The main thing I’m interested in is simplicity and directness. I don’t seem to have any inclination to become a master of the techniques and mechanics of photography. No interest in props, in equipment, in anything other than having men remove their clothes and stand in front of me. The camera is nothing more than an excuse, and when I snap the photos it’s an interruption to my real obsession: looking at men, talking with them, learning who they are and how they feel.
Sometimes I try new things, but they’re always tiny improvisations meant to let me focus on the man. For this shoot I asked Trevor to hang some simple strips of butcher paper and place the larger LED lights behind them. We played with silhouettes for a while.
The young man was nervous and very formal, eager to please but wary. I love shooting men who’ve never done this before. And I’ve loved watching Trevor develop a practiced but warm distance from them.
He’s a strikingly handsome waiter at a fine restaurant in San Francisco. Very soft-spoken and polite, he seemed to me to be above all a gentle man.
I waited until I was kneeling next to him to ask about his sexuality. There was a significant hesitation, then he answered “I’m straight.” It was firm but almost apologetic. “You’re used to be stared at by men, yes?” That question he didn’t answer. “After all, here I am staring at every part of you.” No answer.
Intentionally, I stood inches from him and said “My god, what a beautiful man you are.” I snapped a dozen shots of his face, close-up, challenging him to react. But he was completely calm and open. This, I thought to myself, is a good man. A sweet man.
He’s 27. After he’d left, Joey (who is 25) came into my office. He’d been shocked to see Karl come in as a model. I asked why. “Because in high school he mercilessly bullied me, called me faggot, threw things at me, punched me. It was hell.” But as Karl left the office after the photo shoot, he’d recognized Joey, shook his hand and told him it was good to see him again. “It’s like we grew up,” Joey said. “And now we’re adults and we’re equals.”
Enjoy – Paul Morris