For leading Australian photographer and author Paul Freeman, there is nothing more satisfying than capturing the diversity of manhood.

But doing it in a way that is engaging and thought-provoking requires more than pointing a camera at a naked man and clicking a button -” it requires an artistic eye, one that has earned Freeman a reputation second to none.

His latest book, Outback, captures the timeless beauty of the rugged country and its men.

While embracing masculinity, Freeman prides himself on steering away from having models pose arbitrarily. His newest creation takes on a documentary-style direction to encapsulate a rural edge.
I like to shoot as much as possible -˜in-camera’ without relying on post-“production techniques to enhance photos, he told Sydney Star Observer.

With Outback I think I tried to evoke something of this in respect of men and manliness and male beauty.

By mixing techniques throughout the book I hope that the viewer is never certain whether he is looking at something contemporary or not and that therefore he goes away with something of that feeling of timelessness and haunting -” that way I’ve succeeded in making the portraits more than just two-dimensional photos.

I think mainly the timelessness is what makes a man appealing and how much his relationship to environment enhances that appeal.

By taking a shot and making it look like it is an old shot, or by making it look like a late 19th century impressionist painting of pioneering men, you remind yourself and hopefully the viewer that while many things change, a lot of things remain the same.

Freeman first came to public attention in 1997 after writing the bestselling biography of Australian out gay footballer Ian Roberts. Since then he has gone on to win a myriad of international awards and has been featured in The New York Times.

Outback is his fifth collection of photography to be published and is expected to be one of his most highly acclaimed works thanks to the stylistic contrasts between the sepia tones and scratched black and whites which heighten his unique photographic style.

The reportage action sequences and the more staged colour tableaux hopefully add an epic quality to the work as a whole, Freeman said.

Shooting men among flora and fauna seems to have a softening romanticising effect compared with shots taking in simply urban environments.

There is something more endearing, I think, and a man is softened somewhat when placed in a particularly harsh elemental landscape or in relation to other living creatures.

Freeman has already started shooting a follow-up to Outback, which he said would explore a Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton-esque colonial Australian bush masculinity, with an accent on the drover and the billabong.

info: Outback is available at The Bookshop. Darlinghurst. If you’re interested in modelling and wanting more information on Paul Freeman, head to his website on
www.paulfreeman.com.au.

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