Atop the list of things gay boys love: Their abs and their dogs. A close third? Photos of Nos. 1 and 2. Pull that trifecta into one glossy calendar and, gay photographer Joshua Thomas hopes, you’ve got a breakout hit that also benefits a charity.
So the fresh-faced and shy SCAD-Atlanta student has been on a mission creating a project that combines his interests – photography, dogs and sexy men – and turning that into “Hunks & Hounds” to benefit Pets Are Loving Support. The gay-led non-profit helps care for the pets of critically-ill Atlantans.
We caught up with Thomas (second photo) to discuss the calendar, the guys, the charity and how a baby impacted the project’s timeline.
Hunks with dogs always make for sexy images. But where did the idea for “Hunks & Hounds 2013” come from? Tell us more about the concept.
I had a client who wanted photos taken with his dog. In his own words, he wanted “sexy, playful, masculine photos.” After shooting his photos, I was so happy with the results that I started to think about the possibility of giving back and shooting a calendar for charity using hot guys and their dogs. My original intent to moving to Atlanta seven years ago was to find my own way to give back and pay it forward.
You studied photography and recently graduated from SCAD-Atlanta, right? Is photography where you’re headed professionally? Or was this just a way to pair hot guys, cute dogs and great settings for a fun project?
I graduated last year for SCAD with a bachelors of fine arts in photography; I am currently pursuing my masters of fine arts in photographer at SCAD. I would love to teach photography at a college level when I am done with my schooling, I love shooting, I love working, I try to take advantage of every possible opportunity to shoot and create. My husband teases me — “Why is it I spend all day sitting in front of a computer while you are taking pictures of half naked guys?”
Speaking of those models, how did you determine ones for the calendar?
As an extremely shy and private person I don’t have a lot of connections or friends of friends. I rely heavily on social media for models. Whenever I come up with a idea for a shoot I comb through Facebook to find the right models. It’s a huge challenge, sometimes my ideas are very abstract and to get people willing to participate when they do not know me personally becomes challenging. I tend to be drawn to LGBT models as I have the intention to draw positive light to my community to combat the negative stereotypes.
You’ve got a mix of gay and not so gay models and at least the one we saw – Josh Gilmer paired with gay fashion hound Vincent Martinez’s Simone (fourth photo) – is shirtless with abs. Is this a calendar for our refrigerator or one that’s better displayed somewhere more private?
The models are a divers mix of guys, straight, gay, unknown. All stood out to me for one reason or another, most for their personalities and inner beauty. Most of the guys are shirtless, but not all of them. All to me are amazing for one reason or another and all are refrigerator friendly. My husband calls me a big prude, so as he would expect, all photos are mom friendly.
What about the dogs? How were they selected? Are the models the owners of the dogs they are pictured with?
Most of the dogs belong to the models. There were a few guys who I really wanted to include that were not dog owners. In their cases I supplied them with dogs. And to be expected, of course I made sure my own two dogs were on the top of the list to be photographed. Storm is an 8-year-old white Siberian husky, and Kolohe — his name is the Hawaiian word for “trouble maker”– is a 4-year-old long haired Mini-Dachshund.
Proceeds from the calendar benefit PALS? How does that work? And how did PALS come to be the beneficiary?
The model I photographed that inspired me to shoot this suggested PALS for the best way to give back. I was intending to give the profits to the Humane Society; he suggested PALS instead and said they really could use the help. When I looked into PALS history I really wanted to help them. They are doing good for my community and we need to support each other. But I need to qualify a point. I would love to give the entire proceeds to PALS, but being a starving college student and paying for the printing and promotion out of pocket, I am only able to donate the profits to PALS. I am fairly confident that I will completely sell out of calendars and when that happens, myself and everyone who bought a calendar will have donated over $5,000 to PALS.
Is there a calendar release party in the works? Tell us more.
I intended to release the 2013 calendar for sale in 2012. Everything was on track for an October release party and then I hit a roadblock. My husband and I have been navigating our way through the world of surrogacy for the last two years and last week we confirmed with our attorney that we had a surrogate who was ready to be impregnated. Long story short, the money I was intending on funding the calendar and release party has now been eaten up by baby costs. So I have pushed back the release of this amazing calendar to July 2013. I will be sure to let you know the date and time of the party, all the models will be there as well as limited edition prints of each month available for sale. So the 2013 “Hunks & Hounds” has now morphed into the 2014 “Hunks & Hounds.”
How can readers get their hands on the calendar? How much will it cost?
The calendar will be priced at $30. Wen it is finally released, it will be available at the release party, you can also grab your copy online at my website as well as a link on PALS’ website. My hubby is making an iPhone and iPad app for it and I will be reaching out to many local businesses to sell it in their locations as well. I’m hoping it will be popping up all over Atlanta!