I met this amazing gentleman late last year. We went for a coffee to discuss his first shoot with me - a shoot to celebrate his upcoming 40th birthday. During our meeting he told me that he had reached out to other photographers, but had been turned away from doing a boudoir shoot because he was male. This really didn't sit well with me. Yes, boudoir photography is primarily a woman-focused art form. But who are we to tell someone that they can't celebrate themselves through photography based on their gender? People of ALL gender identities should be encouraged to celebrate their bodies and embrace their uniqueness!
Our first shoot in January was nothing short of incredible. We shared a million laughs and created some empowering imagery - so when I was contacted again to do a second shoot, I was elated! The second shoot was definitely more exploratory - he wanted to do nudes (which I had actually never shot before this!) and explore gender expression through drag. It was a day of firsts for both of us, and it was such a beautiful experience to be a part of. Without further ado!
Why the second shoot? I am not really sure why... I know things have changed for me in the past few years, sexuality wise. I would say I accept my fluidity, after suppressing or denying it for awhile. Though I do feel hemmed in, in my personal life socially and not really in the best place living wise. I have been getting exercise and working lots and am focused on some specific goals of mine but I also didn't want to lose sight of who I am, or where I am in life.
A few years ago I did finally accept who I am or where I am, though that was after I had heard some rumours that were circulating about me here at work...
I did manage to go to Katy Perry concert and was pretty open about it. Upon returning to work I was asked by a few coworkers about it... it was how and why they were asking, rather than being genuine about it that made me feel uncomfortable... I guess that is around the same time that I heard the rumour that I'm the "feminine rigger" here at work. That was pretty difficult to hear and still feel not good about where I work and whom I work with.
As for what inspired me to do the second shoot, well I wanted to capture a more of a state of where I am, some of changes I have gone through in attitude and perspective and how I feel. I was super nervous and shy about going and buying make up and then getting it done, then going to the photo shoot. I don't even remember if I told [Molly] that I was going to be made up and in drag. But drag specifically was something that I never thought of doing at anytime... still I was feeling pretty confident, comfortable and sexy and nothing is more sexy than a woman and women's clothing.
So I was curious... I bought some items that I liked, shoes were difficult to purchase... I bought some make up, I had some great help at Sephora, the make-up artist, Charlotte, was amazing.
I guess I just wanted to free this "woman" inside me... dressing up in drag might have been a way of freeing some pent up emotions/feelings.
I do like the traditional pronouns of he and his though... I'm happy being a man, but I certainly love the girl within.. damn I think I looked good!
I really wanted to do something nice for myself that was more just some trinket or luxury. I wanted something more personal that would capture a moment in time that I can always comeback and visit, relive or escape too. It just so happened that I was turning 40 too. The last 11 years have been tough and hell like. I came out as fluid/bisexual to a few people but not really my coworkers, but people of trust. Though they aren't really there for me now. I accept I like what I like and while I'm not changing who I am, my perception of me has changed and well I can change whom I'm going to spend my time with. It's too valuable for anything less.
So the boudoir, the nudes and the drag are about a lot of things: beauty, sexy, confidence, safety, vulnerability, change, acceptance, perseverance and inspirational. And damn I look good! It's a unique and first and sense of relief and exhilaration.