It was 45 degrees outside when we shot this…
By the time it was all said and done, I’d spent close to two hours in my underwear, or less.
Moral of the story… and it’s ok to laugh… shrinkage is a real thing!
Pushing the boundaries because we can and we did.
Note for the reader: This is a candid picture essay discussing my thoughts on my first experience with a homosexual male photographer, as well as showing some of the work we created. The thoughts and images of are a very open, sensual and intimate nature, including erections, so please do not read on if this is potentially disturbing to you. Some of these are images that have already appeared on my blog in previous posts.
I recently did something that I never thought I never thought I’d do in a million years, I posed nude for a gay photographer. We corresponded well in advance of the shoot, and although he didn’t advertise his sexual orientation, I had done enough research on him to figure it out on my own.
No surprise that he didn’t warn/tell me/mention his sexual orientation while we corresponded, because it shouldn’t even come up at that point, nor should it matter if his goal is to provide a professional product. It’d be a serious red flag if he made it a point to mention that he was a homosexual.
My openness with my body confuses people sometimes, especially with my almost equal appreciation for artistic male and female nudity and my candidness with discussing the male body, but when it comes to my sexuality, I have always been 100% heterosexual… believe it or not, just because I can appreciate the artistic beauty of, let’s say, a muscular and well-hung male nude model, it doesn’t mean that I’m sexually aroused by the sight, but I do appreciate the powerfully masculine projection personified in such a capture. I’m not against homosexuality, in fact some of my best friends are gay and lesbian (in fact, one of my long-time gay friends is a frequent viewer of my nudity), and I’m all for gay rights, gay marriage etc., but I am far from ever having been turned on by men and have certainly never, nor would I ever, have a sexual interaction with one. In fact, I’ve had several uncomfortable… situations… with men that have made me legitimately fearful of gay men in casual nudity situations such as dorms and locker rooms, including a 15 year-old peer who, well we’ll just say he put his hands on me.
I don’t even like men professionally massaging me.
Then, although he wasn’t gay to my knowledge, there’s the fact that the first person who teased me over my penis size was another soldier I shared a shower with in my early years with the Army. Add all of this, and it took me a while for me to even be comfortable nude around other males that weren’t my closest friends, but even that was assuming that we’re the same sexual orientation. Although, I have posed for male photographers before, each time with a good experience.
And then, there’s the fact that I’ve been a part of the modeling world for a while, and while the reality is that most artistic nudes of this world depict the female form (no objection), the other thing that I’ve realized is that the majority of males who shoot other male nudes tend to overly sexualize (instead of sensualize) the male, shooting images that seem to appeal to gay sexuality than to emphasize the beauty of the male nude’s power:
Enter Garrett, the photographer who contacted me through ModelMayhem. I almost immediately realized that he was somebody I wanted to work with as soon as I saw his portfolio… and although I was confident that he was homosexual, something in me, probably a mixture of the quality of his work and his intense professionalism, convinced me that I needed to work with him.
In advance of the shoot, we laid out our mutually-agreeable ground rules, in fact he equally shared my concern to “avoid producing porn”, which did volumes for my confidence with him. I felt comfortable enough in our pre-shoot conversations that I let him see candid images of my body so that he could see me exactly for who I am, with no edits, and his response was even more positive.
Then the day of the shoot came… somehow I managed to find parking in the middle of Atlanta during evening rush hour, which I guess was another final sign that this wasn’t an experience to be regretted. Garrett met me at the door, apparently waiting on me, and the first 15 minutes were almost like a pre-operation consultation, with both of us going over what our expectations were for the shoot and going over exactly what we wanted to get out of it. I explicitly laid out my personal boundaries for the shoot, such as that he wouldn’t use any pictures showing my face in any online portfolios and wouldn’t take any extremely compromising images (such as ones where my anus was visible), or any pictures that seemed like I was “asking for it” from behind, if you will. His readiness to agree with my boundaries was almost as though he was creating them for me.
Then it was time to undress…
We talked about this shot for a while, it was his request to make… it’s interesting but not particularly one of my favorites. Just seems like my definition from shoulders to knees is very flat.
After I undressed and was ready, he did a physical “inspection” of my nude body… at my request… basically to make sure I wasn’t bringing anything into the shoot that I didn’t want to bring into an image, such as oddly-colored underwear lint or, worse yet, toilet paper. Yet, as odd as you’d think it would be, I didn’t feel at all violated or uneasy about the fact that a man (a gay man, at that) was inspecting between my cheeks. In fact, I felt a strong appreciation for the fact that I could be so personal with this stranger without him reacting awkwardly to it, either taking offense that to being asked to inspect between my private areas or reacting it to it as though it was a subtle invitation for more to happen besides photography.
One thing he DID notice was the imprints of my belt onto my skin around my waistline (note to self: wear LOOSE clothing in advance of a shoot!).
I admit that this picture is not necessarily one of the most appealing that are out there, it was actually my request, not his specifically. I really like bending poses like this one because it captures the areas of my body that I’m most proud of (legs and buttocks and thighs) when they are flexed out. I’m sorry for anybody who feels like they are mooned, but that’s not the intended meaning.
He said that I have really nice shoulders that made this shot possible.
Garrett touched me multiple times during the shoot, but only in order to specifically pose me. He never did it without warning, and never in an explicit area (i.e. below the waist).
It was around this time that I started getting to know him and asked him questions about his work, lifestyle and etc. At this point, he revealed that he had been married to his husband for some twenty years while nearly simultaneously promising me that he wasn’t thinking of me in a sexual way. Despite the nearly-rapid sexualization of males, as well as his general comfort with viewing and touching my nude body, I genuinely believe that Garrett wasn’t actually sexually energized during the shoot, as he never made any sexually-suggestive remarks, never showed any physical signs of arousal (yes, I checked the front of his tight jeans occasionally to see), and referred to intimate body parts using only professional terminology (i.e. penis not dick or cock). By this point, even though he had confirmed what I already knew about his sexual orientation, I felt just as comfortable with him seeing everything about me as I would be my doctor, maybe even more so.
We both agreed to do a certain amount of very sensual, borderline-erotic captures (warning: erection pictures):
Lesson learned: here’s where my clothes made a lasting imprint on my skin…
Speaking of erections, especially since I rarely post images of such here… they are a taboo, hence rarely-visited subject of artistic nudes, partially because of their automatic (natural) association with sexuality, as well as the general sense among men and women of the Artistic Ugliness of the Penis. I resent both stereotypes… while admittedly a penis doesn’t compare to the natural beauty of a woman’s curves, it has a beauty of its own that deserves appreciation, especially in its erect form. Yes, an erect penis can definitely be sexually provocative (which is why there’s not a single picture that exists with me ejaculating, for example), but an erection can be both the pinnacle of a man’s masculinity and the trough of his vulnerability, especially since people naturally associate its size and firmness with a perceived sense of might and prowess, or lack thereof. In fact, social scientists have often remarked that, in early times, the visibility of the size of the male’s genitals was an early factor in how females chose their mates.
In other words, there’s not a way to present a nude model’s confidence in their prowess or their vulnerability by capturing them with an erection. And, to be fair, with my particular endowment, it can go both ways:
I kind of made fun of myself about a similar picture in this pose with the caption “It’s not big, but it’s there…”, but there was a point to that statement: I’m not afraid of myself or my endowment, I’ve gotten to the point where I won’t let my pre-conceived notions of what a beautiful male is or should be stop me from at least trying to tell my story, to be a part of something beautiful.
Speaking of insecurity… it’s one thing to talk about things you can’t control like your endowment, but it’s a step further to deal with things you can control like your gut size. I won’t go into too much detail because it’s already discussed another post, but this pose was based on a picture Garret had shot of another model (with a flat stomach) that I thought was gorgeous. I initially resisted his efforts to re-create the shot with me, knowing that I didn’t have the physique of the model he originally shot in that pose, but he politely insisted that we at least see how it comes out, and this is what we got:
It’s enough to say that there’s a lot to like and dislike about this picture, but more to like. Read the linked post above for more.
We had some fun, shooting some karate images:
Part of body positivity is, privately or publicly, celebrating the parts of your body that best impact your self-esteem… a picture essay of my least and most favorite physical features might be the subject of a future blog post, but if I were to write it tonight, my buttocks would be at the top of the list, followed by my legs (the result of being able to leg press over 1,000 lbs):
It may very well be vanity, but I feel like my buttocks are the most toned, shapely and exercise-responsive part of my body:
These are some of several dozen beautiful images Garret and I created over the course of nearly three hours, some of which have been posted here on my blog, some of which have never been posted anywhere, and some of which are merely for my own personal enjoyment. But here’s the only important point of this blog post: I posed nude for a gay photographer, as a heterosexual male, and had the most pleasant, professional experience imaginable.
Garret is gay, but his sexual orientation was completely irrelevant in the work we came together to produce: what mattered was his professionalism, compassion, talent and dedication to excellent, along with our teamwork. The only way his sexual orientation factored into the shoot was my comfort with frankly discussing my physical concerns, without the fear of grossing him out or offending him, both of which only acted to make our work better.
At the end of the day, Garret did for me what anyone should hope would be the outcome of a nude shoot: he made me feel like an empowered human being through my full nudity.
Now, what have I learned? Despite wonderful as my shoot was with Garret, I’m still not willing to throw caution to the wind and pose for any photographer, whether or not he’s gay. HOWEVER, after meeting Garrett, I’m not going to turn down a chance to work with a photographer merely by virtue of his or her sexuality… I definitely feel comfortable looking past it, opening up and trusting men and women alike, regardless of their sexual orientation, provided that they treat me with the same dignity and respect that everyone deserves, and that we can agree on a common vision of what we want to produce together.