Have you ever noticed how, in classic portrait photography, people of different genders are shot differently? A quick google image search of mainstream women’s magazine titles will reveal cover girls, mostly shot from above, looking down coyly. Do the same for a popular men’s magazine, and come up with images of men shot from below and looking at the world straight ahead. Part of what I love about BUST’s photographers is that they subvert this norm and shoot women looking the world head on.
In a brilliant new photo series, Lorenzo Triburgo creates “Transportraits.” A transgender man himself, Triburgo invites trans men to sit for him, and he photographs them in a traditionally “masculine” light. They look straight ahead; the camera is poised slightly beneath them. Correcting prejudicial assumptions made about trans people, the images display these men in no uncertain terms: they are clearly courageous individuals to be looked up to both literally and figuratively.
Says the artist of his project, “What I wanted to do was create a project that was [...] about [...] gender identity and constructions of masculinity.”
In each photograph, Triburgo mounts a painted landscape. These paintings represent his philosophy on nature and biology; as Slate explains, “they communicate the idea that nature is a construct.” In juxtaposing a fabricated landscape with his photographed subjects, the artist confronts assumptions made about the truth and subjectivity of both his medium and his gender.
He tells Slate, “Photography is seen as this medium that represents truth, that relays or records a happening or an instance. I think now we can mostly agree that's a misperception. Things can be altered or the subjectivity of the person taking the photo can dictate how it's created. The same thing goes toward gender. Someone is assigned a gender at birth, when I don't think there's any truth behind that. I think gender is something that can grow and change and is more subjective than it's seen at large.”
It is exciting to see the art world toss out gendered portraiture techniques. We all know that women (cis and trans alike) can be heroic, powerful, and monolithic, and men (cis and trans) can be gentle or coy. It’s about time photography caught up with modern ideas about gender and started shooting subjects in a light that captures the individual, not just prejudicial assumptions or generalizations about his, her, or hir sex.
Triburgo’s subjects are, as Slate writes, “Out, Proud, and Courageous,” and it shows. Bravo, Lorenzo! Check out more of his beautiful photographs below.
Thanks to Slate
Images via Slate