I like to always say I like models that have an open mind to ideas and trying new things as to whats being shot, then we can tweak it to fit any personal requirements that the model might have any concernss or requests toward. I just want the model to be himself/herself and have a great time during the shoot.
B: You have covered a broad range of styles, from classic to erotic. Which of these do you prefer?
AG: I would have to say that I enjoy doing the more artistic nude shoots. The reason being is that the human body itself is like no other art form to me. It has so many possibilities and traits to it that can be covered and molded to create and capture it in its natural raw form is the best state one could ask for. It gives one so many choices to choose from between lines, angles, curves, diagonals, shadows, etc. that can be worked with to gives ones possibilities endless.
B: Some people fall into photography by accident, while others have told detailed and specific stories of what lead them to the art. How did it come about for you?
AG: For me I actually started with doing video projects. I would do various video shoots when I went on trips or anything, and I would always have my point and shoot camera with me. I just never really would use it. From as far back as I can remember I've always had an interest in artistic b/w photography, and one trip I told myself why not give photography a shot and see what happens. So, once I reviewed the photos to see how they turned out I was quite impressed at how they looked. I then took it upon myself to wanna learn more, teach myself more and practice, which I can say in the past 2.5 years has gottin me to where I am now.
B: Are there any photographers that influenced you?
AG: When I first started exploring photography, I didn't really know all too much about it I just knew a great photo and could see the artistic eye/vision behind it when I saw it. It wasn't until I started learning, networking, and researching about it all that I begun getting inspiration from others work that I had seen.
B: There are so many photographers out there. Model Mayhem hosts a variety of incredible talents, many of whom I have deep admiration for. Can you name 5 photographers that you admire from the site, and describe their style in one sentence?
AG: Wow, I have made friends and networked with so many great and amazing photographers, its kinda hard to narrow it down to just 5 but I'll give it a shot. Let's start with Ethan James. His work to me is your traditional old fashioned overall look with poses and settings with an added modern flare. Add wardrobe and styling to create a one of a kind personalized shot with his models. Next, I will have to say MiamiPhotoGuy. With his work he seems to be more personable and playful while still being able to capture at the same time sexiness and/or passion between models. Next on my list would have to be Murray. His style to me is bold, and artistic with an amazing creative use of lighting to create an image that makes your mind wonder in suspense. Next is Mr. Ian F. Burgess. He's very unique, and uses the naturals of what's around us, while creating his very own mixture of artistic, sex appeal, physique and individuality with each model to create one big picture in the end. Last but not least, is rSEANd. With his style he doesn't worry about over styling or posing but focuses and brings out the natural self in his models, therefore showing the natural and raw in a person and their true personality. My picks reflect on a being that with looking at each photographer, I try to take pieces of their vision to create the looks that I want when shooting for myself while mixing it with the personality of the model. And with all that it allows me to create a shoot around and mold specifically to the model and have them stand out as the focal point in the shoot.
B: There are some photographers who are very critical of photoshop in terms of it's creation capabilities. They do not take issue with being able to fix minor errors, such as blemishes and lighting, but they feel that some photographers are highly skilled with the program, but lack any photographic talent. What is your take on photoshop and how it's changed the industry?
AG: Well, I think it has a lot to do with photography these days. I have to agree that there are some that don't believe in using it while others have this amazing talent working with it. I see no problem with it being used, but sometimes depending on the vision that the photographer has or a theme/purpose of the photo, using photoshop to doctor or edit the shot is required to obtain the look that is specifically wanted or needed. Other times maybe the all natural look is whats needed or requested by the photographer and there isn't any need to photoshop. My thing is it's all just a set preference per what the photographer particularly wants to do. One can't be made to use the program. Do I think it can help to improve a photo, yes, most defiantly but I also know that is can also distroy a photo as well if its over done.
B: Have you ever had to work with an exceptionally difficult model? If so, how do get through the session and still manage to produce good images?
AG: I haven't had many shoots where I've had a model that was difficult but have had a couple that proved to be a little difficult to work with to the point of almost just cutting the shoot short. The shoot was already pre planned out and it was if the model would be disagreeing with almost everything and wanting to change and make there own ideas of what should be shot. Don't get me wrong I encourage models to share there input towards the shoot itself but in this case everything had been discussed, arranged and worked out previously between the model and myself, so there shouldn't have been really much to do the day of other than to shoot. So, in the long run I ended up compromising with the model to try what it was they where mentioning and suggesting just so that we could actually get through the shoot itself without any other distractions or set backs from all the stopping. While I was trying to eliminate this from happening with preplanning everything out before hand the shoot ended up being replanned on the spot to what seemed to be half of what we had originally planned to all of a sudden changes the model had right then.
B: I'm often asked how I am able to get so many of my models to undress for the camera, as if I have some secret ritual of persuasion. I shoot nudes, and sometimes erotica, because I think the human form is beautiful and that sensuality is a natural part of life. How do you feel about nudity?
AG: My personal thoughts on nudity are that I enjoy it myself. When it comes to my photography I would say it doesn't bother me to shoot it, as it was that form of photography that always caught my attention in artistic nudes and got me started. I wouldn't say its per se anything special that I do to get any of my models to shoot nude that I have worked with, I just have always made sure that I have my details and ideas ready for the shoot and/or project that I'm working on doing already together that way I can give any information to the model about the shoot. I like shooting more of artistic nude work, but in general like shooting nudity work because I find that the human body itself is a very unique piece of artwork and has many different aspects of it that can prove to be very useful in all art forms not just photography. Being able to capture the body's lines, natural shadows, curves and all the other minor and major details it offers that gives each person there very own individuality about themself. I always admire and look for those models that are ok with shooting nude work but would never push or force a model into it if they didn't want to. Its not something that's for everybody and when doing it I like to get to know the mode a little bit just to make things a little more comfortable and relaxed for them so that they might not be as nervous or anything for and/or during the shoot.
B: You and I both have profiles on 2K models, which caters more to the erotic side of photography. What is erotic to you?
AG: When I think of erotic, I would tend to break it down into different types, kinda like how nude is split up between implied, semi and full nudity. To give a general explanation of erotic in my thoughts I would have to say that erotic is something that would showcase or guide one to interrupt the vision or concept towards a sexual act, but also keeping in mind the main tone presented in and/or by the whole photo. I also think that with shooting a male nude and a female nude, for some reason there is a huge difference in what's considered erotic between the two.
B: When does erotic cross over into pornography, or do you believe that there is not really a difference?
AG: For me I believe that the difference in erotic photography and pornographic photography is dependent on the nature and production of the shot. You could take two similar and/or exact same photos and present them with different visions and both have a totally different concept vision to them. On another front I also think how a photo comes off one way or the other is dependent on the person viewing it and their views and thoughts.
B: Where do you draw the line in terms of creating erotic art?
AG: I'm not exactly sure. I haven't exactly had the chance to really explore or even shoot in the whole erotic art area of photography, just viewed others that have. I'm not sure where I would draw the line exactly. Being that I am one that likes to be creative with my shoots and projects with creating them, I like to push the envelope and do things that some photogs and/or models might be a little shy, iffy or scared to journey off into while keeping it artistic, unique, original with a flare of either erotic or risque'.
B: There are many artists throughout history who have used themselves as subjects, even for erotic projects. There is a famous picture of Mapplethorpe with a whip in his rectum, and a nude photo of Keith Harring with his own art painted on his body. Have you, or would you ever include yourself in your photos? If so, do you have a different set of boundaries for youself as oppossed to what you would expect from one of your models?
AG: I can't say that I have ever used myself in one of my own photos, but I surely wouldn't be opposed to it at all. I think at some point it should be something all photographers should do and could even be something that if a photographer wanted to and some have been known to do and used as there trademark or as we call it like a watermark of their work. If I were to include myself in my work I wouldn't have any different bounderies from what I would do from anything that I would be asking of any of my models to do. I wouldn't ask the model to do anything that I wouldn't exactly do myself. I have some basic things that I expect from my models but anything else or extra if I wouldn't do it myself then I wouldn't be asking them to do it either.
B: If you could work with any photographer, alive or dead, who would that be?
AG: This might sound like a bad thing but its the truth. I'm not all to familiar with many if any famous or old time photographers. So, picking from those that I have seen I would have to go with Ian F. Burgess. The reason I picked him is because his work to me is a true inspiration and something along the lines of where I think or go when doing a shoot or planning a project. The thought of putting our thoughts and creative/unique minds together who knows what masterpiece would come from it. His photos include a mixture of being one of a kind, unique, artistic, class, a hint of erotic all while telling a story. The first time that I saw his work I was captivated and since have kept an update with his portfolio and work.
B: What about models? If you had the opportunity to shoot anyone, alive or dead, who would that be?
AG: This one is a tough one because there are so many models out there. But off the top of my head the model that comes to mind that I would love to have the honor to work with would be Simon Rex. The reason being is because he is such a personable guy. From keeping up with his blog, to viewing his work, his personality, spirit and hard work shine so freely and open in his work. when it comes to his modeling his flexibility and versatility are amazing as to what he can, will and has done. Just how he gets so much into character for a role or look, the professionalism and fun he shows is something I think all photographers as well as myself want when working with a model.
B: I often look at the portfolios of other photographers and end up saying, "I've got to try this or that...". Is there something that you have always wanted to try?
AG: I always look at ports that have these amazing photos with great setups, props, wardrobe, and make-up artistis and I sometimes think if I were a real photographer and had any of those things or even access to the resources I might or could do more things with my work. But one main thing I have seen and would love to do is work with one of these really talented body painters on a project. The talent and creativeness that goes into it... that it takes. With the fun that it seems like it would be to do I would love the experience of working with it and having it under my belt and a part of my portfolio.
B: On the flip side of that, I have seen images I dislike immensely for one reason or another. Have you had similiar experiences?
AG: I have seen some shots that I personally don't like or care for when I see them, but then I also keep in mind that as a photographer that maybe the person is new and just getting started and still learning. I've also seen some that just make me think what was this person thinking or where is the artistic value or vision behind this photo. Being I don't come across or see very many like that at all really, I have only seen just a few here and there.
B: I believe that photography can be more than just a self-expressive art form. In my case, it has been a bridge to some incredible friendships, as well as a tool to help build the self esteem of people that I care for. How has your art filtered ino your personal life?
AG: I would have to agree with you saying that I think photography is so so much more than a way for one to express themselves. For me its been so many things. It's been a way for me to connect with so many other amazing people like myself. It has allowed me the chance to work with others in building themselves up and their self confidence. I have made some great friendships as well as helping me to build and work on my own self confidence, because there have been so many that I have met or worked with that have been such an inspiration to me not only for my photography but also personally.
B: I have found myself in some uncomfortable situations with models, where the session created an intimate atmosphere. Have you ever found yourself in this type of situation?
AG: I can't say that I've been in an uncomfortable situation where a shoot has turned intimate, but I have had others tell or mention about a situation similar happening during one of their shoots. I try to keep things pretty open and upfront with my models I work with in letting them know about myself and how I usually conduct during a shoot. That way there are no surprises or anything and I work to keep the shoot as fun and lively as possible no matter if its a nude shoot or not, just so that the mood or vibe in the process doesn't turn into something that can lead towards that intimate path.
B: I was reading a photo forum last week and one of the topics addressed the morality issue of allowing a hot photo session to turn into a hot sex session. What is your take on the appropriateness of getting sexually involved with a model, either during or after a shoot?
AG: My thoughts on this would be I don't see it as being in anyway appropriate at any point to become or be sexual with a model during the process of a shoot taking place. It doesn't show professionalism or respect for yourself, the model or the art. Now, what I will also say is that what a photographer and a model were to do outside of working and/or a shoot is their personal business being that they are both adults and can make their own choices and do as they see fit. But as far as doing anything or letting anything in the intimate or sexual sense take place during a shoot or while working no matter during or right when the shoot is over, it shouldn't be allowed to happen.
B: Do you feel that the male image industry is in a good place right now, or is something missing?
AG: I don't think the male image is at the place it should be or needs to be. It definatley isn't at an equal place with the female or any other photo image. I think the vision that's given to the male image by the world is very bias in comparison to any other photography, especially when it comes to nudity images. the view that's given towards the nude male compared to the view of a nude female are totally opposites. Why its ok, for example, for a female to be fully nude from head to toe and the photo be called and/or considered art but if its a male that's fully nude its considered or seen as porn. I think if more started to see the male body/image the same as equally as anything else especially its counter part the female body then it would be able to rise and achieve the spot and credit that it deserves.
B: What changes would you like to see happen, or which direction would you like to see the industry move towards?
AG: As for seeing any changes or anything I would have to say it would tie into with the last question. it would be nice to have all types of photos being seen as an equal and not be made to be as divided as they appear to be. This all is supposed to be one art form and its being viewed so differently, but then its also all upon the views of the beholder. I would also like to see us all working together in this fild to help one another. I have heard so many and see personally so many of us that are too stuck on them self, stubborn and selfish to take a sec and give feedback or help some with a question or just starting. Its as if some of us get big or make it where they want to and forget where they came from and how they were when they first started with having to learn and they turn from giving insight to assist those coming up or just starting for themselves.
AG: Outside photography, everything around me motivates and inspires me. I am a very observant person and I look at and observe everything going on around me. There are so many things around in the world and in life itself for one to not be inspired or motivated by something no matter how small or big it is. I love traveling, meeting new people, exploring new places, experimenting with new things just for a few and all those things along can be broken down into so many different avenues of inspirations and motivations.
B: Were you artistic as a child? If so, was this a talent that was nurtured by your family?
AG: As a child I was always around things of the art, rather it was watching my sister/cousin having dance rehersals, or her marching in band in high school. I was the one that was always trying to find something creative to do around the house or at school. I had my grandmother that was always making quilts, and aunts sewing clothes, to my silly father that was a welder of trailers. So all around me I had different things and types of art around me to be nurtured and an influence in my life.
B: Where were you born and raised?
AG: Well, being that I currently live in St. Louis, MO in the city where most think I am from is some big city boy because of my apperence and everything about me, but deep down inside Im a good ole Southern Boy from Conway, Arkansas. Not many know about it but if you know our current American Idol, he's from Conway, Ar. Its not a huge city in Arkansas but it surely is growing quickly. Its about 30 miles North from Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas. It is the home of the 3 colleges UCA, CBC, and Hendrix. Its was an awesome city to grow up in but for somebody like myself I knew I had to get out of there and move on if I were gonna do anything that I wanted to do with my life growing up after graduating high school.
B: Can you tell me 5 fun things about yourself that people would be surprised to know?
AG: Hmmm, well lets see, Im sure there are more than 5 but lets see if I can give you a few to go off of so far. One thing I guess I could say is that I used to be an exotic dancer...lol would that be considered something fun but a surprise? Another thing would be that I'm a semi professional dancer, primarly hip hop as well as a teacher/choreographer. That I love to ski and am pretty damn good at it. Most of my friends joke with me about it because they always say black people don't skii, then I have to remind em that well I'm only black on the outside...lol as my best friends say I'm just a white boy in a black mans body. Another thing that usually throws some/most off is when I tell them I'm a big computer nerd/geek. That's all I've done and took during grade school are computer classes as well as what I went to college for.. Last, but not least is that I have an amazing 9 yo son. being that I am 26 and as outgoing as I am it sometimes throws people off when I say that but yeah its true and I love him more than anything.
B: We keep up with each other weekly, so I'm sure I'll hear about anything new you're doing, but do you have anything else you'd like to add?
AG: I appreciate the chance and opportunity of being able to share all this with you. I would like to let everybody know that I've published an awesome calendar of one of my models Viktor which was also featured in DNA's Online Blog but check it out and get yours now at http://www.cafepress.com/jsp83.421990170
Also, I will be working on lots of fun and creative projects for 2010 so keep an eye out for casting calls on my ModelMayhem profile at www.modelmayhem.com/jaymzsapphirephotography. Will be looking for new and great models to network and work with this year so give my work a look and please leave comments and if interested in working together do send me a message, I'll look forward to hearing from you.
©2010 Sean Dibble
Nude photo of Alonzo Gault : Elements Photography
Jaymz Sapphire Photography