Self portrait, 2015

Self portrait, 2015

In college, I began struggling with anxiety. I started having panic attacks for the first time in my life and couldn't comprehend what was going on with my body. I was never satisfied with the way I looked or who I was as a person.

In order to try to avoid the constant sense of an impending meltdown, I began taking self portraits. It was an easy way to pass the time and for me to focus on something that wasn't the walls closing in on me.

These self portrait sessions became therapeutic. Not only was my mind occupied by something healthy, but I was able to physically see myself in a different light than I ever had before. I realized the power that photography had to nurture me emotionally and spiritually, and this is when I began to focus on portraiture.

As a gay male, I am subjected to pressures beyond what either heterosexual gender is often pushed into. I am expected to be manly and tough, but surrounded by the gay community, I am not allowed to be too masculine or I'm viewed a certain way, or too feminine or I'm viewed in the opposite, but equally as degrading, light. Society wants me to act a certain way, the gay community wants me to act a certain way, and here I am somewhere in the middle, at times not sure which direction is right for me.

I focus on photographing gay men because rarely do we ever stop to consider what society expects of men, and how those expectations can tear us apart when we don't meet them. This is a pain that I feel personally. The added pressure of the tendency for the gay community to pit us against each other is just one more added reason that gay men have entirely too many reasons to not feel good about ourselves. What I aim to do is to give all of my subjects, though most commonly gay men, a reason to feel beautiful. I want people to understand that, while these pressures will likely never go away, we are beautiful, we are valuable and it's okay to take pride in who we are, not just because of our sexuality but because of who we are as people. Giving people a reason to look at themselves and smile, offering a reason to wake up and feel even at least half decent-looking is what I aim to do. Everyone deserves to feel attractive, intriguing and worthy of praise and attention. I aim to instill the same confidence in women and even straight men, but having felt the confusing, aimless tugging and pulling that gay men experience regularly, this is my primary goal and audience. These are the lives I most want to affect.