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YogaBear interview, part one of two

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Many photographers today work with nude bodies. In fact, in the world of Tumblr and Deviant Art (not to mention Guys With iPhones), stumbling upon naked friends or even images of yourself as they are shared, copied and pasted, is not a foreign concept. The Internet age and its tools, which assist content to be seen around the world, has brought forth a resilient need to remove the taboo from nudity.

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Most recently, the likes of Terry Richardson (often criticized for overly sexual imagery) have enjoyed recognition in the mainstream with many magazine spreads, even coffee table books and music videos with pop stars. So, what would make a photographer’s nude, figure work stand out from all that content?

Unlike many others who focus on commercial images, certain body types and styles, there are some who are breaking from the mold. Is it different in the queer, visual world where most All American Guys adorn the pages of ads and magazines wearing nothing but a Papi jockstrap and spray-bottle water dripping from their smooth, athletic bodies?

[[YogaBear]] is a great exception.

YB, whose real name is David, has been photographing bearded men for years. Surely, fetishism is another conversation, but it is safe to say that body types do not supersede theme. His nature figure work, even his erotic projects, exude a certain element of inclusion. His studio’s name, YogaBear, is not necessarily a reflection of the work. Yes, there is a lot of yoga when it comes to the exploration of bodies and poses, but David himself, and many of his subjects, are not bears. If one were to describe him regarding the hilarious queer-animal concept, he would be a wolf, or perhaps a silver otter. The point is that no matter what age, beard length or body type, he wants to find the beauty in every man.

His statement:

"In the gay community, as well as the wider community, we are bombarded with imagery that promotes a specific ideal of physical beauty. Of course, this is nothing new--for centuries, this idealized physique has been the central subject and inspiration for artists. Perhaps the difference is that this imagery is more pervasive today, and we are faced with a never-ending stream of opportunities to compare and judge ourselves relative to this ideal. In my work, I am attempting to broaden this flood of imagery, using traditional techniques of portrait and nude photography to explore a wider conception of physical beauty."

Shane Le, one of YB's muses, adds "I think the most important thing for me is that he finds beauty in everyone. I know he has worked with really 'good looking' models, but he also has models of all body types and looks. He makes all of them-- he brings a certain dignity to that. He makes everyone look majestic."

Jonathan adds "His work with models I feel represents all men from different walks of life - real life men, not the model type. A true photographer understands the beauty in everything and he definitely does not fall short of that."

YogaBear has been steadily creating beautiful images of males, including cyber-personality [[Trevor Wayne]]. In fact, he has been sought after by many established gay photographers around the country when they are in need of a mesmerizing nude, or even a nature portrait. That in itself says something about YB, who is very much a bearded yogi; kind-hearted, demure and ever smitten.

John Carrasco, who published a digital photography compilation of his work earlier this year, describes YB as "a true visionary. [He] gives extraordinary direction".

After publishing two books, YB is hoping to follow with a digital release in the new year.

Read the interview here.

Read more interviews: SATURN, Stephen Dittmer, Stephan Nance, Mark David Gerson, Eric Himan, Kevin J Thornton, and Sammy Crawford.

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