Photography by Rakeem Perry, Interview by Natalie Malheiro.
Rakeem Perrys work is thought provoking but heavily doused with a sense of ease. From his black and white photos of male models, Perry tells a story of the more sensual and softer side to the masculinity and homosexuality. From his first introduction to photography he was hooked, and hasn't stopped since.
NM: When were you first exposed to photography?
RP: I started photography in high school. I originally took the class because I was cool with my teacher and I knew I could come to class late from lunch. But I grew a love for it very fast. I’ve always had a creative mind but I never had a platform to show it. I saw that with photography I could express myself and be creative and not necessarily be judged. As I grew interest in photography my teacher would show me work from famous photographers like Ralph Gibson and Nan Goldin and that really inspired me to want to be just like them.
NM: Was your teacher a major influence for your interest in photography?
RP: My teacher in high school basically taught me everything. It became the only class I really cared about, I spent as much time as possible in the dark room, learning. I was always asking questions and wanted to challenge myself. She really built the foundation for me so I have give her the credit for that.
NM: Where are you from?
RP: I was originally born in Germany. When I was 3 I moved to Columbia, South Carolina in the United States.
NM: At Aserica, we are always curious what art scenes and cultures are like around the world. What is the art scene like in Colombia, South Carolina?
RP: Columbia is a small city. I think it’s like many places; you have your artsy people and hippies. I don’t really pay any attention to it. I try to keep to myself and not worry too much about what’s going on around me. I prefer it that way I don’t get distracted, less stress.
NM: Who are the models in your photos and why did you want to shoot them?
RP: The models in my photography are my friends and people I meet along the way through this journey, I guess. If I get inspired by someones look I want to photograph them.
NM: How do you connect to your subjects?
RP: My models and I usually connect because we’re friends or because they are artist/ or into art themselves. I don’t want to photograph people who don’t support me or trust me. There has to be trust, and I think that when you shoot with people after a while that trust keeps growing and people will be more comfortable and open.
NM: For this series, why did you specifically choose male models?
RP: I chose male models because I wanted to depict male masculinity and homosexuality. Also, before now I mostly took pictures of women and one day I realized “Why am I not photographing men either?”. So I chose to try something new.
NM: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
RP: My inspiration comes from my personal experiences and my feelings mostly. Music is a huge inspiration for me and other artist themselves. I like to study other artist and their work. I’m just such a huge fan. I get inspired by so many things it can be from movies to a building.