Varied entertainment career leads gay artist to photography

Varied entertainment career leads gay artist to photography

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Eugene Coates has worn a lot of hats: dancer, singer, actor, exercise instructor and photographer. For the latter title, Coates is currently traveling internationally as a fashion photographer, and is also looking to build his wedding portfolio, particularly for same-sex couples. 

“Every photographer has their own style and method of operating, but being a member of the LGBT community and photographing same-sex weddings, I believe that I can bring a little extra sentiment, emotion and sensitivity to the photography,” Coates, 46, said about his wedding work. “Love is love in all forms but the truth of the matter is that we are different and this special day for the couple should be documented/captured as such.”

A same-sex wedding in New Hope is among his five wedding shoots; the others were captured in Japan, Denmark, Los Angeles and Estonia.

Traveling has long been a part of his trade.

The Philly native, who grew up in West Oak Lane, earned a bachelor of fine arts from University of the Arts and went on to dance for Philadanco! and Koresh Dance Company. He performed and choreographed in Atlantic City and spent time as an actor in Los Angeles before moving to Japan, where he worked as a singer and dancer at Universal Studios for four years. 

Coates recently completed six contracts as a principal singer for Norwegian Cruise Line, for which he also served as a diversity-casting associate.



Locally, Coates teaches a “Madonna’Licious Cardio Groove Class” at 12th Street Gym, a self-developed group-exercise concept he has also led onboard Norweigan ships and at other local gyms.

He was introduced to photography in 2009, when he got a Canon as a birthday gift and was bit by the “shutter bug.”

“To this day, I have the same camera that is on its original settings,” Coates said. He nicknamed his camera Naomi Ciccone — in tribute to Naomi Campbell and Madonna.

Coates started experimenting by photographing friends, family and coworkers, developing techniques based on trial and error, he said. The post-editing process is where he can really leave his mark on the images, Coates noted, adding he also tries to put his subjects at ease to ensure the most genuine photos.

“Before I start the photo shoot with my clients, I talk with them and get to know their personality so we are both comfortable with each other before shooting,” he said. “I pride myself on capturing random moments that my clients don’t know I’ve captured until after my editing process. Capturing their personality is key for a successful photo shoot.”

Coates’ background performing on cruise ships and as a fashion photographer has helped him build a portfolio infused with diversity. He has photographed around the globe — Australia, New Zealand, Israel, India, Japan, Singapore, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Sweden, Finland and Italy. 

“It’s been great to experience different cultures, styles and beauty in all shapes, sizes and colors,” he said.

Coates is looking to tap into his two decades of experience in the entertainment industry for his work mentoring and advising local aspiring entertainers, while continuing his wedding and other special-events photography. 

He also has another goal he’s looking to check off his bucket list: “[I’m] patiently waiting to photograph a feature story for a high-fashion magazine in the future like Vogue, Elle or Cosmopolitan!”

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