When Brian told me he had an idea for a photo shoot he wanted to do with his husband Chad, I was excited. Brian is one of those people we all want to be more like: calm, kind, and cool. Paired with Chad, these two are striking, adorable and just plain fun to be around.
Brian told me about a book he owned that was just images of men together from the 1800s. He was in love with the style and the statement the images made. I was intrigued.
The book is made up of collected images, found at flea markets and estate sales, saved from otherwise oblivion by people who were also struck by the subject matter. It is called Dear Friends, a nod to the ambiguity of the relationships documented in the series of images. Today, as out queer people, we see two men embracing and think of course they’re gay. What else would they be? No straight men would embrace like that today. But how were the photographs interpreted in the 1850s? Were men freer with their affection in friendship? Or were these photos all kept secret when they were created?
And who were the photographers!? Were they in on it, turning a blind eye, totally oblivious? Like Brian, I fell in love with this book.
Back to Brian’s idea. He wanted to recreate some of his favorite poses from the book with Chad. Normally, I’m a relaxed, lifestyle, story telling photographer. I do very minimal posing, I tend to move my own body to get the right angle more than meticulously arranging my clients. But in a way, these images still felt very true to my desire to tell a story. And so we decided to give it a shot!
First of all, aren’t these guys just gorgeous? Their love for each other and the world around them teaches me better ways to be at peace.
It’s been a really long time since I’ve attempted any editing style outside my norm. I wasn’t sure if I could get that old timey look they were going for. I found a Photoshop action that mimics ambrotype photography and built from there.
I remember when I was teaching photography at Sterling College a couple of years ago, I showed my students some photographers that are still using photo developing methods from hundreds of years ago. The process became as much a part of the story as the image itself. I connected with that. But I wasn’t prepared to create an actual wet plate collodion print. So this edited style had to do.
Brian and Chad are excited to get prints made and Brian found some incredible vintage frames at a local store. I will be sure to post about it when we get them put together!
I’ll leave you with this quote that cut me deep from the book Dear Friends. “Being drawn in this way to the enigmatic artifacts from the past provides evidence of longing: longing for the self-validation that results from having a history to refer to; longing for a comforting sense of connection to others- past as well as present- whose experience mirrors one’s own.” (Deitcher, 14) That sense of longing is what Blue Muse is all about. Let’s tell our stories. Let’s let ourselves be seen, now, and in the future.