We sat down with Photographer, Rick Stockwell, to learn more about his photography style and a little about what makes him “click.”
What’s your background?
I worked as a professional actor and singer most of my life. I’ve performed on Broadway, in opera, film and television, in nightclubs in Las Vegas and around the country. I also worked as a Top 40 radio disc jockey. I started shooting headshots to make money between acting jobs. I decided to take a break from performing and study photography for 2 years in Los Angeles, where I lived for 26 years. Fitness photography become my focus 7 years ago, after giving up show business for good. The attention to detail that I gained from shooting headshots influences my style now.
What does your work aim to say?
My work aims to entertain and titillate only; to show men in their most perfect form.
Who are your biggest influences?
The work of Herb Ritts influenced me early on. Michael Stokes is my favorite photographer of HOT MEN now.
How do you seek out opportunities to showcase your art?
I try to always find new publications, like this one, in which to showcase my work. And of course, I’m a constant presence on social media, always looking to build my audience.
How do you make sure that the people who you photograph know and understand what their photos are going to be used for?
Most of the time, when I shoot a new model, I don’t know where the photos will be used. When I do place the photos with a magazine, I always get the model’s permission, even though I’ve already had them sign a Model Release on the day of the shoot. I try to keep the model in the loop at all times. And when a model comes to me through his agency, most of the time the pictures are for building his portfolio. I try to get an idea of the model’s taste in pictures by showing them their pics on the back of the camera as we move along. You can tell a lot about what someone likes by what they DON’T say. A good pic always gets a comment! I pride myself on always giving a model loads of good shots, but if they’re not satisfied with the pictures, I will always do a re-shoot.
What music do you listen to when you’re editing?
I love listening to Smooth Jazz artist Michael Franks, old Dionne Warwick, The Eagles and the current pop and country hits. I still have CD’s and LPs - literally hundreds of them.
How did you find your own photography style and what do you think about when you edit your photos?
I think one’s photography style just develops as he shoots. It’s based on so many things: your technical skills, your life- style, your age and artistic influences, etc. When I edit, I concentrate on detail, richness of color and tone, sharpness and cleanliness of the background. I spend way too much time on each picture. I probably care too much about perfection. I want my models to look more perfect than is realistically possible; to be idealized images of the male form.
How did you practice and improve your skills as a photographer?
By shooting, shooting, shooting. If you don’t have a paid client, shoot someone for free. If you can’t find anyone to shoot for free, shoot food shots!
How did you get your first client?
As an actor shooting headshots of other actors, I had lots of friends willing to give me a shot for less money than the more experienced pros charged.
How do you gain creative self-confidence and stop questioning your abilities as a photographer? Have you ever doubted yourself and how did you get over that self-doubt?
Just by doing it over and over; by listening to people’s comments and suggestions; by not being afraid to try new things: new ways of lighting, new poses. And by reading and learning. I have always doubted myself! I got over it by seeing my improvements and by believing the compliments I would receive.
What drives your passion in photography and what motivates you to keep going?
I’m driven by always wanting to improve and besides, what else would I do for a living? My Broadway days are long gone!
What inspires you?
Beauty and muscle boys never cease to inspire me and my work.
What do you enjoy most about fitness photography?
I enjoy helping a guy find his best self: his best angles and poses; helping him develop as a model; helping him relax and work as an actor. The face is as important as the body. It doesn’t matter what the body is doing if the face is dead. It all works as one unit.
As a fitness photographer, what do you think is the sexiest part of the male physique and why?
Pecs are the sexiest part of the male body. Big, beautiful, square mounds of pectoral definition. I’m not gonna tell you why...lol
How does it feel to be around so many beautifully fit men?
I enjoy it VERY much, but you have to keep your mind on the job or your work will suffer.
Ok, let’s get a little personal - are you a boxers, bikini briefs, jockstrap, or none of the above kind of guy?
I’m a briefs guy. Always have been.
Orange. It used to be red. In the 70’s I was a freak about it, I even went by the name Red Robbin. I had red hair, wore red all the time and my apartment had red furnishings everywhere.
What’s your advice for someone who wants to do what you do?
Don’t rely solely on self-teaching. Go take some live classes. Buy a good zoom lens and mid-level camera body. You don’t need the best camera body to learn.