Following the previous success and positive feedback received about the project, the decision was made to continue the method of reaching out to young gay men through the social media platform of Instagram. Sourcing potential sitters online in their early-to-mid twenties, which were found by searching the trending hashtag #gay.
For the photoshoot Ethan Caleb Johnson or as he is otherwise known and encountered online: @ethan_johnson was approached. After correspondence online a photoshoot was mutually organised to be conducted within his Littleborough home upon his return to the UK during a week long break from his job (as the time) as an entertainer on Mediterranean cruise ships, performing for passengers.
There were feelings of trepidation surrounding meeting Ethan for the first time. Due to personal curiosity, aiming to see if the version of himself he displayed online (Instagram) was the "real" him, a fabricated persona or merely just an exaggerated aspect of his personality. Entering the photoshoot within his home on the 14th November 2018, attempting to remain openminded and not to make preconceived judgements based from online perceptions.
From first contact at the threshhold of his home, to his bedroom (the backdrop for the photoshoot) and all the way through the photoshoot the conversation was candid. Discussing personal and differing opinions surrounding online pressures from within the gay community of topics such as body image and self-representation. Thus, resulted in leaving the photoshoot with not only a roll of 35mm film and Polaroids, but an enriched viewpoint on how another from within the community interprets their representation, use and engagement with social media.
After spending time with Ethan face-to-face and attempting to get to know the man behind the online profile, I learned things I never expected or would have known from merely glancing or browsing his Instagram. He was kind, caring, funny, welcoming and is extremely creative!! He sings, dances, acts, sketches, paints, makes a large selection of his own clothes from scratch. All facets of his personality I never would've know if not to make the effort to see the person behind the persona. We sat and talked candidly so to form a trusting relationship between sitter and photographer.
The photoshoot again was captured using a Pentax K1000 (35mm film) and Polaroid 363 Close-Up. Shooting polaroids predominantly so the sitter has a memento from our photoshoot together as a way of making the experience more personal and build a friendship opposed to simply a stereotypical model and photographer relationship. By working in this fashion it becomes a much more personal and intimate experience. By shooting film the sitter is forced to wait and trust me with the final result thus, taking a sense of authorship over not only the images but the models own personal persona. Photographing them the way I see them opposed to the way they wish to be seen.
Models Instagram: @ethan_johnson