Tag Archives: black and white

THE REAL TIPS on Photographing the Male Nude from Scratch by Norm Yip (Part 2)

[Originally published in MOXIE ASIA http://moxie.asia)

1. Where to scout for guys? I do not scout for guys at the bars or clubs; I think it comes off as a bit sleazy and a bad excuse to actually be picking them up. I prefer using the internet such as facebook or Instagram. Some other photographers I have spoken to say they have no problem walking up to guys but they seem to rarely become models for me in the end.

2. The Exception to the above is when someone you know at the bar or club introduces you, then it is acceptable. Hence, it’s good to have your work out there so people begin to recognise your work.

3. Name Cards. In the event that you do meet someone at the bar or outside the internet, have some business cards handy. Just pass the guy your card and ask them to contact you. It friendlier, and you hope for the best.

4. The Initial Meeting. Set up an initial meeting to talk in person about the shoot. In the meeting discuss what they are comfortable with shooting. Nude? Semi-nude? Covered? Also, talk about the model release and that they need to sign at the end of the shoot.

5. Sincerity. Be sincere in what you say and do. If you are out there to just meet hotties and using photography as a way of getting into their pants, they will normally see right through it.

6. Be professional, although you are an amateur. The goal of the shoot is to try to get really good images in the way that you imagined it to be. Professionalism when it comes to photographing nudes basically means one thing: NO SEX. So you need to stay away from the thought of getting it on with the model.

7. The Oil-Down. Yes, a bit of baby oil (mineral oil) does wonders on the skin. It is okay to offer the model some help in the application but ask first. There have been instances where the model has preferred to do it by himself. Usually, I oil only the back and help with the legs. Yes, you have to learn to resist yourself.


8. About the oil. The normal versions seem to be better than the light version in my opinion. I don’t prefer organic oils since they tend to be too viscous, and they get absorbed into the skin toofast and you’ll have to reapply (of course, it’s not necessarily a bad thing).

9. Too much excitement. For some guys, they tend to get excited just by the thought of being undress, let alone being nude in front of another guy. Well, this is a good thing and a bad thing. I usually will stop photographing and ask if they want to continue or wait awhile until they calm down.

10. Music helps. Assuming that the shoot is in a studio or home environment, play some music to get you and your model into a good mood. I usually play ambient type music with no vocals.

11. I work alone. I normally do everything from setting up the lights, the backdrop and oil-down. I shoot alone because I find that a helper/assistant a distraction. Unless the model is more experienced, then they might not mind if another person is helping in the room, but I find that I get more of the real person to come out if I’m working alone with him.


12. Process. I start out with clothing, and then progressively remove clothing. It is better this way since it allows you time to warm up and vice-versa.

13. Duration. How long does a shoot take? Normally, a shoot will last between 2 – 4 hours long, depending on how many ideas I have in mind.

14. Experiment with lighting arrangements and don’t be stuck to strobes. Although many professional photographers shy away from tungsten lights, I have found that it is extremely nice for shooting male bodies. A tungsten light and softbox were all I needed for the majority of shoots I did.

15. Keep moving. For me, I prefer it when the model is constantly moving during the shoot. The movements are not wild and erratic, but small. They are small shifts in the stance, their head direction and position of their hands and legs. Professional models are usually very good at this, although I have seen some become really awkward when they have to pose nude. It’s a challenge.

16. Talk to your model. I have always thought that the best shoots were more like a dance than a conversation. The dance or synergy is between you and the model, an exchange of giving and receiving. What do you talk about? Literally, anything that comes to your mind, but usually, we are talking about the shoot and meanwhile, I am directing the guy at the same time.

17. Follow up. After the shoot has finished and you have processed (post production) the images, you should follow up with sending him the photographs as outlined in your agreement. (See Part 1 ).

Sometimes, I have very little idea of how I am going to approach the shoot. I have a very general idea of how things will go. I do not usually work according to a theme. The element of surprise is rather more interesting.

Finally, have fun and enjoy the shooting.

Norm Yip

The Asian Male Project
Norm Yip Photography


Abandoned place; abandoned me….

A few days ago I posted several images from a shoot I took at an abandoned school here in Hong Kong. The series is called Children still play in Kwai Chung. The photographs were of window openings from the inside of the schoolrooms looking out to the outside. What I wrote in my description was the following:

“Abandoned places can be frightening places, but this one felt very much alive because of the new found graffiti that adorned the walls of the building, reminding me of a modern day carnival or amusement park. A child could play here freely. Entering the empty rooms though, I found a quiet beauty inside, mixed and layered with chaos, art, nature, the decaying walls and myself.”

Here are few of the images:

Then this morning, it dawned on me that the photographs were more than the above description. It was a clear reflection of how I was feeling about life at the present time. Recently, I feel like I’m divorced from the world. I am on the inside and it’s dark/lonely; meanwhile everything else is out there. The graffiti on the walls are like my own creativity, I’ve felt like I have been suffocating the past few months. The paying work has been scarce and I have turned inward in my own little bubble, my studio.

There were times when I would get exceedingly depressed, but this was more so the case before my own awakening. I could control (or at least understand) my own situation in life. My awakening allowed me to witness my self and my feelings from a far off vantage point. I have become, in a certain way, numb to life and existence on this plane of consciousness.

I feel most alive when I draw, paint and photograph from my soul. I get lost in the moment, and everything seems to be completely fine. There is nothing wrong; no pain, no suffering, no fear, no anxiety. Sometimes, I do not eat nor drink in those moments of intense being. But these kind of moments are dangerous when one needs to pay the rent and bills, the stuff that the pragmatic world requires of us to deal with. That is when I panic and have anxiety about how to get by in this world at the mature age of fifty-three.

The photographs in the abandoned school are trying to tell me something… You see, the window openings I found at the site are completely open, free to pass through.

To see the entire series: Children still play in Kwai Chung


The 3.AM book launch and signing at Culture Club, Hong Kong

The Asian Male 3.AM book launch and signing
The Asian Male 3.AM book launch and signing

From the date of the campaign launch till now seems like it was a long time ago, but in all reality it wasn’t that long of wait. So I’m very pleased to be having the book launch for the new book The Asian Male – 3.AM. It will be held this coming Thursday here in Hong Kong at Culture Club.

TIME: 7-10PM


If you would like to attend, please R.S.V.P. at the Eventbrite and join me for in a toast:

You’ll be able to purchase copies directly at the book launch. For those that live outside of Hong Kong, eventually you will be able buy the book through your bookstore, but they will need to order the books from my wholesaler at http://bookazine.com.

Alternatively, if you would like to order the book directly from me,  I will sign your copy personally. ORDER DIRECTLY FROM ME.

3.AM finally arrives and it’s great!

The 3.AM books have finally arrived and they look absolutely great. This was what I was designing and slaving over the past 6 months, and it is certainly a joy to look at. Here are some shots of my assistant Philippa helping pack and sort out the books. None of this is easy, and the database of purchased books, addresses, labels and changes/amendments all need to be checked and double-checked.

Order the book directly from me and I will personally sign your book. ORDER

The Asian Male exhibition in Zurich

A few short weeks have passed since the exhibition opening of The Asian Male show in Zurich and I thought I would post several shots of the night, along with the exhibition images.

I will never forget the fiasco when trying to get out of Hong Kong while the second day of the protests were on. I had difficulty getting to the airport while struggling to carry my luggage, prints and camera bag. I missed my flight as a result and had to quickly call the airline for the next available flight. Luckily, I managed to take the next flight out and arrive in Zurich on the same day, but late at night, versus the day.

You cannot imagine the stress of carting along 14 pieces of matted art to an overseas exhibition. Anything could happen, such as the artwork could get sent to another city, the box could be damaged (seeing how people throw luggage around is not exactly comforting) or get soiled if the weather got foul. Then I was thinking, what if the framers in Zurich got the dimensions wrong? Or what if the glass that was custom cut broke during the installation of the artwork (we had to go the actual framing ourselves since it wouldn’t be enough time for the framer to do it).

In addition, the gallery where I was showing didn’t have a hanging system installed, but I told Thomas that I would help out with that, so long as I didn’t have to do the drilling (seeing as I have had vertigo the past several months that won’t go away). We framed the artwork the night before the exhibition and installed the hanging system on the day of the exhibition. It was rather insane. We got the artwork up in time for exhibition, but the food and drinks were a bit of a mess. We had no ice for the wine we bought and at 6:30, well into the opening with a few guests, Thomas ran out to pick up the ice. Warm white wine would not do.

The exhibition managed to bring in about a modest but very enthusiastic group of what I would call academics and hard core enthusiasts of photography. They really seemed to understand what I was trying to do with the photography, and were very knowledgable about the formal aspects of the medium. It was refreshing to hear.

Special thank to Michael Harald Dellefant, who kindly agreed to let me post a few of his images taking during the opening night.

The selection of the photographs that appeared in exhibition are shown below.

The exhibition continues until November 1, 2014.
GALLERY BOX Birmensdorferstrasse 187 Zürich, Switzerland
T. +41 76 344 60 60

Please contact me or the gallery owner Thomas Sarbach for more information if you are interested in more details of the artwork.

Preparations for my first photography exhibition in Europe

Firstly, the book that everyone has been waiting for is still in the midst of being printed, apparently. After receiving the email that they would redo the entire set of books, I am waiting for them to give me a set date on when I can see them. They didn’t ask me in for the press check (not that it would necessarily be needed, as it was done previously). And now, I wait patiently to receiving the first review books. I just sent a gentle reminder to them to see if I would get them this week. No reply yet. I want to have a few to take with me Zurich.

For the many friend and supporters, I will announce the date of the book launch in Hong Kong once I have seen the reprint of the books, but it will be certainly after my return from Europe in mid-October.

So yes, I have an exhibition in Switzerland. If you’re around in Zurich on 3 October, drop Gallery Box for the reception. I would love to see you there.

GALLERY BOX, Birmensdorferstrasse 187, Zürich, Switzerland, T. +41 76 344 60 60, E. info@thomassarbach.com

The Asian Male, Photography Exhibition in Zurich
The Asian Male, Photography Exhibition in Zurich

It will be my first time showing my work outside of Asia, so yes, I am nervous about the response I will be getting. I’ve printed the artwork on Matt Art photo paper by Hahnemühle and the results look , I admit, superb. I still haven’t mastered the art of digital printing and wasted a lot of paper and ink, but it’s really worth it. I felt it was a bit like darkroom days, waiting for the print to appear, but with a less ‘magical’ feeling to the experience.

The prints were churned out over the weekend after falling slightly ill Friday night and all of Saturday, so in the wee hours of Sunday morning 6am, I was content to leave the studio. Today I signed them and delivered them to my framer in Central. It was rather a smooth day. My intern Philippa, a lovely young and aspiring student, was here to help me put together the price list.  So while I was proudly signing the prints, I talked about  ICC profiles, paper and printers. Shop talk that we both could relate to, as we both loved 2-D materials such as paper and  textures.

A Question of Quality: The Rise of Luxury Books

The Asian male - 3.am

As many of my followers know, my planned book launch on the 27 August was postponed, due to the unfortunate discovery that the printers and binders did an unsatisfactory or unacceptable job on both the printing and the binding. There were smudges on specific pages in the books, imperfect cutting of the pages, and crooked binding on too many of the books. I had to reject the entire lot and postpone the book launch, as difficult as it was. So now I’m in the process of having them all redone again, but done right.

What is rather unusual is that Hong Kong prides itself as one of the best printers in the world, and problems like the ones I received is certainly not the norm. Previously, my books have never had such a problem. Friends who have worked in the printing industry say that the shipment of books should never have left the factory.

One of my fans, however, then said to me that it was the photography of my Asian male models was the most important thing, that the binding of the book should be treated as secondary in nature. Although I can agree that the photography is vital to my work, the presentation of the work is a crucial and necessary part of the experience. The book takes the experience out of the monitor (a visual experience only) and translates it to a physical 3-dimensional experience, where touch and even smell is brought forth to our senses. As mentioned in my other posts, the thickness of the paper, the texture of the paper and the smell of cut paper and ink, combined with the images, text and typeface, all become one. This is where the art of the book making and binding come into play, as it plays a significant roll when it comes to art books (such as mine), where the above and the quality of the printing must be treated with care.

So with the majority of magazines taking the move to digital, where does that leave the printing industry? Much like photography, the digital mode of creating images have supplanted film. To me, I have a strong belief that books of high quality (both in content and design), will survive. Why? Because I feel that books represent a part of the population that demand quality. For just pure information, the internet is good enough, and far faster; we don’t need books for that. But the book loving population will grow, especially among those that desire something of permanence, where the book shelf, library or coffee table is a sign of sophistication and culture. (I am not fond of the word ‘luxury’ since it’s overused, but it is close to the meaning I’m searching for.)

In the meantime, besides making sure my reprint of books is done to the standard I expect and deserve, I am planning on my first exhibition of Asian Male photographs in Europe — in the beautiful city of Zurich! More on that in the next post. 

The Asian Male 3.AM Book Launch – 27.08.14

3AM BOOK LAUNCH - Invitation

You are invited to join me in The Asian Male 3.AM book launch. The photographs were collected over a period of 7 years, featuring Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Filipino, Albanian-Cambodian men from Singapore, Malaysia, USA and Thailand. The photography is testament to the beauty of Asian faces and their physiques in a personal vision that explores external beauty, sexuality in youth, bondage and nudity. Forty-one men grace the pages of 3.AM, with a careful selection of 76 images that bring both contemplation and questioning for the status quo.

Cost of the Book: $500

DATE: WED, AUGUST 27, 2014
TIME: 7-10PM


For those residing in Hong Kong that have purchased the book, you are welcome to pick up your copy at this event. Please print or bring your receipt for easier reference. If you are unable to pick up at the event, the book will sent to you.

[For each book sold at the book launch, $50 will be donated to the Hong Kong Red Cross, with proceeds going to aid in the Philippines to those affected by Typhoon Haiyan.]

Dan Yeung in CK

A shoot with Londoner Dan Yeung wearing CK. Special thanks to Patryk Chaou for clothing and styling and Matthew Chan for hair and makeup.

Dan Yeung by Norm Yip
Dan Yeung by Norm Yip

One of the most difficult things in Hong Kong is trying to find Asian guys with bodies that are highly proportional and with good muscularity. Second that are finding guys with a good set of legs with a nice bottom to match. I think Dan has all these particular attributes. His skin is very soft to the touch (yes, I oiled his back) and with a beautiful natural tan that is a golden brown.

Since this was a test shoot with a more fashion/commercial feel to it, I thought I would try shooting him in natural sunlight, which is what all the images are with the white backdrop. Very simple and clean. Then moving onto a black backdrop for variety, we did more of him in underwear, and then finally, the ones in the biker jacket and boots. His thighs are not retouched. They really ARE that big!

If you are looking for a fashion/sports model that can make use of his attributes, let me know.