Exclusive Licensing Contributor Brandon Simmoneau, also a hearing-impaired photographer located in Ozark, Missouri, uses photography as a creative outlet and a form of expression. His work provides a visual representation of masculinity and masculine identity, dividing the metaphorical line between masculinity and femininity.
Brandon is presently estimating a Quest on 500px. Submit to his own Quest here.
Q. Tell us a little bit on your own.
A. My aim is to share what I see in the world, the organic splendor of things from the normal to the profound. The irony is the fact that through my lens, I often find the harmonic quality of coexistence. The practice of viewing the dark and light is more an issue of perspective. Having a open eye, I try to capture elements of character beyond the realms of taboo.
I search to find the unveiled freedom below our cloaks of ignorance and panic. Occasionally I search for something I wish I had myself. This hunting fulfills that void and leads me to be whole. Instead, I understand not to covet, but to manifest.
Photography is my own practice of gratitude when my words are difficult to reign in, and the voices all drown each other out. It’s a visual prayer. I request to confront our trust, our anxiety, our shame, our vulnerability, and our true, untainted love. I request to evolve.
Q. On your bio, you mention going beyond taboo. What theories do you intend to shine a light onto and aid redefine?
A. I aim to shine some light on topics that have hindered my life and the life of other queer men that I have struck.
Some of the topics that I have researched in my work so far comprise readdressing the identity of masculinity by showing an increasingly diverse array of more masculine-presenting queer men, adorned in tutus. I discover that lots of queer men confront the exact stigmas as heterosexual men in regard to the demonstration of masculinity. We are shamed by society for not needing to do traditionally masculine things and therefore deemed under a guy, and the worst part is it is still very prevalent within our culture.
As a kid, I wanted to be a ballet dancer, but my dad would never have let me, because of his fear that I wouldn’t even be accepted. I know many queer men that experienced similar conditions, so this series was a means for me to portray the small boy in all of us yearning to accompany our hearts’ desires regardless of social limitations and stigmas.
Another matter that I explore is shame around the nude body. I was wanting to discover a means to make my subjects much more comfortable shooting nude to show them the beauty that I saw. I started building these origami masks to provide you a feeling of anonymity, also in the process, it gave the areas a kind of alter ego in the kind of a “spirit animal” of sorts, and the photographs told a whole new story.
Some of the topics I chose, particularly the feminine subjects, had deeply moving experiences while we took. It looked foreign to one subject for my male spouse and me to make a secure space for her, where we would capture the attractiveness of her nude body without reducing her to a sexual object. She said she hadn’t ever experienced that before, that left her very emotional, and she attributes a number of her healing to that day.
The masked photo series was one of my initial experiments and it proved to me that a photoshoot may be used in a variety of methods to learn through connection by exploring taboos so as to break stigmas, link me to my community (that could at times be a challenge with my hearing), and also cultivate a space for healing when the intention is that.
Q. What is your favourite type of fire, and why?
A. My favourite photoshoots have been the men in tutus. It hit close to home, as I explained previously, so I heard a great deal about myself and the topics. It gave me a little glimpse into the deep psychology of gay men.
The actual spark for its visual concept was inspired by the film, The Danish Girl. There was a scene with Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, in which they were painters, and the wife, Alicia, asked the husband, Eddie, to substitute for a ballet dancer that was late to design for a painting. She gave him a gorgeous dress for him to grip in addition to his body, and it was that very moment where he eventually confronted his gender identity. This moment alone triggered a string of events that assisted him to get in touch with his feminine side by sneaking off to some ballet studio to try on dresses where he started picturing himself as a woman. It was based in Copenhagen in the 1920s, so it was a crime to be gay or something besides directly, even worse to be transgender.
I wanted to perform with masculinity and femininity and reveal what it’s like to give up the self, which I consider masculine, and get more in contact with the inherent female, which I consider the more loving and nurturing side.
Even though Eddie was transgender, it was liberating for me and my topics to explore our female sides after hushing our naive desires for such a long time. The liberation was real, and I needed to do was capture it to talk with the entire planet.
Q. Your work features a focus on body and form, forcing a confident message of acceptance and bodily strength. Do you believe that your yoga practice has played any role on your mood to take this type of articles?
A. Yes, to a level, yoga informs most things I do now. I consider yoga to be the closest thing I have to some faith. It’s a custom I would like to center myself and enlarge my ability to deal with my daily life with elegance. While I practice, it calms my thoughts, which often spreads out of control with each of the reckless and fearful thoughts that prevent me from reaching my entire potential. I try to meditate in front of a shoot by repeating a mantra, or I simply hang out on my mat as a secure space and place my goals.
I often battle these thoughts of not having the ability to communicate completely with my versions because of my hearing ability. I believe “Will this individual understand me? ”, “What if there was an exaggeration and it got to the point that the entire shoot was a collapse?! ”, also ldquo;Am I a collapse because of it? ” and so on.
Yoga is a fantastic practice for me to reign everything in and practice letting go of my self, so I can capture the moment and not be in my head. Meditation has proven to me that placing a goal and knowingly recommitting to that intention will always bring back everything to center.
Q. How can you go about approving a location?
A. I find places largely through word of mouth and trial and error.
When I first moved to LAI took with one model the very first couple of times, and the social media exposure from those shoots attracted me to new versions who knew the area better. I heard from them and other photographers.
I often attempt to watch out on their Instagram tales to see where they have been, after which I’ll do some research and check itself. You will find beautiful places everywhere. It’s actually about paying more attention when I’s out and around and sometimes pulling somewhere and imagining the model in the space.
Q. What significance does location play when you create a fire?
A. The location needs to be attractively lit. I always keep my head out for the organic sunlight , it always lights up my versions superbly, however it’s also a challenge since I’m picky regarding the background to have both of those in your mind is hard. The perfect vibrant backdrop paired with amazing natural lighting makes the versions stick out. It might sound odd, but I like it to look like a children’s pop book novel.
Q. It’so important to reveal performers with a range of skills. Would you explain how living with a hearing impairment/deafness has improved your own art?
A. I believe it actually improved my sight. I have the capability to switch off the noise by simply taking off my cochlear implant and harshly focus. It’s additionally combative since it allows me to hear my thoughts, and sometimes the thoughts are too loud for me to concentrate, and that’s again why I attempt to meditate ahead.
My advice would be for those that are able to hear, to attempt to ignore the ambient sound and actually focus on being in the present and hearing your inner voice guide you through the shoot. It’s not simple, however it’s like riding a bike, keep riding before you get great at it.
Q. What tendencies within the representation of minority groups and commercial photography are you starting to see emerge? Do these trends apply to your images?
A. I see everyone exploring the female and depicting diverse gender expressions, especially in the LGBTQ+ neighborhood.
When I was a kid, I never saw men kissing each other anywhere, particularly in ads, commercials, tv shows, or even movies. Now I’m viewing the artwork of drag being normalized and RuPaul across the side of city buses in a bedazzled leotard, also emerging in drag is anywhere in mainstream pop-culture.
Gender fluidity is anywhere from airline safety videos to Pepsi commercials. I see men being intimate with each other on public tv, and transgender men and women are being acknowledged and famous for the very first time in contemporary culture.
All of this change requires being in contact with the female side, decreasing the anxiety and self, and standing strong and being true to your self and consequently, everyone else. Hazardous masculinity, which sometimes manifests as ego/defense manner, anger, etc., is what’s been glorified as power and consequently, led society for quite a while now, however I believe that is changing right facing us.
I wanted to be a part of the change and allow my subjects and my images to reveal what it’s like to be free of self. I also worked to be inclusive, also. I know what it’therefore I just like to be underrepresented, so I really do what I can to treat others the way I want to get treated, noticed, and heard.
Q. Where would you like to view commercial photography move in the next five decades? How can you believe you can help influence this?
A. I feel like I am working hard to be the change I need to see, as Gandhi said. I hope media proceeds on the inclusive path it’s on now.
I believe we need to concentrate on becoming more diverse people behind the cameras also, to help broaden the outlook and also to better portray more real stories that will then speak to a much more diverse array of people.
I am presently working with my community here of deaf queer creators in LA to start a media firm that will concentrate on projects and issues close to our hearts, that are also accessible. Access is a problem for me, even to this day I struggle with having the ability to access a good deal of media.
Q. What is next for you?
A. I simply transferred my college credits to Santa Monica College, where I will continue my studies in photography and cinematography to help build my own skillset and community. This will give me the tools to scale my endeavors and thoughts to have a much bigger reach and impact.
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