It’s time to bring you another interview. This time it’s photographer John Bortolin who is the man behind the boo, Manscapes which I’ve posted about here and here. I’m always curious about the techniques of other photographers and how they source their models etc so I thought I’d ask.
How and when did you first get into photography?
I was 16 years old. I was influenced by my grandfather as he loved photography. I choose it as a subject in yr 11 and 12 during high school. After finishing year 12 I studied at QLD College of Art in Brisbane and did an Associate Diploma in Photography.
When did you shoot your first male nude?
My first nude shoot was back at art college when I was 18. One of our assignments was to shoot a nude. I chose and athletic guy that was a couple of years ahead of me at school. We shot is in a forest at Rotary Park in Lismore. I shot him in from of a big Fig Tree trunk. I’d like to go back to revisit that location and do another shoot.
How did you work up the courage to ask all these gorgeous straight men to model for you?
It was hard at first. I approached one of my friends whom I used to practice fashion photography with. I finally worked up the courage to ask him and he agreed. I used those pictures to show other guys what I was looking for and they saw the results and wanted similar style pictures of themselves. I then did some facebook posts looking for models for my Manscape project and it snowballed from there.
What is their reaction like when you approach them to do a nude shoot?
They are a little sceptical at first. Sometimes I ease them into it by asking to do a shoot and work my way around to the nudity question. As my folio grew I got more confidence and I was more direct asking if they would do nude straight up. Showing them my work made it easier. In the end they will get some great pictures of themselves and they are very happy with the results. I also was very determined to get my quota of models for my book so whenever I was afraid to ask someone I just kept thinking of my goal and that gave me the confidence to ask. I had a lot of rejections as nudity isn’t for everyone and I respected their choice.
You’ve said you are planning more books in the Manscapes series. Will they be similar or will the be some kind of evolution?
I plan to do a series of Manscape Books. The first book giving me the platform to continue and evolve my manscape series. With my next book I’d like to travel around to the beautiful urban and landscape scenes of Australia and shoot local men naked amongst their local landscape area. eg: Ayers Rock, Jenolan caves in the Blue Mountains, Great Ocean Rd in Victoria, Sydney Harbour Bridge and so on resulting in Manscapes Australia. I’d also like to Manscape myself around the world spending time in different countries and create a Manscape book photographed in each country eg. Manscapes London, Manscapes New York.
Did you approach publishers for Manscapes or was the intention always to self publish?
I had a friend whom had published several cook books. She was originally going to publish and help promote it for me. Although that didn’t eventuate she guided me and I ended up self funding and publishing the book by myself.
What’s the ultimate goal for your photography?
My ultimate goal with my photography is to Manscape myself around the world producing a series of books from each country. I would also love to photograph same sex weddings around Australia and in different countries as well. I’ve already photographed same sex ceremonies here in the Byron Bay region but unfortunately its not legalised yet. I’ve photographed a lot of heterosexual weddings but its always so refreshing to photograph a same sex couple. It puts a big smile on my face to see one of my own kind expressing their love for each other in public.
Where do we get to see the behind the scenes videos?
At this stage there are no behind the scenes videos but I do have a plan to make a book trailer to advertise Manscapes featuring the images from the shoots. I may even put together a teaser video of the behind the scene images of the entire shoot. It’s something I’ve been playing with for a while. I’ve had a few attempts at it on my own but I don’t have much knowledge on the video editing.