HOT EVENTS MGT MAGAZINE VISITING ARCHIVE MGT PARTNERS MGT TEAM
My Gay Toronto - MGT Hot Topic

Daniel Decot:
MyGayToronto mobile edition cover photographer and his poetic erotic naturalism

The Man behind MGT's Digital Magazine Cover - Issue #47


The photos created by Daniel Decot appear straightforward, infused with a naturalistic eroticism that leaps off the page. But as the play of light and dark draws one in, there is a startling effect of intimacy, of  a connection being communicated. The photographer himself has a similar effect, claiming simplicity before being inspired into sensual poetic metaphors that begin by being matter of fact. Because of the distance, Decot is based in Belgium, and a slight language barrier, this interview was conducted by email so following up on tantalizing hints and innuendo was difficult. So Decot remains, like his photographs, casual and straightforward but teasing erotic mystery.

Drew Rowsome: What first inspired you to take up photography?

Daniel Decot: When I was 12 years-old there was a photography course at school. Our teacher asked us to choose a subject: flowers, animals, people . . . I chose people.

When did you decide that photography was a viable career option or artistic outlet ?

Some years ago I realized that more and more people, mostly actors/actresses, artists, were asking me to take their publicity shots.

What is the favorite of your photo shoots so far and why ?

I have lots of favorites, but probably all the photoshoots with my friend Ben, a tattooed guy I met at the gym. We began to work together for magazines. I particularly have great souvenirs of a nude shoot at night: we lit a big fire, we shared great moments and then swim in the river.

How do you choose your models?

 I don't really like the word "model." The few models I have worked with were really too "professional" for me. I prefer to meet and capture real people in their home environment, so that they feel more at ease as that is where they evolved. I like that more than making pictures with posed supermodels wishfully transformed and enhanced. That's why almost all the guys in my photos are my close friends or men I meet at my friends' homes. I'm very attracted by personality and how their eyes really look into my eyes.

What makes for a good model?

I prefer a release during a session so I give precedence to loosening over acting. Don't do, don't act, don't pose, just do nothing. No dramatic effect but just a look, a presence, the raw drawing of a gesture, a growing thought. An intense yet discreet emotion, nearly mute and blind which tends to reveal a true moment. It's unutterable, subtle and far away from clichés, sensationalism and other perfectly portrayed photos from the fashion world. No showing off, no distortion. No voyeurism. No transgression. The end purpose being to suggest intimacy and not to steal it from the subject.

There is no message, it's a meeting, some shared instants. A caring look from my end. A deeper look on the inside from theirs. My approach is based on a certain neutrality that emphasizes the mystery, creating impressionistic images. Leaving to the audience the possibility to picture its own story.

Your website says that you shoot using natural light. How do you get the eyes so startling vivid in your portraits?

I try, when possible, to have light from windows at my back so that it reflects in the eyes of the people I shoot.

Nudes, boxers, bikers, surfers, miners . . . There is an obvious erotic thread of masculinity in your choice of subjects. How do you decide what you want to explore?

 Well, it depends on the people I meet, I'm a naturist, a surfer and a biker. I do lot of sports including boxing, I'm a bearded multi-tattooed guy. I just take photos of people I meet, there's no special credit for that, I guess.

While recognizing the similarities, particularly in many of the boxer photos, how do you see the difference between the more documentary photos of the bikers and surfers vs the poetry/collaboration of the portraits ?

Actually, those two types of photography are very different. The "documentary" photos need from me that I am 100 percent focused in the present moment. When a boxer is throwing a punch or when a biker rides very fast I have to be there that moment. That's why I prefer to shoot during releasing moments, when boxers are in the locker room or in the corner of the ring for instance, I try to highlight intimacy like I do with portraits. But I always have in mind to make some artistic, poetic portraits, even with those exhausted boxers with their broken faces.

The portraits of you done by Cedric Brion are quite extraordinary, coy and slightly imitative of your style. Were they his idea or yours? Was the concept his or yours? What was it like to work on the other side of the camera?

 Cédric is a friend and an incredible photographer. He is more specialized in studio photos so we made an experiment, He shot me then I shot him in the same place, his studio, with spotlights for him, none for me, but with all the windows wide open to let natural light come in. Curiously enough, since Cédric made this picture of me, several photographers have asked me to sit for them.

Who would you cite as an influence?

Of course Robert Mapplethorpe for his extraordinary use of light, and incidentally because a lot of my friends are black guys, Richard Avedon: I love all his studio photos with the white backgrounds, particularly the Warhol and Factory photos. And Herb Ritts. And many more.
But, my two major artistic influences are two painters, corresponding with my two types of photos.
Johannes Vermeer and his use of diffuse light from a window influenced my photos of a tainted world, a zone with diffuse and glowing light, where sfumato in the subtle gray scale helps individual shades eventually melt within. And Edward Hopper and his contrasting sunlight illuminating people. I like to create photos with a lot of contrasted between the black and white, like the German expressionism movement that affects space dramatically, some chiaroscuro from which faces and shadow-striped bodies strive to hide or escape.

The quality of the photos, the ambience, reminded me of silver prints like Ansel Adams and George Platt Lynes. How did you discover and come to use that style?

Thank you. They are great photographers but, well, I think my work is a mix of lot of conscious and unconscious influences since my childhood.

What makes a photo erotic?

The way the model look at me. At you. At you looking at them.

There is a wonderful quote on your Facebook page attributed to philosopher Jean Baudrillard: "There are those who photograph naked bodies as of the flesh, others like meat, and those who photograph the animal naked, his skin and his soul." What is it you are trying to capture when you photograph nudes?

Once they have taken their clothes off, peeled off the skin of their social ID, there is just there, in front of us, then, men, exposed in their true essence. As smooth as when photo sensitive paper lets mysteries show in the reddish ambiance of the dark room.

My personae have a link with those of Edward Hopper's paintings, for being solitary, melancholic, mute and wholly-engrossed in their thoughts. Locked within, alone, nude facing a window letting the light float in to suggest the possibility of an infinite world lying beyond on the other side. And like always, wriggling from famous artists to anonymous people, swinging from boxers to geeks, oscillating from straight managers to tattooed bikers, trying to suggest what unites us in our differences, and shedding light on our identities and resemblances through our skin grains, up to the most intimate as I would like the audience to see the humanity beyond the characters.

How do you get your models to be so apparently comfortable when posing nude?

Daniel Decot: Most are my close friends so comfortable when nude. But when I shoot "new friends" I spend the first hour, before taking the first photo, making them comfortable. We talk a lot, have a drink, laugh, etc and then when we've become more intimate, I feel it's time to take out the camera.

Where do you see your style evolving to? What would be your fantasy shoot?

Probably to a "less." As I said before : My approach is based on a certain neutrality, emphasizing the mystery, creating impressionistic images leaving the audience the possibility to picture its own story.

More on Daniel Decot at DanielDecotPhoto.com

Download the current or back issues of MyGayToronto at mygaytoronto.com/mobile/

 

16

 

RELATED ARTICLES / ARCHIVE:
- Michael Mejia creates living Tom of Finland characters - Sep '17
- The ULCC model comes to Canada with Flair and Canadian Jetlines - Sep '17
- Circus Awesomeus -- Not So Awesome - Sep '17
- The ULCC model comes to Canada with Flair and Canadian Jetlines - Sep '17
- The Lesbian Online Dating Scene in Toronto - Sep '17
- Key Lime Pie - Chef Stu - Sep '17
- Adore Delano - Sep '17
- SnowBirds Adviser - Sep '17
- TIFFmania - Sep '17
- Revenge Of Faghags - Aug '17
- Up Your Alley and Toronto's severe case of kink envy - Aug '17
- The importance of maintaining friendships while dating - Aug '17
- Right in front of my salad?!? - Aug '17
- Missing gay men or anti-Grindr campaign? - Jul '17
- Gucci and Beyond: nerds go haute couture - Jul '17
- Vaginas Are Important! - Jul '17
- Nureyev - Jul '17
- Turn a dating disaster into a dealmaker - Jul '17
- Why there's No such thing as culturally gay - Jul '17
- Fashionably bare-assed - Jun '17
- New Era For Prism And Pride - May '17
- The Many Ages of Pride - May '17
- PrideToronto & Police Policy - May '17
- Wes Myers - May '17
- We're Funny That Way Festival! - Apr '17
- Balls to the wall - Mar '17
- Sergei Poulin - Mar '17
- The Love Project - Mar '17
- Diesel s' 'Make Love Not Walls' Campaign- Feb '17
- Healthy Chicken Lettuce Wraps- Feb '17
- The Naked Truth: fundraising for bartender Bruce - Jan '17
- Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights - Oct '16
- Northbound Leather XXX - Oct '16
- Scrotox: great balls of desire- Sep '16
- Sober In The 6ix- Sep '16
- Chris Edwards: another star gone too soon- Sep '16
- Serbia takes a step forward- Aug '16
- Black And Blue 2016 - Jul '16
- The Met Live in HD - Jul '16
- Nuit Rose - Jun '16
- Bruce Dow hosts Dora Awards - Jun '16
- Circus So Gay, The Village Festival - Jun '16
- Pride Parade dedicated to the victims in Orlando - Jun '16
- Glad Day Bookshop on the move and reading naked - Jun '16
- Real Hoverboard - Jun '16
- Samsung unveils cordless earbuds - Jun '16
- Yonge-Dundas Square Cinema - Jun '16
- woofstock - May '16
- Nyle Dimarco: reality TV finally does some good - May '16
- WOW air names new aircraft TF-GAY - Apr '16
- MBlack Deutschland - Mar '16
- Men Accessories Spring 2016 - Mar '16
- Winter Party Miami 2016 - Feb '16
- Spring 2016 Men Accessories - Feb '16
- Toronto Fashion Week - Feb '16
- Kylie Minogue helps Galavant express its inner gayness - Jan '16
- Nothing to do with Holidays - Dec '15
- 2(x)ist 2016 Show - Nov '15
- Ricky Rebel - Nov '15
- Sancta Paraphilia - Oct '15
- Fall 2015 Trends - Oct '15
- Resist Stigma - Sep '15
- Gaga’s turn? - Aug '15
- The Menswear Fall 2015 - Aug '15
- Palm Springs Pride announces Grand Marshals - Aug '15
- New Ways Eat a Watermelon - Jul '15
- Men's Swimwear that's screams Fashion - Jul '15
- Pride And Prejudice - Jul '15
- Cheap Smokes - Jul '15
- Pizza Hut Projector Box - Jun '15
- Caitlyn Jenner - Jun '15
- Perfect Fit For Best Ride - Jun '15
- Drag Ball - Jun '15
- Richard Ryder Wednesdays - May '15
- Crowded with cuteness - May '15
- Pride Palm Springs - May '15
- Pride Toronto Volunteer - May '15
- Toronto Pride Marshal 2015 - Apr '15
- Brennan Figari - Apr '15
- Starry Nights - Apr '15
- International Pride Marshal 2015 - Apr '15
- The Final Frontier - Part I - Mar '15
- The Final Frontier - Part II - Apr '15
- Gays abandon Madonna! - Apr '15
- undo an evil RFRA - Apr '15
- Casey House breaks new ground - Apr '15
- Can we talk? - Mar '15
- Stephan Caras - Mar '15
- Hey Kanye - Mar '15
- Kingston Canadian Film Festival - Mar '15
- Brain Food - Feb '15
- Winter Party 2015 - Feb '15
- Valentine’s Day- Feb '15
- New-found heterosexuality?- Feb '15
- Sam Smith will pay Tom Petty royalties - Jan '15
- More Male Nudity On TV - Jan '15
- You'll Never Spa in This Town Again - Jan '15
- Pop Divas On Instagram - Jan '15
- Ballroom Under Lake - Dec '14
- Pet Drive - Dec '14
- We Are All Clean - Dec '14
- Holiday Listings - Nov '14
- Men's Style - Boots - Nov '14
- Dark Hard Chocolate - Oct '14
- Scandal - Sep '14
- Tiff Post Screening Pics - Sep '14
- Mr Gay World - Sep '14
- FB Messanger Facts - Sep '14
- Funny Guy - Aug '14
- Dog Day Afternoon on TTC - Aug '14
- Gay Paranting - Jul '14
- Muskoka Pride - Jul '14
- Birds Co Media - Jul '14
- Hone Gym - Jul '14
- Green Space Huge Success - Jul '14
- Black & Blue 2014 - June '14
- Best Of #Cock In A Sock - June '14
- Remingtons 21st Anniversary - June '14
- Adore Delano new single - June '14
- The Village Welcomes the World Pride 2014 - June '14
- Riverside's Eats & Beats - May '14
- Eurovision 2014 - May '14
- Green Space - May '14
- WOOFSTOCK - May '14
- Contemporary Asian Art - Apr '14
- My Life In A Porn - Apr '14
- New General Manager Of Vilage BIA - Apr '14
- #Cockinasock Campaign And Who They Are Forgetting - Apr '14
- aluCine Festival - Apr '14
- In Bed With Joan - Kathy Griffin - Mar '14
- 'MARRY ME' Video - Mar '14
- Make Gay Online Dating Safe - Mar '14
- Dana Jean Phoenix's Drrty Shooz- Feb '14
- Charles Roy receives Lifetime Achievement Award- Jan '14
- An Ancient City Is Discovered Underwater - Dec '13
- World AIDS Day - Dec '13
- Art Pop review... - Nov '13
- 24hr Stand Up Comedy ... - Nov '13
- Hitler should be so lucky - Nov '13
- A Clothing Store Uses A Diverse Range Of Models - Nov '13
- Steaven Taetz & whal Collins - Nov '13
- MARTHA STEWART & Delicious Food Show Toronto 2013 - Oct '13
- MGT Visits Proud FM- Oct '13
- It doesn’t always get better- Oct '13
- Something delicious this way comes - Oct '13
- Beyond Sensurround And Terror - Oct '13
- Two two-spirited treats - Oct '13
- Suppressed Passions Explode - Oct '13
- MGT Digital Magazine Launch - Oct '13
- Plastic Fantastic - Oct '13
- Most college students favor LGBT civil rights... - Sep '13
- Black & Blue - Sep '13
- Bloom-ing from the rock - Sep '13
- Salah Bachir inspires - Aug '13
- Truth About Transformation Photos - Jul '13
- Do Detox Diets Work? - Jul '13
- What Can Straight Guys Learn From Gay Guys - Jul '13
- Arrest made in pizzeria attack on drag performer - Jul '13
- Fab Five Quickies for Him - Jun '13
- Tales Of Pride - Jun '13
- Why I love Woofstock... - Jun '13
- Remingtons 20th Anniversary - Jun '13
- Inspire Awards Recap - Jun '13
- Inspire Awards - May '13
- Peter Rauhofer Dies - May '13
- RuPaul In Bed with Joan - Apr '13
- Three House #5 - Apr '13
- Bell Peppers Male or Female - Apr '13
- Lose Soy In Your Diet - Mar '13
- Cats - Feb '13
- Winter Party 2013 - Miami - Feb '13
- Madonna VS Beyonce - Feb '13
- Vest Of Friends - Jan '13
- Food MythBusters - Jan '13
- You Know It’s January When... - Jan '13
- Decorating Xmass Tree on Church Street - Dec '12
- My Gay Roomate - Dec '12
- gay King penguins become fathers - Nov '12
- Gay Parenting - Nov '12
- Airlines learn to cope with chaos - Oct '12
- Ooh La La! - Oct '12
- What A Dick! - Oct '12
- Dawn French Amaizing Weight Loss - Oct '12
- Cruz 1st openly gay professional boxer - Oct '12
- RuPaul's Drag Race / Sahara Davenport Has Died - Oct '12
- Making A Choice - It works Both Ways - Sep '12
- Nortbound Leather Dream - Sep '12
- Man Candy & Cupcakes - Sep '12
- Actress Cindy Lee Garcia Sues Filmmaker - Sep '12
- Madonna Loves Lady Gaga - Sep '12
- Hollister Models Mock Asians ... - Sep '12
- Gayest Thing Ever - Sep '12
- That's So Gay - Aug '12
- Scotiabank Buskerfest - Aug '12
- Zeldas Open Letter To Community - Jun '12
- Banned Gay Pride In Moscow - Jun '12
- We’ll Never Close Our Eyes - May '12
- Love You Like A big Schlong - Willam music video - May '12
- Top AIDS scientist declares end in sight for pandemic - May '12
- Pollution fighting vertical gardens in Mexico City - Apr '12
- Raymond Taavel - Halifax murder victim - Apr '12
- Black And White Twins - Apr '12
- Homophobes - Apr '12
- Madonna gets even with DJ Deadmau5 - Mar '12
- Making room for openly-gay recording acts - Mar '12
- Jennifer Hudson Tribute to Whitney Houston - Feb '12
- Where the Magic Happens - Feb '12
- Who Is Dina Martina - Feb '12
- National Sweater Day - Feb '12
- Help Stop Internet Censorship - Jan'12
- Inpire Awards 2012 - Jan'12
- Doomsday Clock: Now One Minute Closer to Midnight! - Jan '12
- Funny Gay Ads - Jan '12
- Russell Brand Filing For Divorce From Katy Perry - Dec '11
- San Antonio Lesbian Student Assaulted - Nov '11
- Tim Hortons boots lesbian couple out... - Oct '11
- Rats, roaches shut down Pusateri's - Oct '11
- Gay Games announces 2011 Legacy Awards - Oct '11
- Casey House expansion - Oct '11
- German telescope to crash to Earth - Oct '11
- Anti-Gay, Anti-Transgender Ad - Oct '11
- MiClub - Sep '11
- Air Canada Strike Witholds - Sep '11
- Esso station kicks out visually-impaired woman - Sep '11
- Gay For Pay - Sep '11
- Fords want control of Port Lands redevelopment - Aug '11
- Jack Layton Dies 1950-2011 - Aug '11
- Degrassi - Gender Reassignment - Aug '11
- I Love You Man - Aug '11
- Tourism Montreal's Queer of the Year 2011! - Aug '11
- CN Tower's EdgeWalk opens Monday - Jul '11
- Amy Winehouse dies - Jul '11
- Man disappeared in water off Cherry Beach - Jul '11
- Toronto parking is 2nd most expensive in Canada - Jul '11
- To Pink Play Mugs - Jul '11
- Yonge Street Makeover - Jul '11
- FashionTV Direct from Paris! 24/7 Broadcast Stream - Jul '11
- Rob Ford Not Attending Any Of The Pride Events - Jun '11
- Amy Winehouse In Belgrade - Jun '11
- Luminato - Jun '11
- 8 Toronto Beaches Get Blu Flag - Jun '11
- Lisa Lapanelli Donates $50,0000... - May '11
- Bob Ford Hopes To Scrap Plastic Bag Fees - May '11
- The Civil Union Bait And Switch Game - May '11
- International Day Against Homophobia - May '11
- Royal Palm Resort And Spa- May '11
- Stage Manager - May '11
- Rules, Rules Everywhere - Apr '11
- A Taste For Life - Apr '11
- SNAP! 2011 - Apr '11
- 33 Chihuahuas rescued from Oakville home - Apr '11
- Indian state bans Gandhi book over gay claims - Apr '11
- 85 nations sign UN statement defending LGBT people - Mar '11
- Elisabeth Taylor Dies At The Age Of 79 - Mar '11
- MGT EXCLUSIVE - Premiere of Spider Web - Mar '11