For ten years now, we have used our January blog post to honor a "model of the year." Typically, the honor has been future-facing; bestowed upon current, popular models in the can and in the queue that will be prominently featured on the studio's website and social media posts in the coming months.
This year, for a variety of reasons, we are facing the opposite direction and honoring a model for past work. In this case, for past work that spans the entire last ten years.
Alex Bustamante has been photographed by prominent photographers across the nation. NMS, alone, has shot him from coast to coast to coast, from California to Florida to Fire Island.
But Alex is unique among the 250+ models we've shot since opening the studio in 2011. He has been more than a model. He is a model and a model recruiter, a production assistant, a stylist, second cameraman and chauffeur. But the distinction that he holds above all others is the number of times he has appeared before the studio's cameras. We have photographed Alex in more than 50 solo sessions and another dozen-plus sessions with other models.
Not all of Alex's sessions were created equal. Many shoots were high on production values or done in exotic venues, but on several occasions, Alex stepped under the lights (unprepared) when a booked model failed to show up for studio time we were leasing by the hour. Some sessions were intentionally structured, others were casual endeavors. In almost all, we were trying new things: lighting, props, concepts.
Alex retired from modeling in 2023 and, as is the habit of so many, moved to Florida. We expect he'll be making occasional appearances in the studio in the future, but meanwhile, after a decade-long run and tens of thousands of images in the can, it is time to pull the best together. It is time for a retrospective.
We have three portfolios in the works that will feature our favorite images from Alex's modeling career with New Manhattan Studios. But more than just the best of, the portfolios contain many previously unseen photos.
The studio has a history of tracking models over time. We have worked with a handful of physique models over a course of several years, documenting their progress in the gym and growth into handsome men. The studio publishes such studies in our "Private Portfolio" series.
We are celebrating Alex's decade in front of the studio's cameras by adding to our Private Portfolio series. We are releasing the first of three new studies: Alex - Portfolio One: Early Twenties.
Portfolio One features work from 5 sessions captured during Alex's first 2 years of modeling. (Check out one of the sessions here.) With a torso still in development, these images charm with the innocence of youth. And while the model's torso may not have developed substantially over this period, his boldness as a model did. Subsequent portfolios will be released later this year, featuring work from his late twenties and early thirties.
It is fitting that we bestow the "decade" honorific on Alex now. This post marks the blog's tenth anniversary. The blog started in January of 2014, with a post about our new studio in Long Island City and a striking photo of the space taken by Alex. The next two entries introduced a new studio model, Bond. (Click here to see Alex assisting at Bond's shoot.)
Over the ten-year run of this blog, clearly no model or individual has had more impact on the studio, its operation and output, than Alex. His contributions to our operations are many and his skills as a photographer are impressive. Some of the studio's most iconic photos have been captured by his camera.
Alex was more than an inspiring muse; he was an active participant in the studio's operations.
It is also fitting that Alex will be the last model to be honored in the New Year's feature. The studio will be migrating its website to a new host in the coming months. While many galleries will make the move, it will be impossible to move (or maintain) the blog. But more about that next month.
Right now, with Alex - Portfolio One, we're celebrating our longtime model, muse and staffer, Alex Bustamante.
While the title is quite tongue-in-cheek, it's also quite justified: New Manhattan Studio's Model of the Decade.
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Bond retired from modeling with a 3-day extravaganza of a photoshoot. These are the images from his last afternoon and evening as a model. The final work of a 5-year career. 60 images, NSFW. Hard copy magazines or instantly-downloadable PDFs.