The Lonely Project, by photographer Ricardo Rico, was my first experience modeling for a professional photographer. I had never been in a professional photoshoot before — clothed or naked. Since that day, I’ve never really been able to feel comfortable when shooting clothed.
“‘The Lonely Project’ intends to show male beauty in an intimate way. With a natural but bold touch, the language of loneliness exerts an intrinsic strength and reveals all its depth. It shows that the beauty of male intimacy is present in everyday life and that it should be portrayed just as well as female beauty. It is an indirect way of saying ‘I am here’, not to transgress but to transpose. I believe that in this moment of introspection, the true self emerges and nudity is just a detail before a naked soul in itself.” – Ricardo Rico
[Update]: The last photos of this shoot (below) were only added to the series on October 2016, much after the original publication. It took me months since the launch of the Project to decide to publish this last photo. But one of the motivators of this project is to show that the human body should not have to stay concealed; and if erections are natural reactions of our body to a feeling of excitement, why should they be censored? Publicly showing an image that reveals an erection automatically gives us a feeling that we need to justify it, like we may offend someone or be completely misunderstood. Worse, it made me fear that my artwork as a whole was going to be dismissed or refuted due to the explicit, sexual or appealing content. Each photoshoot is a performance to me. And the times when excitement happens can be charged with sexual energy, but also desire, empowerment, satisfaction, concentration, pleasure or even shame or innocence. The male erection is almost always considered sexual and associated with pornography, but can also be observed from the perspective of emotion, where the image, the pose, may or may not be sexualized. I like to experience and enjoy the sensations that occur to me instead of suppressing them; to explore the paradoxes in the sensations and the viewer’s reactions. Looking at pictures like this make me question not only what was happening at the moment of that shot, but how and why these feelings took over me. After all, the portrayal of an erection automatically makes an image pornographic? What is pornography?