It all started off very well. He was naked when I walked into the room, and was acting out something that had happened to him that day on the way to the studio.
Once we started, things quickly began to feel strained. We tried various simple poses but he seemed both attracted to the camera and wary of it. This was when I noticed that he was becoming aroused despite himself, focusing on not allowing himself to become fully erect.
As usual, I’m not one to avoid an interesting development. But I’m also not one to be cruel. So I moved directly in front of him and with a hand gesture indicated that I was only shooting him from the waist up. He looked into the camera intensely, almost growling at me.
I moved back a step, hoping to get a shot of him in near full erection. But he immediately turned to the side, obviously either unhappy or embarrassed. I turned to Trevor and suggested that we take a brief break.
After a few minutes I came back. Things were more relaxed. He’s 20, straight, and was born and raised in a tiny town in Northern California. I mentioned that he has a fine physique. “I’m an athlete. I want to go pro someday.” I asked what sport he’s involved in. He didn’t respond.
Sometimes the way to relax a man is by asking him questions about himself, his life. In this case the opposite was true. I kept a quiet running banter going with Trevor about the weather, international events, anything that had nothing to do with the young man I was photographing. It was the only way I could find to enable him to feel at ease in poses like this.
And finally, at the end of the shoot, I realized what he needed to hear. I said “You’re a powerful man, aren’t you.” He was standing, his hands nearly clenched, and he looked at me with what read as a combination of defiance and pride. He didn’t respond, but he didn’t need to. It was all right there in his expression. There is nothing in this world more majestic than a young man standing naked and tall, ready to meet any challenge that might come.
I shook his hand firmly and thanked him for giving me the chance to photograph him. His hand was strong and wet.
– PAUL MORRIS