It is one of the hallmarks of my photography and creative outflow in general that I will not label someone other than with their name. This sounds rather obvious, but it is actually complex thing when you scratch beneath the surface. I have had the pleasure of working with people from many different background, be they hetro-normative, gender variant, have non-mainstream sexualities, or other fall outside the mainstream’s idea of normality. The one thing I wish above all when I present them to my audience is to be as neutral as I possibly can be with how I encode them in my words. By this I mean I do not wish to poke the viewer in a certain direction, and allow the subject of my work to have their own voice.
This may sound like common sense, and to me it is part of my flow, but more often than not you will see art and photography defined not by the subject presented, but by the words ascribed to the finished art by the artist. If I photograph a trans woman, I don’t want the whole world to know that I have photographed a trans woman, as the connotations that come with the label trans immediately layer on top of the art this air of otherness that would not have otherwise existed. The same goes for the label lesbian, black, male, female, young, old. All these labels have encoding which warps the viewers perception of the subject, and for me this defeats the purpose of producing my work.
Of course you could argue that by ascribing a person’s name to an image I am immediately laying connotative meaning to a piece, but I believe that without this information you risk loosing perspective on who the person is, and they merely become another spectre in the room.It is too easy to delineate meaning and purpose from art, to add supposition where none was originally intended, and it is for this reason that I use a person’s name to help ground my work.
Ultimately what maketh a person is not a name or a description, rather it is their whole persona, their oeuvre, the very zest that well springs from within, and by simply allowing the captured image to speak for itself I believe that I am transcending the need to talk for my subjects and allowing their own voice to come through to the audience. It is for the audience to decode the encoded labels each subject has encoded within themselves, and it is therefore my job to ensure that the encoding is as faithful as I can render it on camera.