Photo Shoot with Tom Bianchi

Tom Bianchi will try to tell you that he’s not a great photographer. “What I don’t know about photography would fill many, many volumes,” he said to Sam and me this past weekend, with a humble grin. I’m not certain I agree, but nonetheless, he is a great artist who, for decades, has worked with subjects to create and capture moments that translate into beautiful, iconic images.

“I always take a lot of pictures and then God gives me some great ones,” he said, skimming through the thousands of shots he’d taken of Sam and me over the previous two and a half hours. He even let me shoot a few of he and his boyfriend, Aaron, as we took a break – according to Tom, something he’s never done before. It was an honor.

“These are great,” he said, singling out a few of Sam and me in Tom’s shower – Tom and his boyfriend both caught in the frame, in the mirrors – one photographing the other, photographing us, “Later I’ll look through more carefully and see which one captures the moment.”

He settled on a shot of getting comfortable, a blur of limbs and smiles, “It might not be in focus, or you might be moving, but if it captures the moment, that’s all that matters, f*** the rest.”

It seems so simple, and yet, see if you can remember it the next time you point your camera at someone.

“In a lot of my early work, I would only frame in the camera: like that,” he said pointing to one of his iconic images, framed on the wall over the desk. “I wouldn’t crop anything, and I thought ‘Why am I being so catholic about this?’ and I stopped,” he said, rotating and cropping a shot of Sam and me on a shiny pink and purple raft for two in the pool. “Now I do it all in Photoshop.”

He returned to the screen, clicking and scrolling through the shots, and said, “I went to the store looking for a raft that was a little less…”

“Gay?” Sam interjected, and we all laughed.

“Well, yeah… but now I like the color against the aqua of the water.”

“I teach a class called ‘Good Nudes/Bad Nudes’,” he said. “We’re so informed by what we see in porn that people take pictures they’ve already seen, poses they’ve already seen, just with different faces, and the pictures look like a calendar.”

“I just try to create something I’ve never seen before,” he said.

The pictures we shot will take a little while to receive, because Tom has an important upcoming show of images he took in the 70’s, at Fire Island Pines – all Polaroids – and a lovely new man in his life. Once we receive them, though, you can be sure you’ll see them here, and on a wall at home.

I’m so grateful to Sam for making this shoot happen, and doubly so to Tom (and Aaron) for shooting us this Sunday. I can’t think of a better way to bid adieu to my 30s and welcome 40.

And the snaps I shot of Tom and Aaron.? They were pretty good, and most importantly, I captured them in love, and having fun.

UPDATE: Here are the shots Tom took that day.

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