Author: Adam Raphael
Publisher: http://www. powerhousebooks.com
Length: 112 pages (hardcover)
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Adam Raphael, photographer of the widely praised Room Service, offers a delicious collection of young men in his newest book, Barely Working. Once again documenting a racially diverse group of the finest faces and bodies, Raphael has captured his models in various working situations including auto repair, car washing, landscaping, and other similar settings. Of course, work soon gives way to play, and the unique combination of laughter, competition, and youthful energy converge to create a sensual tension that can only be made by a photographer who has the skill and talent to work closely with his models without ever overshadowing or crowding them. “In Barely Working,” says Reed Massengill, “pipe wrenches and earth-moving equipment are handled with grace and ease by Raphael’s young men, who practically throb with visceral friendliness and
‘aw shucks’ charm while possessing a humanity that makes them irresistibly appealing.”
Barely Working, Adam Raphael’s newest portfolio, gives us a wonderful visual of sexy young men engaged in different activities designed to show them to the best advantage through the lens of a camera. But this book is more than just photographs of great looking men – it is also a tribute to this photographer’s skill at capturing and projecting his vision of youth, exuberance and energy at work and at play. The photos enhance the beauty and elegance of the male form, either solo or in group poses, by giving them a natural look which is even more pronounced in the group shots that are brilliant and draw you into the photographer’s vision. One photo that captured my attention is the first one which is a picture of a young man driving a vehicle, and reflected on the hood of the car is the sun and a few pillow clouds which framed the photo and gave it an elegance that anyone can appreciate.
Mr. Raphael obviously has his favourites among the models as some of them are profiled in several shots, almost as if they had their own portfolios within the book, and this creates a story within a story and gives the book a different perspective. The brilliance of water sparkling on some of the bodies made me want to lick the page, and similarly, when some of the young men are shown with grease and dirt artfully placed on chests and other body parts, I wished I was able to get into the shots to clean the guys off.
The title of the book, Barely Working, is appropriate because the models are pictured in different work situations interacting with each other, but the most important aspect of these photos is that the guys appear very relaxed. I didn’t see any sweat running down those exceptional pectorals due to hard work, but if there was any sweat I’m sure that volunteers were waiting in the wings to pat them dry. As the photographer stated in the book, he was looking for models “with a certain innocence, a playful and open nature, a willingness to be vulnerable and human, and to comfortably interact with others of their breed without any hint of sexuality …” and he certainly achieved this objective.
Adam Raphael is well-known for his work in this field starting with his first published book of photos. The men in Barely Working are beautiful but the poses do not look ‘staged’ – in fact the photographer went to great lengths to ensure that didn’t happen. Most of the photos are exquisite and the beauty of these pictures is that there is no frontal nudity. Raphael used clothing to enhance the male form and frame it in such a way as to make it even more stunning. By carefully selecting the clothing he projected a different dynamic in the group photos by creating symmetry. The solo pictures are subtle and nuanced and prove yet again that this photographer is a true artist in this medium in the same manner as an artist using traditional paint and oils on a canvas. Clearly this talented artist wanted to show his models in the best possible light and this book demonstrates his skill in this area. Wrenches, lawn mowers, shovels and earth moving equipment never looked so good.
Barely Working is an excellent “coffee table” book that will bring hours of pleasure and I highly recommend it, not only to the photography aficionado but also to anyone who appreciates male beauty. In addition to Barely Working, Adam Raphael has published four other books: Book One (HM, 1999), Friends (HM, 2001), Friends & Brothers (HM, 2004), and Room Service (powerHouse Books, 2007).