Photographer SD Holman uses her talent as a portrait photographer to capture women who fall outside of the traditional gender binary. In her series “BUTCH: Not Like the Other Girls,” masculine women are not oddity or other. These are photos of women who identify as butch captured by a butch woman—they are women defining themselves. In this way, Butch has much in common with the current social campaigns stripping women of makeup, enhancements, and retouching and declaring them more beautiful without the artifice. This is part of Holman’s intent with the show—to use the Butch identity as an example of one of the classifications through which women are objectified. The difference though is the hate and fear that Butch women have faced as transgressors of societal constructs of femininity. Holman says:
“Butches and all gender variant folk walk in a world that is really hostile to them, so we tend to look inward. I was inspired to show their beauty by my wife Catherine, a femme who loved butches, and encouraged me to do this when I started talking about it.”
The rich diversity of butch women is evidenced here. Just as there isn’t one way to be a woman, Butch includes women of all shapes and colors and styles. The fluidity of gender is apparent in each photo.
Holman is an artist. Her portraits are classically beautiful, with their artful lighting and dramatic contrasts. The subjects mostly gaze through the lens to the viewer, unapologetic and authentic. There is no contrivance in these images, no sense of willful provocation nor is there any sense of apology. Author Amy Bloom writes, “Intimacy is being seen and known as the person you truly are.” These photos are intimate and groundbreaking, brave and matter-of-fact, beautiful and handsome.
“I want to show that, despite stereotypes, that gay men can be masculine too.
“When I wear men’s clothes I feel comfortable and confident in how I look on the outside which now matches the inside.”
“I have been called a SNAG (sensitive new age guy), a renaissance man, a male in touch with his feminine side, etc….I think that I am masculine in the sense of self reliance.”
“I am strong emotionally, have always stood up for myself and fear nothing. I happen to be physically strong but that isn’t where I derive my masculinity.”
Philadelphia-based photographer Chad States creates ”Masculinities’, a series of photographs and text devoted to create real, tangible accounts of men and their thoughts on masculinity in order to expose the complexities and difficulties in trying to define the masculine. States, interested in creating a large sample of men and their accounts, exposes his project on Craigslist and only takes subjects who are interested in participating in this project.
“Growing up as a gay man in the U.S. I have always been aware of how men were supposed to act and I judged myself against these ideas. Masculinity was always something that was attractive to me but when I tried to unpack what made someone masculine I found it hard to define. Masculinity seemed based on relativity and shifted in different circumstances and cultures.”
The series, inspired by State’s own struggles with understanding conceptions of gender at an early age, set out to investigate the matter by photographing these men in their home. States explains that “the structure of the project created a special circumstance in which those who were still willing to participate had a strong need to have their own masculinity confirmed by the photograph.” The men got to choose the ways in which they were portrayed, they picked what they wanted to wear and they choose to stand by or sit in any position they felt truly comfortable in.
I used a 4×5 camera only taking about 8-10 shots per sitting, so the poses and choices are very intentional on part of the sitter.” (via Feature Shoot)