John by Norm Yip



John is a young, unabashed Chinese man I met here in Hong Kong, who agreed and allowed me to photograph him in a way that is real and uninhibited. I am not going to talk about his external beauty, but about the way we both approached the open canvas of model and photographer. We met up to talk about the shoot in Vietnamese soup spoon in 2012 in Fortress Hill. He was your typical kid off the block but with an intelligence and exuberance that is present in many university students. I loved conversing with him. I remember arguing over how jeans should be worn and maintained. He insisted that jeans never needed washing, as doing so would damage the ‘aged’ look and tear of the material. I countered by saying that washing jeans was absolutely necessary, much like underwear, but to a lesser degrees. It would smell. He then said added that jeans could be placed in the refrigerator. My eyes rolled back in arrogance and disbelief. Wtf! He said look it up on Google and you’ll know what I mean. I did and retracted.

Model and photographer relationship is something that I haven’t really talked about in my work. I had someone ask me if he I could pass some of my models to him to shoot. I said, it’s not that simple. Most of the guys I have approach are very shy or inhibited. They have to really trust in you to take off their clothes. One guy I photographed took 7 years before he came to me for the photography session. He face was the same, but his body was better, amazingly. But getting back to John, our meeting had gone superbly well. He was social, talkative and eager to be photographed. We settled on a date for the shoot. I had no idea of how I was going to photograph him, but that I would see where the session would lead us to as our shoot happened.

As it turned out, the shoot intensified when I asked him to slowly undress, which is the way I normally conduct a session. A kind of a slow strip-tease. It was clear John was having a reaction to his own display and I asked him if he wanted me to continue. He obliged and shooting ensued. First standing, then sitting and finally, the last set was done with him sitting and lying on the mirror. Highly, highly erotic. Clearly it was one of the most exciting photography sessions for me photograph. Sexuality in youth. Pornography in art. There is a line, but I’m not crossing it. I’m standing on it.

John represents to me the new youth of Hong Kong; they are go-getters and daring. And fully in with who they are. In another example we can see it in Occupy Central, a group of student protesters in Hong Kong that are fighting for what they believe it, even if it may be idealistic and unattainable. For John is being himself; and I can learn from him. Erections are a natural physiological mechanism in the male human body when sexually excited. It is a reality of the male animal species. Many times, during a photography session, the guy may show some excitement, only because they are nude, not necessarily because there is anything sexual going on. The photographs of John remained in my archives for quite some time. Only now have I feel it is okay for me to release these photographs to the public, as if it was me that needed to come to terms with the images and it’s inherent meaning and power behind them. Several of the photographs shown here appear in my other publications including most recently, The Asian Male – 3.AM and Beaux Magazine – V1.




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