Posts Tagged ‘photo shoot’

Khanh newmodel header

June 14, 2013

FRESH & NEW: I find a new muse in Khanh

I didn’t expect to find models in Lincoln, Nebraska. I especially didn’t expect to find a beautiful Asian muscle boy here. But sometimes when you’re not looking…

I’ve been working out at the Cooper YMCA in Lincoln since I got here about a year ago. I’ve seen some stunning boys in the gym. And Lincoln is way more ethnically mixed now than when I went to college here 40-plus years ago, so there’s a wide range of types.

I didn’t pursue it, though. It’s kind of a self-image thing: I just have never seen myself in model-search mode while I’m in Nebraska. This place has always been associated with family for me, and when visiting, I would revert to a more conservative, repressed me without even realizing it. Now that I’ve been here for a while, though, that’s been going away. (Perhaps this is just one more reason I’ve felt compelled to spend some time here at this point in my life–letting go of some more baggage I didn’t even know I was still carrying around.)

So gradually I’ve felt more open to finding models here, and there was one guy at the Y I kept noticing. He was young, Asian and had a really beautiful, muscular body…not too muscular, just right. Plus he had an open, fresh look, and a lot of energy. This kid doesn’t walk from place to place, he BOUNCES.

IMG 6127croptwk

Khanh

We had a gym relationship–you say hi because you work out at the same time and see each other several times a week. Then one day in the locker room, we had lockers next to each other and it was a natural thing to start a conversation. His name is Khanh, he’s Vietnamese, and he just turned 20. When he found out I was an artist, he wanted to know more, so I gave him my card and told him I thought he would be a good model, and to let me know if he was interested.

I wondered if he’d still be interested when he went to my website and saw that I specialize in male nudes. A few days later when I was working out, he came up to me and said he had seen my website and what did he have to do to be a model for me?

Khanh testshot2

Test shot of Khanh in my studio.

So we set up an interview. He came to my house (he showed up early, which is a good sign) and we talked and I took some test shots. He photographed well, which didn’t surprise me. And he had absolutely no problem with modeling nude. In fact, he was enthusiastic and excited about it.

I was enthusiastic and excited, too!

Khanh testshot1

Shirtless test shot of Khanh in my studio.

So with Khanh ready to model whenever I was ready for him, I turned my attention to the matter of a location. No beach, no jungle, no mountains…what was I going to do? I’ve always preferred tropical settings and that was obviously not an option. Plus, it was April and it was still cold and the trees were still mostly bare. On top of that, we kept having thunderstorms and rainy days, for weeks and weeks. It was a cold, wet spring, and every time we had a sunny day and I thought the weather would break, it would go right back to rain and cold.

A month passed, and I was getting impatient. Finally I decided I would shoot him right here, inside my house.

That wouldn’t really have been a very good option in the past, since I only use natural light, and most interiors are just too dark. In a situation like that you have to use a tripod and a very slow shutter speed to get sharp images, and that’s just not how I like to work.

But! A few months ago, in preparation for my trip to the Dominican Republic, I bought a new camera, a Canon Powershot G15. While I was traveling I discovered how amazing this camera is in low-light situations. There were times when the sun had gone down and it was almost completely dark outside, and I was still getting decent shots, with no flash.

Canon g15 productshot

I love this camera! It's the Canon Powershot G15. Runs about $500 in the U.S.

I realized that with this new camera, I could actually do an interior shoot at my house with just ambient light.

Unfortunately the weather was still cloudy, rainy and dark. Even with my amazing new camera, I still needed it to be a sunny day outside to get the warm interior light I wanted.

But finally, after over a month of waiting, the weather broke. We had sun! I called Khanh and he was more than ready–he’d been impatient, too.

I wanted that magical late-afternoon light, and to get that in Hawaii I’d have to shoot from about 5pm to 6pm, any time of year. But here in North America, in late May/early June, we were getting that magical light for 2 whole hours, from about 6pm until 8pm or even later! So I had Khanh show up at my house at 530 and we started shooting.

IMG 6091croptwk

I did some outside shots before we started the interior portion of the shoot. I couldn't do nudes because my backyard is too open to prying eyes, but it was a good warmup for Khanh, and I got some nice shots.

Working with Khanh was a pleasure because he was so accommodating and enthusiastic–and so great-looking! Plus he has a bouncy, upbeat energy that makes any model even more appealing. All that, and magical light for a couple of hours! Need I say I got several hundred amazing shots?

Khanh 4up

One thing that surprised me was how well my house worked as a location. It’s a 1950s house with the moldings and fittings and the look that go with that era, and it has a really nice flavor I didn’t appreciate until this photo shoot. It’s a quiet setting, not obtrusive, but a nice ambience.

All things considered, it was probably one of the best interior shoots I’ve ever done. I would never have expected that.

Summer is arriving in full bloom as I write this, and sometime in the next few weeks I’ll do a second photo shoot with Khanh, probably outside, and when that happens I’ll be blogging about it. In the meantime, my creative juices always get bubbling on high when I have a new model to work with, so I’ve already begun producing drawings and prints of Khanh. See some of them here!

Malibu w stevechen

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.

stevechen.png

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.

3up-testshots.jpg

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.

hiking-odyssey.jpg


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.

4up-pointdume.jpg

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.)

stevechen-sketches-3up.jpg


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

If you’ve followed my work, or this blog, for any time at all, you probably know how infatuated I am with Brazil.

I love it so much I’ve been studying Brazilian Portuguese ever since I first went to Rio, back in 1987. For the past few years my Portuguese teacher has been my friend Luzia, who is originally from Goiania but has been living in Honolulu for a long time now.

#alttext#

I love Brazilian men almost as much as I love Brazil itself, so when Luzia told me she had a Brazilian friend she thought I should meet because he’s so hot and sexy and was interested in modeling for me, I said great, show me pictures! Unfortunately the only pictures she could find to show me were terrible, shot from far away, group pictures where he was in the back, etc. So I couldn’t really tell whether he was as hot as she said. Then she told me he’s leaving Hawaii and going back to Brazil forever. In FIVE DAYS.

So she gave me his number and I called and left him a message. That evening he called me back and started speaking rapid-fire Portuguese over the phone and I had to stop him. My Portuguese is okay but not when you’re talking fast and not over the phone. So we spoke English and Vinni (short for Vinicius) told me yes, he was interested, and we set up a meeting. He came over the next day.

As soon as he walked off the elevator I began to see what Luzia was talking about. Vinni is not classically handsome but he is very sexy. He’s masculine without being macho, he’s confident without being pushy or arrogant, and he has an unself-conscious grace when he moves. And a great smile. I saw all this as I talked to him and began taking some test photos. He said he’d never posed nude before but didn’t have a problem with it, so I told him to get naked, which he did. Everything I saw, I liked, and I told him yes, I think you’ll do!

As soon as he left I started work on finding a location, and called my friend Doug, who has a gorgeous pool and garden (where I did a photo shoot with Jeff a few months ago). Doug told me yes, the place was available, so I called Vinni and we set up a photo shoot for the next day.

#alttext#

Vinni showed up at my place the next morning and we drove to Makiki, which is where Doug lives. It had been cloudy and rainy the previous few days so I was immensely relieved that the morning was bright and sunny. We let ourselves in to the garden through the old wooden gates and I let Vinni look around while I assembled my camera equipment.

#alttext#

Usually I just kind of wing it when it comes to directing the model and the overall photo shoot. I make it up as I go along and trust that I’ll get the shots I want/need. It’s not a very conscious process, and recently I went over the photos from several of my shoots and I realized how often I really don’t get all the shots I want and need. I think this lack of conscious direction is because I’ve always thought of myself as a painter, and I’ve not taken the photographer part of my job very seriously.

#alttext#
But as I get older and more confident and have more respect for myself as a creator, I’m no longer satisfied with that approach. I’m starting to take myself seriously as a photographer, and because of that I approached this photo shoot with Vinni in a way I haven’t before. I made a very detailed checklist of things I wanted to accomplish with this shoot.

#alttext#

I wrote down all the basic poses I wanted to try, and I wrote down my intention of trying all the basic poses against as many different backdrops as I could. Same idea as when a filmmaker shoots many different versions of the same scene. It’s called “coverage.” And I knew in order to get that coverage I would need to follow the checklist closely throughout the session.

#alttext#

Just to give you an idea, here’s a summary of the checklist:

BASIC POSES: Standing, stretching, twisting, undressing, walking, arms folded, arms at side, rubbing hands over body, jumping into pool, climbing out of pool, toweling off, sitting on edge of pool, standing on edge of pool, lying on towel face up/face down.

BACKDROPS: Do all or most of the basic poses in front of several backdrops, in this case including: the pool itself, lots of tropical foliage, some beautiful old wooden gates, and the patio beside the pool.

MOOD: With every new backdrop, all the basic poses should be done in two versions: calm and animated.

So this is how it works: I find a backdrop I like, the wooden gates for instance, and I pose the model in front of that backdrop. We go through all the basic poses in front of that backdrop, with each pose being shot in two moods, calm and animated. Then we move on to the next backdrop and repeat.

#alttext#

This adds up to a LOT of time, work and a huge number of images, but that’s my goal: to capture, with this single model, as much variety as possible in terms of backdrops, angles, lighting and mood.

I have planned photo shoots before, but never before to this degree, and I was never able to stick to the checklist before. I would get caught up in the intensity of the photo shoot and while that can be a good thing, I wanted to see what it would be like to really push through this shoot in an organized way.

So that’s what I did. I was determined to stay focused and follow that checklist, and I did so, for the entire 4 and a half hours of the photo shoot. This took a lot of discipline on my part, but I was rewarded by by some of the best results I’ve ever achieved in a photo shoot.


#alttext#These old wooden gates provided a perfect backdrop, and I took a lot of shots of Vinni standing by them.

We shot at the main location for about 3 and a half hours, then went back to my apartment and I did another series of shots of Vinni on my lanai. When we finished, I was exhausted, but very pleased with the results. I wound up with 2,100 images of which an amazing percentage were good. And I got the variety I wanted, to a degree I’ve never before achieved in a photo shoot.

#alttext#

It sounds so easy and obvious—follow a checklist to get better results—but it’s amazing how long it took me to wake up to the possibilities of getting more focused and organized with my photo shoots. Or maybe I should say it took me a while to mature to the point where I could remain focused and professional despite the overwhelming excitement I feel when I’m photographing a beautiful model in a beautiful setting. At any rate, I’m really happy about the way I’m growing as an artist and photographer.

Oh, and Vinni’s words after the photo shoot? “That was really FUN!”

Update to this Entry:

In March 2013 I published an e-book of uncensored Vinicius photographs from the above photo shoot. You can purchase it for instant download here.


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.)

#alttext#

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.

#alttext#

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.

#alttext#

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.)

#alttext#

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…

#alttext#

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.

#alttext#

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.

#alttext#

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.

#alttext#

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!

#alttext#

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.

#alttext#

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.

#alttext#

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.

#alttext#

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.

#alttext#

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.

#alttext#

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.)

#alttext#

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.

#alttext#

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.

#alttext#

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


With two models on board, the Santiago Resort lined up, and a big ugly (but comfortable) Mercury from Avis, we were ready to go. Bright and early on a Sunday morning, I drove to Santa Monica to pick up Jonny. It was a little chilly in LA but we were hoping it’d be warmer in Palm Springs.

#alttext#

Jonny ready to go on a road trip

From Santa Monica we headed down Wilshire to the place where Rob was staying, on the eastern edge of Beverly Hills. We found it easily and there was Rob, ready to go. I introduced Jonny and Rob and they shook hands and said hello. This is always kind of a nerve-wracking moment for me, when I’ve set up an excursion or road trip with people who have never met before. I trust my instincts to choose people I’ll get along with, and who’ll get along with each other, and I seem to be good at it—it almost always works out well. As we got in the car and headed down La Cienega to get on the 10 going east for the long drive to Palm Springs, the energy felt good. I was confident that I could set the tone and put everyone at ease and the three of us would have a good time together. That’s important. If the models aren’t having fun, and the photographer’s not having fun, the pictures aren’t gonna be fun either!

#alttext#

Rob ready to go; Jonny and Rob meet for the first time

This was an adventure for me, too, because I’d never driven from LA to the desert, and I was looking forward to it. The first hour and a half of the drive was boring in terms of the scenery, but interesting because we were all getting to know each other. We got hungry about the time we got to Baldwin Park, so we took an off-ramp at random and wound up near an IHOP, which sounded good to us.

#alttext#

Ready to eat at the IHOP in Baldwin Park

Breakfast was delicious and the 3 of us were already laughing and having fun together. Jonny’s kind of quiet but holds his own in a conversation, and Rob is Mr. Personality, full of energy and always ready to take center stage, but still sensitive to those around him. I was already liking both of them a lot.

From Baldwin Park we got back on the freeway and before long the city was starting to turn into desert, and the mountains got closer and closer. It was a beautiful morning and there wasn’t much traffic, and I was enjoying the adventure.

#alttext#

Leaving LA and entering the desert

Even though we’d left over 3 hours earlier, it seemed like we got to Palm Springs quickly. Before I knew it, we were pulling into the Palm Springs Visitor Center to use the bathrooms and check my iPhone GPS for the location of the Santiago Resort. And to take pictures, of course.

#alttext#

The crew at the Palm Springs Visitors Center

From there it was about 10 minutes to the Santiago Resort, which we found easily, thanks to Rob’s navigation. Seriously, he did a great job keeping me from turning the wrong way into one-way streets, etc.

#alttext#

Rob busts a hammock

We pulled the big grey boat into a parking space at the Santiago Resort and invaded. And I do mean invaded. The first thing Rob did was take a flying leap at one of the hammocks strung between palm trees–and broke it! This is typical of Rob’s take-a-flying-leap-at-it approach to life, and despite the damage, one of the things I like about him. After apologizing to the manager, we got settled into our rooms.

And beautiful rooms they were. From the moment I arrived at the Santiago, I was impressed with it. The staff were friendly and helpful and the rooms were beautiful! (I’m not just saying that because each room was graced by a framed Simonson, either.) Everything was new and spotless, yet warm and comfortable. And the setting was just as beautiful as I’d hoped.

#alttext#

My room at the Santiago Resort

After we settled in a bit, it was time to go out for lunch—and to explore Palm Springs a bit. We wound up at a place called Bongo Johnny’s, and the food was great (great food seemed to be one of the themes of this trip). Across the street, we found a store called Gaymart (we went in) and another called Bear Wear (we didn’t). Then we went back to the resort. It was time to get those boys naked and get to work!

#alttext#

NEXT: Palm Springs Road Trip, Part 3 – Getting to Work


A couple of years ago I started an e-mail correspondence with a new potential model, a Vietnamese guy from Vancouver named Rob. We got connected via the Bay Area photographer Steven Underhill. Rob wanted to model for me, and I wanted him to model for me, but he was in Canada and I was in Hawaii.

#alttext#

Rob

I knew sooner or later we’d get together. Then last year he moved to Los Angeles. I’d been thinking about where to do my next photo shoot, and Palm Springs kept coming up. I’d never been there and had wanted to go for a long time. Adding interest to the idea was my connection with a place there called the Santiago Resort.

A few years ago the Santiago’s owner had purchased several pieces of my art for the place, which meant there was a Simonson in almost every room. I’d never been there, but I’d seen photographs of the Santiago Resort online, and it looked beautiful. And a nude photo shoot would not be out of place since the resort is clothing-optional.

#alttext#

The Santiago Resort in Palm Springs

So I called the owner and told him my idea of bringing a model there and doing a photo shoot. In return I’d be happy to gift him a piece of my art he didn’t already have. He was very open to the idea.

With that piece of the puzzle in place, I called Rob and told him my idea: I would fly up to LA, and he and I would drive to Palm Springs for a weekend at the Santiago Resort, where I would photograph him in that beautiful setting.

Rob loved the idea and he was available when I needed him to be. Great! Everything was falling into place and I was getting excited. Now that I had a location and dates, it occurred to me that I could have an even more fun-filled weekend with TWO models instead of just one–and there was one I had in mind.

#alttext#

Jonny

As you know if you’ve visited my website, I not only sell my own photographs, I offer the work of Kurt R. Brown as well. A model I’d seen in his photographs, a guy named Jonny, really appealed to me and I wanted to work with him. So with Kurt’s help, I contacted Jonny (he lives in LA) and told him about the Palm Springs adventure I was planning, and asked him if he would be interested in being part of it.

He was. And he was available for that weekend. Again, things were falling into place.

I didn’t know where I was going to stay in LA until my friend Gina told me she was going to be in town and I could stay with her! (Gina is not only a long-time close friend, she has found many models for me and has traveled with me to Brazil many times to assist with photo shoots.) This was great news. Now I had a place to stay in LA before heading for Palm Springs. Another piece of the puzzle in place. This trip was obviously meant to happen.

#alttext#

Jonny and Gina at Gina's apartment

So at the end of February 2011 I found myself in Brentwood, staying at Gina’s beautiful new apartment. The day after I arrived, Jonny took the bus to our part of LA so I could interview him in person. We picked him up and took him to the apartment, where he and Gina bonded over wine and I shot test photos.

#alttext#

Jonny was much quieter than I expected (well, I don’t really know what I expected) and had a nice easy-going personality. I’m not real easy-going myself so this was good news. Anyway, he passed the interview with flying colors, so I had my second model.

NEXT: Palm Springs Road Trip Part 2 — On the Road