MGT cover photographer Nick Mesh: expressing beauty, sexual energy and personality - Spotlight - MyGayToronto
MGT cover photographer Nick Mesh:
expressing beauty, sexual energy and personality
By DREW Rowsome 24 January 2018
"I'm just lazy," says photographer Nick Mesh. Before finding his metier as an artist specializing in glorifying the nude male, Mesh worked as an architect, a designer, and in video game and film production. Since then he has been astonishingly productive: his extensive website - nickmesh.com - offers a galaxy of prints, dozens of books and 37 different calendars for 2018. "It's said that to never work in life, you should do what you really love," he says. "I'm just lazy."
Mesh explains that he was "always surrounded by beauty" but his own artistic impulse was, from a very young age, rendering the male body in all its fascinating variations. "I never get tired of it," he says. "I don't feel like I work, I feel pleasure. It's a kind of passion for me. I can't say that there's anything else I would do so selflessly."
That enthusiasm shows up in the work. The photographs are hot and the men look magnificent, but there is a startling and unusual variety, a playfulness, in their facial expressions and posture. "I really love to work with everyday men who are not in the modelling industry," says Mesh. "I guess those guys appear absolutely naturally in my works. They are not skilled, they don't know how to strike a pose. They look believable in their emotions. They don't play smile, they just smile. They don't play sadness, they're truly sad. I love to capture those wonderful moments."
Working with non-professionals scan create challenges. "Sometimes they take the shoot very seriously, sometimes too much. Especially when it's their first time with a professional photographer. They take it as a major milestone in their lives. They think it's gonna be very important, serious and tough work, that the photographer is a big rough dictator. That there will be assistants, technicians, make-up artists and a supporting team who are going to watch the model getting undressed. And finally, the model thinks so much that he can't do anything at all."
Fortunately Mesh has both experience and a solution. The model may be nervous but, "He meets a simple man, well-built too, friendly and smiling. No team, a cozy set, nice music. I prefer to work one-on-one with models when shooting nudes. I always start, after a cup of coffee or a protein drink, with close-up portraits and a short briefing on the good time we're going to have. The model is still dressed and still a bit nervous. But the more shots I do, the sooner that unnecessary anxiety fades away. I guess it's completely gone as we go to the shirtless part."
Mesh is modest about his powers of persuasion. "That's the secret of getting guys to relax," he says. "Nothing mysterious. I wouldn't even call it a technique. It comes naturally. It's a pleasant task to do. Be honest, open. Be friendly and caring. Enjoy the moment. Compliment your model. Trust him and he will trust you. When that happens, you can do really great things together. For the best results I just make him enjoy the moment and forget about all the rest. The most exciting thing during someone's first shoot is to watch how a shy guy becomes an insane monster who's ready to show the most secret parts of his body and soul in front of the camera."
And there are surprises. "Sometimes unexpected things take place," says Mesh. A shy guy turns into a crazy beast showing his overwhelming sexual power. I got a submission from a handsome bodybuilder. Everything is good except for one thing: he strictly rejects fully nude shooting. I look at his incredible physique and plan to just do semi-nude and sportswear photos with him. We pick the day and start shooting. At first, he seems to be really shy. He turns his back on me when undressing, he hides from the camera when changing underwear. After a half hour of posing he looks more relaxed and happy. And he's walking around naked. Suddenly he says, 'Man, I can't explain it, but I'm loving what's happening here. It blows my mind and really turns me on.' Then I see that he's aroused. I'm like, 'Great! I love it too. But what will we do with your hard-on?' He stands upright in front of the camera and says, 'Let's go on exactly this way!'
"We had a wonderful sensual shoot, full of passion and bright sincere and genuine emotions," says Mesh. "Then we had one more the next day in another location. And several more later. Each time he was absolutely happy to be photographed nude, he had a stone-hard erection and was ready to work as long as it would take." But not everyone is as happily exhibitionistic. "Not everyone is ready for a nude shoot," says Mesh. "There are many who would do it with pleasure, but fear possible public shaming or negative reactions from their relatives and friends. So sometimes I have to hear 'no.' But I'm truly proud of all my guys, not only because of their perfect modeling qualities, but also because of their boldness, courage and confidence."
Occasionally Mesh's own boldness, courage and confidence gets tested. "People are very different," says Mesh. "There are many people who reject any sight of a penis even when artistically done. I'm sure there must be a variety of deep-rooted causes for that, but that's a matter for psychology. As for me, I get great feedback from my fans and lovers of the male form, and mostly all those people are not upset about viewing a penis as a subject of art. Quite the opposite, they find it absolutely appropriate."
But fans are not the powers that be, and Mesh's website has as many warnings about nudity as it does actual full frontal photos. "I've been censored by Facebook," he says. "One of my photos was reported and removed as containing 'forbidden nudity' and my account was restricted from posting. It was an image of a young shirtless guy in red sports leggings. One can see hundreds of men in such leggings on TV when watching any athletics. Still the bulge of the guy in my picture was considered obscene. The guy was not naked, his sportswear was just deemed too tight. When my ban was over, I posted the same picture again without any changes. I received a message that said: 'Your photo was reported, but we haven't found forbidden nudity.'"
It grew more convoluted when Mesh was banned from Facebook again for sharing an advocate.com article about his photography. "The title picture of the post shows two guys hugging," says Mesh. "No genitalia, no sexual act, no foreplay, no bare buttocks. The post was about my calendars dedicated to Australian marriage equality. It was shared 7.5 thousand times, mostly on Facebook. It's still available everywhere but on my page. So I can confirm that Facebook's community standards, the so called 'protecting from inappropriate content' is absolutely random, wanton, non-professional, and has nothing to do with real protecting. Facebook should definitely improve their outdated system."
The photos in question are beautiful, tasteful and also highly erotic. Could Facebook have a problem with man-on-man action? Or distinguishing erotic art from porn? " I just follow my senses and I guess I always can feel when I see a piece of art," says Mesh. "I'm sure all people do so. It's a matter of feeling. I guess it's a good subject for art critics and theorists, nobody else ever opens thick books to determine if a photograph meets the criteria of erotic art. For me, art photography always carries the personal vision of its creator. It always includes something more than just a documentary representation of the object. That 'something' can be visualized in a variety of different ways, but it always expresses certain subjective perception and the special attitude of the photographer to the subject of his work."
Mesh also has prints of his paintings and drawings for view and sale on his website. While similarly sourced, the hand is different from the lens and there is an explosive fluidity to what the website refers to as "artworks." Mesh, always stretching, believes in going where his muse(s) take him. "Technically the process of drawing differs from shooting," he says. "But I can't say which one is more interesting for me, though I'm focused more on photography. Actually I never think about it while doing any particular artwork or shot. Each process is very exciting in its own way. Some art lovers and collectors appreciate art photography, others adore hand-made drawings. I'm just happy I have something for all of them."
And Mesh has no shortage of subjects for his art, "Searching for models is not an organized process for me. It is always going on. I meet them everywhere I go: the gym, the streets, on social media . . . Most of guys show off the pictures as soon as they get them from me, so their friends and buddies, who are fit too, find me themselves to ask if I'm interested in working with them." Those requests are frequently fulfilled. "I have no any specific detailed requirements," says Mesh. "One look is enough to know if I want a guy to be my model. I can't describe a face I'm searching for, because I like different faces. And you don't need to be a competitive bodybuilder in the best shape to be invited. But having well-built muscled body is a must, as well as sexual attractiveness and positive energy."
"I never force my models to look a certain way," says Mesh. "For instance to shave or remain hairy. But some guys unexpectedly come to the shoot entirely shaved even after they were requested not to do it. Truth be told, they look great in both variations. So I leave it up to them. Why do they shave? my only explanation is that it's widely believed that muscles are seen more clearly and look more impressive when the body is totally hairless. Imagine, the guy did all his best to get such an extraordinary physique. Why, in his opinion, should he hide all that brilliance under a thick fur?"
There are also other qualities necessary. "Beyond physical shape, I truly appreciate the readiness to have new experiences. And boldness. I do love guys who can bring their individuality and even secret fantasies into the shoot along with the artist's directives. Working with a model who can make daring ideas come true is a big gift and a great enjoyment. I always have a draft plan for each shoot figured out in my mind or in sketches on paper. But I usually follow my inspiration or, as I call it, the intuitive shooting method. I pay less attention to screening and reviewing while I'm behind the camera. I leave it for post-production. I follow my inspirations and fantasies, I must feel my model and capture all his emotions. I think it makes the process more productive. Doing it that way I typically get more unexpectedly original shots."
Mesh is as modest about his work as he is prolific. "I guess I know how to express the best appearance of the men in my pictures," he says, "at least I try to do that. We all have different ideas of male sexuality, but I'm happy so many people share mine. I think we call it personal taste. I don't make any specific effort to bring additional eroticism into my portraits or other images where it's not supposed to be found. Although I do have a large array of portraits that are definitely made in an erotic style. Probably it just happens. And I'm very glad that they radiate it. Let's just think of it as part of my style. Or maybe even a part of my personality . . ."
More of Vance's work ( and uncesored images )can be found in our latest MGT Issue #53.
Mesh's personality and art is on display, and for purchase, atnickmesh.com