Trevor is a man who sets his own course.
Whether it be running marathons or the gauntlet of his own transition, he flies free.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.
I first photographed Trevor in October of 2008. It was with my digital camera and I was practicing photographing people, part of the preparation I undertook for the tattoo project. Trevor was kind enough to subject himself to a multi-location shoot on a fine fall day. He seemed comfortable in front of the camera, which put me at ease.
Ironically, it’s usually the other way around. The subject is often the nervous one, but I was new at making portraits and was somewhat timid about it. It was his relaxed nature in front of the camera that helped me find my rhythm.
When TransMasculine Ink began in earnest, Trevor once again made himself available. We shot some images on a beautiful summer day in July, 2009. After conducting the interview over lunch, we went to the park in town and I photographed him in the shade of a gazebo so the brightness of the sun would not wash out the colors of his tattoo.
You will see in his body art a phoenix, the mythical firebird that is reborn from the ashes of its own destruction, a rather fitting symbol for a man who has remade himself.
The photo was perfectly fine, but the more I worked with it and looked at it, the more I wanted… well, more. For me, this photo was too much about the tattoo and not enough about Trevor. It didn’t really speak to me, and I’m the one who took it! In addition, the recording of the interview at the restaurant was unusable — the background noise of the people at the tables around us was too prominent.
Trevor agreed to repeat the interview and the photo shoot, but I had to catch up with him — literally.
He was in training for a marathon. I had to meet up with him on a Saturday in early August 2009, a day of the week allotted for a “long run.” At the end of 14 miles jogged under the blazing hot sun, he submitted himself to another photo shoot, which was repeatedly interrupted by the need to wipe the glistening sweat off of his skin with a towel. When we were finished, we conducted the interview in the mercifully cool foyer of a nearby building at MIT. To say that Trevor was a trooper that day is an understatement.
But it all paid off, both the running and the photography.
With regard to the running, Trevor completed that particular marathon, and then ran another. In the first two marathons that he ran, Trevor raised $10,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in memory of his aunt who died of cancer. I think Trevor is off running another marathon today, and he completed the Boston Marathon just 12 days ago. I don’t know how he does it– I can’t even run to the end of my driveway without sucking air.
Trevor says that he will be preparing for a marathon that he will enter in October if anyone wants to join him. (I will not be doing so.)
With regard to the photography, I am happy with the resulting photo. The more I look at it, the more I like it, although the sun makes his ink difficult to see. Still, the photo is about Trevor more than his body art. But I’m interested to hear what you think.
The interview turned out well too (the content more than the quality). We learn from him about his choices, the emotions of his coming out to family, and about his own comfort with himself and who he is, a trait that might explain his ease in front of the camera.
As for Trevor, in the interview, you will hear him talk about his tattoo, and how it represents the way he has taken his own course. In a way, his transition has been like the marathons he runs. And he plans to keep running, to keep flying free like the phoenix.