Turn Around: The Photography of Frank Bell
If you check out FH on any type of a regular basis you already know I have a, lets just say affinity, for beautiful butt shots. I can't tell you how many times a photographer has sent me a set of shots to showcase that has frontal after frontal without a great rear view. Thankfully, Frank Bell's portfolio is not one of them. The Atlanta photographer's images were so full of incredible posterior poses it was an easy decision to make them my focus.
There was one particular derrière that stood out to me and the model is featured in many of the shots shown here. One of the things I loved so much about Frank's work with the model was the element of mystery and of reveal in each image. We are seeing a lot, but yet not all. I am not a huge fan of 'tease' within imagery, teasing always has an element, even if a small one, of cruelty or taunting. Standing naked with a hand over your crotch is an much overused and almost insulting pose unless the hand eventually is removed. Don't get me wrong, I fully respect a model who does not wish to show all, but I think there is a clear difference between 'teasing' the viewer and leaving a little to the imagination. It is usually crystal clear by looking at an image what the intent is.
Frank Bell's intent is not subtle or hidden, he is shooting butts meant to be enjoyed. Frank says that the model used in many of these images came from an extremely conservative, religious family who he was living with when the shoot took place. He was clear with Frank that he would not pose nude yet surprised himself as he discovered how much he enjoyed showing his body. He ending up initiating being naked for each of their two shoots. With the rear views, Frank was able to capture some hot images while supporting the model to safely express and explore a side he usually kept covered and suppressed.
'I love to capture the natural beauty of my models. I never use any makeup. I take great care with my lighting and post production in order to capture the model's beauty.'
'I almost never get models from Model Mayhem. People there are not serious. They will send me a hundred messages about posing, but will never pick up the phone and make an appointment. I meet almost all of my models in the real world. I meet them in malls, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. I directly approach them and ask them to pose. I offer to let them see samples of my work. I am a huge man, very intimidating in appearance at 6'5" and nearly 400 lbs. So I have to be somewhat charming when I ask models to pose, since most are scared to death of my size! I shoot in a small space in my house, next to my grand piano and computer center. One of my favorite sayings is that "all photography is an illusion." When I show my work to prospective models and they say "I don't look that good," I say "Neither does the guy in the picture! I just captured him at the right instant - all photography is an illusion!"
Now I am not sure if in the quote above, Frank's mention of a grand piano stood out to any of you. When I profile an artist however, I am always seeking out the nexus between the images and the artist. I am not exactly sure how important Frank's mention of his size factors into his work, but it is obvious Frank is aware of how his presence can may impact those around him. The grand piano is not only one of the largest, but can also be both imposing, and certainly one of the most impressive, musical instruments there is. I grew up around musical people and believe me you need a pretty impressive living room to surround a grand and it impacts everything that surrounds it, unusually by either complimenting, or overshadowing it.
Frank's surroundings are not only occupied by beautiful behinds, but by pianos, pianists and musical artistry. Frank is a highly regarded expert on Romantic virtuoso piano music and has recorded and produced with the world's finest pianists in both in the studio and in live concerts for decades. Virtuoso comes from the Latin, virtus meaning, skill, manliness and excellence. Frank, The Virtuoso Pianist, has produced and recorded concerts in major concert halls extending from Washington D.C.'s The Kennedy Center to Miami's Gusman Center. His recordings have been broadcast nationally and are a television series, The Virtuoso Pianist, which airs frequently on the Arts & Entertainment Network (A&E).
Believe me, although I knew it was wrong, it was difficult to stop myself from trying to tie 'virtuoso' with some form of the word 'butt' in the profile title but thankfully, I self censored! Thank you Frank for sharing your work and your stories with FH. You can check out more of Frank's work on ModelMayhem HERE and also check out Frank's work featured in Bruno Gmünder's 2006 book Night Visions.