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PAUL’S PHOTOS || Adonnis

His real name is Adonnis.  Trevor had shown me some snapshots of him and I wasn’t interested.  Both Trevor and Pony told me I was making a mistake, that I had to meet him.

He was extremely quiet, never smiled.  All I learned from him is that he’s from the East Coast and now lives in the East Bay with his girlfriend.

He seemed perfectly at ease and confident.  But part of his real charisma was an all-pervading feeling of melancholy.  The sad young man, I thought to myself.

Usually I talk freely with the model.  I comment on their tattoos, for example.  I thought Adonnis’ tattoos were terrible, but for some reason I said nothing.  Instead I had Trevor and Pony endlessly change the lighting in the room so I could steal unposed shots.

He was perfectly pale.  Everything about him was interior, held in.  Here, I’d told him to look squarely at me, to look deep into the camera.  I always keep the background obvious—I’m shooting in a room with doors and windows and lightstands—because it would be so easy for me to tilt entirely into the world of allegory or mythology with a man like this.

We took a break.  When I came back he was resting his head on his arms.  I moved in and took this.  More than any of the other snapshots I took, this is what Adonnis is like.

The tattoos are meant to be distractions, a kind of protection I think.  Here’s the truth as I see it: in my work I meet gods.  Every man who walks through my door embodies this beauty and depth.  Most do their best to denigrate or mask it.  But on rare occasions even the most trivial ornaments of their life-story (not to mention my ineptitude as a photographer) can’t hide the eternal and noble being that lives inside them and among us.

Until Next Time – Paul