After the last shoot I am again working with a man who identifies as bi/curious and in the comfort of my studio. He is currently getting a divorce, and with the freedom this and the internet give he wants to explore experiences with men. After seeing my website he asked me to capture some shots he can use for dating sites. And he was more than happy to try some images that I may be able to use for this project. Being heavily tattooed this creates problems for me when it comes to getting some images that still allow him a degree of anonymity though.
Fortunately he was a very easy going character which always helps. In order to create the images I do during a photo-shoot it is imperative the ‘model’ feels comfortable and confident as quickly as possible. You are ‘forced’ to build up a close friendship very quickly in order to help them relax & therefore capture the best and most natural images.
I have taken to interviewing the participants before the shoot to give me an idea of their character, what itches they need to scratch & how they go about this. These can then hopefully inform the project as well as give me some ideas as to what images to capture. Although he was a very easy going man, the interview was somewhat stifled so I may need to look at what questions I ask & maybe try to make it more informal rather than a question and answer session – which also has the potential to make the model feel more awkward than comfortable.
As I have often found when men come for photo-shoots – he was very self-conscious about his body. He wants to be bulkier and more muscular. There is much talk these days of the unrealistic body-image the media and fashion industry portrays; and the damage this is doing to the self-image of young girls growing up. However this is not confined to the younger generation nor to the half that are female. This worshipping of the Cult of Youth does as much damage to the older population, and men these days are no less pressurised to compete with the Adonis’s that plaster advertising or films. While he may not be young with skin like alabaster; he was a very masculine man with a cheeky glint to his eye so it was quite simple to capture some good shots that enabled him to see himself in a better light. And he was rather surprised at how he looked in the resulting shots.
For my part again I was a little limited to the images I could capture due to the problem with his tattoos restricting the chance of keeping his anonymity. I seem to have a third image that features the masculinity of the hand, but I am quietly pleased with the de-focussed shot. It shows his lean frame, and his vulnerable nakedness yet keeps his tattoos unrecognisable. I am beginning to wonder whether searching for an aesthetic thread to tie all the participants together is an exercise in futility; possibly what I should do is allow each man a distinct shot that speaks of him…after all we are all individuals so instead of pigeon-holing with the same image style I can relax and just find what suits or speaks of each individual man.