Dudoir photographer Erick Johnson turns the tables on glamour-shot pictures with a male perspective
STEVEN LINDSEY | Contributing Writer
It’s a sad state of affairs when what passes for “sexy” these days is a poorly-lit selfie of a naked guy holding up a can of shaving cream next to his erection for comparative purposes. When did nudity get so humdrum?
To be fair, amateur photos can be exciting. But that’s an ever-increasing rarity, to which anyone who’s been on a dating/hookup app can attest.
But there’s no reason to live in a gay world where nude pics shot near an open toilet in the dirty mirror of a gym restroom stall are the be-all and rear-end-all of boudoir photography. That’s why Dallas photographer Erick Johnson has launched Dallas Dudoir, a service dedicated to the art of the naked (or mostly naked) male form.
Johnson started dabbling in photography in 2009. This year, Johnson started dabbling in johnsons. Or at least carefully hidden ones.
“Sexy is sexy; whether it’s a man or a woman,” says Johnson. “When I browse images in magazines or the Internet for inspiration and ideas, I’m drawn to awesome shots of men just as fast as I’m drawn to a woman. I’m looking for something that draws me in, and keeps my attention. That’s how I approach Dudoir. My wife started shooting boudoir about three years ago, and occasionally we would receive a contact from a gentleman wanting to do a ‘sexy’ shoot. It just wasn’t something we offered at that point. Until a guy friend asked about doing a shoot.”
In case you missed it, yes, Johnson is straight — just a hetero dude taking some of the sexiest photos imaginable of men in various states of undress. In some ways, it’s probably easier for a gay man to pose for someone he knows isn’t sexually interested in him.
“Not only am I trying to capture awesome images, I want the shoot to be an awesome experience,” he says. “When clients come in, the first thing you experience is the space. Our studio is in the heart of Deep Ellum with original hardwood floors, distressed and exposed brick walls and huge windows. It feels homier than any other studio most people have been in. That’s important when you want people to be comfortable.”
Johnson then gets to know his clients to make photos that resonate with them. “We’ll spend a bit of time discussing what the client wants to capture, maybe have a little ‘liquid courage’ and ultimately become friends. Most people don’t show all that skin for a photo shoot on a daily basis. So, hanging with a friend makes it much more enjoyable.”
Much like female boudoir photography, it’s important to leave some things to the imagination and that’s why Johnson doesn’t take full-frontal shots.
“I definitely want the images to be provocative, and make your heart flutter, but I also want to be classy. Implied nude will get your partner’s blood pumping and keep them wanting more.”
Other than that, he doesn’t really have a list of dos and don’ts. Every client is different and he does his best to accommodate any requests and create the atmosphere most conducive to producing the types of final images the subject wants.
One of the best parts about going to Dallas Dudoir for photography is that Johnson promotes an environment where everyone feels sexy, from hairless twinks to furry bears and every six pack or lack thereof in between. And he’s shooting guys from all walks of life.
“Everyone has some insecurities, whether the client is as fit as Channing Tatum or not. And I’ve photographed every body type,” he says. “I like to start with what a client is most confident with and go from there. I guide clients throughout the shoot, suggesting poses and scenes that compliment, and bring out the best.”
As the shoot progresses, confidence builds, and the images reflect that.
“After the shoot, everyone gets a little Photoshop love, but I never overdo editing. You don’t want to give your partner a book of yourself, and they not be able to recognize you. I want to compliment the client’s natural look, ” Johnson says.
Stephen Bryant is a hairstylist, artist and studio session drummer and he’s known Johnson for years. For his shoot, they started with a storyboard and discussion of what Bryant hoped to accomplish.
“Was I nervous?” Bryant laughs. “Of course I was. I’ve done a handful of photo shoots such as this one in the past but it’s always been with photographers I didn’t really know. This one was different and more personal. Lighthearted jokes, my confessions of bad dating experiences and Erick’s calming demeanor definitely put me at ease. Since coming out to Erick he’s been nothing but supportive and loving of me and I’m proud to call him one of my best friends.”
Morgan Hare and his partner, Antoine Akins, decided to do their racy shoot as a couple, which is a standard offering at Dallas Dudoir.
“Antoine and I have never been accused of being shy when it comes to taking clothes off. I was slightly nervous but also excited!” Hare says.
“We brought some beer and Erick had some champagne and OJ for mimosas. We didn’t know what we wanted to wear, so we packed every jockstrap, singlet, whip and sexy brief we had.”
After a few drinks and showing the photographer their goodie bag of undies and props, Hare says any hint of nervousness completely disappeared.
“The shoot was an absolute blast. He helped us pose for our individual shots and the shots we did together. He watched us interact and hold each other and then was able to enhance it.”
For single guys, however, a Dallas Dudoir shot could be just what the Love Doctor ordered.
“In reality, let’s face it,” Bryant says. “The gay dating world is so fast-paced, you get one thumbnail and one shot to make an impression on the viewers that click on your profile. Why not put the best representation of yourself for everyone to see?”
And even if nobody ever sees the photos but you and the executor of your estate after you pass on, the experience itself is half the fun.
“We got to have drinks, dress up in sexy underwear and have our photos taken,” Hare says. “It was almost like an ’80s movie montage — but with jockstraps!”
For more information and to set up a session, visit DallasDudoir.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 27, 2015.