There’s a particular feeling to the men who pose nude because they’re exploring themselves. They have a creative willingness that’s playful and refreshing. They’re challenged but not afraid. Hugo is 22. He comes from one of the flat suburban towns of the Bay Area. His father is German, his mother Italian.
I’d been to the Palace of the Legion of Honor a month or so ago. For some reason Hugo’s physique reminded me of Rodin’s Age of Bronze. So—more or less as a joke—I handed Hugo a hammer and had him assume a pose that I only vaguely remembered.
It was a crude approximation, but doing this became a kind of meditation on the fragility of flesh, the brevity of life and beauty. In the Age of Bronze, the figure is meant to be holding a spear, not a silly hammer. But why is he holding a spear, and why is his hand on his head? I kept moving Hugo’s head and arms and legs, but the meaning of the pose stayed hidden from me. Is it because man is strong, beautiful, poignant? Because while a photograph—or a bronze—endures and is timeless, the man ages and his strength wanes? I don’t know.
Hugo is a tremendously impressive young man: he’s ambitious, energetic, full of intelligence. He carries the complexities and depth of his character with true grace. I think it may be because at heart he’s a serious man. Seriousness always gives rise to empathy and compassion.
His blood is a mixture of German and Italian. Serious, playful, intelligent, graceful. At the end of the session I wanted a simple shot, without drama or silly poses. I wanted to show you a neutral image of him, a baseline shot.
After the shoot he came to my office and we talked about everything.