'Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven.'
Over the last several years, between Chaz Bono, Laverne Cox and the incredible television show 'Transparent', the transgender community have seen an elevated presence in mainstream visual mediums like never seen before. When anyone, or any group, increases their visibility, especially with as many depictions that have arisen recently, attention follows.
Attention, even if it's goal is to educate, or to change how society thinks, isn't above being made fun of. It is strange to me that many have not learned that sometimes these jokes are a part of the journey to acceptance. I don't of course support jokes based in cruelty, but sometimes we have to, at least in the beginning, accept jokes based in ignorance. The struggles of transgender youth and adults are ofr course not new to those struggling, but they are new to many.
Recently, anyone making fun of transgender issues are criticized and made to pay penance. I think this response horribly misses the point that acceptance does not happen without a process. Will & Grace made fun, and made it's fair share of digs, at the gay community. Decades before, Jack Tripper's sexuality (although only pretend) was the butt of hundreds of jokes over the shows run. Many of the jokes from both shows were inappropriate, many were not politically correct. Many were off base and many were just not funny. Both shows I would argue, and may others, paved the way for many to accept gay issues in a way no other medium could have hoped to have done as well, or as quickly. There is nothing like laughing at something to make it less scary or less of a mystery.
Bruce Jenner's journey, whatever that proves to be, is funny. At 65, his transition is as heartbreaking and beautiful as it is hilarious. Jenner has been a member of a family that has physically sucked the spotlight onto every moment of their lives. Even if you try, and I have, you cannot totally ignore this family if you open almost any magazine or newspaper or turn on your TV.
Jenner was symbol of sport and masculinity for much of the 70's and 80's, appearing on magazine covers and television shows as an example of the all American male. Add to that his singing and dancing with The Village People, and the jokes literally write themselves. We laugh to cope, and although some of the laughter at Jenner is no doubt based in cruelty, some of it is a way of coming to terms with something many find difficult to get their heads around.
If Jenner is transitioning, (and I add if, because I would put nothing past the Kardashian media machine) than I wish him strength and support. But as incredible as his journey may be, don't hate me if I chuckle from time to time. Jenner owes us nothing, but given he has spent so much time trying to keep up with those darned Kardashian's, we don't owe him anything either. I support and respect the journey of anyone transitioning, but, as part of that journey, as part of that process, the support may from time to time, come with a chuckle, or bit of laughter. As long as the intent is not cruelty, I see nothing at all wrong with that.
'The gentle pose is in such contrast to the powerful body...'
John's quote above is core to the reason I so love the work of JGH Photography. Pose is central to power elicited from his images, especially when that power is derived from the blend and contras between gentle and strong. Not all artists are able to take a model with a strong and muscled physique and capture quietly beautiful and thoughtful images the way John does.
'I’ve shot both men and women. I can appreciate the lines and curves of the female nude but I'm captivated by the strength, breadth, and power of the male glutes, legs, chest and back. As I studied drawings and photographs of male nudes I was always trying to figure out what made this pose work so much better than that pose. Why did one pose trigger an emotional response, while another pose—just a shade different—fell flat?'
I think the key to John's images is the pose is secondary to the emotion that emerges from it. John is as focused on his models eyes and facial expression and they become as important as the rest of their body to the impact of the over all image. This is especially evident in this beautiful series with Brock.
John connected with Brock after the model responded to one of his casting calls about 3 years ago. John says that Brock has become one of his favorite models to shoot. 'I've always loved his Clark Kent hair which is a nice match for his Superman physique. He's won "Photo of the Day" for me on Model Mayhem several times.'
'Two of my favorite shots of Brock are the weight bench shot and what I call his contemplative shot. For the weight bench shot (above), he was actually hesitant to shoot until he had lost some weight. I promised to pose him in such a way that any weight gain wouldn't be apparent. So he took a free weight and lay across the weight bench. I positioned both his feet and gave him a 1-2-3 count, and on "3" had him give a lift off his toes. This stretched him right out and the image turned out great. I often use this shot as an intro example when talking with other photographers about my male figure photography.'
'Brock's contemplative shot (above) was taken while I was setting up for a different pose. We had gotten into a deep conversation - - - I don't remember what - - - but he must have been processing something because he stopped talking. I turned and saw how reflective he looked and I snapped a shot quickly. I'm so glad I did; this has become one of my favorite images ever. I've used it as an example of full-frontal male nudity where the facial expression is so compelling, the gentle pose is in such contrast to the powerful body, that the frontal nudity is one of the last things viewers notice.'
Brock's incredible body flows beautifully from pose to pose and although clearly powerful, appears light, almost weightless, in many of John's shots. Brock also has such beautiful eyes that express a vulnerability that enhances the strength of his images. Over the years John and Brock have collaborated on many new concepts and John has shot Brock in many of the themes he loves so much including his mirror and cube poses. John hopes to get Brock in front of the camera again soon for an urban decay shoot.