My life, as a photographer

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365 Project & New York City

A few days ago, I began a new project inspired by some other photographers I saw on Flickr, Brian and Jared. They had done a long-term project to take an art photo once a day for 365 days. Some of the ideas are simple, others more complex, but the idea of creating something every day really inspired me, so I took it on for myself.

I wouldn’t say that I have made a great picture every day, but I am looking more into my surroundings and looking at what I can do with what I have to hand each day.

I’ve been posting my pictures to Flickr, one every day. I’m usually about a day behind in posting, especially at the moment while I’m on holiday in New York, I don’t spend a lot of time in my apartment on my computer. But there is a picture I’ve taken every day uploaded to the site. Please check it out to see them all, and comment or share as you like.

Here’s a selection for a preview. Enjoy.

Being Fashionably Fit

I’m going to start this by acknowledging a few things: Firstly, I am a photographer, you can see my work on this site, it is often hot young men wearing little in the way of clothing. I am an older gay man, who likes younger gay men, usually defined as ‘twinks’. I go to the gym 5 days a week, and I enjoy it.

You might think: Who am I to write an article about being fashionably fit? Of course I like that. Of course I think a toned body is better than a not-toned body. I photograph them every month and then put them up for display on this website. But I also believe that looks, at least in terms of muscles and toned abs etc – aren’t everything.

A quick look around your local bookstore, or a browse on the internet will find you a plethora of how-to guides on getting thin, loosing weight, bulking up, getting in shape, or any number of other catchy ways to tell you that you’re too fat, and here’s how to fix it. Primarily I want to address some of these messages, their anti-messages, and the misconceptions that go along with them all.

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Firstly: Body image is an important factor in one’s self-esteem. I think we can all remember that moment, for me it was in high-school when you realised that not being picked for the sport team, wasn’t just because you were uncool, it was also because you weren’t fit, or you were too fat to be considered sporty. I think most people, myself included would put how we consider the way we look to be a, if not the, major factor in whether we feel good about ourselves. There are two conflicting messages being sent about how we should look, and I think they are both as dangerous as each other. The first, we have been hearing for years and that is that thin is beautiful. If you’re thin, you’re hot. Magazines and catwalks have been toting it forever. If you’re a bit overweight, you’re somehow lesser than others. On the flip side, is a newer message, that big is beautiful. Being larger doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful or worthwhile – it’s just as beautiful as skinny! It’s a lifesaver – no matter where you find yourself, you’re beautiful – win! In my opinion (not a medical one – just my own experience) neither of these messages are healthy. First of all, the body size you have now, isn’t really related to your overall fitness. Just because someone is thin, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are fit and healthy, it just means they are thin. On the other hand, if you are more than a few kilos overweight, it’s very likely that you’re not fit and healthy – but you can be. What is more important than how big your body is, is if your body is healthy.

Secondly: Being fit is easier than you think.  You don’t have to strap on the figure-hugging lycra and step into a room of sweaty strangers in order to be fit. All it takes is a little perseverance and time. Mostly, it takes changing a few things that you do, in order to have the greatest effect. For many people, going to the gym can be intimidating. When I lived in Australia, I went to a small suburban gym and being in a room filled with housewives trying to burn off the baby fat wasn’t all that bad. I went 5 days a week and I lifted weights, ran, stretched etc. I spent about an hour each time, and while I never got ripped or incredibly muscular, I felt good that I was doing something more than spend all day in front of a computer screen or behind the wheel of my car. Since I moved to Germany, the gym I go to is mostly frequented by large muscular men able to easily lift my body weight without blinking. They’re also much taller than me. Intimidation level = high. For a while, it put me off, so I stuck to doing a workout at home. Run around the block for 5kms, come home do a few situps and pushups and leave it at that. I have since returned to the gym, and I am now seeing some actual results. Results I am really excited about, and that help me want to go next time. Here’s a few things I have learned or realised since moving to Germany, and getting a body I can be really proud of.

Eat less, move more, isn’t entirely accurate. Sure if you’re eating the equivalent of a family of two’s intake for each meal, then perhaps cutting back is a good idea. But generally speaking, you’re not eating enough food now, and cutting back is probably a bad idea. You’ll never lose weight by eating less food. Your body needs energy to run itself, even if that is just sitting in front of a computer at work or uni. Breathing uses carbs. You need to eat them first. Having said that, you probably need to cut back on the crap food you’re eating and put better food into your mouths. If your idea of doing the dishes is throwing away the McDonald’s wrapper, I’m looking at you. Simply trading crappy take-out food for a healthier home-made alternative will make a massive difference in your weight-loss and fitness goals. In fact, what you eat accounts for up to 80% of the results you see when you work out. Yes, I know you’re busy, and perhaps don’t have time to cook every night, or maybe you’re not that good with a hob. Grab a basic cook book from your local store and start practicing. It’s fun and easy once you get into it, and you’ll start making the time to cook yourself a decent dinner each night. There’s also plenty of you-tube channels that can help you get started. Eating better doesn’t mean starving yourself, or not having the fun things – I can often be found enjoying a spoon-full (or seven) of Nutella, and I am quite partial to a snickers bar every few days. I admit, I don’t eat much fast food – more because it’s not available here – there’s only 4 McDonald’s stores in my town, and they’re the biggest chain. But I have found myself not wanting it because frankly, better things are available.

If you want to start working out to either bulk up or help lose weight (and no one is saying you need to) then before you simply sign up for a gym and pay for an expensive membership so that you can go along once a week and fool around a bit on the machines, go along for a trial session – most gyms and all the good ones should allow you at least one free workout before you sign up, and most of them have qualified personal trainers on staff that you can ask if you’re not sure how to use a machine. Doing an exercise wrong is worse than not doing it at all. Especially when you’re starting out – you can cause serious damage lifting something incorrectly. I highly recommend speaking with a personal trainer about what your goals are, and what to do to best achieve them. They should be able to give you a basic program to get you started that you should follow.

Determination is the next biggest thing you will need. Whether you’re bulking up, losing weight or just want to be fit, results take time. You’re not going to walk out the first day looking like the guys in the weights section who are nothing but muscle. They’ve been there since they could walk – it all takes time. It might be obvious, but the biggest thing that stops people is not getting results. I know, it has stopped me more than once. You’ll need to work out a system that suits you and your goals – it might be being able to run faster on the treadmill each week, maybe lifting an extra few kilos each month, perhaps losing a certain number of kilos or pant sizes each month. Whatever your goals, make sure they are realistic and trackable. My goals include losing the fat around my middle and increasing my muscles. I don’t have a goal concerning my weight because as I lose fat, I gain muscle which is heavier. Since starting my program 8 months ago I have lost 4 inches off my waist, but only 2 kilos off my overall weight. I decided that the best way to track my progress was to use progress photos. Personally, when I look into the mirror, I don’t see much difference from when I started. I still don’t. Even though I know that I have made major advances. I know that I have because I have photos from each week, and I can compare how I looked months ago, to how I look now. This works for me. It might for you, perhaps not – it is a personal thing. What I do know, is that tracking your progress needs to be done regularly, but not too frequently – especially at the start. Weekly is plenty, but perhaps fortnightly or monthly is best. The results you see will be more obvious over time than day to day.

Consider changing a few small habits for the better. When I moved to Germany, I moved to a town that was small enough to not need a car, so I bought a bike. I now ride to work each day, and if it’s snowing or particularly warm, I might walk instead. I spend very little time on public transport or driving. In fact, I rarely even get a ride with a friend unless it’s absolutely necessary. Changing a habit of driving everywhere, to walking when I could (there is an excellent transport system here – I don’t have to walk, I choose to) means that I am generally fitter, I get more fresh air and sunlight than I did in Australia tucked safely in my car (who’d have thought) and I spend much less time on Facebook because I need to give myself more time to get places.

There’s no ‘perfect’ body – just the body that’s perfect for you. While fashion magazines and fitness magazines tell you that thin is best, or having bulking muscles is better, it’s not always true. Love what you have and others will love you too. Whether you’re a skinny adorable twink or a cuddly muscle-daddy (or anything in between), love the skin you’re in. Life is long, and it’s more fun spent doing interesting things than cooped up inside a hospital room because you’re too unhealthy to do anything else. Look after your body, it’ll love you for it.

Changing Rooms

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I decided to make a big change in our apartment: we moved our living room to our bedroom and vice-versa. That might sound a bit strange, but our apartment only has two rooms, a large one that our bed was in, and a small one that had our couch, a chair and a desk. Whenever we had friends over, we would cram into the small lounge sitting on each other to fit. Now we’ve switched the rooms over, we have a much smaller bedroom, and a much larger lounge room. It has made a huge difference already – I enjoy being in the lounge room now as there is so much space to enjoy. I no longer feel like I am jammed into the room competing with the lounge, desk, bookshelf, etc. 

Since the move, we’ve been jazzing things up a bit, since we now have a space that we like. So today we did a bit of shopping at the hardware store and got some paint for our table and some plants for the pots that have been sitting empty in the window for over a year. What a huge difference a little bit of green plant makes! They’ll be even better when the flowers bloom into a brilliant yellow as well. (these are just quick snaps with my iPhone – forgive the poor quality!)

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The next thing we tackled was the table. We’ve had it for a while, and it was old and fairly badly painted white. I decided that with all the yellow, red and green in the room, we needed a big bit of blue to off-set everything else. Here’s where we started: 

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I gave it a good sanding down (although apparently not quite enough in some spots – oops!) and then we got to work painting it blue. It was a little more blue than we had expected – always seems to be the way with those little swatches! – but I think I like it. Once it dries in the morning we’re going to go over it with a bit of sand paper and give it a bit of a distressed look on the edges. But right now, I rather like the colour. So we shall see where we’re at once it’s fully dried and the colour has settled. Here’s the current stage: 

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It has wings so it can dry easier… or something. Anyway, I’ll post a picture of it finished with some details tomorrow once it’s all done! 

 

Not Such a Good Mechanic

So, I managed to put the part onto the bike, and it even worked for a few weeks. It made a strange kind of clunking, and the chain would slip and make it difficult to ride. Eventually as I was riding along towards the gym, the chain snapped and that was that. Done and done. I had to walk it home again, and then yesterday I walked it back through the city to another bike shop that my friend recommended. They fixed it over night with a new chain and fixed the problem with the rear gear not changing. It still clicks a bit and the gears are a bit sticky, but it rides. Hopefully it only has to last a few more weeks until I can get a brand new bike – one that doesn’t clunk and fall apart and isn’t made from bastardised parts of other bikes. Anyway – there’s some interesting stuff in the works here, including working at a school teaching photography and running a photography club after school, and working in a bar that opens later this month taking photos. I’m looking forward to it, and as soon as there are more details to share, I will! 

Part time bike mechanic

This morning I find myself getting out of bed early, having a quick fb chat with mum (expertly avoiding asking for money again – win for me, not my bank acct) and hopping a bus & tram to the other side of town to pickup a new part for my bike. It’s a rather old bike and probably not worth it, but I think the part is less than 20€ and if I can fix it myself then I’ll have a bike for another few months. It certainly will help with getting around here. It’s a good place for bikes – except the cobblestones. Only problem is I’m no bike mechanic. So hopefully it’s a fairly easy operation. I also have to repair the back wheel which is flat.

Actually, that’s the reason I discovered the broken part – taking the back wheel off to repair it. No matter. I have some help from the kid upstairs in our house. He’s pretty good with bikes and repairs etc. so hopefully the two of us can work it out and i’ll have my bike back up and running by this afternoon. I might even be able to use it to go shopping for dinner later.

Amsterdam!! Rapido Dance Party

This has been my first trip to Amsterdam. There’s a big change in the scenery when you cross the border. There are places where the sea is just *right there* or just next to the road as you drive along. It’s rather strange.

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We stopped off for a brunch in Groningen, and had a short wander around the town. I found this store; I think the name is brilliant.

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Once we got to Amsterdam it was a fun trick around the city to find our parking garage and then the hotel. Once checked in we decided to go for a walk to see some of the sights and grab something for dinner.

We checked out Van Gogh museum, and the opera house, at least from the outside. They’re even setting up a massive stadium outside for Tuesday’s Queens Day celebration. It looks like it’s going to be a massive event here. Pity we couldn’t stay until Tuesday.

We found the I Amsterdam sculpture, and of course grabbed a couple of photos on it.

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As we wandered we found the gay quarter and we saw this store:

20130428-113039.jpg I was going to stop in for some supplies but they’ve unfortunately closed, which is a shame.

A quick stop for a bite to eat, grab some supplies for the night to get our party started and we were on our way back to our hotel. It’s a really nice place with this insane staircase at the front door. It’s almost a ladder. Our room is a nice family size room that could sleep 7, so it happily holds the four of us.

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Then it was all systems go to find the perfect outfit for tonight’s party. Not a tough ask since we’d pretty much planned everything from home but still. We had a bit of fun with different things and helping each other decide what to wear.

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Once we got to the party it was wild! There were gorgeous men of all ages, types and descriptions all having a great time together dancing until tomorrow. Plenty of cute twinks in tiny shorts or sometimes just underwear. Loss of fun to dance with and to look at.

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The party was simply awesome. It was another few firsts for me – first time in Amsterdam, first Circuit party (and the first time participating fully in the circuit party scene), first time I’ve taken my shirt off at a party and not been self-conscious of how fat I am. I have been working really hard at the gym lately and there’s a real difference showing. It was a great night and I’m glad I got to do it here with good friends and my boyfriend. There’s another party tonight so I’ll grab some more pictures and video. (Only with my iPhone though. No SLR camera at the dance party!)

Until the next update! Ciao!

Aaron

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My influences: Slava Mogutin

Slava Mogutin is one of my favourite artists. I was introduced to his work in University by one of my tutors. I even managed to find a copy of his book Lost Boys in Melbourne on a visit. I really love the raw, basic, quality to Slava’s work, and I love that his images are intimately photographed,

 

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while not really giving us a deep look into the character of the subjects. Particularly this series, the images are more like a voyeuristic view at these people, and less like a a deep investigation of their actual lives. 

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Today, I came across some of Mogutin’s work for Vice magazine: a fashion shoot, in his home-erotic, raw, visual style. I really love that this style really crosses into fashion photography, which is usually only the pristine, well-lit studio style, with photoshopped skin and perfect bodies and faces. Mogitun’s pictures are a perfect example of an artist taking his own personal style and crossing it over into a commercial application with no loss of the integrity of his work. 

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More images and full story here: http://www.vice.com/read/fashion-bros-blowin-shotties-699-v18n2

All images are copyright Slava Mogutin.