BLISS: We have had the opportunity to get to know each other a bit on Facebook and you are exceptionally supportive on my own work, which I appreciate. Who are the photographers that you gain the most inspiration from?
IMMORTAL-IMAGES: Well, the obvious one is you! There are a few photographers that have inspired me to push myself over the years. My all time hero is the late, Herb Ritts. His talent was just incredible and I’ve always admired his creativity. Nowadays I look at other artists like Ev Dylan and Paul Reitz.
B: When did you first pick up a camera and realize that this was something that you wanted to do?
I-I: I was given a camera to go on a school trip when I was 12, which started my passion for photography. It wasn’t until I was about 15 years old that I really began to shoot everything I could.
B: Did you start off photographing men or is this something that developed later on?
I-I: No, initially I took photos of anyone who would model for me. I really love working with female models, it’s just the cost of hair, make-up, wardrobe etc that puts me off. And I think that male models really inspire me, there are so many incredible models out there and the range of different looks and physiques is interesting to me.
B: Your images can not be described in a singular manner, as you do series that focus mainly on faces and others that are mostly physique. How would you describe your style?
I-I: Oooh, tough question. Honestly, I don’t think I have a style. My work tends to change and adapt depending on the model I’m working with and the concepts or ideas that we have. I really like to challenge what people think, and to collaborate with my models so we get the best possible shots.
B: Is there a specific type that you look for?
I-I: Nice eyes, everytime! I don’t really have a type, as you can see from my work that I’ve worked with a range of different looks. I like to feel inspired when I look at a model, and their attitude is also a huge factor, I love working with guys who are just as passionate and artistic as I am.
B: Beauty is obviously a subjective word, but what defines it for you in terms of physicality?
I-I: Like I said before, someone with nice eyes is beautiful to me. That’s usually the first thing I notice. Physically though it ranges, I do like tall models, someone who can look statuesque and strong.
B: Some models have amazing physiques and unremarkable faces, while others are the reverse. Which aspect would be most appealing to you in terms of your art?
I-I: The face definitely, or at the very least someone who can give more than one facial expression. I’ve worked with guys that had a great physique and great face, but they seemed somewhat limited in terms of the emotion they could deliver.
B: One of the appealing aspects about your work is that many of your models look like they could have been pulled off the street, which creates a sense of familiarity and makes them relatable. Where do you find most of your models?
I-I: Model Mayhem! Before I signed up to the site I’d never really worked with anyone who had any interest or modeling experience, so I’ve definitely worked my way around friends and work colleagues to keep my portfolio going.
B: What would you say was the best experience, to date, with a model and shoot?
I-I: Now, how do I answer this without offending any of my other models? Hmmm. I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with so many inspiring and creative guys over the last year. Giving one specific model or shoot would be really hard. Earlier this year I worked with a model called Dan Coombe, who I found on Model Mayhem. His attitude and passion is just amazing, he was really easy to get along with and we had a great shoot, and being honest his shots are some of my favorite that I’ve done, and the ones I usually get comments on.
B: You know I couldn’t ask that without digging for a little dirt. Have you ever had an experience working with a model that you regretted? You can leave names out to protect the not so innocent.
I-I: How long have you got? Yes, I’ve unfortunately had more than one experience where I’ve felt like I worked hard and just got attitude back. There have been a couple of models, who shall definitely remain nameless, that have really been great to work with on the day and then had a real attitude problem afterwards, even to the point of saying they are above me now!
B: I have a wish list of certain models that I’d love to work with some day. Do you have one, and if so, which models are on it?
I-I: Hell yeah, and it’s a huge list. UK guys, Hugh Plummer, Vince Azzopardi, Inked Jellyman, Stuart Reardon, Paul Walker, RickyRick and Harley Everett. I’ve also got so many guys in the US and Canada that I’d kill to work with, DW Chase, Mark Doubrough, Trevor Wayne, Dave Brett and Occelot.
B: What would you say is the biggest mistake a model can make in terms of advancing their career?
I-I: I think too many guys get hung up on what they’re willing to shoot, or who they want to work with. I seem to find a lot of less experienced or new models think they can charge high rates, and it only puts you off. There seems like a huge lack of common courtesy or manners too, it really doesn’t take very long to reply to a message.
B: When you first meet a model, or are contacted by one regarding a future shoot, how does the planning progress?
I-I: We usually spend a lot of time talking through the various ideas or concepts that we both have, and then try to work out what is possible or practical to do. Emails tend to get bounced around a lot! Ha ha. I have always felt that it’s better to build a good working relationship and to communicate well, that way everyone knows where they stand, and what to expect on the day.
B: You are not shy about delving into the nude arena. What is your opinion about the state of male nudity today?
I-I: There seems to be so many photographers out there who shoot nudes, and while some are truly talented, others just seem to take shots of guys stood naked. I do think the lines between art and glamour, or glamour and porn have definitely been blurred. It doesn’t seem as unusual to see male nudes anymore.
B: The nude images I have seen by you are in more of a classic vein. Have you ever considered delving into a more erotic sensibility with your work?
I-I: Yes and no. I think that to shoot full frontal or erotic images, you need to tell a story and provoke thoughts, rather than just shoot them for the sake of it. My current project looks at various aspects of masculinity, including man’s sexual side, so there will definitely be a few more sexy, and erotic shots coming.
B: When shooting a model nude, what steps do you take to ensure that they are comfortable?
I-I: We talk, A LOT! I’m very keen to make sure that my models know they can set any limits on a shoot, that way I know they feel comfortable and we get the best shots without any awkwardness.
B: I have asked other photographers this next question and some have been unwilling to answer, for whatever reason, but have you even been in a situation where a model has wanted to take things further than just a mere photo shoot? If so, how did you handle it?
I-I: Thankfully I haven’t. I’m lucky to be in a long term, committed relationship and so anything like that would get turned down straight away. And to be honest, almost all of my models have been straight so it wouldn’t even be an issue.
B: In your opinion, is it unethical to get sexually involved with a model, regardless of which side initiates it?
I-I: I don’t think it’s very professional. If something was to happen away from the shoot, then I don’t think it should matter at all, but in terms of anything happening on a shoot, I think that is wrong.
B: Asking a photographer to pick a favorite model can sometimes be like asking a parent to name their favorite child, but we've all had our muses. Do any of your models fall into this category?
I-I: Can I have four please? I definitely have a few guys who I would say inspire me for different reasons. If I really had to pick one model over the others that would be a difficult choice, I would have to say Dan Coombe, just because of how well we work together.
B: Is there a specific image or idea that you’ve wanted to capture but have been unable to realize yet?
I-I: Yes! Mainly due to the fact I don’t live very close to London. There is a studio called Murder Mile, and I really want to shoot some artistic nudes in one of the sets which has a huge ornate throne.
B: Every artist puts himself in the line of fire when he makes his work public, and it’s fair to say that everything does not appeal to everybody. Have you experienced any negative feedback regarding your work from people who view it? What about from other photographers?
I-I: I’ve had it all. From people saying my retouching isn’t very good, to comments about my models not being “pretty” enough. Some photographers are really complimentary, yourself being one of the guys whose work I admire as well. Others have been a bit off hand, and commented that some of my ideas have been done before. Which when you think about it, I think everyone has copied someone else’s idea or been inspired to create something similar. Lost count of how many versions I’ve seen of Herb Ritts’ shot “Fred with tires”
B: What would you say is the biggest misconception people have regarding those of us who focus on male imagery?
I-I: That if we shoot men, we must be gay and we want to sleep with them! I saw a comment from a photographer on a forum once that any guy who shoots men must be gay! Or that we only do it for self gratification, that’s certainly something I’ve been accused of.
B: What, in your opinion, do you think would surprise people most regarding models that shoot nudes?
I-I: From my experience a lot of the guys who shoot nudes are really shy or quiet, which is kind of funny considering they’re happy to stand around with it all hanging out.
B: Do you have a favorite of the images you’ve done and what makes it stand out in your mind?
I-I: I know what other people’s favorite shots of mine are. I don’t have one specific image that I love more than others.
B: Photoshop has become such a standard within our community, and there are those that feel extremely shopped images should be labeled as graphic art, rather than photography. Do you have an opinion on this argument?
I-I: I love Photoshop, but I know that isn’t where my skills lie. I think that photography should be more about the techniques used during the shots and less about the amount of post-shoot editing that is done. Digital art is great if you can do it, but I wonder who powerful would the shots be without all the extra Photoshop work that has been done afterwards. I taught myself from the age of 15 – 16, and did a lot of my work on film, before digital became so accessible, so to me I think photography should be about actual photographic technique and skill, and not how good you are on Photoshop.
B: What is the most important lesson you have learned as a photographer in terms of working with models?
I-I: You have to be a good communicator, and be able to express your ideas and concepts well. I used to be really shy on set, I learnt the hard way that you can’t be quiet otherwise the model doesn’t know what you are looking for or want from the shots.
B: You’ve taken the step out from behind the camera to self portraits, and you are nude in the one I have seen. Are you comfortable in front of the camera?
I-I: Ha ha, I knew you were going to ask about that shot! I’ve come to accept being in front of the camera isn’t so bad. I’m much more comfortable with my camera in my hand though.
B: The image I saw of you was a nude, but you are covering your private parts. Would you do a full frontal image of yourself?
I-I: No as my partner would kill me! Ha ha. Honestly I’m not sure, I certainly proud of my endowment, I just think that part of me is private.
B: When people view your images, what do you want them to take away from the experience?
I-I: I’d love to think that my images provoked an emotional response, or at the very least made them think “Wow, this guy can take a good shot”.
B: What direction would you like to see your art go in regards to future projects?
I-I: I’d love to see how the advancements in 3D imagery go as that is something that excites me a lot. I’m constantly thinking of ideas and concepts so who knows.
B: Are there any special projects are in the works that we can look forward to seeing from you?
I-I: Well, at the moment all of my energy is focused on completing my book “The Age of Man” and my art short that is going with my book. I’m aiming to finish the work for the book early next year, then I’m self publishing.
B: Can you list 5 things about yourself that even people who are close to you might be surprised to know?
I-I: 1- I actually love to sing and have written two albums worth of songs. 2- I’m terrified of getting old. 3- When I was a child I always wanted to be a dancer. Hmmm, bit stuck now, you’ll have to settle for 3!
B: And here is another set of 5. Can you list 5 things that you absolutely could not live without?
I-I: My camera, my phone, music, moisturizer, good underwear.
B: Any last words for your current fans, as well as the new ones you will gain from this feature?
I-I: Your support and encouragement is appreciated more than I can say. Every positive comment and every nice message makes me feel that my talent and work isn’t wasted. And even though they’re not really fans, I would definitely like to say a huge thank you to every model I’ve worked with, especially on my book, your attitude, beauty and creativity have inspired me.
©2011 – Sean Dibble
Link to Immortal Images