I’ve always been interested in the spectrum of sexual identities and in Thailand observations are more easily made than elsewhere. Ladyboys, or Kathoey are quite common and are referred to as the Third Sex. Somewhere betwixt and between a male and female, their appearance can be quite stunning. As far as I can tell, anything between growing long hair and wearing feminine clothing to full on sexual reassignment surgery counts. As if someone were counting. I’m not.
(Rollover the images to compare.)
So, being the naturally inquisitive person that I am, I went online and met Angie and asked if we could trade her time for my photographs for her portfolio. She models, and sadly also works as an escort. She doesn’t want to be an escort, but the modeling pays very little and being an escort a considerable sum more. Especially since she is a full post-op ladyboy. I take it that that is a little bit rarer in amongst the very large population of ladyboys in Thailand. So, an impromptu meeting was set up and we shot for an hour or so. I was quite taken aback by her appearance.
As far as I could tell and in any sense of the word, I was photographing a human born as a woman. Surgery, hormone treatment, and all the social feminizing elements (hair, nails, make up, clothing) were incredibly effective. She told me a story: when she was a child, she liked to play with girls’ toys and dress up like a girl. Her parents decided to help her with the reassignment surgery when she was 17. That’s some pretty conscientious parents; parents that are in tune with who their child is.
I should state right out that I’m not really a portrait photographer. Actually, what I mean to say is that I don’t think I’m a very good portrait photographer yet. I can’t pull off something like the Henry Rollins Portrait I posted last week. However, I’m working on it, and this shoot would have been easier if I had all my studio gear here that’s currently in the USA.
I’m typically a black and white photographer; it just fits my sensibilities. So, I processed these in that manner. However, I’m really a huge fan of the green-blue-gray color that is in the background in the color images. It wasn’t what I set out to do, as I only have two small LED lamps and a tiny softbox whilst traveling. However, it all fell into place, especially as it contrasts well with the dead-on reproduction of her skin tone.
I did make quite a few mistakes and almost all them had to do with not having a systematic method of preparing to shoot portraits. First and foremost I should have asked her to come wearing minimal or no make up and then have her apply it here. And! I forgot to have her bring a hair brush. Classic newbie mistake (it is ok in the third shot, but the first two some wild hair is a problem). I also have to learn to take my time and really make sure I’m happy with the shots as I am taking them. I like what we did together, but I can see a bunch of simple things I would have done differently if I had just slowed down.