Max Adonis by Tom Dingley for Portrait+Projection.


MODEL: Max Adonis
PHOTOGRAPHY: Tom Dingley for Portrait+Projection

As a commercial photographer in mainly events & photographing marriage proposals, Tom has always had a creative side and a love for exploring a narrative within photography. His self lead projects explore sexuality, identity & creativity.

For ‘Portrait+Projection’ he uses projection in his photography and creates a layer of visuals and clues to the model projected on. Talking with the model beforehand, Tom works out a theme that is inspired by their interests, background or passion; adding to their identity in the portrait. Not only is the model present, something more about them is given away in the shot. An added layer of the concept and a way to explore a narrative of the model; showing off a different side or elaborating on something about themselves. Showing off a femme/masc side – or combination of the two – for example.

The layering of projection on the body, is not just a quick one shot kind of shoot. The lining up of the model within the image is taken into consideration, as is the pose and the light/dark areas of the slide. The portrait still needs to be flattering on the model and eye catching for the audience, so therefore Tom takes this into consideration. The photoshoot is still what you would expect from a usual portrait shoot – the styling, different poses, time spent getting the best out of the model and finally the projection adds to the experience for the model and audience. Some models have even commented that posing with the projection almost feels like they’re behind a screen and any apprehension they may have had, goes away quickly.

It is interesting when the edit is completed and the photos are shared. We all edit what we share about ourselves and especially on social media, we like to show the best of ourselves and Tom, with his Portrait+Projection series, is no different. The photos need to stand out and get noticed in a world of images and attention seeking. When the internet is saturated with imagery it’s a good idea to find a different way to stand out. Which is why from shoot to shoot, the versatility of projection is so useful – each shoot is different, from model to model and theme to theme. Depending on the theme of the shoot and the direction Tom and model go in, some are abstract, some colourful, others sleek and simple, or a slap in the face of loud colour combos.

As a photographer – Tom works a lot in events and proposals, so the portraits are a great excuse to explore his creative and queer side. Being an out queer artist/creative, allows you to do the work you want to do; when there are no rules on what you can photograph you are inspired by the things you like and want to do, or who to work with. When you are setting the brief, you’re free to do what you want.

Examples shown here are from a shoot with adult performer Max Adonis. A chance visit to London and seeing Tom’s work at the right time the two got together for a trippy, psychedelic colour wash Representing a laid back, but bright, colourful journey through life. Max had been travelling in Spain, France and the UK before flying home – so the theme was also influenced by his quick Euro hopping from city to city. The projection shoot was a fun way to end his brief stop in London. For Tom, it was good to photograph someone, not phased by the camera lens and get a great set of images. Further, when a model is accomplished and performed for film & stills it’s reassuring to hear they’ve enjoyed working with someone new – and a new style of shoot. It goes to show a ‘Portrait+Projection’ shoot is beneficial for the model as much as Tom.

Portrait+Projection has been exhibited in group and solo shows in London and Brighton, UK. Framed or mounted, the portraits work so well in an exhibition, despite the themes varying. The curation Tom puts into his shows always give a sense of a collection from the one photo artist. Exhibitions are a great way of seeing people’s reactions, rather than just likes on Instagram – although they’re nice too. Talking to people and seeing what comments the audience have about the work, is rewarding and affirming for any artist.

Tom has been using the lockdown to edit previous shoots, reimagine some existing work & keep the flow of art slow and steady on Instagram. Sharing a trio of portraits from a shoot, keeping the layout clear and aesthetically pleasing – which also means the audience gets to see 3 shots from the shoot, rather than just the one; allowing for more expression and queerness to come forward. Tom uses this idea of threes when shooting, keeping in mind the idea of sharing 3 at a time. Sometimes the individual shots may differ because of the slide (but still keeping to the same theme) a change in eye direction or pose altogether. You, the audience, will not know what’s coming until it is shared.


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