Archive for the ‘Travel to California’ Category

The Complete ON THE ROAD Blog Series (So Far)

Click on image to go to blog entry

Chapter 1, Early June 2011:
On Chucking It All and Going On the Road
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Chapter 2, Mid-June 2011:
Prepping for the Road
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Chapter 3, Late June 2011:
Before I Take Off
Before i take off
Chapter 4, July 2011:
Letter from L.A.
Letter fm LA
Chapter 5, July 2011:
Malibu Photo Shoot with Steve Chen
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Chapter 6, August 2011:
Letter from Lincoln
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Chapter 7, September 2011:
Letter from Baltimore
Baltimore
Chapter 8, October 2011:
Letter from Honolulu
Honolulu hawaii beach
Chapter 9, November-December 2011:
Letter from Brazil
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Chapter 10, February 2012:
Leaving Home…Going Home
Leavinghome goinghome
Chapter 11, July 2012:
Letter from Dakota Street
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Chapter 12, October 2012:
Letter from Banff
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Chapter 13, November 2012:
Letter from Santo Domingo, Part 1:
Arrival in the Dominican Republic,
and Photo Shoot with Muscleboy Jeison
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Chapter 14, November 2012:
Letter from Santo Domingo, Part 2:
Dominican Boys Gone Wild
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Chapter 15, November 2012:
Letter from Santo Domingo, Part 3:
Javier: The Boy Can’t Help It
Ltr fm sto domingo part3 B
Chapter 16, December 2012:
Letter from Santo Domingo, Part 4:
TROUBLE, and Getting Wet in Cabarete
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Chapter 17, December 2013:
Winter 2013: Everything Changes

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Chapter 18, February 2014:
On The Road: Walking The Tightrope

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Click here to access all entries in Douglas Simonson’s “On the Road” Series


October 25, 2011

When I decided to go traveling for a year I really thought that I could travel for like two and half to three months at a shot, then come back to Hawaii for a week or 10 days, just catch up on stuff, and then take off for another two and half to three months.

Nice plan!

But totally out of touch with reality.

I have now realized, after my first quick Hawaii check-in has turned into a five-week stay, during which I have worked 12 to 14 hour days most of the time, that it’s not that simple.

I forgot that I would have 3 months of stuff to catch up on every time I come home!

Also, when I returned to Hawaii on September 15 after 2+ months of traveling, my apartment in Waikiki still hadn’t been rented. This was puzzling to me. It’s a great apartment, great location, and the property management people seemed to be doing a good job of showing it.

It was frustrating because I’d been counting on that rental income. On the other hand, it
was nice to have a place to stay while back in Hawaii.

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At Hula's with Steph.

Then, about a week after my return, I went out for a drink with my friend Steph (read about Steph and our 2008 Brazil travels together here). I told her I still hadn’t rented my apartment and she got excited. She and her friend Brian had been looking for a place in Waikiki…you can figure out the rest!

(Now I understood why the apartment hadn’t rented for 3 months…it was waiting for Steph!)

That was the perfect solution to one problem, but it created another. They wanted to move in immediately, which meant I no longer had a place to stay, and no immediate prospects for one.

But y’know, I wasn’t worried. One thing about my new lifestyle: it’s making me a lot more comfortable with uncertainty. My first 9 weeks on the road, traveling across North America and back again, was like the path of a tropical storm: unpredictable, erratic, and totally dependent on the winds, temperature and currents for direction and destination.

I’d been kind of apprehensive when I started my long-term traveling, with a make-it-up-as-you-go approach. I wasn’t sure I really had the balls to live this way!

Turns out I do. In fact, so far I’m loving it. One of the best, and least-expected, benefits of living this way, being open to circumstance and trusting rather than knowing what’s coming next, is that wonderful, unexpected things keep coming my way.

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With my friends Richard and Michele in Los Angeles

In LA, standing in line at Whole Foods in Brentwood, I looked behind me to see my publisher friend Richard, an old friend from Hawaii. I’d been trying to reconnect with him online for the past year or so. I got a chance to meet him and his wife Michele, who is lovely and already a friend, for lunch and catching up.

In Lincoln, Nebraska, where I hardly expected it, I met a woman who, like me, is just beginning to discover her abilities as an energy worker and healer. I spent a whole day with Bonnie and we not only did healing work on each other, we both learned a lot.

In New Orleans, I got on the shuttle for the airport in the rainy pitch-black of 3:20 a.m. and met Kath, a beautiful woman from Australia who is a seeker in many of the same ways as I am. She was on her way to an adventure in Cuba. We talked all the way to the airport, then found ourselves on the same flight, in seats next to each other, and again, talked all the way to Miami. We parted with a big hug and we’re now in touch via Facebook.

In LA, I reconnected with an old boyfriend who is now a dear friend, and has been a flight attendant for the past 20 years. When he heard about my new traveling lifestyle, he set me up with a buddy pass on his airline.

A friend I’ve known since my early days in Hawaii happened to be in LA when I was and saw me on Facebook and invited me to lunch. It was a wonderful reconnection and great to see him. When we said goodbye, he gave me an envelope and said, Open this later. When I got home, I opened it, and out fell $1400 in 100-dollar bills. It turns out that 30 years ago in Hawaii, I had loaned him $500 to buy a motorcycle. I’d forgotten long ago, but he not only remembered, he repaid me plus 30 years of interest.

I almost fell over when I opened that envelope, because I’d been wondering how I would manage, moneywise, over the next couple of months.

It seems the more uncertain my life is, the more space there is for unexpected blessings. I thought it would be a challenge to live this way, and certainly at times it is, but mostly I just feel blessed, and I love the way I’m learning to trust.

So I wasn’t worried about finding a place to stay even though it was Sunday night and my new tenants were moving in on Monday and I did not want to be the landlord crashing on the living-room floor! So I decided I would go out that evening, and just trust that things would fall into place.

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At Honolulu's La Mariana Restaurant with friends Allen and Joe a few days before leaving for Brazil. Allen is the angel who gave me a place to stay while in Honolulu

Within a half-hour of my arriving at the bar, I ran into a friend of mine named Allen, who happened to have an empty house that needed housesitting…for 3 weeks, which was just the amount of time I would be on the island. He even had a car I could use.

Believe me when I say this was not the type of thing that used to happen to me when I was living a safe, conservative life, staying in one place and playing it relatively safe.

I spent the next 3 weeks in Honolulu drawing, painting, writing, and doing the million things required of me before taking off again. And today, as I write this from seat 13A on American Airlines flight 162 from Honolulu to LA, I feel ready for the next phase of the adventure.

(Another unexpected plus just now: one of the flight attendants is an old friend, and he’s been sending me free beer and anything else I want.)

ADDENDUM:

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Kurt and Jacob in rainy L.A.

I’m now in the airport waiting for my flight to Dallas where I connect to my flight for São Paulo. I’ve just spent a wonderful couple of days in LA with my friend Kurt Brown. Kurt and I got a chance to work together on his first e-book (watch for that on my site!) It was great spending time with Kurt and his roommate Jacob, despite the rainy weather while I was there.

So I’m about to get on the plane now. I just checked my e-mail and I see that my friend Dave, who’ll be my host in São Paulo, is throwing a party for me day after tomorrow. Can’t wait!

(Be watching for upcoming Letters from Brazil!)

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Click here to access all entries in Douglas Simonson’s “On the Road” Series


MALIBU PHOTO SHOOT: STEVE CHEN



As you know if you’ve been reading this blog, I’ve just embarked on a year-long journey.

I left Hawaii July 10 for Los Angeles, the first stop. I’ve been here for a little over 2 weeks, and I’ve just completed the first male-nude photo shoot of my trip so far.

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Steve Chen in a photograph by David Smith

I met Steve Chen through fellow photographers David Smith (Hawaii) and Kurt Brown (California). I’d seen some of the photographs and thought he looked great! On top of that, both David and Kurt said Steve was a sweetheart, easy to work with and just a really nice guy. I like to hear reports like that. So I was eager to meet him.

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Some of the test shots I took of Steve when we first met.

Steve came to meet me where I was staying, at my friend Gina’s Brentwood apartment. I liked him right away. He’s a very friendly, open, charming guy, and of course he’s handsome and has an amazing body! We talked a bit about the shoot, and other things, and set a date and time.

Two days later we drove to Malibu’s Point Dume State Park. Kurt Brown had recommended this spot, saying it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a nice beach with no one else around. That didn’t turn out to be quite accurate. Maybe it was because it was just getting into the really nice summer weather and Kurt was used to going there in the winter…or maybe we were just unlucky…but we hiked, and hiked, and hiked, and found beach after beach that was beautiful and would have made a great location–but had picnickers and sunbathers already on them.

We were both getting pretty frustrated, but we kept hiking and hiking–I know we covered several miles and I am not a very enthusiastic hiker!–until finally, at a point very far from where we’d begun, we found a spot with no one else around.

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That’s where I was finally able to start shooting in earnest. The sun cooperated by coming out in full force at just about that time, too, so from being very frustrated and tired, I went to being very excited and energized within a few minutes. I ultimately shot over 2000 images of Steve and was very happy with the results.

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Just a few of the over 2000 images I shot of Steve at Point Dume.

We drove back to L.A. late that afternoon, both feeling tired but content: Steve because he felt he’d done a good job (he did) and me because I had so much great new material to work from!

I wasted no time, and within 3 days I had several new rough sketches of Steve, in both pencil and colored pencil. There will be many more! (Click on the sketches to see them on my website.)

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And the first Steve Chen photo shoot gallery went up on the Simonson On Location on July 28. Again, there will be many more!

Letter fm LA

Click here to access all entries in Douglas Simonson’s “On the Road” Series


PART 1: ESCAPE from STUFF!

I am in Los Angeles, having finally made my escape from Hawaii.

I don’t mean that quite like it sounds. It’s not about an escape from Hawaii. The “escape” has more to do with getting rid of possessions which had begun to possess me. The final days before I left were all about dealing with all that…STUFF. I was selling stuff, giving away stuff, throwing away stuff, and still keeping way too much stuff. There are boxes and boxes of it at my office.

But there’s a plan to get rid of it.

Each time I come back for a week-long check-in visit to Hawaii (the first one will be in September), I will sort through more of it and get rid of more of it. I’ve realized getting rid of stuff is a major theme for me these days.

So…going on this year-long journey is not so much about the travel as about the LETTING GO and LIGHTENING UP.

And even though I headed for the airport on Sunday with a huge suitcase weighing 60 lbs. and a very stuffed carry-on, it feels great to know this is all the stuff I need to have in my life right now. Plus I will lighten and refine the load during my travels, as it becomes clearer what’s really essential and what’s not.

PART 2: REUNION WITH GINA AND RAMSES IN L.A.

GINA has been a significant part of my artistic life ever since that day in Honolulu in 1986 when the phone rang and I picked it up to hear a female voice saying, “Hi, you don’t know me but I’ve seen your art and my boyfriend would be a PERFECT MODEL for you!” The boyfriend was indeed a perfect model. He is long gone, but Gina and I are still friends 25 years later, and when I’m in LA she is the person I stay with.

One of our best and most memorable times together was in Brazil in 2004 when I did my first Brazilian male-nude photo shoot as a direct result of Gina’s finding a boy on the beach who became my Rio talent scout. My friend Ramses was also on that trip, and the three of us totally bonded as a result of our Brazilian adventure together.

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This is us in Brazil in 2004: Luiz, Gina, Ramses, Douglas. (Luiz, also known as Gui, is the Brazilian boy Gina met by chance on the beach who became my Brazil talent scout and 'events coordinator'. He's an actor in Canada these days.)

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Ramses and Gina on the beach at Ipanema during our Brazil trip.

As it turns out, Ramses is on the West Coast at the moment, and has altered his plans so he can come to LA and hang out with us. So it’s a big reunion and the three of us are having a great time hanging out, catching up, and having some new adventures!

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This is us in LA in 2011. Gina, Gina's cousin AJ, Ramses, Douglas. (Fiesta Cantina on Santa Monica)

PART 3: CREATING ART ON THE ROAD

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On the left, a pencil sketch of some palm trees I saw while walking to get groceries in Brentwood. On the right, a colored-pencil drawing of Nohea I've been working on that's about 60% finished.

It’s been a challenge finding time to draw, since I’m staying with two of my favorite people in the world to hang out with. But I’ve been managing. I’ve started a colored-pencil drawing of Nohea that I really like so far. I spend a few hours on it each day. Also did a little sketch of L.A. palm trees.

PART 4: NEEDING SOME ALONE TIME: SETTING BOUNDARIES

Being on the road means spending a lot more time in other people’s spaces.

I’ve been having a wonderful time hanging with Gina and Ramses but I’m realizing something. I am the kind of person who loves being with people, but I can’t do it for too long at a time. I gather energy and find myself by being alone. I get my best ideas, have my clearest reflections and am at my most creative when I’m by myself. Usually I have a LOT of alone time, and I like it. Now that I’m traveling I find I’m with people much of the time and I’m not used to that.

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Even though I was having an emotional meltdown I still caught some nice images of our evening in Santa Monica on my iPhone.

Last night I had a kind of emotional meltdown because I went out (to the Santa Monica Pier and Promenade area)with Gina and Ramses even though I was already in need of alone time and hadn’t taken it. It was not pretty, but fortunately all was forgiven and we’re all still friends. I’m learning that it’s okay to say, “Guys, I need some alone time,” and go for a walk or to Starbucks or, if one’s available, just shut myself in a room for awhile.

Sometimes I just need to recharge my batteries!

PART 5: PHOTOGRAPHERS AND MODELS

KURT BROWN AND A BEAUTIFUL NEW MODEL


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I went to lunch with my friend Kurt Brown, a terrific photographer who lives here in LA and who also specializes in the male nude. We talked about everything, but especially models and shooting them and marketing ourselves. I told him all about my e-books, how much fun they are to create and how well they’re selling, and I may be working with him on producing an e-book of his photographs. We also shared lunch with Darius Dio, a stunning 26-year-old who models all over the world (see photos above). He’s a very down-to-earth, easy-going guy, and we talked about working together sometime soon.

PHOTO SHOOT WITH STEVE CHEN

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I’m meeting with Steve Chen (shown above in a shot by David Smith), a bodybuilder who lives here in LA, on Monday, and if all goes well, we’ll do a shoot on Wednesday, probably in Malibu. Steve has worked with my friend Kurt Brown in LA and my friend David Smith in Hawaii. I’m looking forward to photographing his beautiful face and body in the California sun.

PART 6: LOS ANGELES IS F**KING COLD!

I am always amazed at how COLD it is in LA. It seems the whole world has this idea that LA is a hot, sunny place where you can run around in a swimsuit all the time. That sure hasn’t ever been my experience. I always pack a jacket and/or a sweater when I’m coming to LA. It’s July and I just went out to get some groceries and even in the middle of a sunny day I got chilly as soon as I stepped into the shade. And at night, forget it. You will need to bundle up.

I’m not like most people, I guess. I actually enjoy 85-90 degrees and high humidity and no breeze.

With Albuquerque in July being my next stop, I will probably get to find out what it’s like at 100 degrees and NO humidity. Bring it!


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Prepping for road blkborder

Click here to access all entries in Douglas Simonson’s “On the Road” Series


Three weeks after the momentous decision talked about in my “On Chucking It All and Going On the Road” entry, things have moved along dramatically, and the shape of my life is changing before my eyes.

My studio has now been moved into my office and I’m still unpacking boxes and setting things up. It’ll be a few more days before I can actually start drawing and painting again, but things are moving along.

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A few days ago this was my studio.

I’ve also been selling a lot of stuff—books, CDs, DVDs, luggage, kitchenware, odds and ends. Feels good to be “lightening up.”

The property manager I found has begun advertising the apartment for rent and dealing with prospective tenants. I’m dealing with the limbo state of living between my steadily-less-homelike apartment and my in-office studio, and although I’m impatient to actually get all this preparation out of the way and be on the road, there’s so much to do every day I’m far from bored.

There are long lists of things to do every day, but it’s all getting done. I’ve finally learned, when faced with huge piles of to-do’s between myself and the goal, to not think about the enormity of the task, but just remind myself, sometimes forcefully, “I don’t have to know how everything will get done. I just need to do this one thing I’m doing now.” Amazing how well this works.

One item got taken care of in an unexpected way when the beautiful 21-year-old dancer who had agreed to model for me before I left messaged me on Facebook saying “I don’t feel comfortable modeling nude”. This is after an in-person interview where we talked about every aspect of the gig including my being absolutely clear that it was full-frontal nudity and making sure that he was fine with it.

Oh well. When I was 21 I didn’t always know what I wanted either. (I sometimes don’t now!)

Although I do know, with more clarity than I’ve had about a lot of things, that what I’m doing right now is absolutely what I want. As the day for my departure nears, it all still feels totally right. (Not that I don’t also get nervous and frightened at moments…like sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat…but I just breathe deeply and remind myself that if it wasn’t scary, it wouldn’t be exciting.)

Anyway, a few days from now, when all this minutiae is tidied up, I’ll get on the plane for Los Angeles, where I’ll spend a couple of weeks with my friend Gina. Once I’m there and finally away from Hawaii and my previous life, I hope I’ll be able to decompress and see more clearly what’s next. Although I do have the first couple of months roughly laid out. After L.A. is Albuquerque, where I’ll visit my brother and his wife, then I’ll head up to Nebraska where the rest of the family lives. While I’m doing this California-New Mexico-Nebraska triangle, my passport will be in California getting its Brazil visa renewed so I can head there 2 or 3 months from now. A friend has volunteered his couch in São Paulo.

I also might end up in Australia in October, meeting some Hawaii friends there.

And Puerto Vallarta is calling me again, too…

About travel and living in Hawaii: There are a lot of destinations I’ve fantasized about over the years but was too often stopped by the extra time and money required to get there from these isolated islands. I’m looking forward to being in places that are adjacent to my next exciting adventure spot, rather than always having to deal with the 5-hour flight just to get to a starting point for your journey. I love Hawaii and I’ll always come home to it, but I sure like the idea of already being in New York, for example, when I decide to go to Europe.

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I've already sold quite a few of my plants, but I had to move all the ones I still have off the floor so the carpets can be shampooed today.

I’m writing this in the midst of chaos, by the way. The carpet-cleaning people are coming an hour from now and as soon as I finish this, I have to drag all the furniture onto the non-carpeted areas of the apartment so they can do their shampoo thing. Meanwhile I’ll be taking my Honda Element to the carwash to get it spiffed up so I can photograph it and sell it on Craigslist. That’s the last big thing to take care of before I leave.

Still haven’t bought my ticket but that will happen in the next few days. My next post, barring unforeseen happenings, will be either just before I’ve left, or just after arriving in LA. Or maybe it’ll get written on the plane…


The next morning I woke up early (it was about 6:30) and looked outside. The morning air was crisp and chilly, no one was around the pool, and the place looked beautiful. I put on my swimsuit (not that I needed to), stepped outside and dove into the heated pool. It felt wonderful. I had a great swim, then got into the hot tub, which as usual was the perfect temperature. Refreshed and invigorated, I went back to my room.

What a great way to start the day!

I’d been planning to let the models sleep in because I didn’t want to get up early myself. But since I was already up, I decided to drag them out of bed and get some shots in that great early-morning light. I went to their room and knocked. And waited. Knocked again, and waited some more. Finally Jonny cracked the door, squinted at me, and let me in.

Rob hadn’t even peeked out from under his covers. It looked like he was going to be the immovable object. So because Jonny had already crawled out of bed, he became my victim. He wasn’t happy to leave his warm bed and come out into the cold morning air so I could photograph him, but he reluctantly said okay, I’ll do it. Is an hour from now okay? (Jonny needs 30 minutes just for his hair.)

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Jonny gets up!

I told him NO! It’s gotta be RIGHT NOW. Every minute and we lose more of this gorgeous morning light! He moaned, but he was a sport–he was out by the pool about 3 minutes later.

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Jonny was not excited about getting naked in 50-degree weather, but he was a trooper--and I was thrilled with the beautiful light and the sparkling early-morning desert air

When he got into the pool, he relaxed a bit, because it was nice and warm. Not hot, just but the right temperature. I had him paddle around a bit and when he got to the other end of the pool I told him to get out of the pool and go get into the hot tub. He moved so fast I almost didn’t get a shot of it.

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Jonny moves fast to get to the hot tub

We did that a few more times before I just let him relax in the hot tub for a few minutes. I think he was finally agreeing with me that this is a nice way to begin the day. (Although after I told him okay, we’re done for now, he went right back to bed.)

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Mmmm...not so bad after all.

By now it was still early. I think it was 7:30 or so. So I let the boys sleep some more and I went back to my room and caught up on some work I’d brought with me. (After first getting some breakfast from the Santiago Resort’s breakfast room, which had a nice selection of fruits, cereal, pastries, toast, etc., and great coffee.)

By noon I had caught up on the work I was doing and I was getting impatient to get started shooting again. I went to the boys’ room and they were STILL in bed. They let me in and I proceeded to hassle Rob, who was trying to ignore me. I told him that since he was not willing to get out of bed, we would do the next portion of the photo shoot with him IN bed. He kind of liked that idea. I did, too. So I shot for about a half hour, in low light with no flash because I wanted the natural light. That meant a lot of the photographs were a bit blurry but somehow that kind of fit the moment…

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A few shots from the Rob-in-bed morning shoot

Shooting Rob and Jonny Together

After that we had some lunch and hung out for a while before starting to shoot again in the early afternoon. I asked Rob and Jonny if they’d be willing to do some shots together, and now that they knew each other and were comfortable with each other–and with me–they said sure, let’s try it.

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We weren’t sure what we were going to do so just played it by ear. So what happened was, the boys did a push-up competition on the grass. (Jonny won.) Next it was walk-on-your-hands time. Then try-to-push-the-other-guy-out-of-the-hammock time. All this was exactly the kind of stuff I had been hoping for, and it got even better when I had them get in the pool and start splashing each other. I love the moments that got captured in this part of the shoot.

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When I started to run out of ideas, the two of them came up with something. I’m still not sure what exactly what it was…Jonny really wanted to smoke a cigarette, so Rob went back to the rooms and got robes and they laid themselves down on a pair of the beach chairs and we created something that looked a bit like a gay naked cigarette commercial. Then Rob got mischievous and it turned into something else, still not sure what, but the whole thing was fun and funny and the kind of unpredictable I like about photo shoots where you just let things happen.

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By this time the light was starting to get really nice again and I had Jonny relax because I wanted to focus on Rob for this. I did what turned out to be our final images of the photo shoot, with Rob in and out of his robe in the beautiful late-afternoon light. Great stuff!

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By the time I finished shooting the last images of Rob, it was late afternoon and it felt like it was time to head back to LA. So we packed up and said goodbye to the Santiago Resort. As we drove out of Palm Springs, I felt tired but happy. The photo shoot and the road trip had been fun and successful.

I also felt really good about the experience we’d all shared. I’d brought together 3 strangers and we’d had a wonderful time working together, laughing, and bonding. Each of us had two new friends and some great stories to share.

And as always, I couldn’t wait to get back home and get started creating art inspired by these two beautiful new men I’d brought into my life.

One final note: If you haven’t already become a Simonson On Location subscriber, perhaps you’ll want to join Rob and Jonny there. Their first photographs have already begun appearing on my subscription site.


Now that we were all settled in and had had our lunch, it was time to get to work.

I didn’t know if I’d be photographing Rob and Jonny together–after all, they hadn’t even met before this. The plan was to photograph them separately, and just see how it went. It’s always a matter of chemistry and just seeing how things feel. So I left that to the fates. My priority at the moment was simply to do my best to capture each of them individually.

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Jonny does some exercises before starting to pose

I began that afternoon by photographing Jonny around the pool. I had already discovered that Jonny was definitely the quieter and more reserved of the two, and would probably take more drawing out, so I thought it would be better to start with him.

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Jonny’s reserved nature is not at all a negative; with those beautiful soulful eyes and his quiet manner, the overall effect is to draw you to him. There’s mystery and allure in his quietness. So photographing him for the first hour or so of our stay at the Santiago Resort was a nice measured way to begin the photo shoot. And as the afternoon shadows lengthened, the light got better and more interesting, Jonny got more relaxed, and I began to get to know what his best angles were.

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It was already late afternoon when I let Jonny go and began shooting Rob. Rob is a very different personality. He’s energetic and outgoing, and when he enters the room, you know it. Where Jonny is quiet and draws you to him, Rob is high-energy and fills up the space with his big personality.

That kind of personality can be difficult if there’s nothing but ego. But as I mentioned earlier, that’s not the case with Rob. He’s sensitive to those around him and he knows how to listen, which is not something you always get with models. He has a lot of modeling experience, so he has a whole repertoire of attitudes and poses. And they’re great, but they weren’t what I was looking for. So early on I told him no, I don’t want those model poses, I want more of you. I’m looking for natural, unguarded moments. And unlike some experienced models I’ve worked with, Rob got it right away. He wasn’t afraid to let me see more of his real self. Plus his real self is funny and quick, which of course gives the pictures a bright, appealing energy.

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The weather was clear and sunny, but it wasn’t all that warm, especially now that the shadows were getting long. The temperature in the sun was just about 70 degrees, and as soon as you went in the shade, it got chilly. In fact when I called Rob to come out so we could start shooting, he was wearing a hoodie.

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The air was a bit chilly but we had the luxury of a heated pool AND a hot tub. (Yet another thing I like about the Santiago Resort: the pool was just the temperature a heated pool should be, and the hot tub was just the temperature a hot tub should be.)

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I figured we had another 45 minutes or so before the sun dropped behind the mountains just west of us and we lost the light. But that 45 minutes would give me the best light of the day. So as the shadows lengthened and the air chilled, the light got more and more amazing and the images got better and better. I don’t know how the light, the model and the setting could have combined more beautifully than they did during the last few minutes of this part of the shoot.

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Just as the sun dropped behind the mountains and the temperature plunged, I told Rob, okay, we’re done for today, and he headed straight for the hot tub, still naked, which some of the other Resort guests seemed to enjoy.

I went back to my room and started uploading the images to the computer, and taking a look at what I’d gotten. I was really happy with the results. We’d only been in Palm Springs a few hours and I already had some great images of both Jonny and Rob. Which was good, because the it was already getting dark and the temperature had gone from the high 60’s down to the low 50’s. We all retreated to our rooms for a nap and then congregated in my room later where we ordered pizza and watched the Oscars on TV. Then about 10 we went out to sample Palm Springs’ nightlife.

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At the Karaoke bar; Rob in the Gaymart dressing room

We wound up in a fun karaoke bar where Rob showed us what a great singer and performer he is. We didn’t stay out too late–we had work to do the next day. Before we headed home, though, we went across the street to Gaymart, where Rob got a very sexy new black swimsuit. He was a sport when I asked him to open the dressing-room curtains so I could capture the moment.

NEXT: Palm Springs Road Trip, Part 4