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Spotlight: Joe Oppedisano


This month we are thrilled to feature the work of renowned photographer Joe Oppedisano, whose stunning images span editorial, fashion, celebrity, and of course artistic. Our focus is, naturally, on his acclaimed images of men. Joe's unforgettable interpretations of the male form have graced Calvin Klein campaigns, Esquire magazine, and countless other publications. We are proud to feature a sampling of Joe's favorite images this month in Paragon Men, and to have had the opportunity to interview this NYC-based artist in his West Village studio.

Do you shoot only in the studio or do you also travel for shoots?

I rarely shoot in studio, I like the magic that happens when you get to a location, any location, and get the models in it, feeling the energy, the vibe. It puts you IN-side the minds of who I want them to become, and helps them become a character.

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

I like to create all kinds of images. I shoot a lot of women, which people don't even know about, men, still life, nature... but my favorite is always men because I usually only see boring images of men, so I like to step outside of that box and create something unique.

How did your career start and develop? How/where were you trained?

I was a fashion editor from age 19 to 30. I worked for some of the best photographers in the world, worked with W, Vanity Fair, Vogue, L'Uomo Vogue and so I was basically trained by watching. I never took one single class, never studied light, form, except what I learned from watching these masters at work, and play. The difference is, I believe, that when you assist someone, you take on their style. For me, I wasn't assisting them, I was working with them, and so, helped in the creative process. I'm just a natural photographer/director, it's in my blood. I know what I want and know how to get it as uickly qs possible. I shoot for a very few amount of minutes per shot. Usually I walk into a shoot with the ideas already written down or in my head.

Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?

Trust your heart, your mind, and your eyes. They don't lie to you.

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

LOL, pretty much everywhere. I have two books out, Testosterone and Uncensored, which are both collections of photographs of the male form. They range from fashion editorials I've shot for Esquire, New York TImes Magazine, Out, GT, DNA, etc. to a poster I did for the Black Party one year (in the Gallery, the photo of Buck Angel in the forest with the ax). That was a huge thing for me to get, as many famous photographers (like Robert Mapplethorpe) have done Black Party posters and it has an interesting way of leaking out a vibe to the gay community worldwide.

What drew you to photographing artistic images of men?

Just wanted to do it. I usually don't shoot nudes, it just is a natural thing. All artists are fascinated by the human body, male or female.

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

I use both. The choice depends on the subject matter, but I obviously prefer color.

How do you use lighting in your work?

It's all about the light. Dramatic, sensual, it should take you into a world of fantasy, where everything is perfect, everything you need to see is lit perfectly, and the things that go into shadow are for your mind. For me, I like light high, like sunlight, casting down on us lowly humans, but lifting us by making us raise our eyes to the sun, or light, and look up, showing we are smaller than everything around us, YET, the high light, shot (from below, I'm usually on the floor when I shoot, and point my camera UP to the subject) makes you as the viewer, look UP, making you smaller than the person you're looking at, which makes them more God-like. It's like when you go to a museum and look up at a statue.

Do you use any image enhancement or retouching software?

OF COURSE! My 1st book had zero retouching, but Uncensored is all about the perfection of a sexual man in the world, so I wanted the pictures to look like you were reading Italian Vogue, but the models were cock out, hungry animals.
Yes, I LOVE Photoshop.

Which photographers or artists have most inspired you? Who's work are you following currently?

Mappelthorpe, Penn, Horst, Herb Ritts, Skribneski.
The classics.

Recently I don't know who has inspired me... I try not to look at too many other images I consider similar, like men's photography, it freaks me out. I hate seeing what other people are doing, because usually I'm bored to death. I need constant arousing and I honestly don't see a lot I like. I am much more inclined to look at classic or modern art than to get caught up looking at magazines.

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

I'm a photographer. I am an incredible stylist, and I can cut hair (men's) like no one else. People always tell me I gave them the best haircut they'd ever had.

What do you look for in a model?

A man who is secure enough about himself to have a sense of humor, someone who looks great, knows their body, muscles, they have a mind, and a personality. I hate boring people.

Do you consider any of your models your muses?

Always. It's funny, because after I shoot the first time, if there's something there inside them that I can pull out, I do, and then there's a sort of bond. I gain trust in them, because I want to give them the best image possible, and I want them, in return, to want to give it. So we become tight, I gain their trust, they give me everything, and more.

Which particular models have been muses for your work?

Joe Sayers, Chris Raucci, Erik Rhodes, Frankie, Torez, yea, many, many many.

Which male body type do you prefer: bodybuilder, fitness model, slender beauty, all of the above, or other?

All of the above. As long as they are secure.

Please discuss creating artistic images with different types of physiques.

Everyone is different, so it's hard to talk about. For me, it's more about a level of trust I get by NOT trying to suck their cocks, by treating them as artists, and to let them know the only reason we are at this place at this moment in time, is to create something beautiful. That's all. Just trust me, I'll trust you. I like to keep an open dialogue between us, and I rarely have anyone else on the shoot, like a groomer or a stylist. I can do it all anyway, and I think that the intimacy and privacy helps people relate and see what I'm trying to do.

Shaved or hairy? What's your ideal?

Natural, whatever that is on the specific guy.

Thanks for your time Joe. It's been a pleasure talking with you and I know Paragon Men's readers will enjoy the interview and seeing your images. What is the best way for models or fans to reach you?

They can This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or check out my website, www.JoeOppedisano.com




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