Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Project

I'm looking to do photoshoots (possibly very quick ones) with as many gay men (and perhaps women - my thoughts on this project are fluid) as possible, firstly in London and when possible, further out into the rest of the British Isles. Now I note this is not about sex, nudity, pornography or anything like that. It's about showing gay diversity and helping gay visibility in these days of civil partnerships.

Anyone who's interested please contact me via my website and we can sort something out. I really am looking for the most diverse mix of ages, ethnicities, body types, you name it. So don't think I'll say no - I'll almost certainly say yes. If you want to know how good I am at portrait photography have a look here.


For some weeks now I've been waking up with this mental ache. I have almost no way to describe it other than this feeling of having to do something creative. I'm writing this with some pretention to gaining and sharing some understanding of it, although the truth is I'm wandering through this post. Maybe that's a good thing, maybe I should just see where my thoughts go when I open them up like this.

Today our MP is due to visit our development, chaperoning our local councillors who are up for election in a fortnight's time. I don't so much want to meet her and them, or quiz them about crime rates or public transport, such as wanting to photograph them. Since I took that photo of Brian Haw I've felt almost consumed by wanting to reach my potential with portrait photography again, or even surpass it. Getting the opportunity with faces which will get a reaction isn't easy. You know I guess it's not just a feeling of wanting to outdo that, it's a feeling of wanting to prove I can do this:


and show that it wasn't just a one off. I've had this feeling since I started DSLR photography. I've taken photos which have been so well received by genuinely big talents that I've been almost scared by my achievements. I don't know where this one came from any more than the other really good ones I've done, but they keep happening. I think George Michael sort of expressed it well last night: you know that you're good at what you do, but you constantly retain this feeling that you have to do better. In my case I have to keep reminding myself that I have to keep perfecting crawling and walking before I can run.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Just Grow Up

Simon Fanshawe is someone who's irritated me in the past. I don't know him personally but his screen persona has been odious for at least two decades. Today he made a bold statement in the Guardian that gay men needed to start growing up. It's something which has been on my mind this year - in fact it was a principal reason for getting married in the first place. I've done the random sex thing, I've done the clubbing thing (albeit reticently), I've done the serial relationship thing. And with Tom it became clear that I found someone who wanted the same thing out of a relationship that I did, and wanted it to be (and had what it took to be) forever. So I figured it was time to grow up and face the concomitant responsibilities - we got married. Thanks Simon, we are living in the real world - very much so.

And we're not alone. Dave and Steve have a daughter, Tim and Conor are deliberating when and how they might get married (they've been together for almost as long as Tom and me), Scoobs and Colin are debating getting property together...get the picture? So on the one hand he's right, but...he's also wrong. Now that we are essentially equal before the law it is time to normalise our position in society. Yet society doesn't treat us equally, there is rampant homophobia still, and whilst I personally don't need to go on Pride marches anymore, a significant number of people do. Gay men are still expected to marry women they aren't attracted to, gay sex for many people can be nothing but underground and challenging social conventions is so fundamentally impossible for so many people, that when the opportunity to do so arises it's quite vital that it be taken.

Simon Fanshawe is both preaching to the converted and criticising just the wrong people for doing what they need to do. Just because his metropolitan life is comparatively easy, doesn't make that the norm for everyone. The number of young, drug taking, sexually promiscuous gay men in particular has, I believe, been massively overstated recently. Suggesting that 20% of London's gay men are on crystal meth is just nonsense. I know quite a few other London based gay men and none of them do it. I'm not saying that none of them fit Fanshawe's overall stereotype, but one person who does is without question a very damaged individual and needs help, not condemnation.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

New Beginning

Well first off I don't know if you can be an immanent wanderer. Perhaps you can tell me what you think about that.

Getting down to business, I'm now likely to move my online blogging and creative writing here, largely because I'm bored with Livejournal, but also partly because that blog has a very specific voice which an about face would adversely affect. I'm proud of what I've done with it, but I do want to write in a different way, perhaps more creatively, and this is the first place I'm going to try.

I've been developing my skills as a photographer for some time you could argue. But it was only after summer 2005 when I got my first Panasonic Lumix and then this January when I got my Nikon D50 DSLR that I began to take it seriously. Now I have friends and regular contributors on Flickr who keep insisting that I do it professionally. I'd never thought of myself as a creative person before - hearing this for the first time was a shock to the system. Yet before going back to university I didn't think of myself as an intellectual person either, and I comprehensively proved I was. Strange, the things you feel the need to know about yourself as you get older. These things didn't matter to me in my twenties - not much did - yet now they feel like cornerstones of my world. Ursula Wall, my guitar teacher when I was 10 would be thrilled.

I've just finished listening to a podcast interview with Allan Heinberg - writer of Marvel's Young Avengers and it's only added fuel to this feeling of creativity I'm constantly almost overwhelmed by, and this sense that I want to give voice, my unique voice, to aspects of the world which I "get" and other people might not understand. Heinberg has managed to change people's lives with that book through giving voice to Billy and Teddy - two straightforward gay teens, who are amongst the principal characters, and who also happen to be together in the most matter-of-fact way. In the publishing world that may not set the world alight, but in the comics world it's a seismic change. I guess I felt I'd touched on this when I succeeded in taking this:

Brian Haw

I'd captured an essential quality of Brian Haw, and it affected people. How then could I really continue bleating in the same way on Livejournal? How could that sort of writing do anything other than bug people in the end? So I'm here, wondering what I can do with this keyboard, words and my imagination. I'm mulling over multiple creative projects which it would be nice to have parters in this country or others, in attempting. Tom's idea of visiting Chernobyl in particular has had a hold of me ever since he voiced it.