He was very nervous and kept fidgeting and moving around. So I had him sit down for the first part of the shoot.
He was immensely accessible but complex.
He’s gay and in a very sexual relationship. He and his partner have sex around three times a day. They can’t get enough of each other and when they sleep, they wrap their arms and legs around each other.
Being touched seemed to calm him down. Just before taking this shot, I covered his genitals with my hand. He took a deep slow breath and exhaled. I always try to touch a man’s face, his hands and his genitals. It’s the best way to gauge the man—and to allow him to express himself.
Unlike with the last man I shot, with Joseph there was a perfect newness to being seen in this way. He was excited to have the three of us–Trevor, Pony and myself–looking at him, adjusting angles and lights, discussing what we loved about him.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have a personal passion for smaller men. And since I know the same is true for Pony, I had him place his big hand over Joseph’s lean belly. I’m not sure I can explain why, but this simple contact had a profound intimacy. Pony later told me that it had felt remarkably like sex.
He was born and raised in Mamou, Louisiana, the heart of Cajun culture. There was no hint of an accent, but when he talked about being Cajun there was a quiet pride that almost seemed to border on anger. When we talked about his childhood and upbringing I began to get the sense of hidden depths to his character.
At one point I told him to hold himself. I’ve learned this almost always results in something interesting. Sometimes the man wraps his arms around his torso. Joseph reached down and held his balls gently.
I finally asked him about the unusual tattoo on his right arm. It’s the magical sigil for the demon Marchosias, one of the more powerful demons of Hell.
On his left arm he has a fleur-de-lys, a symbol of his Cajun background. On his right arm a summoning sigil for a demon from Hell. Far more interesting to me than a traditionally beautiful face is the face of depth and intelligence, of a spiritually complex engagement with life.
At the end of the shoot I had Joseph relax on the floor. I told Pony to touch Joseph in a way that connected them, man to man. Pony immediately reached under Joseph’s balls and gently held him. Pony and I are alike in that we will always privilege the unorthodox, unexpected connection above the cliche or prescribed.
– Paul Morris