James Emmerman is queer photographer and photo editor in New York. His work has appeared publications including Paper, Pitchfork, Slate, Vanity Fair, LOVE, VICE, Gayletter, and Posture, among others. He currently works as the Assistant Photography Editor at Vanity Fair.
The line between fine art and documentary photography isn’t exactly a line. The two overlap; they ebb and flow into one another. I've made this relationship the subject of my photography. The result in this case is a series of character portraits I’ve made over the last year.
This is a selection of images from the series, which are both posed and candid. Beyond the fine art/documentary distinction, they interrogate the liminal space between artistic and self-representation. When do images create reality, and when does reality create the image?
I met many of my subjects while photographing queer nightlife in New York. After spending time together, we worked collaboratively on the look and feel of each shoot. Direction came from both sides of the camera. Much of my work and life exists within queer and nonbinary culture, though no specific identity is the focus of this series.
My photographs do not “capture” their subjects. They are not definitive. They instead record moments of collaborative representation — moments when boundaries between photographer and model, and posed and candid beauty, resolve into something more.
jamesemmerman.com (hosted by Format)
@useformat (my portfolio was featured by Format in Nov. 2016 on the artist spotlight page)