Mark Alan is an established editorial portrait and fashion photographer. Originally based in Los Angeles and now relocating to Europe, Mark has a true passion for creating behind the camera lens. Even though he enjoys shooting a wide variety of subject matter, ‘The Male Muse’ focuses exclusively on his interest in capturing the beauty of the male form.
When he’s not behind the camera, Mark divides his time traveling, creating music, reading, volunteering for animal charities and enjoying a good Mai Tai at Tiki bar.
Currently Mark is working on an coffee table book which will showcase images from his series from The Male Muse. The project will include editorial portraits, partial, implied and artful erotic nudes.
Who are you and how would you describe yourself?
I am an artist, explorer, humanist and lover of life. Photography is only one of my creative outlets, but is currently the one I am focusing on at the moment.
How would you describe your work?
My background is as a fashion photographer, so I feel that influences what I continue to do today with the camera, shooting male art and erotic nudes. I like creating a sense of place with my photography and having my model(s) exist within that space. So picking a location is just as important as picking my models. My goal is always trying to bring in an editorial sense to the images when I can, though other times I am just enjoying documenting the beauty of the male form.
What are you working on at the moment?
Having just moved to Spain from Los Angeles in late February, I am currently editing shoots taken before I left. I have quite a lot of material to go through and publish on my site and social media. These days behind the lens I am really trying to push my boundaries as a photographer and enhance the erotic nature when appropriate. I want to explore the power and beauty of male sexuality, but still present the images in an artful way. Sometimes they may be intimate and personal, while other times outward and verging on explicit. Now being here in Europe, I look forward to exploring this further, and am excited as well as to have access to a much different palate of locations to shoot models in.
When did you start working as a photographer?
Right out of college I began working behind the camera helping small brands in Los Angeles shooting their clothing or jewelry lines. I did this for about 15 years and then left to focus exclusively on my love of capturing the male form and never looked back. I do still enjoy mixing in some fashioned based images before a shoot if a model is in need of some for his portfolio.
What do you like photographing?
Quite a lot. Outside of photographing men, I love travel photography and documenting where I go on a macro and micro level. My eye can be drawn to both a grand piece of architecture, or a minute detail in an environment that most people would overlook. I also love shooting abandoned and forgotten spaces, as well as photographing found objects.
Who do you admire?
So many photographers for so many different reasons. Albert Watson is a big hero of mine for his skill and ability to beautifully capture a wide range of images. Bruce Weber had a big influence on me in my early days, definitely influencing my editorial eye for sure. More recently the work of photographer and film maker Ohm Phanphiroj has made a huge mark on me. I really love what he does!
What is the easiest and the most difficult part of your job?
I think they are one and the same, that being working with people. I feel the skill a good photographer must have is an adaptability to work around any personality while creating great images. You have to immediately make the model feel comfortable and have complete trust in you, while you are asking them get naked and put themselves in that vulnerable position. Sometimes it is incredibly easy if the guy by nature is an exhibitionist, and other times not, when perhaps it is their first time. But I love it all the same.
Is there a lot of competition on your field?
I suppose so, but I don´t really ever think about that. My focus is just on doing what makes me happy. If in the end people take to my work and perhaps want to hire me, that´s icing on the cake.
What is the most common thing that you are asked during a photoshoot?
Should I take my underwear off now? LOL! Just kidding. During my shoots its always a back and forth conversation so I can´t really think of one common question. I find I do most of the question asking as that gives me insight into who the model is and helps him loosen up.
How do you like to capture the male beauty through your lenses?
More often than not I like to work in a space other than a studio. A studio is rewarding if I want to put all the focus on the male form, but it isn´t the best for my love of creating images that are more editorial. For that I enjoy sometimes working in the model´s personal living space, or finding a location that has a bit of personality. This way I can shoot out wide putting the model as an element in the space, or get up close and personal for more intimate body shots.
Who is behind the concept of each photoshoot? Is it you or the models who bring the idea and decide on the outcome?
Most of the time I´m the one creating the concept for location and direction for my shoots. However, I do enjoy it when I run across a model who brings to the table a set of great ideas. I love to collaborate and quite often it leads to real magic in front to the lens.