Adam Moco is a Canadian photographer who has been building a portfolio of work photographing gay men. In this age of the Adoration of the Adonis, Moco has been focusing his attention on ‘real’ men.Gay culture has an insidious tendency to be obsessed with youth, beauty and the perfect body. It could be argued that the Physique Pictorial magazines of the 40s & 50s created the problem we are seeing today of young men insecure in their body image; whether straight or gay. Women have a different set of values when it comes to searching for love, but we have dictated to them that a six-pack should rate highly on that list too. Gay lifestyle magazines of today may run articles about how we should embrace the variety of body types that nature has given us, yet they still run these articles in conjunction with photo editorials of the latest cute boyband to go shirtless (or further still) and adverts for muscle-gain nutritional supplements or toning gadgets, with no hint of irony. It is a sorry state of affairs, but even in the articles featuring this artists talking about body-shaming there are still shameful comments about the models.
But I guess we should start fighting back against this blatant body-shaming at some stage; even if we may be starting a losing battle.
One artist who is helping us disprove the adage that youth=beauty is Adam Moco. Travelling the world, he uses his skill with natural light to take ordinary (Real) gay men and highlight the beauty of their naked form. Not only does it seem to be ‘illegal’ to be half a kilo overweight within the gay hookup app culture, but there is also blatant racism & homophobia. Moco returns to his models a sense of worth and pride with his images that show beauty is available with every human figure. Working with guys of all ages, ethnicities and body types his Bare project is a wealth of male beauty in its natural form. Employing the classicism of black & white along with gentle natural poses he has built a body of work that I am sure brings a high degree of pride to the models involved. Using controlled depth of field to draw us in, these intimate shots are more sensual than sexual and invoke feelings of affection rather than the lust we are fed by the usual type of gay imagery. These gently vulnerable men look back at us the viewer with a sense of empowerment; no longer exposed in their nakedness, but proud.
This is an approach I have taken in the vast majority of by work to date. I took the decision long before that I would work with men of all ages and body types; partially due to lack of willing models, but mostly due to the reaction I got when we captured some shots for the model that gave them a boost of confidence. It also expands your skills as a photographer – if you have a toned model with a strafing light you can’t go wrong. If you have a shy model with body issues you must help them feel relaxed and confident so you automatically build an intimate friendship with them even if just for the hour or two during the shoot. I think this enables you to bring out a greater depth in the portrait work which is why I love this way of working.