Wednesday, September 15, 2010


There are countless numbers of male images available for those who enjoy viewing them, and yet despite the quantity, the genre is still not truly all inclusive. A simple Google search with the term “fine art male images” will yield mostly photos that adhere to the Western standard of beauty. Much like any other cliquish community, be it high school, the club scene, beauty or social standing, the currency is measured by popularity. It is probably safe to assume that many photographers choose their models based on what will provide the highest visibility for their work, or those that they believe will sell in higher numbers, but other photographers, and quite a few models are well aware that there are those that have no interest in shooting models that don’t fit the American standard of beauty.

Discrimination, in all its ugly glory, is unfortunately a universal fact of life. When it involves a notion of beauty, the reality of it becomes even less attractive. Taste is very much an individual kind of thing, which cannot be faulted unless it is based solely on perception. The idea of only being able to see beauty in one race or ethnic group to the exclusion of all others is plausible only on a surface level. To have a preference is understandable, but it crosses a line when someone’s preference is illuminated by phrases like, “I don’t find Latino/black/Asian/Native American/Middle Eastern (pick one or all) attractive.” It is not possible to be blessed with sight and fail to see that there is beauty to be found in any ethnic group.

One of the principles at BLISS involves the celebration of diversity, and the features have included models at every level of experience, photographers whose styles may stray from the norm, those that perform within the porn industry, and a variety of races and ethnic groups. In spite of the unspoken pressure to adhere to a certain type, there are those highly successful photographers who have decided to break the mould and present their visions in a manner of their own choosing, like Justin Monroe, Steven D. Hill, Dave Lewis, Alonzo Gault, Jay Plogman, Greg Weiner, Joseph Smileuske and ZEDNERAM. And these are only the ones who have been featured here. There are others, like Carlos Arias, Gary Xu, Luis Rafael, Don Pollard, Rick Day, Murray!, Henning von Berg and Scott Marrs to name a few. We salute each of these extraordinary pioneers.

And BLISS is proud to present one more: Ron Reyes.

Ron is a visionary who brings a certain presence to his images, and a brand of flavor that draws influence from his own background. His images are a colorful blend of fantasy and sensuality that pair beautiful models with beautiful scenery. The editing style he favors is not about changing the essence of the model, but instead surrounding or outfitting them in a manner that enhances the innate beauty already present. He has worked with past cover models Peter Le and Eric Rensburg, as well as providing visibility for numerous models who may not have been given the same type of exposure with other photographers. Ron’s work is the personification of diversity and he is very vocal in his support of ethnic models.

There are certain photographers who garner name recognition based on their work, and when I saw a photo of Peter Le posed naked outdoors with his hand raised to the sky, adorned with leaves on both writs and in wreath style around his head, I knew that I wanted to see more work by this artist. Here was something unique, full of culture, and very sexy, and it was the first time I had ever seen an image like this. Everyone has influences, but the trick is to find a way of blending those influences with your own personal statement, thereby creating something original. Ron has mastered this.

Photography is an art form, and art, by its’ very nature is subjective. As some debate the validity or value of a certain style or type of expression, it could be argued that the real contest involves art versus the artist. While some create art soley for the appreciation of others, the artist creates from the soul and subconscious. This is evident in Ron’s work, especially those portraits that use elements from Hawaii. And he is able to incorporate fantasy in a seemless fashion that touches on familiar subjects like the sexy athlete, the military officer, the cowboy, pool boy and even the African warrior.

If it is possible to discern the personality of the artist by looking at his work, then Ron would come across as a very open, candid and likeable person. The manner in which the models display themselves within their photos is a clear indication that he engenders trust between artist and model. We have all seen those photos where the model is displaying their body openly, but their faces can’t hide a certain discomfort. Ron’s models display a boldness that is clearly not faked, and the relaxed attitude allows them to get into the character they are representing and show emotion.

I have had the opportunity to get to know Ron somewhat through our communication and he is as delightful as he is talented. He is also humble and highly supportive of his fellow photographers, not to mention generous in his comments to models on the web site Model Mayhem. He does not merely enjoy the images he creates, but takes the time to acknowledge the work of others in the field. I have been on the receiving end of this attention and I can honestly say that it is highly motivating, not to mention one of the best artistic ego boosts to be recognized and praised by such a creative individual.

Ron took time out of his schedule to do his first interview for BLISS magazine, and in it he displays a keen wit, as well as some genuine frankness about photography, models, the lack of ethnic representation, nudity, pornography and eroticism in fine art. I hope this will be the first of many features he does for BLISS as we progress.

©2010 Sean Dibble

No comments:

Post a Comment

David Costa