I had a conversation with a young straight friend the other day. He asked me why I take photographs of nude men. I told him it was basically for two reasons. The first: I have to. That is, it’s an inherent part of who I am. The second reason: to show that anyone can do it.
He’s 23, straight and was born and raised in France. At first I didn’t believe him: his English was impeccable with only a hint of an accent on a few difficult words. He was genial, proud without a trace of arrogance.
I usually avoid posing men. I prefer their natural stances. But Jean-Paul’s muscularity almost demanded it. In this snapshot, I wanted more dramatic torque than he was able to do alone. So I had Pony push hard against his right elbow, just out of frame.
We ended up going through a very long sequence of flexed poses. Each one led to another as I’d notice something powerful and beautiful. For the muscular male, his body is understood to be more accessible, more public, than other bodies. They’ve worked hard to be this strong and they understand that they’re to be looked at, admired, touched and enjoyed.
The muscular chest of a young bodybuilder is a tremendously charged “erogenous zone”. I’ve known muscular men–straight and gay–for whom the chest is as sexual as their genitals. Rather than have him flex while I shot his chest, I had Jean-Paul recline and relax.
The reclining pose completely changed the feel of the shoot. Immediately it went from being about his strength and prowess to being about his vulnerability, his sexuality. – Paul Morris