Sunday, November 8, 2009

Alaska Models

 Finding models, or a least people comfortable in front of a camera in Alaska is hard to do. Before heading up there I tried to find modeling agencies (ha) that might have some decent models, Then I tried craigslist (wow) still nothing. Its not like I was looking for a runway model or anything. I was just looking for some good looking people that look comfortable doing outdoors activities. I didn't know that would be so hard. I kept getting 15 year old girls wanting me to make them a star, and middle age women wanting bondage nude shots. Then I went back to a tried and trusted source from college, model mayhem. Ive used them before but only for test shoots. So I tried, and I got some good results for girls. In Alaska I guess modeling for guys isn't a big thing. who would have known? But I managed to find some good girls that looked athletic. And I decided on a girl named Chantal.
Guys on the other hand were proving a little bit more difficult. I had scheduled a shoot for Saturday and it was already Friday and I still needed a guy. I went into Anchorage to meet up with Chantal to get her fitted for some clothes. I was a little early so I decided to get something to eat at a local sandwich shop. As I ordered my meal a guy walks in with the exact look I want. I sat down and waited for my food he sat near me and we start to talk. He is in town for the summer for an internship with the national parks, he is a nice guy. I tried to steer the conversation towards the fact that I was a photographer and the photo shoot that I was doing tomorrow. Eventually we got to the end of our meals and I, trying not to sound to weird ask Mike if he wanted to come be on the photo shoot. He gave me a tentative maybe. That's all I needed. It was a good sign, he wasn't totally freaked out about the prospect of going up into the isolated mountains with  a complete stranger who he had just met 30 min ago. I will admit I did emphasize the beautiful girl that was going to be alongside him to try and sweeten the whole thing a bit. With just a maybe, I left to go get the Chantal fitted. Counting on Mike coming through I picked him up some clothes and we were ready to shoot, as long as we had a male model the next day. Later that night Mike called me and confirmed. Whew. Now I looked back on it I shouldn't have had any doubts, anyone that comes to Alaska on their own without a place to stay other than hostels, and to work for free, has a sense of adventure. And this photo shoot was just another chapter to add to his Alaska experience. The next day we shot and got some really great stuff. It all came together in the end.

Carlos in Alaska

One of the reasons if not the main reason I am a photographer is because it affords me the opportunity to meet interesting people from all walks of life. As a photographer I get to follow these people and document them and who they are. I am given a glimpse of something or someone that I would never have come across if I had another profession.
In my search for athletic models in Alaska I cam across some very interesting people. one of the most interesting I came across was Carlos Owens. Carlos is a young guy that builds Mechas. A Mecha is a 12ft tall mechanical suit controlled by a pilot inside the body. His Mecha is bipedal with a shoulder mounted nail launcher, and arms mounted with a flame throwers, and hands capable of grasping objects. Carlos spent over 10,000 dollars building his creation. He built  it in his spare time outside  in the dead cold of Alaska winter.
How I found out about Carlos was a total luck. While I was in Wasillia I was reading some articles on the internet when I came across an article on Carlos it was written for an online magazine. It was a short article that talked about Carlos and his activities as a part time inventor. But what struck me the most (besides the fact that he builds giant suits of metal, the article mentioned that Carlos lived in Wasilla Alaska. I am not one to let opportunity and luck pass me by so I did some research and eventually found Carlos' web site. I contacted him expressing my interest to photograph him. After a few hours he called me back and later that day we met up.
I got to see his creations in person, and all I can say is the article hardly did them justice. It was quite a site to see. Carlos showed me his Mechas and his other creations. Besides his mechas he also is in the process of making hoover bikes. Carlos is a man driven by passion he doesn't do the things he does  for money, the only reason he does them is to pursue his own passions.  I only got to spend a couple of hours with Carlos but the time I did spend reminded me of why I love photography. It is a great way to meet people that inspire and remind me why I do photography, not for the money, but for my own passion.