WARNING – this post contains male nudity

When I have a subject (Model? Sitter? Client? Friend? What can you call the men who agree to collaborate with me? Most words do not do justice to the intimate relationship that is built up very quickly when working with someone in the studio). Anyway – when someone is working with me in the studio I like to get a wide range of shots. One specific image is the Polaroid Diptych for the Dialogue for… project but we also explore some more stylised shots that are more appealing to the model as they not only allow them to remain anonymous but are also complimentary to their self-worth. It is unfortunate how we view such a degree of our worth through the physical appearance of our bodies, and part of the ethos of a shoot is to allow the model to see themselves objectively and stop fixating on their supposed flaws. The chance to create a piece of art with them as model is a nice little boost to their ego.

Updating modern interpretations of classical themes in painting and Greek sculpture we are using recognised gay semiotics to create images that are visually appealing and recognisably classical (and therefore fine-art) motifs. Shot against plain and often dark backgrounds in order to highlight the physical form, sometimes using poses that are indicative of the athleticism of the male. I also try to seek out something within the pose and masking that suits or speaks of the character of the person – sometimes even employing humour.

Working with the tug-of-war dichotomy of shame verses pride. My intention is to give the model a safe space in which to feel proud & comfortable and create some images that express their feelings of frustration at having to hide their sexuality in many day to day situations. Exploring how our sexuality affects our sexuality and vice versa – as gay men our worth is closely tied in with our physical sexuality in a way that is not so apparent with the heteronormative majority. As men our power is closely tied with our physical form (as well as the size of our manhood) and this is doubly so if you are a gay man.

All the models involved here are proud to allow me to use their images. Each one found it complimentary and each was also quite surprised how good they could look through a professional lens.

Entitling the project Option+Q this is a reference to the Apple Mac keyboard short-cut for the Mask tool in Photoshop; but also implies the wide-held belief that homosexuality is a choice. The only choice we have is to accept it in ourselves or to attempt to live a lie by repressing those feelings and desires.

For my part I do find the results appealing. They are, however, just a continuation of work I have been doing for over ten years now. There is nothing new or challenging to my eye here despite how proud I am to have captured them. I am still searching for Barthes’ Punctum with this project and am not sure I have found it yet. The images are challenging in that they depict the male exposing his vulnerability and a couple challenge the preconceptions of what constitutes pornography as the model is in an obvious state of arousal, yet I still feel I should do better. I should be pushing my own comfort zones and exploring something new.

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