model: Josh Johnson photo: rSEANd PHOTOGRAPHY
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
When I think about rSEANd PHOTOGRAPHY’s work, what sticks out in my mind is not only the “rSEANd” which is an unusual but visually memorable label name, but that he has managed to create these beautiful soft qualities in what people would normally categorize within the sexually “hard-core” genre. His model’s are not your typical muscle-bound, young gym bunnies, but are refreshingly diverse in the ethnicity, and have more average builds, though well toned. What is so cool is that he does such sexy poses with these guys that he makes them just as (if not even more) desirable than the typical tight underwear wearing muscle hunks that you see in every portfolio.
I see a nice mix of sexy, fashion forward work as well as beautiful erotica coming out of rSEANd’s portfolio.
RON REYES: Hello Sean, what photographer was one of your main inspirations in getting into the business of photographing men in such a sexy way?
SEAN DIBBLE: The first photographer to inspire me was actually Richard Avedon and initially I only photographed female models. Keep in mind that this was the beginning of the 80’s and I was attracted to the glamour of photography, which I did not see in male imagery. I later saw a Versace ad in GQ magazine for men’s clothing that kind of cemented my passion and caused me to look at male models differently.
The first guy I photographed with this new idea in mind was a friend named Luis Vera who was a Latino with a 6 pack long before they became the norm. After this, I saw the book
RIO by Bruce Weber and the shift to photographing males began.
RR: I noticed you prefer "Men of Color" over Caucasians. Is that strictly preference to what you're attracted to, or is it more to make a statement about celebrating diversity?
SD: Do I? I actually never paid much attention to be honest. LOL. The truth is that I find beauty in all races, colors and ethnicities, but I most definitely have a preference for dark hair and exotic features, which is 50/50 in terms of what I’m personally attracted to vs. the celebration of diversity, as you say. On the latter side of the scale, I do like to showcase more ethnic models because I don’t feel they get the exposure they deserve.
RR: What is your own ethnicity by the way?
SD: I’m basically a mutt in terms of ethnicity; black, white, French, Native American, Scottish and Chinese. In spite of all those genetic puzzle pieces, I just consider myself a black male at the root, because that was how I was raised. I’ve recently started to embrace the term “multi-racial”, since that is actually what I am, but at the heart, my identity remains within the black community.
RR: So because you have that mix of ethnicity is that what prompted you to create your 2 new books LOS HOMBRES volumes 1 and 2?
SD: That may have subconsciously been a factor, but there are a number of reasons that I decided to do those books. I have quite a few Latino friends, and I've dated my share of Latinos, and I’m often mistaken as a part of the community, even though it is one ethnicity that I am not mixed with.
RR: Give us a little background on how you were inspired to create LOS HOMBRES.
SD: When the
law was passed, there was a great deal of commentary, both positive and negative being thrown around. I started to realized that as big as the community is here in the Arizona , the perception of Latinos was very limited and either rooted in stereotypes, prejudices and (on the other side) expressions of desire and attraction. It reminds me of what black people have had to endure, and still struggle with today. These people (Latinos) were the products of our perceptions, not flesh and blood human beings. United States
I live in the Washington DC Metropolitan area and we have a very large population of Central Americans. There is an area not far from me called Langley Park that is predominantly Latino and after factoring in my circle of friends, I realized that I pass through their world on a day to day basis, and I wanted to chronicle it. I also wanted to do so in a way that was a departure from my usual images, so there is a large selection of candid images of just every day people, both young and old, as well as photos of the businesses and pastimes, like soccer.
RR: What's the difference between Los Hombres 1 vs. 2?
SD: Well both books also include the types of images that are more typical of rSEANd PHOTOGRAPHY, but Vol. 1 caters more to the general audience. Vol. 2 veers toward the sexier side and includes nudity. My sister actually deserves the credit for the idea to split them up. She is the wife of a rabbi and even though she has a high appreciation for art in all forms, she pointed out that there will be people who are more interested in the cultural aspect and put off by the nudity, just as there will be those who prefer the sexier volume.
RR: I've heard you've got 5 other types of photography books under your belt... MAN, DIEGO, TORSO, JOSH &
LIFE... can you give us a little description of each and why you think we could be interested in getting these books?
SD: I think that the majority of people who are familiar with my work are not so familiar with the fact that I also shoot nature, since I am a huge animal lover.
The first book that I did – LIFE – features those types of images. It was originally conceived as a children’s book, meant to teach about conservation and the importance of zoos. Many of the images are from zoos from various states. Eventually it will be redone properly.
The book, DIEGO, is part of a series. I want to feature a few of my most popular models in books and his was the first that I created.
The new one - JOSH - is of Josh Johnson, a former Navy police officer. Later, there will be one of Lonny Masterson (another Navy boy), NoVa (former air force), Andre Fletcher, and Lewis Moreno, who is by far my most popular and uninhibited model.
MAN features many of my male models, but I’m in the process of redoing it and making it more expansive.
TORSO is my most explicit, in terms of imagery, and is more about physiques than faces, although those are still present. It is another nod to diversity as it doesn’t merely feature the ultra gym toned bodies. One of the comments I received regarding body hair, which some of the models have, and I was being praised for showing men in the natural state. So much of what we see today is all smooth bodies and shaved pubes. On the one hand, it definitely looks neater in certain photographs, but at the same time, hair can be extremely sexy.
As for why you should get them…if you enjoy looking at beautiful men, then that’s reason enough. LOL
RR: We know that you like to focus on Nude men, were you always confident about shooting Nudes?
SD: Are we speaking professionally or personally? LOL I’m actually still a newbie when it comes to nudity, and I definitely want to explore it further. Regardless of how provocative some of my images can be, I still get the most recognition for my head shots and portraits, specifically the way I capture the eyes.
SD: Now that’s a classy way of saying when did you decide to strip these hotties down. LOL The answer is pretty obvious…I wanted to see them naked, so I assumed that other people would also appreciate it. I’m only half serious about that. The reality is that I’ve been such a huge fan of male nude art for so long and I was curious about how my images would turn out. After finally doing it, I began to search for more artistic ways of presenting the nudity. Once I crossed that bridge, I went backwards and tried my hand at erotic portraits. At this stage, I just switch it up depending on what idea pops in my head and the model’s comfort zone.
RR: From my own experience, nude photography is not something you suddenly decide to do, but sort of gradually get into and get comfortable with... can you give us the one time that made you decide that, YES, this is what I want to do from now on... OR did you A
LWAYS know that this is what you've always wanted to do?
SD: When I photographed Lonny Masterson, I immediately knew that I wanted to continue in that direction. He is the most naturally masculine individual that I’ve ever worked with and totally comfortable in his own skin. We did quite a few classic style black and white nudes, some in sepia tones, and then we shot one of my most notorious photos which featured him handcuffed to his penis. Add his rather large endowment and you can understand the reason for its popularity. I was making a statement with that image, albeit an obvious one concerning man being enslaved by his libido, and some people get it right away, while others just like looking at his cock. That whole session planted the seed for the book TORSO, and he graces the cover.
Another upside of that shoot was that we truly clicked and he is my best friend
RR: When you schedule a shoot with your models, do you plan out a concept well before the shoot? Or do you like to be a bit more spontaneous to see what the model offers?
SD: It depends on the model. I love working with inexperienced models that are just starting out and in those cases I usually have to let it be more spontaneous because they sometimes have difficulties with concepts. If I have an idea that I want to bring to life, I do plan things out and then I usually pick the model that I know can achieve the desired result.
Of course, we all have those shoots that end up being a combination of both, which I also enjoy.
RR: How would you describe your "shooting style” (i.e. - Structured with Tripods, Studio lights and a well-planned concept --- or much more "come-what-may”?
SD: I would say that the “come-what-may” method is my preferred style, because you never know which direction you will end up going, and it allows me to bring more of the model’s personality out in the image.
RR: How would you describe your own VISIONS of what you like to capture in your images?
SD: I like a strong sense of reality in my images, meaning that I like to capture the average person and showcase the beauty that I see. In many cases, these guys are not even aware of how attractive and/or photogenic they are. I often say that I don’t shoot models, I shoot people and my portfolio is filled with a more attainable beauty than what is normally seen. That isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate the muscle gods or guys with picture perfect features, ‘because I am a huge admirer of those portrayals by photographers like Rick Day, Dylan Rosser, Mark Henderson, you and Justin Monroe. I want to start moving in that direction and capture these guys in the way you photograph someone like Yasiel, who is my idea of near perfection, or John Ryan and Eric Rensburg, but at this point, I feel as if you all are doing it much better than I could, so I have stuck with what I know.
RR: What would you like your audience to identify you as: An artistic photographer, a visionary of adult gay image erotica, a pornographer with a little more class, or just full-on, "I love dick and wanna share it with the world" photographer?
SD: I had to stop laughing long enough to consider my answer. I think that is the most direct question I’ve ever been asked. LOL. Hmmm….I guess the answer depends on the image. It’s tough to answer because I definitely showcase the beauty of man, but 98% of the men I’ve worked with are heterosexual, and the intention is not to create erotica that is specifically gay themed because women enjoy my work as well. On the other hand, presenting a man in an erotic manner can automatically have gay connotations because there is still this level of being uncomfortable with full on male nudity that exists in society. It’s amazing that families support a young girl having the dream of appearing in Playboy, as if that is the artistic nexus, but if a boy were to say that he wanted to be a nude centerfold, it would be frowned upon, discouraged or viewed as gay.
The short answer is that I kinda appreciate all those descriptions, and consider each to have an artistic side to it, so I’d just like to be viewed as an artist.
RR: Would you say you're generally a shy person in public?
SD: I’m a classic contradiction when it comes to personality. I’m actually very shy in public situations where I don’t know anyone. Once I am comfortable, however, I can easily be the center of attention, so even people who know me are not always aware of how shy I am. I’m just better at hiding some of my insecurities, I guess.
RR: So what is your take on pornography itself?
SD: Well, I’m firmly on the pro side, for starters. I believe that pornography has a necessary place in society, even if it’s as simple as providing masturbation material. The arguments against it ring completely false to me and only serve to highlight how hypocritical our society is. So many people take public stands against it and yet the amount of money spent on it, not to mention it’s huge presence on the internet provide the indisputable proof that it’s not only the liberal minded that are looking at it. This isn't to say that there isn't a darker side to the medium, which I’m sure there is, but even the best of things can be abused and become dangerous, like religion, for example.
We are all adults, and if I choose to use pornography as stimulus when I masturbate, that is my right, and I hate the idea of one group of individuals deciding what is or isn't acceptable for another. And I’m only talking about legal activities, before someone tries to twist my words and claim I’m advocating all avenues of porn, like the inclusion of children or animals.
RR: To date, who are your top 5 favorite models you've worked with? Describe why each of those models stick out in your mind?
SD: My top 5?
1) Lonny Masterson, who I've already discussed.
2) Lewis Moreno, who most people know as A Lewis, is an amazing person who is incredibly comfortable in his own skin and brings more raw sensuality to an image than anyone else that I've worked with.
3) NoVa, who was the easiest model to work with because of his experience as well as his innate understanding of what makes a beautiful image.
I’m adding one more – Imani The Misfit, who I shot for my dirty series. He is known as
’s first openly bi-sexual rapper/porn star, even though he doesn’t do films (yet). By far, Imani is the most ambitious model I’ve photographed, and I don’t believe I could come up with a concept that he is not willing to try, no matter how outlandish. He also requires practically no additional direction, as he picks up what you are looking for when discussing the concept and delivers. Maryland
And I hope to be able to add one of your model’s to my list very soon…the gorgeous Eric Rensburg.
RR: Who are your top favorite Photographers to date and why?
SD: This is an almost impossible question for me because my top faves far exceed the space, but I will mention a few of them.
1) ZEDNERAM – His photos blend eroticism with personality and have a raw quality that is at once both explicit and artistic. He also shoots so many different types of people, from the muscle man ideal to the skinny nerdish type and I relate to his use of every day men.
2) Justin Monroe – He is the ultimate conceptual artist whose imagination knows no bounds, and he is completely unafraid to present sex and sexuality in a bold, in-your-face manner. He is a visionary.
3) Joseph Smileuske – His composition is gorgeous, as are his models and he knows exactly how to bring the best out in his subjects. He also doesn’t overdo it with airbrushing. He has an incredible eye and his style varies with what appears to be such little effort.
4) Ron Reyes – I love when an artist has created something that feels original, and your style is so wholly your own that your work is instantly familiar to the viewer. Little, if anything is truly original anymore, but you’ve managed to create work that when people see it, they know it’s yours. You’ve also highlighted ethnicity and diversity, which I admire.
5) Mark Henderson – He is genius to me. No matter how beautiful the model, no matter how built his physique, no matter how sizeable his anatomy, Mark still revels in the minute details, like ensuring that his background is just as appealing as the model, and adding color coordinated touches, all without overpowering his subject.
! – His work is beautifully composed, artistically presented and intensely erotic. A master. Murray
7) Ethan James – Just incredible. His work is consistently beautiful and his models are gorgeous. His images, no matter how sensual, retain what can only be described as class.
8) Carlos Arias & Luis Raphael – These guys KNOW men and create living fantasies with their art. Their images are not similar to me, but there is an underlying style that is comparable and I’m in awe of each of them for the same reasons.
9) Scott Marrs – His work is ridiculously beautiful and his editing is outstanding. His range and versatility are amazing.
10) Rick Day – Every beautiful male model needs to work their way to the front of his lens. They will be forever grateful. A master of male imagery.
11) Haringman Plus – He raises the bar of erotic photography and viewing his work always makes me stop and attempt to break down the elements to figure out how his images are created.
12) Kingdom 19 – Another photographer whose work has a recognizable, personal stamp. I’ve been a fan for quite some time.
13) Henning von Berg & Ed Freeman – I’ve admired them for years and have some of their publications. There is a classic element blended with modern technique that each of them does so well.
14) Rundu / Kurt R. Brown / John Healy / Gregory Prescott – These guys know and understand the beauty and sensuality of the black male and have produced some of the finest examples of images featuring these men.
15) Lalli – There is something about the way he shoots his models that makes the viewer feel like a voyeur, creating a new level of intimacy.
I could go on and on, but I have to include Don Pollard, Jay Plogman, Gary Xu, Justin Thai, David Vance, JR Shot You, Dave Lewis, Mark Grantham, Jim Oblak, Mark Edwards, Jeff Slater, and a new discovery…ComradeX.
RR: Most photographers I know do not create their "Artistic Concepts" full time and get paid the "big bucks" to do it so that they have to supplement their income (with another career or income) in order to support the Artistic creative side of their work... What is it that you do in your full time to "Pay the Rent" so to speak?
SD: I've done so many things from working in the medical field to retail management, which I’ve done most. I’d love to work with animals or in a social work type of setting.
RR: Now one of my most favorite questions --- you don't have to name names, but tell me one of your WORST experiences shooting a model?
SD: I actually have two. One of the worst experiences I had was shooting a model, who had no experience, but insisted on dictating the terms of the shoot. He was so convinced of his own perfection that he refused to follow direction and despite his beauty, his images were totally flat. I learned a lesson on that shoot…when it gets that bad or difficult, it’s better to just end the shoot and save yourself the headache and wasted time.
The other one is tricky because the shoots (there was more than one) went well, but the model and I had developed what could be described as a “more than personal” relationship over the phone for about a month leading up to the first shoot. In hindsight, there were some warning signs, but he was such a sweet and genuine guy when we met that I took him at face value. Things had advanced by the time of our second shoot and we decided to take it past the friendship stage. Well, that’s something I never do, but I made the exception and it bit me in the ass. I don’t open up that easily, but when I do, I give 100%, and in this case I should have kept my emotions closed off cause as soon as I was comfortable admitting my feelings, I was greeted with the classic disappearing act…suddenly so busy at work, forgot to text you ‘cause there’s so much going on, everything is fine between us, blah blah blah. That was a hard one cause I liked the person that I thought I had gotten to know, but I feel I was nothing more than an ego boost for his insecurities.
But…you live and learn, right?
And in case anyone is wondering who the model was, I don’t really feature his images in my portfolios anymore because I like to focus on the positive.
RR: Now the boring question --- what was one of your BEST experiences during a shoot and why?
SD: It’s not boring to me. I already told you more than I normally would. LOL
Working with NoVa was by far one of the best experiences, but also the most physically demanding. We shot on location at
, which was difficult since he was naked in a popular public destination. I basically had to do a great deal of hiking on that shoot, hanging on to branches as I leaned over steep ledges, but NoVa is just amazing to work with and I think I took some of my best images with him. Great Falls
RR: SO when did you create this magazine "BLISS"?
SD: I created BLISS just over a year ago.
RR: Why is BLISS different from your other publications?
SD: The main difference is that BLISS (online) is not about me or my work, with the exception of this interview. LOL I've featured a few of my photos here and there, but the main purpose was to use it as a form of celebration of the artists and models whose work I admire or gain inspiration from. It’s my tribute to them and how their influence helps to advance my own art.
RR: What is it about BLISS that you think will be different for your audience to see -- that they can't see in any other Gay male erotica publication?
SD: BLISS is like a guided behind the scenes tour. Most publications focus only on the eye candy, not the mindset or process that leads to the creation of these great images. It is also all inclusive, unlike many sites. There are no sub-categories…white, black, Latino, Asian, muscular, skinny, professional, amateur, conventional, erotic – it’s all under one roof. It is also 100% devoid of any negativity. The purpose is to elevate always, and to give people another place to discover art that they may not necessarily find elsewhere. Many of the images were debuted in BLISS and/or given as exclusives.
Plus, I think I ask the questions that true appreciators want to know, and I’m sincere, which I hope comes across.
©2010 – Ron Reyes
RON REYES PHOTOGRAPHY