From: The Lisp
Back in November, I was able to bring you an exclusive interview with Venfield 8, where he shared with us some of his favorite images and a little insight into the man behind the moniker. The project itself stands as a personal highlight of The Lisp.
It was around that time that we first heard of a new project that he was working on, called Bear Hill. It was to be a collection of images, destined to be iconic and of course, delicious. It's an homage of sorts to Bruce Weber, but instead of smooth and sinewy muscled models, it features gorgeous furry bears, including everyone's favorite bear cub, David Laflamme.
Kids, I bring you another major exclusive to The Lisp... Speaking about the project is friend to The Lisp, Venfied 8 and David Laflamme!
The Lisp: Where, oh where, is Bear Hill and are all the specimens as lovely as David? Seriously though...some of the Bear Hill images are so completely different from some of the work you are so known for...was this an effect of your surroundings? Model? Headspace?
Venfield 8: Ah, Bear Hill, Heaven on Earth…. hahahahah Wouldn't it be lovely if it really existed - I mean outside of the book? But that is the challenge - getting what is in my head onto the page, so there can visit. Going into shooting Bear Hill, I knew we wanted to do an homage to Bruce Weber's classic, so that dictated a certain style of shooting, yet I also wanted to make it distinctly Venfield 8. By taking a classically Weberesque shot, using a beautiful "bear" model and then gently subverting the subject matter - and still getting the overall feeling of Weber's book is, I think, a signature Venfield 8 recipe. So to me, it feels perfectly appropriate and natural. True, my style is usually more glamorous, but I created Venfield 8 to do whatever I wanted. A continuity of style isn't particularly high on my priority list.
The Lisp: It's easy to see how you were inspired by David...how much of the project is a shared vision? Which came first, the idea or the model?
Venfield 8: Wow. That is a good question - a which came first riddle. I am not sure. Somewhere in the back of my head, I always thought in the abstract, that it would be a fun thing to do - a Bear Pond homage with "bear" models, but it wasn't until I first saw a picture of David that I really say it coalesce into a definable concept to shoot. I knew at that moment, seeing his picture somewhere on the internet - that I would shoot him in that style. So - when I finally reached out and met him, I knew exactly what I wanted to pitch. He is very inspiring. To look at him, you can't help but imagine a world where he is surrounded by beauty and warmth. He is so cuddly and playful, and so assured and relaxed. He totally embodies the essence of Bear Hill. So - yea - it was a collaboration. Luckily for me, this life - these feelings we wanted - aren't a big stretch for David - all those qualities are him…so he knew instinctually what we wanted to show and how to show it. It definitely became a shared vision.
The Lisp: Here's a silly and fun question: If Bear Hill was an actual vacation spot for us beautiful, furry gays, what do you think the theme song would be for the ad campaign?
Venfield 8: Congratulations. Nobody has ever asked me that…. hahahahah ever. Hummm… I don't know. When we shot the short promo film for the book, we used an old Jim Reeves song, "Welcome to my World", and now it is sort of indelibly associated with Bear Hill. I don't think I will ever be able to hear it again without seeing David rollicking naked in a stream or reclining against a redwood. It think it perfectly fits.
The Lisp: You know I love knowing what your favourite shots are....can you share them with us and can you tell us why?
Venfield 8: Wow. There are so many - and some didn't even make the book. But on the same note - there isn't a image in there that isn't my favorite, either. And that is the great thing about doing your book - only the shots you love get in there. And that is the funny thing - I didn't really make the book for anyone, except myself. Sounds kind of selfish, right? hahaha But really, I just wanted to create this imaginary world - this Bear Hill, and as much as it would be PC to say I did it for the fans, it just isn't true. I did it for myself. To put this world in my imagination, onto paper. I am just so thankful, that other people were interested in what was in my head…..
The Lisp: Okay...fantasy time...You can shoot anyone in the world, at your whim, fully naked and without repercussion (for model or photographer) ...who is it?
Venfield 8: Damn - let me get my list……. hahahahaha I mean, really. I have so many people that inspire me. I would love to work with Francois Sagat because he is such an amazing brand to me. So beautiful, so interesting and he really gets art and fashion and the way it plays together. Pavel Petel as well, for the same reasons. Fearless and always fascinating. I also love this exotic intriguing model right now - Marlon Texeira. A Brazilian man that seems so chic and current, and so sexy. And I have been so inspired by this man named Dylan, a sometime model/blogger who runs a blog called Noodles and Beef. People will know of him… He did this great homage to Colt calendar last year. He is so sexy and so beautiful. But there are so many…. I am always inspired.
Francois is so swoon-worthy, I hope that happens! Oooh, and watch out Dylan! I'm going to pester you 'till you cave!
Let's spend some time talking about, and with, David. David first captured our collective attention when he appeared as the official face of sexy social app, SCRUFF. Things for this French-Canadian born, Arizona-raised young man haven't been the same since.
The Lisp: You first landed on our radar thanks to SCRUFF...did you ever think you would have so much attention?
David: Not at all. I had no idea what was going to happen when Johnny asked me to take a few pictures. I'm grateful for it though. It kicked off a lot of great things that happened after.
The Lisp: What did you think when Venfield 8 contacted you for the Bear Hill project? Were you on board right away or did you need to consider any factors?
David: At first I was very hesitant. I've never photographed nude and have had some propositions from strangers before. But after reading his email, I looked up his work and the inspiration for the project. Something told me to reply and explore this opportunity. I figure just emailing back can't hurt, right? We met for coffee and I got a great vibe from him. Internally I was struggling back and forth to go through with it but this was the chance to be a part of something that could be iconic.
The Lisp: Can you describe the process of Bear Hill? Any significant moments for you?
David: The whole experience was a significant moment and it changed my life. V8 is now a great friend and he was one of my biggest motivators to pick up a camera as well which has lead to many new opportunities for me. He made the whole process comfortable and was very humble about the whole thing. It was refreshing to be part of a project like this even though I don't have the typical model build.
The Lisp: Do you have a favorite image? If so which one and why?
David: Ironically, my favorite image did not make it into the book or poster. I included in the set of 3 possible options for a poster but people didn't select it. My favorite image is the one from far away where I am looking down while standing on a rock with trees and rocks all around. There is a very dark and artistically moody feel to the image. It was shot the same day as when we were at Big Bear Lake with John Barreto but I was off wandering on my own while V8 and John were doing some individual shot. I had no idea V8 took that picture of me but he later asked me what was going through my head that day since I was sort of "off". You can really see it in that image. We all have ups and downs in life and I did have a lot on my mind but it didn't stop me from still pushing through to create such a great piece.
The Lisp: What word accurately describes you, of all the words you think people would use to describe you?
David: This is also another tough one. Everyone has a perception of people they see online and cast an option of them without actually really knowing them. I am friendly and will speak and give time of day to anyone who is a good and decent person that treats others with respect.
The Lisp: I know my readers want to know: are you actually on SCRUFF? How does a "regular" guy --- not that you're not a regular guy--- get, and WIN your attention?
David: I am not on scruff and indeed I'm a regular guy. To win my attention, be truthful and humble with a sense of adventure. I want a partner that will be my best friend and partner in crime. Someone happy who loves life and has ambition. Just be the best version of you and don't hold back.
|The limited edition, signed poster!|
Many thanks to Venfield 8 and David Laflamme! Together, they have created exquisite, iconic images that will endure the test of time! You can pick up your limited edition copy of Bear Hill RIGHT NOW!
But before you do...now it's your turn to be the best version of you and don't hold back...
Venfield 8 has graciously donated one of the limited edition, signed copies of the Bear Hill poster! It is 22 x 28 and ready for framing! All you have to do is go here tell us about your favorite Venfield 8 image. The winner will be selected randomly on June 21st at midnight, EST.