For this edition of FKIN (A)rt Friday, meet New York City photographer Jason Jackson. He’s given us a very generous interview about his work, specifically, his erotic, sensual, and intimate ongoing series, “THE EROTIESE PROJECT.”
On his website https://erotiese.co, Jason describes “THE EROTIESE PROJECT” as “a photographic journey that focuses on capturing the male form in unique and authentic ways that both reinforce and challenge our ideas of masculinity. My intention when shooting the male form has always been to create an emotionally driven narrative. It's not always about looking for a "naked body". My intent is to find that balance between product, process and relationship while simultaneously making the viewer think about the changing societal construct of masculinity."
What made you pick up the camera?
Interestingly enough I hated the camera as a child. My mom was always taking pictures and I found it annoying. It interrupted my play time. As I approached my 20’s and I started to explore more of the world I found that I wanted to capture the things I saw. It never occurred to me to do it professionally or with a broader intent until later. I think the desire to pick up the camera with more specific intent and artistry these last 5 years was a combination of maturity and my understanding of the significance of what I saw in the world and how I interpreted it.
For the purposes of consumer consumption I separate my work into 2 categories. The one that has gained more social media attention is THE EROTIESE PROJECT which focuses on capturing the male form in unique and authentic ways that both reinforce and challenge our ideas of masculinity.
My intention when shooting the male form has always been to create an emotionally driven narrative. It's not always about looking for a "naked body”, but admittedly the nudity is sometimes part of the message.
Your subjects include an admirable variety of men. It’s quite a candy box. How do you find or select your models?
Yes, it’s a smorgasbord. That “model” word has so many negative connotations. Whether it’s a commissioned job or a man I see and intentionally want to include in my projects I see them as subjects more than models. A lot of the men contact me on Instagram or through my website or reach out because of work I have done with someone they personally know.
Looking at just a fistful of your Instagram photos of Scotty Don’t @flyingmonkeycirque, Eli @eliboridomi, Michael Wright @mikestouch, Damian Dragon @damianxdragon and couple Thomas and Jefferson one is struck by the honest masculinity exuded in all the images. You’ve thankfully–and one suspects, very consciously–swerved opposite of the boring gym bro, body worship cliché. Clearly, that approach never appealed to you in the first place I
My selection is somewhat intentional. I am very conscious of making sure that all men are represented. They can be smooth or hairy, bearded or baby-faced. Everyone loves the fit and muscular man, the “gym bro.” It’s visual fantasy. We all perpetuate that and I love to shoot them, but I also find the man with flaws and quirks so interesting. I love to shoot men that are not the editorial standard of beauty. They come to the table with so much depth and are so much more open to being vulnerable and willing to push beyond their comfort zone. Come to me with some extra weight on your frame, or scars, or a not so perfect ass. That’s the real world.
I also make a deliberate decision to include men of color in my work. I LOVE MELANIN! Black, Latino, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern. Those colors and shades put a whole other level of variety and experience and expression in front of my camera. I try to steer away from sites that have no representation of men with darker brown skin. In this day and age with the level of accessibility to images and media if there are no brown people on your page or site, I have to believe its intentional. Interestingly enough when starting out I found it harder to find men of color who were comfortable with expressing themselves in this type of medium. I think a lot of that has to do with cultural norms and ideas about male expression/exposure, but that could be a whole other topic.