Joe Oppedisano’s uber-masculine images absolutely pop off the page. And now they’ll pop off the screen as the Albany-born, New York-based photography prepares to debut a behind-the-scenes making of his latest calendar, Knockout!.
An extension of his celebrated male skin shots, the Tony Sellari-shot film, also called Knockout!, takes the viewer inside the ring as Oppedisano snaps Spartan-like mixed martial arts fighters at their most fierce.
Originally intended to be a “making of” video a la the Deux des Stade rugby project, Oppedisano says he wanted something more explosive:
Thatâ€™s not really my take on things… It was just very typical and I didnâ€™t want to do something like that â€“ it just seemed very gay and I had seen it before. It didnâ€™t excite me. I wanted to do something that was going to keep me interested and thatâ€™s not very easy.
It’s certainly not. In fact, Oppedisano didn’t exhibit an interest in photography until around his thirtieth birthday, when he suffered, as he describes it, “a bit of a nervous breakdown.” Says the shutter bug, “I was kind of bored of myself, so I just picked up a camera and taught myself how to shoot.”
Prior to picking up the camera, Oppedisano had worked as a fashion editor for the likes of L’Uomo Vogue, W and Details. That, too, happened by accident. A textiles student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Oppedisano traveled to Italy for a bit of international exposure. He soon found himself in the spotlight when a designer asked him to model in a show. From there it was to the editorial room at an Italian women’s magazine and then back to America, where he landed an internship at Esquire.
It’s quite a coincidence that Oppedisano’s first book grew out of a shoot for that very magazine:
I was doing a shoot for Esquire – and it was a suit story, and I shot it in [gritty gay bar] Boiler Room just to give it â€“ to make it a little interesting. After I shot the story that I needed to shoot for the magazine, I kept the guys there and I said, â€œI want to see you guys fighting.â€ I wanted some action. They stayed and the make-up artist stayed. Itâ€™s actually in the book. And I thought, â€œWell, this is really cool.â€ And the magazine loved it.
That shoot made it into Oppedisano’s first photographic collection, Testosterone.