For me, music is always a constant in my life. While I have loved to be able to create it by playing the violin or the piano, I unfortunately have zero musical talent. However, I am able to immerse myself completely in songs and let it take me back to a time and place, good or bad. Furthermore, I love the fact that music affects me so deeply to the point when I start feeling the "feels" to classical and instrumental pieces like Pachebel's Canon in D, Beethoven's Ode to Joy, and Gustavo Santaolalla's "The Wings". Then there are songs like Groove Armada's "My Friend", "Hozier's "Take Me To Church", Rufus Wainwright's version of "Hallelujah", the unplugged version of Alice In Chains' "Down In A Hole", Elliott Smith's "Waltz #2", and Michael Andrew's "Mad World". Hell, there are times when I have to turn off a song in the car to prevent myself from tearing up. And to this day, I can't listen to Grieg's "In The Hall of the Mountain King" without feeling anxious or without balling my eyes out to "The Little Drummer Boy".
As such, I'm drawn to musicians and the beauty that they are able to create. In high school, there was this guy that used to live across from me, but everybody thought he was douchebag. It's funny because I think I was one of the few juniors in our wing that he actually liked and made a point of hanging out with him, which left everyone else confused. However, he played the violin and would often practice in his bedroom, which was right across the hall from me. It was ridiculous how many hours I spent sitting on the floor outside of my bedroom listening to him playing piece after piece on his violin. Each time that I hear the sounds of a violin, I am taken back to my junior year of high school and listening to Jacob practice.
Music. It's one of the reasons why I went to college in Seattle and the reason why I came back to Austin after graduating. It's why I make a point to take in as many small venue concerts here in Austin. It's part of the reason why I occasionally wonder the streets of South Congress for the opportunity to listen and photograph street musicians. It's definitely the reason why I jumped on the opportunity to work with and photograph Tomas Christzen.
Working with the photography meet-up group, I decided to participate in the November 2012 photo shoot with Tomas based on his image. Of course, the theme of the photo shoot was "Mountain Man" based on his overall appearance, particularly his beard. However, once I found out that he was a musician and had brought his acoustic guitar, I completely abandoned the "Mountain Man" theme and focused on photographing him in his element. It definitely a good decision based on the images that I was able to get with him and his guitar.
There was an aura of moodiness throughout the photo shoot, which definitely played to my favor towards the end of the shoot. It was further highlighted by the fact that Tomas was comfortable in his own skin and didn't particularly care about what others thought about him. Throughout the shoot, I wanted to capture that attitude and moodiness as well as the beauty that I saw within Tomas. Given that focus, I think that's why I favored portrait-like images and music photography-like images from this photo shoot. It definitely helped that I told Tomas that I wanted him to think of the shoot as something for Rolling Stone. Not sure if I captured all of my images in that style, but I'm definitely happy with the way the images came out.
As I mentioned, I love the portraits that came from this photo shoot. It helps that Tomas is absolutely stunning with his gorgeous blue eyes and that copper hair. For me, I love the image for several reasons. First off, I love the fact that the focus of the image is on his gorgeous blue eyes. Each time that I look the series, I'm continuously taken aback by the intensity of his eyes. In addition to his eyes, I love the expression on his face and the hint of vulnerability. It definitely helps to connect the viewer to the image a little better in my opinion. Finally, I love the tilt of the head and the fact that it has a shallow depth of field. Overall, this is one of my favorite portraits from 2012.
A man and his guitar. This was one of the first images that I worked on from the series. When I captured the image of his impromptu performance during the photo shoot, I knew that I had captured a cool image, especially since I was able to capture his entire body and the width of the guitar. I also love the fact that it's an implied nude, but still has a sensuality to the image. His focus on the guitar, the fact that he lost in his world of music, and isn't paying attention to the camera definitely illustrates the fact that I was able to capture a moment in time. For me, it's always amazing to be able to capture these moments, to find the beauty within it, and be able to share it with the world. Given that, I knew that this specific image was going to be amazing.
Of course, I was looking to create some different images from the other photographers participating in the meet-up group. As I mentioned earlier, I definitely wanted to go towards the music photography style throughout the shoot. Hell, I told Tomas that I wanted him to think about Rolling Stone while I was working with him. I think the next couple of images definitely illustrate that desire and I think that I was able to capture them beautifully.
The image below is definitely in the running for my overall favorite image from the photo shoot. For a while, I had a similar image floating around in my head, but never had the opportunity to create it in real life. When the opportunity presented itself in Tomas, I definitely knew that I had to do everything in my power to get that image. As such, I was grateful when I got home and saw that the image came out extremely well, especially with the depth of field and selective focus on his face. I love the fact that I have such crisp details in his face, in the individual strands of hair and the scruff of his beard, and the intensity of his eye. Of course, I did have to do some work on the guitar because I wanted it to be smooth and not contain a lot of detail. Overall, I love how the curve of the body of guitar complements his facial structure and the subtle reflection on the side. There are so many different elements in this image that I absolutely love and am happy that I was able to do the image in my head justice. Like I said, this is one of my absolute favorite images from the series.
And of course, since I had one with Tomas posed with the body of the guitar, I had to get one with the neck of the guitar in opposition to his face. The image is definitely interesting, but I tend to favor the prior image. However, I do love the fact that Tomas' expression seems to indicate that he's only humoring me, which he was. As always, I love the detail, particularly the intensity of his eye and how the hairs near the top of his beard captures the light. Those little details are definitely one of the reasons that I like this image overall.
And of course, I had to finish off the series of Tomas using the various pieces of the guitar to as a counter point and to frame his face. The image below actually came from the end of the photo shoot when I realized that I still needed one shot to complete the series. It's actually interesting to see the images side by side. To me, at least, I can tell that Tomas is more weary in the image below than the two proceeding images, but it's understandable since this is coming in at the end of a three hour photo shoot. Of course, it's highlighted by the fly away hair as well. However, I love the the juxtaposition of the guitar head against his face and the how it draws attention to his eye. Yeah, it was definitely awesome to have a complete set of the images and being able to see the transition between all three of them.
Emotions. I sometimes feel that genuine emotions are hard to capture in images, especially working with adults. This is further exacerbated by the type of shoots that I engage in since I tend to focus on the male nude. However, there are times when the model just wears their emotions. As I mentioned earlier, the photo shoot with Tomas was definitely one of the moodier shoots that I've participated in, which allowed me to capture some amazing portraits in my opinion.
The image below wasn't one that I normally include as a top image from the shoot, but I recently have come to love the image. There are certain elements that I love about the image, such as the way that the individual strains of hair captures the light, the tilt and subtle turn of his head, and those long eye lashes. However, as you probably guessed it, I'm in love with the expression on his face. To me, the image has a somber feel to it. As a viewer, I wonder what is going through his mind and what has caused that expression to appear on his face. Even though Tomas isn't making eye contact with the viewer, there's still a connection with the viewer that begs to be explored. All of this because of the somber feeling cast over the image. Like I said, there's definitely something interesting going on in the image and it took me a while to realize it, but it's definitely growing to be one of the images that I highlight from the series.
One of the things that I liked doing with this photo shoot was trying new poses. That's one of the things that I look for when I hire models to work with. If they can bring something interesting to the photo shoot, then there's a strong chance that I will want to work with them. Of course, that's just something that I started looking for in this past year, especially when I started branching out and holding my own photo shoots. However, I have to say that I am lucky to be able to think on my feet and draw on countless of images that I seen in magazines, movies, and just walking down the street.
As such, I love Tomas' pose in the image below. For this portion of the shoot, I was photographing him sitting in chair and capturing some typical images of him sitting. However, it was when I asked him to bring his leg up that I started becoming more interested and invested in the images. Of course, this is my favorite from that portion of the shoot. I love the entire pose and the sense of vulnerability that it exudes. Maybe it's the tilt of the head, the fact that he's got his arms wrapped around his legs, or the expression on his face, but I absolutely feel in love with the image when I finished working on it.
On top of the pose and the overall feeling of the image, I love the lighting in this image. I love how the light highlights the various strains of hair and emphasizes the copper tones. On top of that, I love how the lights is captured on the hairs on his arm and how it creates some stuffing highlights along his bicep. And of course, I absolutely love how the light plays across his face, casting half of it in shadows while highlight his blue eye. Like I said before, I absolutely love it when all aspects of image comes together to create a stunning image.
That's also the case here. I love how all of the different elements came together to create the portrait below. Of course, I'll give you three guesses on why I love the image, and none of those guesses count unless you said Tomas' gorgeous blue eyes. Yeah, I love the overall image from the light capturing the different shades of copper through his hair to the lighting pattern playing across his face. However, it's the eyes in this image that capture my attention each and every time I see it.
There's definitely a little bit of a rocker vide in Tomas. It could be from his "don't give a damn" attitude or the tattoos donning various parts of his body. However, this image is one of those images that I, for some reason, equate with the rocker vibe. I don't know why, but I always equate this image with grunge rock and Kurt Cobain. Not sure if I've seen an similar image (tilt of the head and the general pose) of Kurt Cobain, but that correlation has been stuck in my head since I first edited the image. Either way, it's one of the images that stands out for me because of the general pose and the intensity of his eyes. As such, I knew that I was definitely going to highlight it in this blog entry.
And finally, the last three images are going back to my idea that I wanted to create some "Rolling Stone" like images. I think at one point, I wanted to be a photographer for the magazine just so that I could photograph musicians in their elements, do concert and music festival photography, and work with up and coming bands before they made it big. Again, that's part of the reason why I moved down here to Austin in order to partake in the music scene, do street photography during SXSW and ACL, and have the opportunity to work with musicians. It hasn't worked out how I thought, but I've definitely taken the opportunities as they presented themselves.
I will say that the image below is a contender for my overall favorite image from the photo shoot. I love everythign about this image - from the pose, to the lighting, to the use of the guitar, to his crazy fly-away hair. Of course, I definitely find myself looking at the details throughout the image. Yeah, this image is definitely one of the top contenders for being my favorite overall image from the shoot.
However, if I were pressed, I would have to say that the image below would be my favorite image from the shoot. As I've said throughout the entry, I love being able to capture real moments in time. The image below is definitely an unguarded moment of time. I captured the image at the end of the three hour shoot and was trying to bolster Tomas' energy. However, he was exhausted by the end of the shoot and just drained of energy. It was at that moment that I was able to capture the image below. That feeling and mood is indicated throughout every aspect of the image - from the defeated pose, to position of his hand as he starts to run it through his hair, to the expression on his face. There's definitely a part of me that feels guilty for highlighting this image as my favorite from the photo shoot, but these are the images that I love being able to capture. This is a true moment in time that I was lucky to be able to capture.
I know that I do photography as hobby, an expensive one at that, but it's worth it when I am able to capture moments like these. I don't know if I have the skill and vision to make it as a professional photographer, but I am happy to be able to do it as a hobby and have experiences like this one. And I know that I always find something amazing about each shoot that I've participated in or held on my own, but the photo shoot with Tomas is definitely one that is dear to my heart. On top of that, I love that I was able to highlight some, what I think are, amazing portraits as well as some images that could have potentially be found in a music magazine - maybe. Either way, I am proud of the images that I was able to create with Tomas and am grateful to have had that experience.
Furthermore, I am happy that this series has been highlighted in various blogs throughout the internet. Of course, one of my favorite entries was written and hosted at http://favoritehunks.blogspot.ca/2013/08/the-rules-of-attraction-tomas-by-reyj.html?zx=8a40a3800ffe6842. Check it out and see what Tye thought about my images. Either way, it's still cool that my images were highlighted. It definitely makes me feel great that someone out there actually likes my images. That's definitely gratifying as a photographer.