He gave good talking head.
This gentleman was extremely nervous about his voice being recorded for my notes, but then went on to give me a very frank and thorough ‘portrait’ of his life and experiences. I did not realise how guarded the previous interviews had been until this man opened up to inform me of what life can be like for him as a bisexual and married man.
I am probably as guilty as most of thinking bisexuals are just plain greedy. ‘They don’t really exist & just need to make up their minds one way or another.’ But a truthful discussion with this subject put me in my place. His experience as a young man when he was torn between one love and another gave me reason for thought. Thanks to his honesty when speaking to me I truly believe he had to make a very difficult decision and it was not due to pressure from society that he chose the heterosexual path…I feel he would have been just as happy to have settled with the man he was also in love with. And he mentions wondering what his life would have been life had he chosen the other path.
He spoke with candour about what he needed from an encounter with a man. His heterosexual life meant him being the active one, the protector and his need for release from this…to be the one taken care of for a change, both emotionally and physically.
What was also very interesting about him was the fact he was by far the oldest man I had photographed for this project. It makes you consider at what age we are expected to leave behind thoughts of desire and physical intimacy. The younger generation always make gagging noises when they consider folk of their parents age having a sex life, yet as you get older you still have those needs and desires. And this is not confined to the male sex…we have a very good female friend who is currently single and has just passed 60…she delights us no end with tales of her successful and disastrous search for a love-life.
So when it came to capturing the images. I kept in mind a word the subject mentioned when he spoke of the occasions he has recently enjoyed some intimacy with another man…he spoke of disliking quick meaningless sex and how he enjoyed the sensuality of an encounter with a man. So I looked for sensual images that evoked an atmosphere of intimacy. Something suggestive of sexuality without being blunt. Shots that allowed a man in his mid-seventies to feel accepted as a sexual being. We speak of the admiration for the older man… of ‘Silver Foxes’ yet this is an unrealistic Hollywood dream. I saw a documentary on Francis Bacon at the weekend which stated how difficult it is to grow older as a homosexual due to our obsession with youth and beauty…something I am very well aware of yet interesting to hear mentioned in an arts documentary. Thoughts turn to the work of John Coplans who created sculptural and uncompromising images of the gradual decay of the human male body. An approach I cannot take with these images as my need is to flatter…to allow them some remnant of pride in their body.
Some of the resulting images I am very pleased with. They are not obvious and some need careful consideration as to what you are actually looking at. There is a distinct sexuality while nothing is actually blatantly shown.
I did capture one shot which places me in a dilemma (not shown here). It is a geometrically well-framed shot that speaks of the masculinity of the male and allows the model a good level of pride in still being considered physically attractive. The problem comes in that he is in a distinct state of arousal. The vast majority of the work I have done for the MA so far has been full-frontal, but this is the first time I have an image that I would like to use but am unsure whether to be circumspect or to push the boundaries. I am reminded of an image by Jamie Hawkesworth exhibited at Huis Marseille in Amsterdam as part of Unseen 2017 Photography Festival. It is an image that has much to consider when reading it and the majority of questions it poses resolve around the erect male that dominates the shot. I do not know whether I am at a stage whereby I can safely include such a controversial image within my project. It is something I shall have to give very careful consideration to before the final edit.