The Nuts and Bolts of Male Friendship: Photographs and Interviews, 2008
The Nuts and Bolts of Male Friendship: Photographs and Interviews is an examination of the verbal and non-verbal fields between two men who define their relations as a platonic same-sex friendship. The photography studio was used to conduct an interview and portrait. Prior to the photo shoot, I asked the men various questions in order to reveal the circumstances and actions that have helped define and shape their friendship. The interviews were recorded and transcribed. During the photo shoot, I did not give any specific direction in terms of body or facial expression/position. The only direction that was conducted was to ensure they were on the plane of focus for the camera and their faces were receiving the proper amount of light from the strobes. For the first section, I asked the men to construct 5 different poses that they would like to do together, which is titled “Impromptu Poses.” The second section, titled “Historical Poses,” is based on a book of portraits of men in the studio from the mid 1800’s to the early 1900’s. The book featured an array of 30 photographs with the subjects in a variety of poses from standing side by side to holding hands. I asked the men to choose 5 poses they would like to perform. My use of the camera was almost continuous as I photographed the behavior before, during, and after their intended pose. Presenting just one photograph from each pose would not reveal the overall dynamics, expressivity, and personality of the relationship between the two men inside the studio. The amalgamation of photographs provides a singular, animated narrative of the various poses constructed together. These four animations are titled Mechanics of Movement & Expression: Studio Sessions. Identifiable nuances of movement include eye contact, hand placement, and the distance between the men.
There was once a period in which it was customary for American men to go into a photographer’s studio and have their portrait taken together. The majority of these portraits were taken from the mid-nineteenth century until the early twentieth century, as the men would inhabit the frame of a camera inside a studio with the intent of acquiring a record of their relationship. The elements contained within the studio would be of basic purpose, a chair or two for the subjects to sit on and various props that may have been brought in by the sitters such as; smoking pipes, walking canes, guns and knives to help amplify a specific pose or maneuver. What links the majority of these early photographs is the physical expressivity the men shared in front of the camera. Standing side by side, holding hands, sitting on laps and giving full arm embraces were deemed an acceptable way to pose and acknowledge each other’s presence. The frequency of such an event for men to partake in strongly correlates with the fact that it was common for American men to have strong, intimate and romantic friendships.
When I scheduled the photo shoot and interview, I advised my subjects that the only compensation I could provide would be printed enlargements from the studio session. Their willingness to participate in a shared experience within the confines of the studio and have their portrait taken together is an event that has output an object they intended for. The treatment, handling and life of the photograph they receive are entirely up to them to decide.