Posts Tagged ‘photo shoot’


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Well, I’ve now acquired my first model via Facebook. Brian is a friend of a friend whom I’d never met in person, but he’d seen my work. He messaged me on Facebook saying he was interested in being a model. I looked at his online photos. He’s Chinese-Filipino and his look and physical type is one I’ve always had a weakness for. As I looked at his online photos I felt a definite stir of attraction. That’s one of my potential-model signals. But it’s always hard to tell from candid photographs what someone really looks like (and feels like) in person. So I said yeah, come on over to my place so I can see you in the flesh.

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As soon as Brian walked into my apartment, I was pleasantly surprised (it was a bit like my experience with Jason). He was taller and better-looking than his pictures had shown. And he was very pleasant and no-attitude, and we got along just fine. I took some test shots and was pretty sure I wanted to work with him, but I wanted him to be a little more in shape. He said he’d be more than willing to watch his diet and work on his abs for a couple of weeks in order to be in better shape to model for me. I loaned him one of my favorite workout books, the Navy Seal Workout Book, which has some great abs exercises in it. I wondered if he’d follow through, because in the past I’ve had potential models who weren’t able to do this.

But Brian was a man of his word. He called me up about 10 days later and said he’d been doing great at his program and thought he was just about ready. So we set a date.

It was on a Thursday morning, just 2 weeks after our initial interview, that I drove to his apartment and picked him up at the crack of dawn. Then we drove out to one of my favorite deserted-secluded-beach spots, a place near Koko Crater, just beyond Hawaii Kai. We got out of the car and hiked over to the rocky beach where I’ve done many photo shoots in the past.

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The day was beautiful, and big waves were crashing on the beach and the rocks as I directed Brian to a little thicket where I had him pretend he’d just arrived at a deserted beach and was going to do some nude sunbathing. He did a good job at this, and I saw that he was going to be easy to work with. This part was a warm-up, and after just a couple of minutes I had him gather up his stuff and we continued on toward the beach, where I had him jump in the water.

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Getting wet is always a prelude to one of my favorite model activities: toweling off. I got a lot of shots of this, and of course with the gorgeous early-morning light and the beautiful model, it was easy to get great images. It was at this point that I began to see what a difference two weeks of watching the diet and working on abs had made. Brian’s body was really looking good.

For the next segment, I took advantage of the setting and we walked over to an area where the waves were crashing dramatically against some big lava rocks. Again, with the light, the setting and the model, it was easy to get some great shots.

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At this point I brought out a prop I’d picked up at a supermarket on the way to the shoot: an orange. I had Brian sit on a towel and eat the orange, and I didn’t want him to eat it daintily, I wanted him to DEVOUR it. I wanted him to get really messy. He did a good job of this, and commented on how sweet the orange was. “Good,” I said. “Now I want you to squeeze the juices out and let them run down your face and your body.” This was a lot of fun for both of us, and not only got me some light-hearted and very sensual photographs, it also relaxed the model.

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I pushed him even further in the next segment. I had him climb down into a tidepool and float around in the water for a bit. Then I told him to stand up and spread his arms out wide and shout as loud as he could. About the 3rd time he shouted, he started to really open up and I started to get some great shots!

That was the climax of the shoot, so to speak—the point of greatest excitement and intensity. I felt good about the images I’d gotten, and knew that it had been a good photo shoot. I had Brian get out of the water and start toweling off, and just at that point I realized I was totally out of memory space. I’d filled up all the memory cards I’d brought. I usually bring my laptop along so that I can be uploading the images from one memory card while I’m using another, which means I can shoot all day and not run out of memory. But I hadn’t brought my computer, figuring I’d have enough memory without it. So the shoot was effectively over anyway.

This was good in a way. Because the mood between us was so relaxed at that point, and because it was still so early (about 8:30 a.m.), we decided to hang out at the beach for a while and just relax. I actually got naked myself and jumped in the water and rolled around in the sand. That was excellent! It made me realize how long it had been since I’d actually just let myself play in that way. Because I’d already gotten so many great images and it had been a successful photo shoot, I allowed myself to just relax. And it felt wonderful.

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While Brian and I were taking dips and rolling around in the sand, I kept seeing how great he looked, how relaxed and sexy, and I really regretted not being able to capture those images. Then I remembered I had my little Casio Exilim digital camera in my backpack. So I ran up the beach and grabbed that and got some photographs of Brian in the sand (like the one above). These are actually some of my favorite shots of the day because they’re so relaxed and sexy. Because the photos are so low-resolution, I won’t be able to present them to my collectors as photographic prints—but I will be able to create drawings and paintings from them if I’m moved to do that at some point.

Obviously this was a great photo shoot and I got some wonderful images. But my favorite thing about it is how relaxed and fun those final few minutes were, and I have to thank Brian for being so easy to be with that, in a total reverse of what usually goes on in these photo sessions, where I have to work hard to relax the model, this time it was the model who relaxed ME.

Update to this Entry:

In November 2012 I published an e-book of uncensored photographs of Brian from the above photo shoot. You can purchase it for instant download here.

I guess I have a reputation for not being interested in white guys. But it’s not true. I’m just not that interested in most white guys.

So when I got an email from a 25-year-old Irish boy named Jason who had met my assistant Spencer and now wanted to model for me, I was not that interested. The photos he sent with the email were just okay. I delayed responding to him for a couple of weeks. Finally, though, I thought, what the hell, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised when I meet him in person.

I contacted him and we set up a meeting at my place in Waikiki. It was 5 o’clock on a weekday. When he walked out of the elevator, I was really taken aback. Not only did he look better than his pictures…he looked WAY better.

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And it wasn’t just his looks. Something about the way he carried himself, his easy smile, the lack of attitude—I was immediately smitten. I retained enough presence of mind to chat with him a bit while I got my camera equipment out. Jason was brand-new to Hawaii, having just moved here from California a few weeks previous. His ambition: to be a fireman. This was getting better and better.

As much as I liked him in person, I knew I needed to take some test shots. Just because his presence was bowling me over didn’t mean that he would photograph well (although I had a hard time believing he wouldn’t). I started shooting as we talked, then I had him take off his shirt and we talked some more, and I kept taking photographs. What a great smile…what a pretty body…I was trying hard to stay objective but it was difficult.

I told him I was pretty sure I wanted to work with him, and said I’d give him a call in the next week or so to confirm that. He left, and I ran to the computer to upload the images I’d shot so I could get a good look at them. I really wanted to see what the photographs looked like without the distraction of his standing there in front of me.

Wow. They were just as great as I thought they’d be. Jason was my new favorite model, and I couldn’t wait to have him all to myself for a few hours of intense picture-taking. And that happened fairly quickly. A little less than a week later, Jason and I drove out to Hawaii Kai, where my friends Kei and Dick live. I’ve used their backyard pool for a lot of photo shoots in the past.

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When we got there and walked into the pool area, I was blown away. It had always been a nice setting, but the vegetation has gotten even lusher and bigger in the past couple of years, and Kei has done a lot of work on the pool area as well. There’s a new lava-rock shower column poolside that Kei designed and built himself (you can see it behind Jason in the right-hand photo above). Gorgeous! I was getting amped up and the model wasn’t even naked yet.

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Over the next couple of hours I found Jason to be as easy to work with as he is handsome and charming. Am I gushing? Sorry, but I love this guy. He’s so down-to-earth and easy-going, and yet such a treat for the eyes. And his body looks superb from any angle. It’s not a big muscular body, it’s a lithe, graceful, lightly muscled body. And his proportions are perfect.

At one point in the photo shoot I ran out of ideas and asked Jason if he had any. He said, How about I be the poolboy? And he picked up the net thing that you use to scoop leaves and debris out of the pool. Not that there were any leaves or debris—Kei is beyond meticulous about that sort of thing. So Jason actually went and found some dead leaves and threw them into the pool so he’d have something to scoop.

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First I had him be the hot poolboy who’s cleaning your pool with his boardshorts practically falling off. Jason did this very well. Then we had the shorts fall totally off and he was the naked poolboy for awhile. These ended up being some of my favorite shots of the day, and not just because it’s such a delicious fantasy, but because these poses were completely natural and unstudied, and because what he was doing put almost every muscle in his body to work…with wonderful visual results.

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All in all, a great photo shoot and a great model. Thanks, Jason!

UPDATE TO THIS ENTRY:

In August 2012 I published an e-book of uncensored photographs of Jason from this photo shoot. You can order it for instant download here.

My friend Doug Smith has a beautiful house in the Makiki-Punahou area of Honolulu.

Even more beautiful than the house itself is its beautifully landscaped backyard and pool. It’s not your typical pool. It’s L-shaped, with a hot tub in the elbow of the L, with lots of tropical foliage and Southeast Asian statuary surrounding the pool. It’s gorgeous and I first saw it when Doug hosted a post-surf beerfest for our local gay surf club. I was looking around at how beautiful (and private) it was, and thinking, wow, I’d love to do a photo shoot here.

A couple of months later, Jeff (see blog entry on my first photo shoot with jeff) contacted me and told me he was going to be in Hawaii again and wondered if I’d like to do a second photo shoot with him. I did. I had actually been hoping to get another chance to shoot Jeff because he’s a great model, and because our first photo shoot was not ideal. (Because of time limitations we’d had to shoot at my apartment which was okay but not the ideal location.)

Doug was happy to let me do a photo shoot at his home, so Jeff and I met there one morning, and I showed him around before we began the photo shoot.

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After relaxing for a few minutes and having some Starbucks, we got to “work.” I had Jeff strip down on the patio.

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Then once he was naked, we started exploring the possibilities in and around the pool. The morning light was perfect.

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No matter how inviting the pool is, getting into the water first thing in the morning is always a shock. It helped that Jeff could then jump right into the hot tub to warm up. All of this makes for great shots, of course.

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Getting the model wet whenever possible is, as you know, one of my main m.o.’s. Getting the model wet is sexy and sensual and makes for beautiful visuals especially in morning light. Even better, getting the model wet means he has to dry off. A towel is always a great prop, especially when you have a beautiful blue-orange-purple multicolored towel next to a golden-skinned model against a green, green tropical backdrop.

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On one side of the pool, among the palms, was a bit of Southeast Asian statuary that had been made into a fountain. I had Jeff swim over to that side of the pool and clamber up onto the pool’s edge and pose next to the fountain. Then I had him get back in the water and position himself under the falling water in front of the fountain. I got a couple of my favorite shots of the day there.

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There were a lot of great settings, though. Another of my favorite places was the other end of the backyard where there was a big stone Buddha head at the foot of the pool, and behind that a pair of beautiful old wooden gates. Posing Jeff in these areas again yielded some of the best shots of the day.

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All in all, it was a phenomenal photo shoot. The morning light worked perfectly for the setting, and what a setting! I’m hopeful Doug will let me use it again because it’s one of the most beautiful settings I’ve ever had the pleasure of shooting in. And Jeff, as always, did a great job as a model. I not only love his face and body, I also always enjoy the energy, spark and sense of humor he brings to the occasion.

You’ll see some interesting paintings and drawings come from this photo shoot, I’m sure. (Not that I know what will happen exactly, until I actually find myself creating it in my studio!)

Update to this Entry:

In April 2013 I published an e-book called “Jeff” which contains almost 100 uncensored photographs from both of my photo shoots with Jeff. You can purchase it for instant download here.

(For more info on “Simonson On Location” see the previous blog entries, Creating Simonson On Location, Parts 1, 2 and 3)

After 3 months of preparation and work, Simonson On Location is finally online!

I finally got to send out the e-mail announcing Simonson On Location’s debut on June 1st. It was exciting to watch the subscriptions start coming in. You may already have subscribed. If you haven’t yet, you can do so by clicking here: Simonson On Location

Or keep reading to get more information on what you’ll find once you do subscribe!

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We added a white 'storybox' to make it easier to read the story of each photo shoot.

One of the things that changed in the final days before we went online is the way I present my storyline for each photo shoot. I wasn’t happy with how hard it was to read the stories: the type was too small, plus it was black type on a dark blue background—way too hard to read. So I worked with Mitch to create a vertical white “story box” running along the left side of the first page of each gallery. As you can see from the screen shot above, it’s now an inviting, easy-to-read design.

We made a lot of other small changes too, but the version of Simonson On Location that’s now online is pretty close to the screen shots I showed you in Parts 1, 2 and 3 of the “Creating Simonson On Location” blog entries.

Pricing is $14.95 per month to become a regular subscriber, or $24.95 if you’d like to subscribe for just one month with no automatic renewal.

WHAT’S IN THE LINEUP, EXACTLY?

We went online with about just under 3,000 photographs in 53 galleries, spread over 14 different models. Here’s the lineup, in case you’d like to know the details before you make the leap and subscribe to the site:

BAIANO: 2 galleries, total 88 photos. Baiano Gallery 3 will go online June 15 with another 42 photos. This is the story of how I found and photographed Baiano in a little Brazilian surf town.

BRUNO: 5 galleries, total 278 photos. How I took Bruno to a nude beach south of Rio de Janeiro for a photo shoot, and found out I had to get naked too!

EDUARDO: 3 galleries, total 153 photos. Eduardo Gallery 4 will go online June 15 with another 122 photos. All about how I met Eduardo at a little cafe in Rio, then photographed him in the nude on the veranda of my 12th-floor Rio apartment.

ISRAEL-WELLINGTON: 5 galleries, total 251 photos. The story of how I found two models in Salvador, Brazil, and our trek to a deserted beach 3 hours north of the city.

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Since I shoot at least 1000 photos on most of my photo shoots, each photoshoot on the website will end up with between 10 and 20 galleries when I've finished telling the story. I'll be putting up additional galleries every 2 weeks.

JEFF: 4 galleries, total 226 photos. How I met and photographed mischievous Asian boy Jeff at my Waikiki apartment in late 2009.

JORGE: 3 galleries, total 134 photos. How Dominican-Nicaraguan hunk Jorge and I dodged a storm and wound up having a wonderful photo shoot at Diamond Head Beach at dawn.

KAIMANA: 3 galleries, total 171 photos. How I took Kaimana to a secluded Oahu beach and had him go surfing naked.

KAINOA: 3 galleries, total 197 photos. All about my backyard-pool photo shoot with gorgeous Hawaii local boy Kainoa.

MARCELINO: 4 galleries, total 189 photos. The story of my California photo shoot with cute Mexican boy Marcelino.

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Keep in mind this is just the beginning of the story; over the next several months there will be an additional 10 to 15 more galleries added for each model, to tell the story of the whole photo shoot.

MARCUS: 4 galleries, total 185 photos. Marcus Gallery 5 goes online June 15 with another 75 photos. The story of my very first photo shoot with Marcus on a deserted beach in Angra dos Reis, Brazil.

MARCUS-SANDRO: 4 galleries, total 202 photos. All about our wild weekend with the Brazilian Boat Boys, Marcus and Sandro, among the many islands of Brazil’s beautiful Costa Verde.

NOHEA: 4 galleries, total 217 photos. How I took a beautiful jewel (Hawaiian boy Nohea) and placed him in a beautiful setting (a backyard jungle with pool).

TOMMY: 3 galleries, total 144 photos. How I met tall, beautiful, dark-skinned Tommy and took him to Diamond Head Beach at dawn to capture a series of stunning images.

VICTOR: 3 galleries, total 216 photos. How I met Nigerian-born Marine Victor and photographed him in two gorgeous Hawaiian settings in one day.

So that’s the lineup as of the first week of Simonson On Location’s debut. As I said above, there are now nearly 3,000 photos, and more will be added every 2 weeks from now on. Join now and watch the stories as they unfold! Here’s the link: Simonson On Location

(For more info on “Simonson On Location” see the previous blog entries, Creating Simonson On Location, Parts 1 and 2)


Things are heating up! We’re just a few days from going live with Simonson On Location. Mitch (my webmaster) and I have been meeting almost every day as we get closer to the release date. There’s still so much to do.

I built my first website years ago (1995, actually) but these days I’m really glad to have a webmaster, especially one like Mitch who knows his stuff—and thinks about all those little details that you have to think about. I’m talking about the kind of details that guarantee that when you click on that link, the website WILL charge your credit card and let you in! AND that it’s an absolutely secure encoded transaction! There’s a whole lot of work that goes into setting something like that up.

So I’m glad he’s doing that, and I can focus on what I’m good at. Which right now consists of going through thousands of male-nude photographs and putting them together so they’re not only fun to look at, but they tell a story, too.

One of the groups of photographs I’ve been working on is the series of photo shoots I did in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil in April 2007. This is a particularly interesting group of photographs because there are lots of stories to tell. We had many adventures during that trip, from spending days and days looking for models with no luck and then having two models just fall into our laps in one afternoon, to getting lost in the wilds of Bahia looking for a very hard-to-find location, to my two new models doing naked capoeira on the beach!

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Here's a preview of one of the Israel-Wellington galleries. This is the part where they were doing naked capoeira on the beach.

There are lots of other stories I’m reliving, too, including my photo shoot with Hawaiian boy Nohea; Dominican-Nicaraguan Antonio, whom I photographed at Diamond Head Beach one morning as a huge storm approached; Kaimana playing the nude surfer on a Hawaiian beach; Marcus and Sandro on a deserted island south of Rio de Janeiro…and many more!

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This is a small part of the Nohea galleries you'll soon be enjoying on Simonson On Location.

Each model has several galleries, or photosets, to tell the story of his photo shoot. When Simonson On Location first goes online, there’ll be 12-14 models, and each model will have 3 to 5 galleries, which usually amounts to 150-250 individual photographs. Then every couple of weeks or so, I’ll add more galleries until each model’s entire photo shoot is online.

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Here's a sample page from my photo shoot with nude surfer Kaimana.

And of course as I work with new models, or do additional photo shoots with existing models, those new photosets will appear on Simonson On Location as well.

Mitch told me today that there are just a few more issues he needs to resolve on the website before we can go live, and that we are in the final week of preparation. I’m probably more impatient to get this site online than my collectors are to see it! I can’t wait to send that e-mail out to my collectors saying, “Come on over, Simonson On Location is ready for you!” But I can’t do it yet. Soon!!

I shot Antonio at Diamond Head Beach at sunrise. This is one section of his galleries.