At first he was very nervous, very stiff. 23 years old, he lives with a woman in what he called “a shack” by the side of the road somewhere in the Santa Cruz mountains. After I’d complimented him a bit he relaxed. He’d been worried that his being completely shaved smooth might be a problem. I told him that I didn’t mind at all.
We played a lot with poses, and he was happy when I laughed and told him that I was putting him in some very feminine poses. He enjoyed being touched and moved and posed.
He’d been a carpenter since his teen years. But there are no jobs in construction, so he’s been unemployed for too long. Now he’s apprenticed to a car mechanic. He’s hoping that this will work out for his future, but things are getting desperate for him financially.
I learned today that another man I recently photographed–Lucky–is living out of his car. This young man, Christopher, can only afford to live in “a shack” and is worried that he might lose that if he can’t meet the rent. Time are very tough.
He came to me and let me photograph him because I paid him and it will help him pay his bills. I felt conflicted: I hope his fortunes improve, but I’m happy to have had this chance to meet him, to photograph his beauty at this moment in his life.
Near the end of our session, Trevor was adjusting the lights and Christopher stood patiently, waiting. You can imagine how maladept and inadequate I felt as I watched him, unposed and relaxed, thoughtful and lovely.
I suddenly remembered a Cavafy poem I’d read years ago. I wasn’t able to find it again, but here’s a very poor paraphrase of it:
When they saw
the handsome youth,
those who gazed with
understood and wondered
which of the Gods he might be,
and for what purpose
he had descended to the city
from the palaces of heaven.
– PAUL MORRIS