Don’t you hate it when you’re alone with a muscle-bound, hairy stud and he is just too hot for his own comprehension? Yup, we’ve all been there, but James M. Barrett found a way to turn lemons into luscious portraiture.
“I was photographing somebody for this physique shoot one day, really charming guy, but he didn’t have a sense of how to pose, how to capture the light, how to do things that suited his body well.”
James was under deadline and he wanted to use every ounce of studio time to immortalize the gorgeous hunk staring down the barrel of his lens. “In this moment of desperation,” the photographer recounts, “he had such an extraordinary face, I’d love to just photograph his portrait.”
And we love the results. Barrett’s hirsute subjects glisten with gritty glamour, but their appeal may not even occur to lesser artists. In the mind and darkroom of James, however, each follicle of every sexy chest, beard, and body part ignites a longing in the viewer. The texture of Barrett’s imagery is positively tactile, as if the scruffy faces staring back at us are kissing us all over, starting with our covetous, gay gaze.
“People describe it as ‘ugly beautiful’ or ‘harsh beautiful’,” analyzes Barrett, “trying to capture something sort of restless and pensive about them.”
The rugged mugs of James’ models appear dangerously standoffish at times, as if you stumbled upon them in the changing room and just couldn’t look away… even when they demand it. Barrett’s signature approach to masculine allure has attracted bears, jocks, and the hungry hordes of gay men who worship them.
But even after perfecting the unvarnished portraiture that now characterizes his work, James didn’t abandon full-body pictorials. Physique photography is his original passion (as well as ours).
Barrett concludes, “I hope the images are beautiful and respectful and thoughtful about the people modeling for me.” And we hope that James’ success will finally put a smile on the handsome yet grizzled faces of his manly subjects.
Photo: Instagram @james.m.barrett
Last modified: February 10, 2021