I caught up with photographer Paul Sixta to talk about the challenge of photographing naked men.
When did you start to explore your passion for photography?
I started photographing and doing some videos when I was 12. I just loved fooling around with cameras. Photos were analogue and needed to be printed, which was kind of expensive at the time for a kid, so I didn’t do as much as I would have liked.
You’ve created a stunning series of work — photographing naked men. How have you sourced the subjects for this series?
I find most men online — Instagram, Grindr — it’s easier to approach people online so they can have a look at the work, see if it’s something they might be interested in, and feel more comfortable saying no if they’re not sure.
Is this an ongoing series?
I’ll probably always be taking portraits of people. It’s probably a never-ending project. I’m always looking to meet and photograph new people.
What does this series of photographs tell us about men and their relationship with their bodies?
Women’s bodies are judged so much more harshly then men’s bodies, but men have their issues as well. Almost every man thinks their penis is too small, or they wish that they had an Instagram six-pack. It takes a moment when we start shooting to accept whatever you’ve got and try to let it be.
Even though I don’t Photoshop bodies or faces, my work isn’t that confronting. After the shoot, I talk with the person that I’ve photographed, to see what can be published and what can’t. That can sometimes be a struggle between a good photo and vanity. But I try not to push too much. It’s important someone feels good about what goes online.
I guess I’m a typical photographer who hates pictures of himself, so I understand that not everything needs to be shared with the rest of the world. Maybe that’s actually atypical these days.
What are some of your goals and ambitions for the remainder of 2018?
I’m trying to set up a gallery show, and I’m looking into book publishing options.
No Ordinary Boy
A collection of shorts that celebrate Boys On Film.
Boys on Film is a continuing collection of short films that explore the gay experience. Volume 19 in the series has now been released, and ‘No Ordinary Boy’ is the theme that connects all featured films.
This volume, featuring ten films, showcases the work of filmmakers from around the world and tackles a diverse range of subjects.
The films featured are:
Michael Joseph Jason John
Michael Joseph Jason John is a romantic thriller that explores one-night stands and the thrill and risks of our hook-up culture.
Written and directed by Scott T. Hinson, the film follows the story of a single man that imagines what life would be like with a mysterious stranger he picks up on the New York City subway.
In an interview with Hinson, the director explains that he didn’t set out to make a cautionary tale but doesn’t see it as a bad things if people see it a such.
The director recalls seeing the end scene of Paris is Burning prior to ever having his first one night stand. In the scene, Venus Xtravaganza is found dead under a bed of a seedy motel room. The ultimate case of tricking gone wrong, as Hinson describes it.
“The thought of that has never, ever left me” explaines Hinson. “Going into every anonymous encounter I’ve ever had, a little voice has whispered – You know this dude could jack you up, right?”
Maacher Jhol – The fish curry
The animated short, directed by Abhishek Verma, follows the story of Lalit.
Lalit is a 28-year-old Indian guy who decides to come out to his father. In order to do so, he plans to cook the traditional fish curry Maacher Johl. Being is father’s favourite dish, Lalit hopes that the meal will help him win his father’s acceptance.
“It’s very difficult for someone to hide their identity, their sexuality, and their desires for such a long period of their life…” explained Verma, talking about his inspiration for the film. “Some people have to do it for their entire life.”
Blood Out Of A Stone
Written and directed by Ben Allen, the story revolves around two gay men getting back into the dating game.
After each had been single for quite some time, Michael sets Dan a challenge on their first date together. An icebreaker of sorts, that throws Dan out of his comfort zone. Not used to dates requiring such vulnerability, Dan struggles to handle the challenge. East London provides the backdrop to this intimate story of immediate connection.
“In this film, the character of Dan is based on me and my experiences as a single gay man in my twenties…” explains Allen, talking about his inspiration for the story. “London was such a double-edged sword for me at that time – its vastness and unpredictability were both a blessing and a curse, and I was often finding myself getting my fingers burnt in short-term flings with guys who I would fall for very quickly.”
No More We
Directed and written by David Färdmar, this Swedish drama follows the break-up story of Hampus and his fiancé Adrian.
One morning, Hampus tells Adrian that “There’s No More We”. He feels total relief, the weight of their destructive relationship slips off his shoulders. For his fiancé, Adrian, it’s a devastating shock. How can they now help each other navigate the beginning of the end?
A small film about a big subject, where endings can also be beginnings.
In an interview with the director, Färdmar confirmed drawing inspiration from his personal life.
“I can’t deny that one of the characters is more based on ‘me’ and the other one is a mix of my two exes…” confirmed Färdmar. “But, I’ve just tried to create two interesting characters that I want to portray and see on the big screen. It’s fiction, not a documentary. When I look at the film now, I don’t really see myself or my exes on the screen, I just see Adrian and Hampus.”
Between Here And Now
Visiting Copenhagen, Tony meets local boy Oscar at a bar. Initially cautious, Tony finds himself drawn to Oscar and their relationship rapidly intensifies. However, things get more complicated when they realise the loneliness forges stronger friendships.
Jannik Splisboel, writer and director of Between Here and Now, describes it as “a story about two men and what could have been a great story”.
In an interview, the director talks about how complex our need for intimacy and physical connection can be. “We’re afraid of showing feelings, and that’s a shame” explains Splisboel.
“I think we’ve all had encounters where it could have developed into something more, but for different reasons it just didn’t. I wanted to tell a story about two men and what could have been a great love story.”
This short film directed by Amrou Al-Kadhi follows the story of Nazeem.
The 26-year-old Middle Eastern drag queen, known as Queen Za Dream, is preparing her latest Egyptian themed show.
She recalls memories of her childhood as an 8-year-old boy when a transgressive moment broke the seemingly close bond with her flamboyant Iraqi-Egyptian mother, Halima, who is governed by the strict expectations of gender in Arab society.
Only through his drag can the adult Nazeem keep sacred the memories of his mother before this painful moment.
A naive actor auditions for a film which could launch his career. The things he’s asked to do make him more and more uncomfortable.
Directed by Dean Loxton, the film draws on his personal experiences and recreates an audition that he was subjected to as an actor.
In an interview with the director, Loxton confirms that the film is a “pretty accurate” depiction of what happened to him.
I asked Loxton how true to life is the film’s depiction of what happened.
“It was only a few years later, looking back, that I saw it for what it was – a hotel, only the director, me half-naked.” he recalls. “I was twenty – I felt for the lads in their late-teens waiting to go in. Some had their mum’s with them that I doubt were allowed in the room”.
Written and directed by Jake Graff, Dusk portrays 1950s England and the struggles of Chris to fit into the accepted gender roles in an intolerant and uninformed world.
After a tough childhood, he meets dream woman Julie, but is haunted by the growing feeling that theirs is a life half lived.
Endlessly imagining what might have been, Chris is finally struck by the realisation that for some decisions there is no right answer.
Jermaine and Elsie
Written and produced by Ashley Campbell and directed by Leon Lopez, Jermaine and Elsie brings us the story of Elsie – a fiercely independent and opinionated pensioner with a drink problem – and Jermaine – her black and sexually ambiguous carer.
Initially, their relationship is tumultuous but Jermaine is able to win her over with his non-conventional ways.
When Jermaine mysteriously disappears, Elsie becomes determined to find out what happened to him.
Directed by Marco Alessi, the story revolves around Raf. He’s young, fun and on the pull, but he is struggling to find his place among the crowd. Sometimes it’s that moment when you stop trying that magic really strikes.
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