Come As You Are: The Photography of Steven Tilotta

Written by | The Lens

Flaws. Are. Sexy.

Think about it: love handles and dad bods and bubble butts occupy our trend trackers for a reason, but imperfections transcend the surface and speak to who we are at our very core. Flaws make us vulnerable, they define our uniqueness, and they help us connect with one another on a messy, approachable, huggable, human, homo level.

“We should accept people as is,” argues Houston-based photographer Steven Tilotta. “It’s not just women who have body dysmorphia issues; men do, too. I photograph guys with six-pack abs, and they’re just as sensitive as guys who are overweight. In a time of inclusivity, it’s wrong to focus on just one body type.”

Tilotta captures a spectrum of sensuality with every image he crafts. But while other shutterbugs clamor for glamour, he serves up reality through an empowering lens.

“I mostly photograph guys who are bigger and heavier. It’s an amazing feeling when they say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know I could look like that.’ It’s a great feeling to make them see themselves as attractive or beautiful.”

Vision accomplished!

“I hope it’s motivational,” continues Tilotta. “I hope everyone will find something they can relate to.”

By tapping into the everyday eroticism of his subjects, the artist succeeds on two fronts simultaneously. First, he draws in the viewer. We identify with the models because we resemble them. Secondly, Tilotta strips away more than just clothing; he eradicates the airbrushing and filters that usually stand between the audience and the star.

“I feel that we’ve been force-fed what is attractive by advertisers and marketers. It’s wonderful if someone spends all that time in the gym, but most guys don’t look like that. I want to show ‘real’ men. That’s how all of this started.”

Since his first foray into photography, Tilotta has produced numerous pictorials. They are now fodder for his latest retrospective, As Is, a compendium of queer faces and figures from the past six years.

“It’s funny for me to look at an old calendar and see how my work has evolved,” assesses Tilotta. “I see beauty in everything. I find it in oil stains on cement or textures. It is all around us… I want to change the way we see ourselves.”

Steven Tilotta is holding a mirror up to our community and showing us just how desirable we are. His portfolio is living proof that perception is a powerful aphrodisiac.

Photo: Instagram @tilotta_photo





Last modified: September 2, 2021