I’ve been reading the Iliad lately. And even in Homer, laced within all the battling and rage and death, the beauty of men is constantly celebrated.
From the beginning of this shoot, Jason felt like a warrior. He was formal, distant, confident.
He’s 20 and carries his inherent pride without arrogance. I asked him about the tattoo on his chest and he said “It’s to remind me that my heart is always going to be broken.” I asked if he’d ever been in love and he answered “Yes, too many times.”
Pony had brought a bunch of various tools and props in that day. I asked Jason to choose the one that felt appropriate to him. He chose this sledge-hammer. I took away the hammer and handed these antlers to him, asking him to post with it in a way that felt natural and comfortable to him. He held it here and clenched his free hand in a fist. Holding the antlers relaxed him. While he held them he opened up and told me about his family.
The talk about his family led to his showing me this tattoo, his family crest. He told me what each element of the crest meant: his ancestors had conquered cities, had fought in the Crusades, had been close to the king. I said “So you have a warrior’s blood.” It was suddenly as though all the tension in the room melted.
I’ve never understood it, the love men have for war, for fighting and competition. But it’s an ineluctable part of our nature for better or worse. And as soon as I’d acknowledged Jason’s “warrior blood” it was all but impossible to get him to stop smiling.