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Change is in the air

In about four weeks time I will be moving to a different suburb here in Sydney. It’s a suburb I lived in briefly about 10 years ago and it’s a fantastic suburb. It’s closer to a lot of friends and walking distance to a lot of pubs and restaurants that I like. It’s only been since I made the decision to move that I’ve really realised how ready for this change I am. Living in a big apartment complex as I have done for the last five years you realise how unfriendly and anti-social apartment living can be. People on my own floor avoid eye contact in the lift and in the corridor. That complete opposite of personal and friendly interaction is driving me crazy.

My improved mood could also be contributed to the change in the weather. The days are getting warmer and spring is definitely in the air now. It’s no secret around the Aussielicious blog that my mood is directly linked to the amount of sunshine I see and the temperature. The first real beach day can’t be too far away now. Swimming will be a totally different story as the water temperatures are still very cold and won’t see a significant change for a few months yet sadly. We’ve had a very mild Winter here in Sydney but the last few weeks have been pretty wet and rainy so the burst of Spring is very very welcome.

It makes me smile.

Last week, a friend told me that he is moving in with his boyfriend who I got to meet recently and is very nice. After a couple of boyfriends that haven’t treated him that well over the last few years it’s really great to see him with someone who treats him well and makes him happy.

Further into their relationship are some other good friends who have just celebrated their tenth anniversary. They aren’t people I get to see very often as they don’t live in Sydney but I got to hang out with them recently and it was really nice to see them and their dynamic as a couple. After ten years they still make each other laugh and they still call each other mate. Not just because they are blokey masculine guys (I refuse to use the term straight acting as there is no acting about it) but also because as they say, “He is my best mate.”

Over the years I’ve watched how my friends work in their relationships and I’ve watched them go through some really rough patches but it makes me smile when I see them happy and bringing out the best in each other. Maybe I’m not destined to find Mr Right. Who knows? What I do know is that I like seeing my friends happy.

Could this be it?

Finding music appropriate for an aerial circus routine is something that I find really difficult. If I sit on a piece of music for too long without working it into a routine then I lose interest in it. The same is true if I try a routine to a piece of music and it doesn’t work. Rather than rework the routine I seem to throw the music away and start again.

Our teacher wants us to put together a routine for the end of term. Not for a public performance but just for each other. He also wants it to be close to five minutes long which is tough. That’s a long routine and will require lots of additional training to get through it which is good. I need to push my training and endurance anyway. This morning I have come up with two options. I’d always liked the Jack White cover of U2′s Love is Blindness but it’s only three and a half minutes so I put a minute of the original U2 version at the start before it goes into the bonkers angry Jack White version. I like it but I’m not sure it’s right.

The more likely option is Ed Sheeran “I See Fire” from the second Hobbit movie soundtrack. It’s the right length at just a smidge under five minutes and it builds beautifully from an almost acoustic folk song to an orchestral dramatic piece with moments to work with for drama in the routine.

A successful outcome

After seeing the very hard to watch video of a young man being beaten by his family for being gay a few weeks ago, it’s nice to see this video of parents completely accepting their twin sons coming out to them at the same time. One son they had suspected was gay, the other was a complete surprise. Their parents obviously have friends from a variety of walks of life when you listen to the conversation but as we know, that doesn’t always translate to acceptance. In this case, it did. Notice nothing quite distracts their dad from eating. Surely that’s about as accepting as it gets. “Yeah that’s great boys but I’m busy eating.”

Hanging on too long

With the decision to move having been made, today is the day the culling process starts. Sitting next to my desk is a collection of art and photography magazines that I collected before I moved to London in 2001. Not Only Black + White Magazine was pretty cutting edge in it’s time, featuring profiles of artists and photographers along with interviews and art nude editorials on Australian celebrities of the time. Sports stars, musicians, actors and other personalities all made their way onto the pages of N.O.B+W magazine.

It was where I discovered the work of my favourite photographer in the world, James Houston as well as the talented Paul Freeman. Both guys got their break in the pages of this publication and followed up in the pages of it’s gay equivalent that came along a few years later Not Only Blue. Both magazines were physically large publications and expensive by magazine standards at the time. I’ve hung on to these editions for years and I don’t want to get rid of them as there are some beautiful photographs as well as great memories in their pages but if I’m honest with myself, I never look at them. There are some special editions like The Sydney Dream full of Olympians and The Album full of musicians that I will hang on to but it’s time to cull.

Still for sale

Now that the decision to move has been made, it’s time to take stock of what has been accumulated in five years of living here and start to cull all the excess. Several years ago looking down the barrel of moving for the third time in just over 12 months, someone said “You can clean out all the junk.” At the time, there wasn’t anything left to clean out. That is certainly not the case now.

In amongst all the junk there are lots of pieces of my photography. There are a couple of framed prints left over from my first exhibition “Shrouded” and several from the second exhibition “Freedom“. There are also the four large (unframed) prints from the group exhibition earlier this year “Company of Men”  that I was a part of in Melbourne and Sydney (pictured above). Prices can be negotiated for those interested in purchasing any of the work. It should be seen on a wall rather than hidden away in storage as it is now.

Photography is just a hobby for me at the moment and putting together the exhibitions gives me a lot of joy but it’s a tough gig to try and sell art. I don’t have the name or reputation that generates wild sales so it’s a costly business to exhibit without a guarantee of even breaking even. I still wouldn’t give it up.

A naked protest?

It seems the world is finding it harder and harder to get attention focused on issues as we humans seem more focused on creating the issues that need resolving. As a result it appears that to get noticed you need to take your clothes off which has been successful, in a way, for the World Naked Bike Ride which is supposed to draw attention to our obsessive use of fossil fuels to run our cars. Now a man calling himself the Naked Handstander is using his global travels to try and draw attention to Planned Obsolescence.

What is that? It’s creating a consumer society where all of our purchases have a short shelf-life and need to be updated on a regular basis. Kind of ironic that this guy came to my attention on the day when the world was focusing on the new iPhone 6. Apple’s nearly annual consumer festival not only comes at a cost for production but also all the packaging that goes into landfill. Just about every company manufacturing a consumer product does it. Where do their profits go if their product doesn’t need updating every few years at least?

I’m not sure how effective a man doing handstands nude around the world is going to be in combating this problem but the photos are fun and who doesn’t love a bit of a gratuitous nude man upside down in public?

Not sure why.

For those of you who were quick enough last night to see the original images that went with my post about the weekend’s photo shoot, you’ll notice now that there is only one image with the post. Shortly after I posted it, the model told me he wasn’t comfortable with any images showing that he was nude going online. Keep in mind this is a guy that had seen my work and liked it knowing full well clearly, that I shoot mostly male nudes. The model had been chasing me to do the shoot for weeks so it’s rather frustrating to then have him change his mind and say the nudes can’t go online.

He was happy for me to use the images in the exhibition and if I put another book together but as anyone knows, marketing an exhibition or book is going to be done largely online through social media. The rest of his shoot wasn’t successful enough for me to have enough images to use without using any of the nudes and too many portraits of the same person will be overkill.

It’s not unusual for me to use non-professional models. I can’t afford to pay models as photography is still a hobby for me and both exhibitions have barely done any better than breaking even on costs. Having said that I quite like using people I know and non-professionals as they don’t have any bad modelling habits that they get into doing typical “model” poses. I guess I just have to keep trying my luck. There are a couple more shoots I have lined up for this series before it’s done and I’m really happy with where it’s all going. I need to lock in one or two more models and I’m set.

Another shoot done.

On Saturday, I photographed Haris who had come up from Wollongong to do the shoot after weeks of delays and setbacks with lighting. It wasn’t my best shoot. The concept hadn’t been fully fleshed out in my head and I’m suffering from a cold/flu thing at the moment so my energy levels were low. Going through the photos this morning my fears were partly confirmed and I wasn’t loving the results but there are a few images I’m happy with. Whether or not they make the cut for the Tribal exhibition will remain to be seen but I’m getting better at letting go of shoots that aren’t as successful these days. I do love the richness in the colour that has come out in these shots. They also capture Haris’ soulful eyes I think.

A few years ago I was watching a documentary on Annie Liebovitz and she was given some advice that I have kept in mind ever since and I think a lot more photographers could do well to remember. Editing is crucial. I don’t mean the retouching part of the editing process but rather the culling process. Weed out more. Having a large number of shots in a portfolio doesn’t mean it’s been a good shoot. Often you see a photographer or a model with a dozen images from the same shoot or setup and it gets repetitive. When it comes time to put on this exhibition I will be showing at most, three images per shoot.

Throw out the rule book.

Yesterday I had a brief conversation on facebook with a guy I know about sexuality and sexual fluidity. He said in one message “I fuck chicks but i know I’m not bi… Contradictory yes however if the urge is there, pursue it I say.” Over the years my stance on relationships has evolved to a much more open minded stance. I will never claim to be experienced or knowledgeable about making a relationship work having been single for about 95% of my adult life, but I’ve come to learn that couples need to do what works for them.

This morning an article written by a man called Mike Iamele came up on my facebook feed where he talks about being a straight man and falling in love with his best mate, who is also straight. They are now boyfriends and working hard to make their relationship work even though they both still identify as straight. There will be many of you who scoff at this saying they just can’t admit that they are gay. No. If you read the article you know this man is a very self aware guy who is just open to life’s curve-balls and challenges.

Mike has also posted another article listing some of his ideas about love. It makes for a quick but very good read. A lot of people come into a relationship asking “What am I going to get out of it?” or writing it off at the first hurdle. I’ve watched my parents work at their relationship for 44 years and drive each other crazy but love each other through it all. It is still my ideal model for what a relationship should be but I hope that if someone ever comes along into my life and wants to be a part of it that we will find our own way to make ourselves happy.

I wouldn’t have the balls.

Brent Ray Fraser has appeared on this blog before, when I questioned whether what he was doing was performance art as he says or just exhibitionism. He recently posted a new video of him going on a very long and steep hike in British Columbia so that he can do a nude penis painting at the top. He must be a very fit man because to film this alone, as you can see he does, he must have done the trip about three times after putting the camera down going back down and filming himself walking up. Doing this all the way up and down would be a killer workout.

I’m surprised at the reaction of all the other hikers and how casual it is. There really is only one or two that seem a little unimpressed at his nudity but most seem quite happy about it. I know I would be a bit shocked but I certainly wouldn’t mind, even if I wouldn’t have the balls to do it myself. If the trail was designated clothing optional I’d have no problem but I’d be pretty confident guessing that this trail isn’t clothing optional. I love hearing the Australian accent when the woman asks if it’s nude day and she missed the memo.

My Naked Penis Painting Stawamus Chief Hike – July 20, 2014 from Brent Fraser on Vimeo.

TMF #13 is here!

The new TMF Magazine by Dylan Rosser is out now containing a short Q&A I did with photographer Bryan Nevin. As usual TMF is full of gorgeous photos of beautiful men and interviews with models and photographers. Dylan Rosser is always showcasing great talent in the magazine and it’s a very affordable read.

Bryan Nevin works with a lot of gorgeous porn stars and fitness models. The guy with all the tattoos above is packing some serious meat so go along and buy your copy now!

He’s just delicious.

On Saturday I took myself off to the movies to see The 100 Foot Journey. I’m not adverse to going to the movies alone and all my friends were out of town, not interested or booked up so off I went. It was a beautiful movie, co-produced by Oprah Winfrey, it’s lusciously filmed, beautifully acted and it’s a really lovely story. Of course, anything with Helen Mirren in it is going to be great.

The standout of the film is the lead actor Manish Dayal. I know he’s only acting and pretending to be a chef in the movie but any man with his smile and his soulful eyes that can cook up a storm for me would win my heart any day. Manish was born in Orangeburg, South Carolina in 1983. I haven’t actually seen any of his other movies but I will have to look them up, especially The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. He’s also done some tv work including 90210. Of course I have no idea of what he’s like in reality but those eyes and that smile have me won over completely.

Relaxing at the Ridge

Some very close friends of mine have just finished renovating a property they bought three hours out of Sydney. These guys have way more vision when it comes to the potential of a property than a lot of people and the stamina they’ve shown taking what was essentially a barn and turning it into a gorgeous country retreat is incredible. They’ve done a lot of the work themselves and the place looks fantastic. If you need a weekend out of the city and like peace and quiet served with clear skies filled with more stars than you can imagine and a fireplace to warm your feet then Abercrombie Ridge is for you.

Abercrombie Ridge is situated an hour out of Goulburn, south west of Sydney and has gorgeous 360˚ views of rolling hills and bushland with not a neighbour in site. There are over 100 acres of bushland to wander and explore with part of the property bordered by the Abercrombie River. With beds for up to 6 guests and a beautiful big kitchen, the Ridge is great for a group of friends who want to unwind with a good book, several bottles of wine, good food and good company. Sitting in the spa, even in the cold of winter with views forever, watching the sun set with a drink in hand, it’s pretty easy to forget your worries.

Since the property is completely private with no one else visible, those of you that are prone to wandering around nude can do so without a care. Warming your naked bum in front of the fire after sitting in the spa is very nice before you snuggle up on the lounge with a drink and company.

Well that was unexpected

Last week I went to have a massage to try and sort out the knots in my back and neck. While the massage was one of the most painful and deep tissue massages I’ve ever had and exactly what I thought I needed, it didn’t really work. Even so, I would recommend the masseur as he did his job well. It was a perfectly legitimate massage and no happy ending was requested or offered, just a good firm massage. Then yesterday, nearly a week later I got a text message out of the blue saying “Wasn’t sure if it was what you were after or not but if you’d like a more sensual massage next time I can do that for you.” I have no idea where that came from. Maybe he likes to suss out clients in advance before that kind of massage which would be fair enough. You don’t want to offer an intimate service to people that you may not want to give it to.

The text messages went back and forth for a while because, as I’ve said before, I love a sensual massage as long as the massage portion isn’t rushed making all about the happy ending. Unfortunately I can’t make the times that he usually sticks to for those kinds of massages but it will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes of it.

Basti aus Berlin Massage part 1 from Marcel Bruckmann on Vimeo.