The Bob Mizer Foundation is dedicated to recognizing and promoting artists from all walks of life and in all disciplines, and we place a special emphasis on experimental photographers. If you know of any photographers or artists who might make good profile subjects for our blog, please contact us.
This month's profiled artist is Korey Watkins of Jacksonville, Florida. Korey is a self-identified male physique photographer who counts Mizer among his artistic inspirations.
How long have you been a practicing artist?
Pretty much all my life. I picked up a camera when I was 18 or 19 and started taking photos, mainly with the idea to use them for drawing reference. I was taking good photos, with a pretty bad camera, so I upgraded and started getting more serious about it. It took a while to learn and grow.
Who are some of your artistic inspirations?
Bob Mizer, definitely. I really liked the beefcake photos of the 1950's through the 1980's. I wasn't always aware of who took the photo, but I knew I liked them, and I just went from there. Others have influenced me as well. Comic artists like Bill Black, Mark Heike, John Byrne, various Archie artists, and fine artists like Paul Klee and Frida Kahlo. Even singers and actors inspire me, like Cyndi Lauper - who taught me to just be myself, and RuPaul, who has reinforced that lesson.
How would you describe your style?
I usually refer to my work as "beefcake.” Being sexy and/or erotic is more important that how much skin a model shows. My goal is to show off the model as being interesting and sexy, and not just show their body parts.
Besides photography, what mediums do you work with?
I draw comics, I paint, I do bead-work, I digitally manipulate my photos and paintings to create new pieces. If it's creative, I've given it a shot at one time or another.
How do you find your models?
I used to find them out in nature, meaning if I saw someone I found interesting, I would give him my card. Now, I do it online. I often use modeling websites and sometimes online classifieds.
Your models seem to embody diversity in just about every way -- age, race, body type, etc. Why do you believe this portrayal of different men in your works is important?
Popular media tends to show us a handful of looks, which is fine. A commercial venture like a magazine, or an ad campaign, has to appeal to a large audience. And as an artist, I don't have to please anyone but myself. I have always found a variety of men to be attractive and/or interesting to look at. With a model, I tend to look at the whole picture, and not just a couple of details. Why should I dismiss someone because of age? Race? Fat, fit, or thin? Hairy or not? I do have preferences, of course, but I also keep an open mind and work with models who are beyond what I might be looking for in a model. The best example I can give of that is that I prefer my models to have their natural body hair, but I have ignored that preference and worked with several models who shave off body hair.
In what ways are your works similar to and different than those of Bob Mizer?
I think that similarity comes from the fact that I'm on a budget. I tend to make do with what I have. I also have an open mind about diversity. That's something that has impressed me about Bob's work is that not all his models had the same look about them.
My work is different in that I'm a different person than Bob. I live in different times, and use different technology. Can you imagine what he'd be doing with the technology we have today? He'd blow me out of the water for sure!
How do you promote your art in the digital age? (social media, your eBay store, your website, etc.)
You can follow me on Facebook at http://facebook.com/KorokStudios and my blog is at http://itskoreysworld.blogspot.com This blog is more than photography, and is about my life in general. Photos get a mention as do my other artistic endeavors.
On Twitter, I'm @korokstudios and on Pinterest, I'm at http://pinterest.com/dynakor
I feel like I'm forgetting some links, so you can always search for Korok Studios. You'll find me.
Why is freedom of artistic expression so important in physique photography?
Everyone has their own unique voice, and their own way of seeing things. I've seen some of my models photographed by others, and those photographers had their own way of seeing the model. It wasn't better or worse - just different. I think you should follow your gut, or your heart, and do what works for you instead of worrying about what the other guy is doing.
I remember once reading "Do what you love, and the money will follow." It was in reference to art and creativity, and I believe that it's true.
What advice do you have for budding physique photographers and artists?
Be yourself. Do what you feel is right. And be safe! If you need to, take someone with you, or cancel a shoot if you feel something is "off.” But don't let fear rule you, either. Work with models. Accept the model who might be your 3rd or 4th choice. You'll be surprised at the results (I have been, several times). Keep your mind open, and keep learning! Do you the best way you know how!