Spotlight: rSEANd Photography

We discovered the images of rSEANd PHOTOGRAPHY online, and we were thrilled to interview brilliant young photographer Sean Dibble for the Paragon Men Spotlight this month.

Sean, your portfolio includes a mix of studio and location images. Do you have a preference between studio and location shoots?

I've always done both. In the beginning, I preferred to do location work, mostly because I love the skin tones that natural light gives, but I've been concentrating on studio images lately.

What sorts of images do you create? Do you have a favorite category?

I think the impression is that I am a male image photographer, but I shoot females and I also do nature photography. When it comes to the men I shoot, I've done head shots, fashion, editorial, activewear, physique, artistic nudes and some erotica. I've never been able to define my particular style, although I'm aware that I have one. I do try to ensure that some semblance of the person is recognizable in the final result, and hopefully a bit of their personalities and individual spirits.

My favorite category was always head shots because I am very taken with the eyes, but lately it has evolved towards underwear or nude imagery.

 

What are your thoughts on shooting in studio vs. shooting outdoors?

I work with a lot of models who are still relatively new and shooting in a studio allows time to get to know each other, explore different ideas, as well as the comfort and privacy to shoot images that are more revealing, bold and intimate. Outdoor settings are always fun and the scenery can add some beautiful elements to the images, but the locations can limit what you are able to do, especially if nudity is involved.

How did your career start and develop? How/where were you trained? How long have you been a photographer?

I started shooting when I was 14, but my real love at that time was music and writing, which I focused on for about 15 years. There's a local artist in NYC named Coby Koehl who has performed and recorded many of my songs. I was still taking pictures but it was more of a hobby. In 1990, all my equipment was stolen by a roommate when I lived in Los Angeles, so I didn't take photos for almost 5 years. My sister, Diana, was getting married and insisted that I be one of the photographers at her wedding and that reignited my passion. It wasn't until 2006, though, that I actually began to take myself seriously as a photographer and I made the decision to focus more on that than music.

I was mostly self-taught, though I studied for a year in college, which was actually a disaster for me. My teacher had no artistic sensibilities and did not encourage any form of creativity. All portraits were expected to show the subject smiling and happy, which I thought was ridiculous. I decided not to continue with formal education in the field and continued to study on my own, and even worked in a photo lab for a few years. The work of other photographers was also very educational and I studied their images to deconstruct style and technique.

Do you have any basic advice for aspiring photographers?

Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. Like anything else, practice brings about improvement. I also think it's a good idea to try different things so you are not continuosly creating the same images over and over. There are so many aspiring models who are seeking to gain experience which provides the perfect opportunity to work with different looks and personalities.

My biggest problem was not believing in myself and being afraid to showcase my work for fear of negative feedback, but the comments and encouragement from your peers can bolster confidence, in addition to having others to go to for advice.

Where else has your work been published? Where can our readers find more of your work?

I've been featured in Beautiful Mag 3 times, with a new feature coming at the end of this month or beginning of next month. I've also been featured in Oh La La Mag, Gazelle Magazine, Next Hottest Model, The City Paper (Washington, DC), Artistry of Male, ZooGram (Maryland Zoo), Ad Thonglow Designs, an HIV awareness project for Whitman Walker Clinic, flyers for artists, and too many blogs to list. I also have books available on Blurb.com.

My work can be seen on my website rSEANdphotography.com, my blog, and Model Mayhem.

What drew you to photographing artistic nude images of men?

I love the male form and eventually, I guess, we gravitate towards what attracts us artistically. I had to get comfortable with the idea of finding models first. It can be intimidating approaching or asking a new model to pose nude. I've been lucky enough to work with models like Lonny Masterson, Brock Chapman and Eric Rensburg who are comfortable with their bodies and completely at ease showing them off. There is an intrinsic beauty in the human body and all it's natural variations. It's like the perfect canvas.

What are your thoughts on color vs. black & white physique photography?

My preference is color, which is often at odds with serious artists, but my eye is drawn to the variations of shade and hues, along with subtle highlights. With people, part of the beauty for me, as I said earlier, is skin tone, as well as eye color and I like to see these things in images. I do love black and white images because there is drama and glamour associated with it. There are black and white photos that I love that would not have the same appeal if they were in color. There is something about the shadows and contrasts present in these images that I don't feel can be achieved in color photography.

How do you use lighting in your work?

I use lighting to highlight and accentuate those features of the model that I find most appealing. I also like shadows, whether they are of the model or just contrasts in the background, so I will position my lights to achieve an effect that is pleasing to my eye. I've also used it to help capture a certain mood and have experimented with dimly lit subjects in some of my erotic work.

Do you use any image enhancement or retouching software?

I use Photoshop but I do not consider myself highly proficient with it. I can do the basics like blemish removal, color correction and standard retouching. There are times when I've been successful at more advanced techniques and I'm constantly learning so I hope to be able to one day learn more advanced techniques that are seen in some of the amazing images by artists like Justin Monroe.

Which photographers or artists have most inspired you? Whose work has most impressed you recently? Which new photographers are you watching?

The list of photographers that inspire me is vast and there's no way I could list them all here. In the early days, when I first picked up a camera, it was Richard Avedon, whose portraits left me awestruck. I later feel in love with all the names people are familiar with like Bruce Weber, Herb Ritts, Greg Weiner, David LaChappelle, Henning von Berg, Kingdom 19 and Lali.

I have quite a few favorites at the moment who not only inspire me but whose work I aspire to like Ethan James, Justin Monroe, Joseph Smileuske, Mark Henderson, Ron Reyes, Rick Day, Luis Rafael, Carlos Arias, Dylan Rosser, Haringman, Murray!, John Hough, Hasson Harris, Maya Guez, Scott Marrs, Don Pollard, Jorge Freire, Desi Arnaz of Zedneram and the list goes on and on. There is a unique quality about each of these artists, a certain style that defines their work so that it is recognizable, like a signature, and they continue to evolve and include new elements. The quality and concepts are so consistent that it is impossible to be disappointed by new output. They amaze me on a daily basis.

One of the photographers that I'm really watching at the moment is David Wagner of WagnerLA Photography. His images are so clean and sensual and he really manages to capture faces in a way that is highly appealing for me. His work with model Carlos Villar blows me away and I want to be able to create the same feeling for viewers of my work that David does for me when I look at his portfolio.

What sort of work and/or services do you do and/or provide?

I will take any type of photograph that the model desires, and I love to collaborate on ideas. Usually, models are looking to add images to help expand their portfolios, or they want to try something new, perhaps their first nude images, and many have told me that what attracts them is that I push the envalope without going too far past their own comfort levels. I also shoot events on occasion and have done a few weddings and family portraits, but my real interest is in one on one shoots. I've also been involved in model development over the years, having shoot with so many that were just entering the industry, and I enjoy helping them hone their skills and improve.

What inspires you most?

I would have to say the work of other artists, and sometimes the models themselves. When I see a beautiful image, it reinforces my own passion and ignites the desire to push myself and try something different. Feedback is also very motivating and I have been fortunate enough to receive encouragement and beautiful messages from many of the very photographers whose work is so compelling for me.

My models have been a tremendous source of inspiration as well. I remember being very intimidated about working with Eric Rensburg because he had been shot by so many luminaries, but I could not have asked for a better experience. He is a true gentleman and has remained incredibly supportive of my work with other models, and you just can't measure the feeling you get when someone lets you know they appreciate your art.

My friends and family also inspire me with their continual support.

What do you look for in a model?

I'm one of those people who sees some level of beauty in just about everyone, whether it's the eyes, the facial structure, the physique or the attitude they bring to their images. I admit that I don't usually seek out the massively built guys because my personal aestetic runs closer to a more approachable type of beauty. I'm a sucker for guys on the shorter side of the scale when they are well proportioned because I find their phsiques highly appealing on a personal level. I also love dark hair and exotic features so ethnic beauty figures prominantly in my port. And the so called regular Joe is also interesting to me because the guys we see on the street have a beauty that they might not even be aware of, and I like to capture that.

Which male body type do you prefer: bodybuilder, fitness model, slender beauty, all of the above, or other? Please discuss creating artistic images with different types of physiques.

Once again, in terms of my work, I don't really have a preference. I think it depends on the type of images being taken. If the shoot is fashion oriented, slender models just look better in the clothes. When I'm shooting underwear or athletic images, a good physique undoubtably adds to the effectiveness of the image, but I don't think this necessarily means that they have to be of a certain bulk. The muscle tone is more important in my opinion. I've only worked with a few models who would qualify as bodybuilder status, and these were usually artistic nude images, and in those cases, the bulk allowed for some interesting poses, as well as a chance to play with lighting. When it comes to nudes, any of the physical types works well for me, as I believe what is projected to the camera is more important than physique, or even penis size, for that matter.

Shaved or hairy? What's your ideal?

On a personal level, I like some hair, especially on the legs. In terms of my work, I don't really have a preferance. Obviously, muscles stand out more when the skin is smooth, but sometimes models eliminate all the hair from their bodies, including the pubic region. I guess it depends on the individual. If they look too young, a completely hairless body can be a bit risque, but everyone has their own personal taste.

Do you consider any of your models your muses?

I've had a few over the years, starting with Lonny Masterson, then Diego Moran, but the models people associate most with me are Eric Rensburg, who is a muse to a number of other photographers, Luis Perrusquia and Brock Chapman, who is probably the first model people think of if they are familiar with my work. Of those three, Brock is the one I would consider my true muse. I grew the most as an artist while working with him, and his energy, spirit, personality and confidence created an atmosphere where I felt capable of exploring any area as a photographer. We developed a great friendship during our time working together which enhaced the whole experience and I am grateful for all the time we have shared on both a personal and professional level.

My newest muse is a model named Eric Patterson, who is not only beautiful, but an exceptionally talented singer. There will be a big focus on him this year.

What is the best way for models or fans to reach you?

If they are Model Mayhem members, they can message me directly there, or they can contact me through my website. Email is always welcome and I take time to answer each one personally.

 

 
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