model: Yasiel Fleites LLanes photo: Ron Reyes Photography
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Ron Reyes Photography
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
Want More Ron Reyes Photographyhttp://www.ronreyesphotography.com/
RR: Yea, I just hope I’m not “one of those” photographers in some of these models’ eyes – but you just never know what a model REALLY thinks of you, since some of them are just good actors… I can just go by facts of what I experienced.
The most difficult shoot, is when a model acts like a Diva, (and they have no reason to be since they aren’t famous or rich, or they’re not THAT “hot” – but they THINK they are) … had a very demanding model (re: on set requirements, particular beverage, body lotions, breaks, wrote extra stipulations on my model release form ß mind you this person wasn’t of the highest model caliber) and yet would not perform all the requested concepts – so needless to say the shoot was a waste and I couldn’t use any of the images – but yet I was still asked to produce some images .. ultimately, the model was STILL not satisfied with the final retouch job, and kept asking if there were “better ones” than I already selected (out the best) … it’s just one of those types of models that make you want to give up the whole thing -- the type of model that always questions the Artist, the Concept and the Finals produced.
…I seem to work best when the model totally trusts my vision and doesn’t ask questions like, “What’s my motivation?” – or “What is this concept trying to tell the world?” [ugh]… I feel that pigeon-holes the whole shoot from the start.
B: Let’s flip it around and talk about your best shooting experience and what made it memorable.
RR: I have a lot of those (Thank Goodness)… but one sticks out in particular where this model has a good rapport with me and seems to enjoy working together with me. I had to drive the model to all these different locations and shoot all these different themes in ONE DAY – I knew he was tired and he was hungry --- and yet he still had a positive attitude, energy and at least PRETENDED he still liked me - HAHAHA… For that, I always feel grateful - like I owe the WORLD to this model and would do anything for him.
…I just love models who ENJOY MODELING and who are respectful to the Artist/Photographer who is doing their best to make the model look THEIR best… of course, Photographers should be respectful towards their models just the same.
B: What types of models do you think should have more exposure?
RR: Well, obviously, exotic men of color! You already know that our counter-parts ALREADY get all the exposure! And there are ENDLESS amounts of photographers who only prefer that anyway.
B: What would your ideal male model look like?
B: What would your ideal male model look like?
RR: I’ve always been partial to dark/exotic features, great physique of course, most likely a mix of ethnicities seem to grab my attention … especially the types you really can’t make out “what” they are.
B: What characteristics do you think every model needs to have?
B: What characteristics do you think every model needs to have?
RR: Besides the obvious physical characteristics required to BE a model, the best models are great exhibitionists by nature …
B: Let’s talk about the dynamics of a shoot and professionalism. I’m hearing, more and more, about photo shoots crossing over into something intimate between model and photographer. What are your viewpoints on this?
RR: I’m only against photographers who take advantage of their creative power to get something out of the model that the model doesn’t agree with - or leads a model on under false pretenses. There are so many gray areas with this, each specific incident has to looked at before I can simply “cast the first stone” of judgment against anyone.
B: Have you ever been in a situation where a model wanted the photo shoot to become more physical, such as photographer as fluffer?
RR: I’ll leave that up to our readers imaginations! Haha!
B: There is a great deal of attention lavished on the model during a shoot, and when the session includes nudity or more than one model, excitement can occur. Have you ever had a male model get visibly aroused during a shoot? Is so, how do you handle the situation?
RR: Yes. I actually prefer it since I think it actually looks better … Remember, society puts such a stigma on penis “size” – no man wants to appear “small” – so I say, anything that helps the model look more flattering (kinda like flexing their “muscles” look a lot better than when they don’t)…
…I had a model once tell me, “I’d prefer that it doesn’t look like a belly-button”… LOL! Kinda like when I shoot women for Boudoir work, they prefer their breasts to look “Perkier” and much more “inflated” – vs. flat and flaccid. But not to worry, arousals always diminish as the shoot progresses, so I never have to “handle” the situation, haha.
RR: Fortunately, I haven’t had to work with a model who has had this issue – most models I’ve worked with, are already comfortable in their own skin … if they do have an issue, they shouldn’t be modeling.
B: You have photographed some of my favorite models like cover boys Yasiel and John Ryan, in addition to past cover boys Eric Rensburg and Peter Le. You also have quite a catalog of beautiful men that people may not be as familiar with. Where do you meet your models?
RR: All different places, really… I’ve been lucky, two has found me through my online portfolio/website, the other two was referred to me by another photographer friend. Some I’ve gotten to know personally through my work as a performer – and some are friends-of-friends.
B: I have a personal wish list of models I’d love to work with like J Phoenix, GIO NYC and his brother ARMANI, J Gregory, and you have been lucky enough to shoot with 4 that I mentioned. Are there any models that are on your personal wish list?
RR: Personal wish list… there’s a couple of them, I can’t think of their names off-hand since they are not really “well-known” like the others you’ve mentioned... I guess I have a soft spot for the “under-dogs” in the modeling world -- or the under-exposed “Diamonds in the Rough”… I just don’t dream about shooting models who are already “over exposed” – who may already have a tendency to be “Divas” --- So unless I have a huge commercial budget, or big name to get some of these guys, I don’t even dare entertain the idea of attaining these high-profile models – but I always welcome those who find ME of course!
B: What about photographers…are there any that you’d love to collaborate with?
RR: ANY of the A-List Celebrity photographers ... I still get all “star-struck” for
Hollywood Celebrities.. haha .. but wait, that would only mean I want to meet the celebrities TH EMSELVES and NOT work with the photographer! My bad! LOL
B: You receive a great deal of positive feedback here in BLISS from models that have been featured that have worked with you. How do you develop a rapport with your models?
RR: All I can say is, maybe because I’m such a push-over ..?? I’ve always been the “nice guy” who gets walked-on all over the place – or who always “Finishes Last” .. and maybe my nice-guy demeanor is something the models feel as non-threatening or non-demanding ?? Which, I suppose, allows for a very comfortable work environment for models… ? I don’t know, I try to be myself, respect the models 100% and I just want the shoot to be FUN for the both of us. Isn’t this why we do this ?? Oh yea, that’s right… there are some who do it
JUST for the money … but then it’s not fun anymore, that just becomes WORK…
B: Can you reveal 5 things about yourself that even those who are close to you may be surprised to discover?
RR: Hmmm.. I pretty much wear my heart out on my sleeve, I don’t think I can surprise anyone with something they don’t already know about me.. haha.
… what.. that I can Sing? Hmmm… That I’ve modeled nude before (many moons ago)? It’s like everyone knows that stuff about me already.. hahaha…
B: What about the 5 things that you feel you couldn’t live without?
RR: My husband, My Mom, My Family, My Health, My Voice, My Sanity
B: Where do you see yourself, in terms of your art in the next 5 years?
B: Any last words?
RR: Thank you to people like you, Sean, who’ve have made me feel special about my work – and to those who have CREDITED my name to my work when they’ve stolen it online (i.e.©2010 - Sean Dibble
) --- ALOHA CHINA NUI LOA to you and the people who support me =)
Ron Reyes Photography