I have photographed this sitter in the studio before, but he has recently lost a fair amount of weight so he was a lot happier about his self-image. He plans to start training now in order to tone-up his body and achieve the ever elusive 6-pack. I must applaud him for his will power, but I also feel a little sad that the media (and gay media in particular) has pushed him in this direction; making him feel inadequate because he does not measure up to the Adonis we are supposed to aspire to.
(Fig. 1) For the domestic objects I did struggle a touch to find suitable things to reflect his character. Returning again to the use of mirrors in some form I tried with this image to combine the object and naked portrait in the same shot. While I like the tones & composition and the naked blur in the background I do not feel it speaks of his character…merely that he was hungover on the the day and was desperately rehydrating to stave off a headache.
(Fig. 2) The close crop of this dream-catcher which hangs from his bedroom wall has more than a subtle hint of the spider-web about it. While I do not compare this man’s character to the carnivorous spider he is certainly not the shy and retiring wallflower but is quite confident in setting out to plan and achieve his goals
(Fig. 3) The shapes and tones were what initially attracted me to this glass sculpture. The diamond shapes would seem to signify wealth and the nefarious tendency of some gay men to go looking for a sugar daddy that will set them up with riches in exchange for their company. This is less a comment on the personal possessions of this subject as he is most definitely his own man and fiercely independent
(Fig. 4) Again I find myself photographing plants. This Peace Lily is an old friend which he has been growing for over a decade and so has seen many lovers come and go. The serene peaceful tones of this shot are calming and pleasant. Yet there is also a subtle sexuality that could be read into the form. The closed flower as seen here bears more than a hint of the female genitals; while the open flower has a very phallic appearance. This references Robert Mapplethorpe’s use of Cala Lillies to serene yet sexual references within some of his imagery.
(Fig. 5) The leaves of this plant draping over the edge of a black plant pot bear a similar resemblance to the Greek letter Lambda which was used in the past as a discrete symbol by which gay men could recognise other gay men. When things were not as open as they are today gay men found subtle ways to announce their sexuality to others – be this by wearing a Pink Triangle badge or the Lambda stitched to your lapel. Of course this model is too young to appreciate the references, but I found it interesting none-the-less
There are several versions of this shot from differing angles and some of his standing. After careful consideration I feel this is my favourite as he occupies a small part of the overall image and his manhood is extremely subtle yet distinctly there. It is also a very relaxed pose which compliments his physique at the same time. I even like the small curl of cloth in the bottom right of the frame which indicates he could be clothed but chooses to reveal rather than conceal.
(Fig. 7) I am torn between the previous version and this shot as again he is subtly naked, it compliments his physique and the cloth indicates his choice to be naked. There is the chain around his neck which is rather masculine in its weight yet the pink wrist band hints at his sexuality. The empty bed in the background could be read as an invitation and his casual pose accentuates his frame. A slightly voyeuristic angle yet we know that I must be very close within the room which poses questions as to my intent within the narrative
(Fig. 8) I am drawn to this shot mostly because of the inventive way to hide his face. The geometry of the surrounding also appeal as well as the simplicity of the setting with only a small level of fussiness upon the bedside table. I like the spot-lamps shining directly at the viewer as if to say we know you are looking even if you cannot see his face. My main problem with the shot is that he is too hidden and all you can really see is legs and penis. Also I find the box of tissues on the table to be far too sexually suggestive – this should teach me to be far more aware of everything in the frame before I capture the shot. Although bearing that in mind I am setting out to be as natural to the person and his environment as possible which is why I do not seek to move any items or set out lighting etc to create a more studio setup.
(Fig. 9) It is amazing the things you can find n some peoples kitchens! This sun-bed has a distinctly science fiction feel about the image as if he has awoken from cryogenic sleep on his way to a new life on another planet. There is a tradition of LGBTQ characters within sci-fi – probably as we imagine this utopia future where we can truly be free and accepted.
(Fig. 10) When trying to retain a models anonymity it forces you to be inventive in ways to conceal their faces. I am usually loathe to use the ‘decapitation’ method, but something about this shot still appeals. I am tempted to name it ’Nude Descending a Staircase’ in reference to Marcel Duchamp’s cubist masterpiece; a painting that was highly controversial when originally exhibited; much in the way the naked male is still so controversial today. It is very simple in it’s composition with the only elements of fussiness being the few personal possessions that populate the shelf behind him. Again the light and pose compliments his physique and he appears fairly natural. I may try to re-work the edit as the colours do not really work as I would want. But I am pleased to have several shots to choose from when it comes to this subjects naked portraits.