Tom Bianchi has published ten bestselling books of male photography, and now he's brought out the second of his highly-successful volumes called On The Couch. It's a new collection of stunning pictures of different men on a sofa in Tom (right) and his partner BJ's home in the San Francisco hills. The pictures originated on Tom's website www.tombianchi.com in which each month subscribers to the site see three different men explore their own sexual identities in front of Tom's lens. When the first volume came out Tom Bianchi spoke exclusively to OutUK's Mike Gray about the inspiration for the website and the On The Couch books published by Bruno Gmünder.
OutUK: Is this your first internet project?
Tom: Actually I had a site several years ago and I became aware it is our future but I hadn't contemplated putting out a book that way until we were at the level we're at now with the kind of reproduction quality we're at now. I realise you can publish so much more material on the web. The web should be the first expression of the book and the hardback should be an artefact of the web.

OutUK: As someone who's become world famous for his photography books don't you have any regrets about abandoning print and moving to an electronic medium?
Tom: A project of this nature is more than just a collection of photographs..it's a comprehensive discussion of our sexuality with the people who are being photographed. It offers an opportunity that a book would never allow. You can't get beyond two hundred pages in a hardback book..it's not physically or economically possible. In that format I'd be able to publish only three of the individual stories. This way I can publish three individual stories per month which are the equivalent of a 96 page hardback book.

OutUK: What differences are there in composing photographs for the net rather than a book?
Tom: In essence no difference..in both you're looking for the highest quality you can achieve. We've composed it all in Flash which means it's going to be slow for people who don't have DSL, cable modem or high-speed connection, but we need to be staying at the cutting edge of new technology, and there are enough people who do have DSL so that the book operates pretty quickly at that level. We did a pretty thorough research job on what was out there, what the quality was and we realised that there was now the technology to put something up which was extraordinarily beautiful compared to what people are used to seeing graphically on the web.

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