Monday, November 28, 2011
The Dylan Rosser Interview
Stark, striking and highly erotic, the work of Dylan Rosser is like few others’, able to convey a lascivious invitation with no more than the glance of a gorgeous man. It is no surprise that the South African photographer has established a name for himself through his work with the male figure, and his latest book, Naked, is a testament to the fact that few can compete with Rosser’s innate skill around a nude male model.
Naked is Rosser’s third book of photography for publisher Bruno Gmunder, a collection of images that range from compelling portraits to tasteful full-frontal nudes. Consistent throughout Rosser’s work is his signature use of light and richly saturated color, which works to simultaneously showcase his models’ sensuality and athleticism.
Frontiers4Men sat down with Rosser to discuss his recent return to the publishing world, in addition to his popular website The Male Form, his early fascinations with the male figure and today’s fine line between art and pornography.
You’ve lived a traveled life. Where all have you called home, and where do you call home today?
Home is where my cat is, so that would be London. For the first 26 years of my life, Cape Town was my home. Because I am lucky enough to be able to swap apartments with a friend in West Hollywood, I have been able to spend a lot of time here, and I’m hoping that one day in the future this will become my next home.
I know you started out working as a graphic designer in Cape Town, and you’ve since become a master photographer of the male form, but tell me about how that happens. Was it an arduous path?
It all happened very gradually and not with much forethought. It is still a hard business to make money in, since most photographers really need to shoot more commercial fashion stuff to survive. I used to shoot product and still photography for many years, and that business began to dry up as the male physique stuff started taking off, so that was lucky. I still think of myself as a beginner, even though I’ve been doing it for 10 years now.
Would you say that your design sensibilities still play a noticeable part in your male figure work?
Definitely. The simplicity and composition I try to show in my work all stems from my design background. I don’t think I will ever be one of those big production photographers. I prefer to keep it simple.
Have you always been fascinated by the male form? When did you first start photographing men?
Yes, since admiring the boys in speedos at school, I’ve always had a fascination with the male body and wanted to see it without those damn speedos—and now I can! [Laughs] I guess I photographed my first male nude about 12 years ago.
You aren’t strictly a photographer of the male form. Tell our readers about your other work, and do you have a preference of subject matter?
Now I am mostly shooting nudes. I do the very occasional underwear/ swimwear shot, and as I mentioned earlier, I used to shoot product photography for women’s magazines—things like crushed-up eye shadows, perfume bottles and accessories. Then I also design and run my website, themaleform.net, and recently started my own online magazine called tMf Magazine, tmfmagazine.com, which helps to showcase the work of other photographers shooting male nudes. No fashion allowed.
Despite the fact that a lot of your work contains full-frontal nudity, I wouldn’t consider it to be pornography. Would you agree, and where would you say the line sits between art and pornography?
I think you can even show an erection and keep it tasteful. It is really a grey area, but for me, I try to take the sexual element out of the image, so the guy might be standing fully erect, but he is not grabbing his dick and staring lustfully at the camera. It is just a naked male body. I would like to push myself to eventually shoot more explicit stuff, but maybe it is just not in my nature.
Your website The Male Form is quite popular. Describe for our readers what they can find there.
It started as a small showcase for my work, since there was no place else to publish full-frontal male nudes. Slowly the content grew, and last year I started to include content from other photographers, so the site is less about me now and more about “the male form.” It now has hundreds of male models and thousands of nude images.
How does your new book, Naked, differ from your previous photography books?
I have tried to keep all three books similar in a way so that they work as a series. They are the same size, and I use the same typeface, but the content is maybe more varied than the other books because I was shooting less in my studio. So the result is more location stuff but still indoors.
Was there an impetus behind the book Naked besides simply needing an outlet for your work?
There really is very little money in publishing books, so for me they are more about getting my name out there. Models are more likely to feel confident working with a photographer who has published books, so for that reason it is important to keep bringing out new stuff. I already have ideas for future books in my head, and that helps give you a direction when shooting new work.
How do you typically go about choosing your models?
I used to use modeling network sites, but now Facebook has become quite useful. Models generally hang out with other equally beautiful people, so as soon as you shoot one, maybe their friend will contact you. I prefer for models to contact me now, as it tells me they know my work and they are up for doing full-frontal. I have never been able to approach someone in a bar and ask them if they would get naked for my camera. I would have to be really drunk. [Laughs] So any hot guys reading this that are not shy about getting naked, get in touch!
Is there a particularly memorable shoot that you would consider a favorite?
After doing this for so many years, all the shoots just seem to blur together, so it is hard to think of one specific shoot. I guess when I am traveling it can be quite lonely, so there have been a few times when I have shot the model and then we have gone on to have dinner or lunch and maybe hung out for the day. Those are the kind of shoots I remember.
Any humorous photo shoot mishaps?
Recently I was shooting a model in Chicago. He was laying on the ground and I wanted to shoot him from above, so I got a chair to stand on. As I got up on the chair, the whole crotch of my jeans split open. Luckily I was wearing underwear. And no, before you ask, that was not planned. [Laughs]
Find Naked on Amazon at tinyurl.com/dylanrossernaked. Visit The Male Form at themaleform.net.