Being Boy: exploring male friendship and self-esteem through intimate photography

Being Boy is a film and photography-based project, looking into the insecurities and struggles for male youth in a contemporary society, where we are encouraged to be something but wish to be nothing. Focusing on the vulnerability and beauty within male friendships and relationships, Being Boy documents five youths, Samir, Theo, Jake, Matt and Al, capturing their hidden moments and individual stories. In order to do this authentically and emotively, I engage with my models, asking them questions on set about their hopes and dreams, with the aim of producing a natural expression and unique image, whilst maintaining a trusting relationship with them.  Another technique of mine is to meet the boys before any shoots or filming and give them a disposable camera each to take, to get to know them on a personal level so that they feel less awkward and reserved on shoots, and more willing to open up and trust me as a photographer and film-maker. I was intrigued to see what photographs they would take in the meantime. This project is both authentic and true, simply showing the journey from boy to man, and all the crazy quirks in-between. Some may say it’s ‘hard being boy’.

The philosophy for this project is simple. I seek to show the growth from boy to man, and all the unique quirks in between that impact their lives such as friendships, relationships and education. I believe this projects stands for all the male youths who are transitioning in life, such as starting university or a career path. Hopefully this encourages other young boys to be proud of their friendships and paths, and to be proud to speak about their insecurities and differences. All of this matters because I personally feel like the industry does not focus a lot on male insecurities and subcultures, as a lot of focus nowadays has been moved to females. This project exists because I was very inspired when I first researched male self-esteem in a contemporary society, and the reasons why men are more likely to commit suicide than women. This led me to look into the male mind on a deeper level, and through that i discovered that friendships are a key part of happiness. Within my photography and filming, I always aim to show a sense of sensitivity and emotion within it, so that I am showing society that men can have compassionate attributes also.

Throughout this whole process, I kept a journal with me, filling it with donated drawings and items from the boys, as well as the disposable images they took. I have created this tactile journal to link in with the boyish mannerisms the boys gave me. Whilst i enjoy putting information online, I really wanted to show the youth culture in a tactile and physical way, so this journal really shows the boys for whom they are and what they stand for. The journal also presents their belongings in an artistic way, and I took it everywhere with me so that i could quickly write down things they say or things they do.

In the future I hope to continue this theme and meet other boys from other cultures and backgrounds, and explore the male mind even deeper. I have always wanted to create something that inspires and compels others, so I am not giving up just yet.

Words and images by Isabella Reid

Follow Isabella’s work on Instagram: @itsisabellareid

Discover more of her work on her website here

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