SOMETIMES, IF YOU WANT TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY, YOU NEED TO TAKE A RISK. YOU NEED TO JUMP. TO GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE AND SEE WHERE THE ADVENTURE TAKES YOU. IT’S NOT ALWAYS THE EASIEST WAY. IT IS NOT ALWAYS THE MOST RELAXED WAY. BUT IF YOU GO FOR IT, A 100%, AND YOU ARE INTEND TO MAKE THINGS WORK, THE RESULT IS OFTEN MORE THAN SIMPLY SATISFYING. IT IS EXHILARATING.
Over the years we have come to known photographer J. Cassoni as someone who doesn’t shy away from a challenge. After circumstances made him decide to move to another state Johnny boldly decided to also take another course in his career and opened with his partner a bar. A courageous move as owning a bar is not an easy task and requires a huge investment. Now, 2 years later, Johnny can look back on this life changing step with satisfaction. His bar is a success, so much even that he is planning to open a second one. And due to that success he also found time again to start focussing on his photography.
In his photographic directions J. Cassoni also never took the conventional way. He has worked hard to create a specific style, that over the years has become sort of a signature style for him, even though it is a dynamic style, always subject to moods and changes. Johnny’s images are always sober. Clean and subdued in color and light usage, they often breath a melancholic atmosphere that draws you in like a magnet. But with Gary J. decided to take a very different direction. A decision that was forced upon him due to timing issues and would turn out to be both a professional and a personal challenge.
J.Cassoni met Gary while he was in Kansas City for work. He had already seen Gary’s modelling work online and was struck by his strong physical features that are the result of his 100% Native American origins. As Johnny was in Kansas City for other professional activities, he had no other opportunity than to shoot at night. On top of that, as he had not anticipated to set up a shoot, he had not brought any lighting equipment. Gary however was so keen on collaborating with J. Cassoni, that he decided to give it a go, especially after Gary mentioned he could arrange light. Which turned out to be flood lights… The whole experience turned out to be one of the most challenging photo sessions J. Cassoni had ever done.
When we think of the United States, often we think of the big cities, luminous and spacious, crowded with people. We sometimes tend to forget that vast areas of the United States are nature. Wild nature. And often that nature borders right outside those big cities. And no matter how close cultivation is, once you are in the nature it can get pretty scary. Especially at night. J. Cassoni recalls: “It was a cold Midwestern night ... Seriously cold. I don't know how he got wet. He [Gary] was crazy. He IS crazy. The address he gave me was at the end of a cul-de-sac at near a lake where only one half of the street had homes the rest had thick brush and woods. It was super dark. I got out of the car and instead of it being just him it was him and his friend. They wanted to shoot at this remote place in the woods closer to the lake. It would take 15 minutes to get there in their truck, off road, and there was nothing out there but this creek approaching the lake. They were clearly on to something and full of testosterone. I have no idea why I went with them because everything in me was saying don't do it. The woods were so thick and their humor was so odd, so dark. It really weirded me out a bit.”
J. Cassoni never shies away from a challenge and even though the whole situation with Gary was unlike anything he had ever encountered before, he decided to go for it. The place Gary and his friend took Johnny was darker than dark. Nothing but woods around, with thick foliage and no light anywhere near. Though initially impressed by Gary’s dark and strong features, especially in the dark, Johnny soon found out that regardless of the state of excitement Gary has brought himself into, he actually was a really sweet guy. “All this made me shoot Gary differently than some, if not most, of my other shoots. He was a little scary. It felt dangerous at first to be out there with him. With them. He was little menacing. You just knew he could kick the shit out of you. So I wanted some of the shots to feel a little menacing. He felt, and this will sound cheesy I know, but untamed. Yet it was also clear that we wanted to please. He wanted to do a good job. He wanted the shots to turn out great.” Ultimately the photos turned out better than great. Gary has a very strong presence which comes out perfectly in the individual portrait J. Cassoni shot of him. The ambiance really shows his strong physical presence and even links to his native origins. If nothing else, J. Cassoni’s work with Gary is a highlight in his already impressive photographic career. And another proof that sometimes you just need to go with your gut feeling. –BM-
J. CASSONI | BEAUTIFULMAG
GARY | BEAUTIFULMAG