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:
That’s not really my take on things… It was just very typical and I didn’t want to do something like that – it just seemed very gay and I had seen it before. It didn’t excite me. I wanted to do something that was going to keep me interested and that’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 – 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, “I want to see you guys fighting.” I wanted some action. They stayed and the make-up artist stayed. It’s actually in the book. And I thought, “Well, this is really cool.” And the magazine loved it.
That shoot made it into Oppedisano’s first photographic collection, Testosterone.