Rhys’ photographer fundraising for men’s suicide
FROM the moment Lennox Head photographer John Bortolin saw the late Rhys McNaughton smile at his first photo shoot, he knew he had a natural model in his viewfinder.
"He wasn't quite sure whether to do the Manscapes project or not because it involved nudity and he was becoming a school teacher, but his mother Jodie convinced him to do it," Mr Bortolin said.
"The very first time I shot him last June he just couldn't stop laughing, which was great because he had a perfect smile.
"He was a natural to start with and when he saw the images he couldn't believe how good he looked.
"He told me that the images made him feel good about himself."
Over the next three months Mr Bortolin said he did another four photo shoots with Rhys.
Following Rhys' tragic suicide, Mr Bortolin has launched a charity fundraiser using some of his 2000 photos of his favourite model and Hollywood actor Zac Efron look-a-like.
Mr Bortolin said the money raised would go to a charity of Rhys' mother, Jodie McNaughton's choice.
"We want Rhys' memory to live on through the images and raise awareness about suicide," he said.
"For someone who seemed to have such a perfect life - he was 24, he just finished his teaching degree, he had a beautiful girlfriend, and he was really popular with his rugby team.
"He had it all together and never expressed himself about feeling suicidal."
Rhys was a feature model in Mr Bortolin's book Manscapes, launched in May.
From a print run of 1000, Mr Bortolin said he still had 450 copies of Manscapes to sell.
"My goal is to donate a percentage of the sales from my Manscapes book which will go towards a charity of his mother's choice for suicide prevention," he said.
As well as raising money for suicide prevention through his book, Mr Bortolin is organising a travelling photographic exhibition.
"I'm in the early stages of organising a travelling exhibition in all of the capital cities where I will have 12 of the strong images I have taken of Rhys up for auction," he said.
"I also want to have a fundraiser and a gallery of photos in each city.
"I have contacted a man who specialises in doing fundraising for young males that have taken their lives and I am liaising with him to set it all up."
Help the fundraiser
Manscapes can be purchased online at http://www.manscapes.com.au or from The Book Warehouse in Lismore.
A Movember campaign launched by Rhys' friends is currently ranked first in Australia with more than $30,000 raised.
To donate to the Movember campaign visit https://au.movember.com/team/2061121