He developed a fascination in nudes when his photo zine, Number 1 Must Have, based on the lives of queer people in Seattle, began to wrap up. Says Adrien Leavitt, "I became interested in portraits because self-portraiture is an important way to view myself and I didn't see a lot of images of non-binary trans people that looked like me within representations of trans-masculine people." The realization prompted the new and ongoing photo series, Queer Feelings.
Queer Feelings combats this visibility problem with nude portraits centering out queer and trans people with marginalized identities, taking extra care to include a variety of body types, shapes, and races. Leavitt is a Washington-based lawyer by trade, but in the past few years, his photography has blossomed into a prolific body of work that has seen him orchestrate 40 intimate nudes to represent what being trans looks like today.
"The images I saw just didn't reflect me and my own path as a trans person and taking photos of myself helped me see myself in a different way," says Leavitt. "It was healing for me and it prompted me to see what that experience would be like to include other people."
For Leavitt, the imagery was all binary, or, "passing." In short, the lawyer found that visual representations of trans people still were slotted into very binary roles, when not all trans people themselves fall within that narrow spectrum. "It's confusing never to see representations of yourself," he says. "The queer community, we still reflect certain fucked up values around the body and the way we look."
While still in progress, the work has been exhibited salon-style, with hundreds of images hung in groupings surrounding the subjects. "There's this overwhelming experience seeing them that totally brings you into it as a body of work." They all exhibit a vulnerability and an intimacy that the subject, Leavitt, and the viewer all hopefully share.
With an upcoming exhibition in September, Leavitt says he doesn't see any end to the project as there's always more people and more experiences to represent. His main concern is making sure no one feels like a checkmark on a list.
"Whenever you're creating artistic work that's viewed as representational of a community, there's always the tension about making sure that it's appropriately representing the community so to not exclude or tokenize any specific identities. I hope that it can expand to the point that that would never would be the feeling of someone viewing it."
To learn more about the photographer click here.