If this picture of Allen Clippinger strolling on the beach with a parasol seems familiar to you,
click on this reminder and you'll know why.
Hong Tao's recreation of the subject copies the photograph fairly closely, but he seems to have swapped the hint of boyish mischief seen here in the model's face for a more serious and sensitive demeanour. He focuses our attention on the model's character (and subtly changes our perceptions of it) by removing the distracting background of sea and beach, with all it's associations with summer, play and fun. Comparing the two pictures gives a rather good illustration of how we are subconsciously influenced by what appears to be minor detail.
The disappearance of the sporty numbers on the swimming trunks is also part of that transformation though I must say I like to see numbers on a man, it suggests he's got some energy and offers the faint chance that he might be capable of submitting to discipline.
When I first saw Hong Tao's picture I was struck by the apparent flimsiness and loose fit of the model's shorts which gave it a slightly erotic flavour. You can almost see the same effect in the original photograph but it's clear here that it's created by shadowing and the dishevelling effect of actually getting them wet in the sea (God forbid!). The suggestive dark shadowing just above the waistline in Tao's picture is however, pure artistic licence (or should I say licentiousness!).