Interview with Musée Magazine on Boyhood for the Women Crush Wednesday series:
Q: You are a young photographer who is most notable for your themes of healing, feminism, and female sexuality. What made you want to photograph young men?
A: I think what originally led me to want to photograph young boys was a need for change. After a while of focusing solely on my own vulnerable experiences, I felt an urge to photograph someone who has a completely different look on life than I do. Someone who’s story is a polar opposite to mine. That is what led me to look into photographing the male perspective. What made me pick specifically young boys for the series was the authenticity. Not one of them “put on a show” for the camera. They were simply playing outside with me standing nearby with a camera. I don’t think I could have caught that same reality with an older subject matter.
Q: These are powerful photographs depicting everyday kids just playing and having fun, and you have elevated them into the ethereal realm with your photography. When your series was finally done, how did the boys react to seeing their photographs?
A: I actually haven’t heard from most of the boys what they think of the photos! While shooting, I always like to show the photos to them because it gets them excited. Other than their reactions to that, I am unsure of what they think of them. I do know that their parents seem to love them. One of the first things some of the parents have asked is how I made the ordinary moments of “playtime” seem so staged and beautiful. I sadly don't have a witty answer, though. I’ve always gotten along with kids more than people my age, so I suppose that that connection makes them feel like they can be completely themselves around me even with a big camera in their face.
Q: We live in a society where men are now being held responsible for their actions, where toxic masculinity has finally been given a label. What does the present and future of masculinity look like to you?
A: As far as the present, I think masculinity has incredibly restrictive borders around it. Men are expected to fit into a box that has the adjectives “tough, strong, powerful, etc.” on it, yet, as soon as they stray away from those expectations, they are judged and put into a box labeled “abnormal”. I’m not saying masculinity in itself is a bad thing, but I think the term needs to be broadened to make room for people of different genders, or people who identify as genderless. As far as the future, I am unsure what I think it will look like. My hope is that the word (and its counterpart, “femininity”) are completely eliminated from modern vocabulary in order for people to exist without being forced into a binary at every turn.
Q: What are the challenges of photographing children over photographing adults? Are there things that are easier?
A: Well, for one, they never stop moving. Most of the boys in this series actually have moms that are photographers, so they are used to being photographed. I thought that would make things easier, but I think it was quite the opposite, actually. Since they know how the process works, maybe it’s that they are bored of being photographed or that they are just “out-photographed”. Either way, they can definitely be difficult to get what you “expected” from your shoot. Aside from that, all kids can be difficult to photograph because they are always on the move and bouncing from place to place. Keeping them still is more difficult than when photographing adults, but I prefer photographing kids. There is a purity you can see in photos of kids. They don't stage any moments, they don't care what they look like, and they're always just having fun.