Our masculine and feminine selves. Shelby contacted me wanting to do a shoot. She wanted to do an androgynous shoot, but make it fine art nude. She was inspired by an image where the model had two different looks, one masculine, one feminine. We didn’t have a clear idea of exactly what we were going to capture when we met up at the studio. We only knew that we wanted to try to play with gender roles.
We started off with a more masculine style. It was fascinating for me to become so acutely aware of how I direct male and female subjects to accentuate elements of gender. I think that the male role was difficult for Shelby because she has such strong feminine energy. Even in the previous shoot I did with her after she shaved her head, she still looked super feminine.
Looking at the images afterward I was struck by the strong personas. As I was editing I was responding to the images in a visceral way. I still can’t articulate exactly what I was feeling. I don’t know if I was confused, amazed, fascinated, troubled… I’m not sure, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the images.
I’ve never done a composite shot before, where you take two images and combine them. But when Shelby sent me a couple of pictures of a model, one where she was more feminine and another more masculine, I thought doing a composite would be a great way to contrast those two sides of ourselves.
I purposely kept it simple because I seldom use Photoshop. So I purposely separated Shelby’s two personas, mostly because I don’t have the skills to have them interacting closely in post-processing. But that created an interesting feeling in the final images. They are distant observers of one another. The two Shelby’s are looking at different aspects of themselves from a distance. They are intrigued by what they see in each other but are not truly connected. Those aspects of yin and yang are not integrated.
From a technical standpoint, this was an experiment (like most of my shoots). In retrospect, I would not have used such a wide lens. There is too much perspective distortion. And if they are not on the same plane, it gives the image a slightly distorted surreal look. Next time I’ll shoot from further away with a longer lens.