A Ten Year Retrospective: Portraits by Bill Wadman

I was in New York City in November and met up with Bill Wadman, an amazing portrait photographer and friend of mine. As we were catching up we realized that he’s been photographing me for ten years, so I started thinking back on the experiences with him, the way things have changed over that time, and how portrait photographs can be a powerful tool of identity reflection.

My first shots with him were in 2007 for his 365 portrait series. Many of the folks I was in community with were part of it, and I threw my name out to him, too … I didn’t know what to expect, but I went over to his home studio with some ideas. He spent a lot of time with me, through multiple outfit changes and my nerves and even a performed poem at his old-school microphone. These shots weren’t the one he used for his project, but these are the ones I like best.

These were the first professional photos of myself, I think … aside from school portraits. Definitely my first “photo shoot.” I’d been an avid self-portraiture explorer since 2000 or so, but I was coming in to my butchness in new ways in 2005-6-7, and so I was seeing myself anew. Having someone else see me like this was gratifying … and kind of shocking. I remember staring at these photos a lot. Is that really how I look? Are you sure? It seemed magical.

I did three shoots with him in 2012. That was one of the hardest years of my life, and it was one of those years where I reached out to a lot of different photographers and did many shoots. The first one, with the red flogger against the brick wall, has been used many places since. While I’ve used some of the photos from the shoot later in the year, it was also a time when I was in deep depression, and the photos, while technically beautiful and very accurate in their capture of me, are really sad. My face is … surprising.

There’s actually one more shoot from 2012 that is missing. I’d had this vision of a photo of me in a white button-down, sleeves rolled up to the elbows, next to a clawfoot tub with a femme covered in bubbles, and me shaving her legs. Bill said, “If I find a clawfoot tub, will you and Kristen model?” and made it happen. It makes me sad to look at it. I’m not including it here, but I’ve seen it make the rounds on Tumblr, and it’s over on my Flickr.

There’s one — the middle one from 2015 — that I think is my favorite photo of myself ever taken. That whole shoot, though, are some of my favorites of all time. I’m not sure what it was, but I felt confident and so like myself, I’d just had top surgery, I was getting healthier in my body, and I was appreciating being back in New York for a small trip.

The 2017 photo shoot was for his second 365 portraits project. rife is also in this year’s portrait series, from the summer when Bill and his wife Heather were in San Francisco, but I waited until I was visiting New York to do a portrait with him. We met up at the gay boy bar Therapy because I remembered their all-gender bathroom as kinda epic, so we took some photos in there at the urinals. They show a different kind of me than the others, I think. More grown up. Maybe a little more wise. More playful. More … solid. More something.

Thank you, Bill. Here’s to another 10 years of friendship!

2007

2012, early

2012, late

2015

2017

PS: I used to keep a lot of photos over on Flickr, and I still upload galleries from photoshoots there. You can browse through more of the photos from these shoots (and others) if you’d like.

Kink-Centered Photo Shoot by Bill Wadman

Photographer Bill Wadman has taken numerous shots of me in the last few years. Most recently and notably, he took the photo of me against the brick wall with the black and red flogger that I’ve been using as my avatar on most sites. He also took the shot of me shaving Kristen’s legs with a pink razor in the claw-foot bathtub with my sleeves rolled up.

He came over yesterday to take some more shots of me, partly for my upcoming fall and spring 2012-2013 travel promotions, and he wanted to take some Avedon-inspired shots up on my roof against a white backdrop. These are the best of the best results, and I think they are amazing. There are a few more of me in front of my gender/queer bookshelves; those will be in the PDFs that go out to colleges next week.

Thank you, Bill!

   

“You’re Into That?” and Another Photo of Me

Somehow in May I had two beautiful photographs of me, both taken by professional photographers, published. And in case you aren’t following me in the regular social media places, or by my RSS feed on mrsexsmith.com, I figured I’d share ’em here.

Photo by Bil Wadman, ontakingphotos.com

The first is by Bill Wadman who first took my photo for 365Portraits.com in 2007. (I wasn’t ‘out’ as Sinclair then so I kept it under my other name.) A few weeks ago, he tweeted that he was bored and wanted to take portraits, and I replied, how about me? And it was on. He came over and we chatted about what I was planning to do that weekend, which was to attend a BDSM erotic energy retreat. He paused a second: “You’re into that?” Me: “Yep. In fact, I have some good equipment if you’d like to see it …” and out came my flogger. After he saw my new (since his last shot of me, anyway) tattoo, the shot soon made itself.

Speaking of the tattoo: many people have asked me what it is. It’s a ruler, it measures 6″, and if you measure from the flat palm of my hand, it measures 8″. There are numerous meanings to it (as with all the best tattoos, don’t you think?): I’m a graphic designer, for one. I’ll always have 6″ with me (ha ha) and I can measure high heels a lot easier this way. I can now measure how far into you I can reach. I’ve been thinking about this tattoo for a while, since I saw a photo of someone who had one on Flickr years ago, but the thing that made me go and do it was taking the Buddhist Refuge Vow in spring 2010. During the meditations, it came to me that this path, the Buddhist path, is actually incredibly linear, and has been walked hundreds of thousands of times for thousands of years. Considering that so, so much of my life is about forging my own path, making my own direction, this felt so incredibly comforting and I knew it was time to get the tattoo.

Photo by Yi Ching Lin, www.yichinglin.com

This next shot was for the DapperQ He Said/We Said May edition, the shoot for which happened in April, with photos by Yi Ching Lin. I was there with four other models, all of whom were reinterpreting a current high-fashion men’s runway look in our own way. The photos turned out beautifully. Susan Herr, DapperQ hirself, has called this photo “the best butch photo of all time,” and I am very pleased with how it turned out.

There are others over at DapperQ.com from this shoot, and there’s a video of all 5 of us models talking about our fashion inspiration as well.

a year’s worth of faces

Bill Wadman’s brilliant 365 Portraits project has, sadly, come to a close. It was inevitable, I suppose, as it was a temporary project, but still, I’m a bit sad. I looked forward to his new photos on my reader every day, and I went over many of the months again and again, finding new details and new appreciation of the depth of the photos and Bill’s craft.

He photographed me once upon a time, some wonderful shots in a suit & tie.

These are my very favorites:

Andrea Mann, jazz vocalist
Jenn Matthews, skeptic of the art mecca
Molly Crabapple, illustrator/suicide girl/dr. sketchy
Thomas Gilner, nihilistically astute sesquipedalian
Carl Wilson, grand canyon junkie
Renata Terase, little waitress
Melissa Febos, writer

And these deserve mention – as do about twenty other shots, it’s hard to narrow it down. Roughly in order of time: Daria Kossowska, restaurant manager, Rachel Kramer Bussel, erotic author / cupcake blogger, Rachel Bennett, instigator, Danny Adrian, birthday boy / terribly nice guy, Laura Wenning, contemporary dancer of emerging markets, Logan Levkoff, sexologist/author/mommy, Max Saltonstall, autumnal juggler, Jennifer Dziura, nerd goddess, Jose, dreamer of the eponymous one man show dream, Shawn Carney, artist/geek, Paul Meriac, intuitively navigating through life, Sean Risley, body story writer, Eric Chaikin, natural history and documentary filmmaker, Sarah Herrington, writer, poet, midnight yogi, Imogen Heap, singer-songwriter.