BLISS: There are certain photographers whose images are almost instantly recognizable because of their style. I think you are one of them. How would you describe your style?
RON REYES: My “Style” hmmm… that’s a tough one since I know what I like when I see it – but it isn’t always of the same genre or character … I guess my style has been formed by my Pacific Islander background, you know, bright colors, an attention to glorifying a different culture or ethnicity – with a touch of Disney, LOL. Every other photographer can already shoot the “Westernized Culture” way-better than I can…
B: Who or what were your influences and how has this been manifested in your art?
RR: Hawaiian Artists like, Douglas Simonson, Kim Taylor Reece – American photographers Mark Henderson, John Hough. If you look at all of their work, you can see a lot of their influences in mine.
B: Every artist feels that he/she has something unique to offer with their work. What do you feel sets you apart from your contemporaries?
RR: This is the funny part, I truly don’t think my work is really THAT unique from my contemporaries, I’m just happy that some people out there can actually recognize my work! ... Maybe it’s because I do like to perpetuate the sexiness of men from different colors of cultures… maybe because I’m going against the grain of what the general audience typically sees in fashion mags (ala underwear ads) ? I don’t know.
B: When did you realize that you wanted to be a photographer, and what led to this decision?
RR: I used to be a Hula Dancer, and am still a Musician/Vocalist for a Hawaiian/Polynesian Performance group ~ and it started as I usually take my lower-end Canon Rebel SLR with me to performance tours throughout the world, to capture typical vacation-style photos --- and one day one of the male hula dancers, I toured with, asked me to shoot some really sexy shots of his physique - to capture it before he gets “Older & Fatter” he said, hahaha (because we all know good-looks and youth just doesn’t last very long)… the rest is history…
B: Did you have any photographic heroes when you started?
RR: Photographic Heroes? Many years ago, before I even got into photography, I bought one of Victor Skrebneski’s Books ~ An awesome Chicago-based photographer. My desires to be a photographer has been idling ever since then... but I never jumped on it until digital technology came to SLR cameras just a couples years ago.
B: Who are the photographers that you admire now?
RR: Aside from YOU, Sean, Above I already named Mark, John and of course Victor.
B: What were you like as a child? Did art play a role in your early development?
RR: OH yes, Art played a huge role when I was younger.. I wasn’t very academic, sucked at Math (still do) and other classes EXCEPT Art & Music… I could always draw and my elementary school teachers would always ask me to draw things for their classrooms. I’ve won awards, Scholarships for Art school [bla-bla-bla SNORE]…
B: Many artists draw on personal experiences or fantasies during the creative process. Have you included personal influences in any of your images?
RR: HECK YA… I’d say ALL of my photos have been some sort of “Fantasy-come True” in it for me…
B: Do you remember your first photo shoot? If so, what sticks out in your mind about it?
RR: First photoshoot WITH or WITHOUT a naked model? Haha! Nude shoot - Yea, I was a nervous wreck the first time … and even though I was shooting Artistic and Implied-nudity with the privates strategically covered, somehow I (with my Catholic upbringing) I felt like I was committing some sort of huge sin and that any minute I’d be struck by lightning – or the cops would bust into the studio to arrest me Hahaha!
…I don’t have anything memorable about a model I shot with clothes ON though, go figure…
B: How has your work evolved since that first shoot?
RR: I think I’ve gotten a bit faster, technically … artistically, I think I’m STILL evolving, hahaha .. I always feel as if I can still improve on all the images I’ve already shot ... but I did notice, if I ponder/work on a concept for too long, it gets “muddy” and over-worked looking.
B: The photos in this feature are 100% male, but you shoot female models as well. Do your have a personal preference?
RR: Well, Obviously, judging on the percentage, I prefer shooting males …
B: Is your approach to shooting female models different than how you approach a shoot with a male model?
RR: Absolutely… Women (as we all know) are very different. They’re mentally wired differently, society perceives women differently … I shoot women a lot more conservatively than I do Men… Men can get away with posing nude- much easier than Women… it’s an unfair double-standard really, if a Woman poses nude (even tastefully), society may quickly categorize her as some sort of “Slut” --- Men, not really, MAYBE they’ll be accused of being “Gay” at best … as our current Governor Arnold Shwarzenegger has been accused of -- for posing for an Artistic Nude photo once upon a time, but that certainly hasn’t tarnished his reputation in attaining his position in politics now, has it…
B: Your photos always have a theme, be it an obvious one using costumes, or through your choices of scenery. Hawaii is a huge theme with many of your models. What brought about the decision to incorporate this into your photos?
RR: Again, with my Pacific Islander background, I naturally gravitate towards “Home” as you will – I’m sure most photographers draw upon what they know and what they feel as “Home” to them – as their inspiration.
B: Those of us who are familiar with your work know that nudity is another theme, but in many of your images the genitals are covered. What is your overall opinion on nudity in art and why did you decide to do the cover –up?
RR: Personally, I love nudity – especially when the model is youthful and in top form… most of my images are covered up only because the majority of our society has such a hang-up about it… and with a lot of my themes, if the dick is exposed, it obviously CHANGES the focal-point of the photo --and then it starts catering to an audience who only wants to see “DICK” and not “Art”… so whenever my work is displayed in public galleries, respectfully, I try to keep the genitalia covered so that the attention isn’t directed away from the theme.
B: You have taken photos that veer into the category of erotica. How do you think this compares with more traditional fine art nudes?
RR: I like doing both --- the Fine Art shots are beautiful for Art Pieces, Wall-hangings, gifts for Mom, etc. – but I do get paid a lot more for the Erotica work (that’s just a given – it’s no surprise that the porn industry is still doin Ok in this tough economy)
B: We all have our favorites – or should I say – our “go-to” models. Who would rank in the top 5 of your models, and what is it about them that you find so appealing?
RR: John Ryan, Eric Rensburg, Steve Chen, Azhjeli Matthews, Yasiel Fleites, & Shelisa Diaz ß(Yes a girl… haha) --- Not only are they gorgeous people on the outside ~ but they just have the best personalities --- they’re also the few models that have trusted me whole-heartedly on my concepts with no questions.
END of PART ONE...
©2010 - Sean Dibble
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