Gay Atlanta photographer Bob Burkhardt knows how to perfectly stuff your stocking this holiday season – with mancandy that captures his talents in a new book exposing the raw depth and hidden emotion of his sexy male models.
Burkhardt (second photo) has teased fans with his revealing “Body & Soul” show at his Kirkwood gallery and in our Morning Fix. Now, he's expanding on that work with a companion coffee table book. He's packed the 54-page hardbound “Body & Soul” with vivid images of models Andre Avery, AK Brown, Denerick Lindsey, Chris Rich, Martell Todd and XL, who knows his way around adult film scenes.
Consider the book an expanded “Body & Soul” show but in a form that you can enjoy every single day. It celebrates the nude male form with Burkhardt's visual reserve, raw depth and the emotion hidden in the contours of shadow and light. So we chatted with Burkhardt about baring his own soul, his approach to photography and whether we'll see a “Body & Soul” calendar.
Why now? What was the inspiration for “Body & Soul”?
I've been shooting figures for approximately five years. During that time, I've had requests from various clients for me to create a book. While I've always had my work available in my gallery in individual prints, this provides a product that shows a body of my work. My degree is in graphic design so designing and producing a book was a natural fit for me.
Will the book become an annual tradition similar to your show of the same name?
I don't see this becoming an annual publication; however, each year I'd like to have some new type of take-away item for my clients. This year the book will be available as well as two calendars.
Tell me a little about yourself. Had you always dreamed of pursuing photography?
I worked over 30 years in corporate graphic design. I retired a few years back to concentrate on the gallery and my photography. I've always enjoyed photography but discovered a new love for it about 15 years ago. For many years I focused on landscapes and seascapes but about five years ago I discovered I enjoyed shooting people. I'm self-taught so I'm always learning something new in this work.
All of your work with the male form is breathtaking and tasteful. How do you keep the integrity of the art intact without it being deemed too risqué?
Generally speaking, I like to leave something to the imagination – a suggestion of something. While the figure is important, lighting and composition are always an important part of the image.
What do you hope spectators see when they look at your art, apart from the nudity?
I like for the viewer to be drawn in by the details. This might be the model, the use of light and the story that might be suggested by the image.
Men of color tend to dominate your work. Why is that?
I started by shooting a wider variety of men but over time there has been a shift to men of color. Now those models tend to seek me out. I feel it is a market that is under-represented.
Each photograph you take has such depth. What is the one thing that can elevate a picture from subpar to sublime?
I go back to this but for me it's the use of light. The viewer doesn't need to see every detail in a photo. I always say that the story is in the shadows.
What is going on in your life right now? Plans for the future?
I'm preparing for a holiday show at my gallery and of course the next “Body & Soul,” which will open Feb. 20. The show will feature three other photographers and myself. I've just finished a calendar featuring adult film star XL and I'm in final production of my first “Body & Soul” calendar which features 12 models I've shot over the past few years. As for the future, I hope to continue to grow and learn as a photographer and to share that with those that wish to see it.
Preview Bob Burkhardt's “Body & Soul” and order it online.
(Top, bottom images courtesy Bob Burkhardt Photography)