Date of Submission

Spring 2012

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

An-My Lê

Abstract/Artist's Statement

The Men in my Life

Growing up, I was never “one of the guys.” Throughout high school, I found myself ill at ease with the crude humor of my teammates and peers. As the only child of a single mother, I identify with her particular ideology. She is a strong woman with no patience for the assertion of masculine authority and self-importance. My father’s presence in my life, although not completely missing, was fleeting and broken. I never identified with the “manly” persona that other adolescent boys tried so hard to adopt. I feel more comfortable in the presence of women. I struggle to accept my own urges and desires as a young man. It is only recently that I have begun to understand and accept “the guys” in a way that I can relate to.

It is important to me that the individuals within these images are not strangers. I photographed these young men because I am drawn to them. This is not a comprehensive list of every man important to me, nor is it even an accurate survey of the men I spend my time with. I go where my eye takes me, and I use the photographs that speak to me. I am attracted to the physicality of men. I enjoy looking at their bodies and the ways in which they hold themselves. I love the strength of their angular features. I find myself drawn to the personas they put up, as much as I am skeptical of their sincerity.

These are the actors I utilize. I may have my own opinions about each subject, but I aim to transform them into characters of myth that may or may not reflect my personal feelings about them. Every photograph holds a story, either real, constructed, or a mix of the two. I address this using straight portraits and narrative scenes. It does not really matter who each person is in truth. They become just another protagonist, another physical body for the viewer to deconstruct and alter within the landscape of their own imagination. I use my personal attachments to these individuals as a way to reach beyond the protection of pretended masculine confidence in order to unveil a less guarded side to these men.

Every photograph freezes a moment in time, but it does not necessitate the objective recording of the people involved. This is the nature of photography that every photographer works with and understands. However, it is the particular vocabulary that distinguishes the photographs of one person from another. Windows open us up to the outside world while allowing strangers to enter our personal spaces. Mirrors create an altered image of the world in the way that a photograph would. The accessories we adorn ourselves with give the pretence of revealing some hint about the nature of our psyche. We hide ourselves within our adopted personas. Our true selves are as much a constructed reality as the moments revealed within photographs.

Brendan T Whittaker


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