“I never want to see another picture of ________.” Industry veterans share their pet peeves on themes in contemporary photography. In this series they present their “rule” along with five photographs that break the rule in an effort to show that great work is the exception to the rule.
I never want to see another staged picture of a nonconforming couple again. It isn’t that I don’t support non-binary persons or relationships, rather because I find most photographs commenting on this topic disingenuous. I receive a lot of work from artists who believe they’re pushing the envelope with sexuality and intimacy. All too often, the work is gratuitous and void of genuine content.
Enter the relationship between photographer Lissa Rivera and her “beautiful boy,” B.J. The images of her partner are undeniably beautiful; even the most conservative critic couldn’t deny their compositional beauty. There’s nothing shocking about the work—quite the opposite actually. The photographs are cinematic, classic, and calming. The work isn’t exaggerating a romance, rather documenting the increasing intimacy between them.
It’s 2019 and we recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Stonewall Uprising, however there are still people who don’t understand or are dismissive of gender fluidity and the LGBTQ community. I often share Rivera’s work when discussing non-binary gender identity to homophobic colleagues who are open to a discussion. The visual story of Rivera’s work reaches audiences in ways that other artists treading on similar content do not.
Lissa Rivera’s work is a success, because it is collaboration between people who love one another. Rivera’s partner is the protagonist, feminine and strong. Lissa, the visionary director and now (in her latest series The Silence of Spaces,) a supporting actress alongside her beautiful boy—they create and grow together. Rivera’s work touches base on religious faith, gender, the body and much, much more—but it doesn’t pretend to be more than it is.