M I C H E L L E 7


CRUISING with ...
Peter Gorman
Date: March, 2005

Born in Binghamton, New York, Peter Gorman moved to New York City in 1994. Once there, he inserted himself into the art culture and began photographing nude models in his apartment. It was not long before industry professionals took notice, and his first book of black & white photographs, Naked In Apartment 7, was published to huge acclaim in 2001. In the following year he published his second book, Naked Rooms. Only this time he shot everything in color with a digital point-n-shoot camera. And thus Gorman set the course for his publishing career by bravely choosing to stray from a vision that had already proved itself successful. But his gamble paid off, and now, with the recent release of his third book, Stripped Naked, he once again ventures into new territory with another insurgent interpretation of the female nude.

Michelle7 (M7): Congratulations of the publication of Stripped Naked, your 3rd book with Goliath. But I have to ask you; is this really your work? There is such a distinct look and feel to each of your three books that if someone told me that they were each by a different artist, I might believe them. Is this intentional on your part?

Peter Gorman: Well, I get bored pretty easily and don't want to be one of those photographers that just keeps doing the same thing over and over. Part of it has to do with the equipment I use. For my first book, Naked in Apartment 7, I shot with a medium format camera using black & white film; then for Stripped Naked, I moved to a digital point-and-shoot for a snapshot style; and now I use a digital-SLR.

I guess it all started when I got my first camera at 16 and asked my girlfriend if I could photograph her naked.

M7: What role did changing to a D-SLR have in your overall composition?

Peter Gorman: The big change is that I can use a wide angle lens and I really like that. I like to see all of the junk in the model's apartment and the wide angle lets me fill the frame with more of the room and the crap around their beds and in their kitchens and on top of their dressers.

M7: Do you ever shoot in black & white anymore, or have you completely given yourself to digital color photography?

Peter Gorman: I never shoot black and white anymore and yes, I have given my self over completely to digital.

M7: Unlike your earlier work, which you did in your own apartment, your new stuff is done on location at the model's abode. Besides the obvious lighting and composition challenges, does this entry into their "personal lair" intimidate you. I mean, you're the photographer, the commander, the boss, and there you are ... on HER turf.

Peter Gorman: I really like the challenge of shooting in new locations, so no, it doesn't intimidate me being on their turf. Basically I see no downside to being in the model's apartment, other than the occasional dog. I always tell the models that I don't want anyone else around when I shoot, so no roommates, boyfriends, or husbands to get in the way.

.. the next model that comes through the door might be one of those that makes me realize how much I love to photograph NAKED WOMEN.

M7:How did you get here Peter? Where'd you go to school? What did you study? How'd you end up in photography?

Peter Gorman: No schooling. I am completely self taught. I never did well with school. I guess it all started when I got my first camera at 16 and asked my girlfriend if I could photograph her naked. I have been trying to recreate that feeling ever since.

M7: Can you elaborate on that?

Peter Gorman: She was 16 as well. I had already seen her naked plenty of times, so, it wasn't a way to get her clothes off. It was just for the thrill of creating nude images. Not to say that it wasn't also sexually exciting, because it was. 

I remember using the school darkroom to develop the film and being overly protective of anyone seeing what I was doing ... partly because it felt illicit, and partly because I didn't want anyone else seeing my girlfriend naked. She had a great body and I was very jealous of other boys seeing her the way I saw her. 

I never showed anyone those pictures and I lost the negatives and proofs years ago when I moved from Florida back to my home town. The funny thing is that I was recently in touch with this old girlfriend and she was a little put off by what I do now. 

M7: When was your next nude session .. and what was that like?

Peter Gorman: The next session was with a girl I met at a bar when I was 17. The drinking age was 18 then so it wasn't a stretch to get into a bar. This time it was purely sexual. My parents were out of town, so I was safe bringing her back to my bedroom. I asked her if I could take Polaroid's of her and she said yes, and again, I was in heaven. I remember stopping at the drug store to pick up two packs of instant film, which wasn't cheap, and blowing through all of my money for the week.

M7: That must have been fun - did the sex come before, during, or after the photography?

Peter Gorman: All three ...

I never have the balls to come right out and ask a model to spread her legs.

M7: For a teenage boy all of this must have been very, very exciting. Now that you're a grown man and have shots hundreds of models, what's your perspective on these two early sessions in your career? 

Peter Gorman: The level of excitement in shooting a nude model has dropped significantly since those first shoots. I don't think it will ever be as exciting as it was the first time. It's funny, I can start to get into a slump and start feeling down about the whole process and feel that I am loosing my vision, and along will come a model that gets things moving again. I never know who this is going to be. I only know once the actual shooting starts. This has happened to me enough that I always have the excitement that the next model that comes through the door might be one of those that makes me realize how much I love to photograph naked women.

M7: I know that you are a family man. In fact, you've been married for something like 15 years, right? How does that coincide with your work?

Peter Gorman: People always wonder how my wife feels about what I do. But in our world it's just that what I do is no different than going to the office or driving a bus. Of course we realize that it's not the norm for most people, but to us it's just life. Plus, my wife has always been supportive of what I do and is very proud of my accomplishments.

M7: Reed Massengill, who's famous for his male nudes, wrote the forward in two of your books. What's your connection?

Peter Gorman: Reed is the East coast correspondent for the photography magazine Black + White. I met him through Greg Freidler who suggested that I show Reed what I had been working on to see if it was a match for Black + White. Fortunately Reed really liked my work and published two features in the magazine. He's a great guy and knows a ton about the world of photography, plus he is a great writer, so when I was offered my first book deal and needed someone to write the intro, he was the first and only person I thought of. I feel very lucky that I met him and have always been grateful for what he has done for me.

M7: Besides Reed and Freidler, do you collaborate or bum around with any other "industry members"?

Peter Gorman: When I first moved to New York City I made it a point to get in touch with Richard Kern. I asked him if we could meet and he said that he was having a gallery opening and that I should come and we could talk there. Of course I am sure he was thinking who is this Yahoo and why is he bugging me, but he was very cool and invited me over to his place a few weeks later to show me what he was working on. We have been friends ever since and we talk on the phone quite a bit. He sent me to Richard Kasak who published a magazine called Masquerade which did a feature on my photos and that feature was seen by Miki Bunge, the publisher of Goliath Books. Miki contacted me about doing my first book. So, you never know where life is going to take you.

My best friend is Bob Coulter, the photographer who did the book Crazy Babes. We constantly talk about equipment and models and what we are working on. Plus, he is marred with a kid just like me, so it is nice to hang with someone that does the same things and understands the world we work in. It's funny, my wife refers to him as my "work buddy", like he is the guy that I share a cubical with at the office.

M7: This might be difficult to answer objectively Peter, but what are you like as a person? Are you an introvert or extrovert?
Peter Gorman: I'm in the middle of the introverted-extroverted thing. I like being alone but if you met me, you would probable think I am a 'people person'. 

M7: Intellectual theorist or a mechanically inclined pragmatist?
Peter Gorman: I am not an intellect, more of a pragmatist. I like to call people on their bullshit.

M7: Beer, wine, or psychedelic mushrooms?
Peter Gorman: Beer.

M7: Warmonger or pacifist?
Peter Gorman: War sucks but I can support it, if it's for the right reasons.

I would like it if people questioned my motives and my technique. These are all questions I ask myself about my work.

M7: Does living in New York City, which many consider the Mecca of art photography, play any role in your life and work?

Peter Gorman: My life is all about New York City. I cannot imagine not living here. It is kind of a running joke that you can't get me to go over the George Washington bridge. When I do leave the city I always go kicking and screaming. I would never have been able to find all the models that I have any where else but NYC.

M7: In your first book, you interjected your own presence into many of your photographs. For example, your face appears on a TV screen that's next to a model and we see bits and pieces of you elsewhere. What were you trying to convey and why have you not continued to do this?

Peter Gorman: I would like to give you some really artsy answer about the TV images but the truth is that the blank TV was such an eye sore in my photos that I thought there should really be something on the TV instead of having this big black box in the room. I had this video of me staring at the video camera and figured that looked more interesting than the blank screen. 

For the photos with me actually in them, it was at a point were I was getting bored photographing models in my apartment. If you notice the model is taking the picture with a bulb release and I am in the picture looking bored or stupid or just plain disinterested... which is how I felt at the time.

M7: Forgive me for being blunt, but many of your images are full-blown 'spread shots'. Is that under your direction or theirs .. and what are you trying to capture?

Peter Gorman: I never have the balls to come right out and ask a model to spread her legs ... some models are just more comfortable with that part of their bodies than others. That being said, once I realize a model is comfortable showing her pussy I might give some direction as to the way they sit and what they show the camera. As far as what am I trying to capture? I don't know - I am just shooting from the gut. I guess that's for the viewer to figure out.

M7: Do you want your work to say, or mean, or stand for anything? What do you want Art History students saying about you in A.D. 2321?

Peter Gorman: I guess I would like there to be theories and speculation as to what I was trying to say in my photographs. Speculation as to who these women were and what their lives were like and why did they pose nude for me. I would like it if people questioned my motives and my technique. These are all questions I ask myself about my work.

I am in a mood where nothing inspires me.

M7: What inspires you Peter ... as an artist?

Peter Gorman: I am not sure what inspires me now. Inspiration comes and goes for me, and I think that, right now, I am in a mood where nothing inspires me. Maybe it is just age. I'm 43 and it seems the older I get the less I am inspired by what's around me. I think that I get inspired by seeing something that is new and profound. Seeing something that is truly a new vision and not just a rehash of what has been done a thousand time before.

M7: You've achieved a level of success that many photographers only dream of Peter. Where do you WANT TO GO from here?

Peter Gorman: More books. More gallery shows. More naked models. I am a very lucky man, and as long as I can keep doing what I love, I will be very happy.

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