Los Angeles-based photographer Blake Little is “one of the most sought-after photographers in the world for his great editorial and celebrity images” according to The Advocate. Little has photographed every celebrity and athlete imaginable, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Tom Cruise, The Rock, and Jane Lynch. The list goes on and on. His work has been featured in Time, People, ESPN, and projects for HBO.
Little's photography book entitled WORK, which profiles the “gay masculine archetype” established in his previous coffee table books (Preservation, The Company of Men, and Manifest).
What makes WORK particularly noteworthy to Nashville-area readers is that, for the first time in this series of work, Little features someone from here in Middle Tennessee. Harlen Crossen (aka “Papabear”) is a retired fireman and is featured on the back cover of WORK and in two double page spreads.
According to Crossen, his inclusion in the work began when he and his husband Jack visited friends, who mentioned that he resembled a man in one of Little’s previous books. After the friends showed them the book, Jack submitted photos of Crossen without letting him know first, and within two hours he received a call from Little, asking, “How soon can you be here?”
Harlen, a licensed realtor with The Wilson Group in Green Hills, lives an otherwise quiet life with his husband Jack (also a real estate broker) and his family here in the Nashville area. When asked if he’s ever done professional modeling previously, Crossen grinned and said, “No. But I was ‘Mr. July’ in the fireman calendar a long time ago. Does that count?”
When Little released the first image of Crossen on his personal Facebook page (see “bridge” photo), the response was overwhelming: Harlen received over 9,000 “friend” requests from gay men around the world over the following eight weeks. Since Facebook caps users at 5,000 friends, and Crossen continues to receive over a hundred requests a day, his husband created a private group on Facebook called “Harlen-Papabear” where Harlen can interact with this unexpected fan base from around the globe.
Little and Crossen signed copies of WORK in the outdoor lounge area of Stirrup in an event sponsored by the Nashville Grizzlies, the local inclusive rugby team. Little previously donated a signed copy of the book, presented by Crossen, to the Grizzlies’ silent auction portion of their annual Bachelor Auction event, to raise money for the club’s general fund.