How I met Zach was totally random.

On the night before New Year’s eve 2018, which was a Saturday, I was out having a beer at one of the many gay bars in my Puerto Vallarta neighborhood, and I met this guy from Russia (Belarus actually) named Valery. Valery is a photographer who lives half the time in St. Petersburg and half the time in Madrid, and was visiting PV for a few days; we had some good stimulating conversation at the bar, and at the end of the evening he said he’d call or message me and we could hang out at the beach the next day.

Unlike most bar promises, this one actually came through, and Valery and I did go to the beach the next day.

This was midday on New Year’s Eve at a very popular gay beach in Puerto Vallarta, so as you can imagine, there were no beach chairs, and there was hardly a square centimeter of empty sand in either direction. So I suggested we get a bite to eat at the small restaurant that’s a part of the Blue Chairs, because unlike everywhere else, there were actually empty seats there.

While we were waiting for our orders, we saw a handsome dark-haired guy in a swimsuit sit down at a nearby table. He was long, lean and brown, with short dark hair and the most amazing blue eyes. Valery was enchanted; I thought the guy was interesting-looking but soon forgot all about him as I dived into my quesadilla.

After we ate we went searching for a place to sit on the beach and finally found a tiny area to spread a towel (that’s Valery and myself above). After about 5 minutes Valery said he needed to find an outlet to charge his phone, and went looking. I sat and waited for something like 25 minutes before he finally returned. I said where were you? He said he’d been talking to Mr. Blue Eyes–and he was going to go back and talk some more. Well, I said, I’m going with you, because I’m not going to sit here on the beach by myself and be bored. So we both went back to the restaurant and joined Mr. Blue Eyes at his table.

Mr. Blue Eyes is named Zach, and he seemed happy to have new friends join him at his table. In fact, he was just as charming and likeable as his eyes were beautiful.

Zach is 30, mostly Italian, originally from New York City, and is working his way around Central and South America by crewing on sailing vessels. He was in Puerto Vallarta for just a couple of days, and after having been at sea for a couple of weeks, was enjoying being surrounded by crowds of hot gay men.

Valery had to catch a plane about an hour later so had to leave us. Then it was just me and Zach, and we spent a pleasant couple of hours just sitting, talking, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes (I do that when I’ve had a few beers). Then it got to be late in the afternoon and I suggested we go get something to eat.

I took Zach to one of the many great restaurants in my neighborhood, a seafood restaurant called Mariscos El Güero, where he had the red snapper and I had a fish taco. Both were inexpensive and delicious. Then we stopped at my house for a bathroom break. While we were standing on my lanai discussing plans for the evening (he was going out to look for some action, I was going to stay inside and skip the whole New Year’s Eve mess), I asked him something that had occurred to me earlier in the afternoon: Would he be interested in modeling for me? I told him it would a paying gig and would take about 3 hours. He seemed to really like the idea, and we made plans for him to return to my house the next morning at 11.

The next day, as the time for our appointment approached, I had a passing thought that maybe this would be one of those (not-infrequent) flaky-model-who-doesn’t-show-up things, but then I dismissed it, because my gut feeling about Zach was that he was a man of his word. A few seconds after I had that thought my phone beeped. Zach was texting me to say he was on his way. A few minutes after that, he walked into my apartment.

I have to admit I was pretty excited, not just because I liked Zach and thought he had a nice energy to go with his sleek body and beautiful eyes, but because it’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to immerse myself in the intense creative energy that overtakes me when I photograph a new model. Not to mention the promise of many exciting new images to inspire me!

Any commercial, fashion or fine-art photographer knows it’s a challenge to come up with themes and backdrops for an exciting photo shoot. I have a great advantage in that my apartment is very Mexican and has a lot of character, with an enclosed patio, red-tile roofs, and most importantly, textured, weathered walls (check out the photo below). There are lots of intriguing backdrops. But what about what the model actually does in front of those backdrops?

I have a standard repertoire of model activities that have worked well for me for many years, including dressing,  undressing, scratching or inspecting different parts of one’s body, running, jumping, twirling, dancing, etc. And don’t underestimate the power of a simple standing pose like the one above. But the previous night as I’d thought about the next day’s shoot, I’d had an idea: Wouldn’t it be interesting to have Zach use my garden hose to take an outdoor shower in my patio?

This turned out to be an awesome idea. As you can see above, it produced some beautiful shots.

It also led us to the next great idea, which was to move several of my plants into the same area and have Zach use the same hose to water them. (This was an especially good idea because both Zach and I have a special affection for plants and really enjoy caring for them.)

I got a lot of wonderful shots in other rooms and other situations, too, as you can see in the images below.

Overall this was a very enjoyable, rewarding shoot and I’m grateful to Zach for being open to doing it. We both had a lot of fun, plus Zach had the chance to earn some money to keep him in good shape as he continues his sailing adventure.

I’m excited about all the new images I have to work with, so watch for new drawings, paintings, photos and perhaps an e-book of Zach soon.

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