Much has changed since we last caught up with Brooklyn-based photographer Guarionex Rodriguez, Jr., but a lot has also stayed the same. Although still inspired by his mother and capturing intimately resonating moments, Guarionex now spends way more time in the darkroom. Here, he's “testing new techniques and having fun”, he explains. He’s also racked up a neat list of new projects in that time while seeing the tail-end of others. And of course, it’d be remiss to not mention that he’s working on a new book that’s excitingly close to completion.
One of those projects that Guarionex has been working on is aptly titled More of Us and was made with long-time collaborator and stylist Sharifa Morris for Lampoon Magazine. As Guarionex says, the collaboration tends to be “several hours of combining ideas and resourcing imagery for different moodboards”, and landing on an idea from that. After pitching to the publication and responding to its prompts, the pair trudged through their bank and found something that was just what Lampoon was looking for: More of Us.
The team knew they wanted to explore the “spectrum of the masculine form” but specifically through the lens of “larger and fuller masc body types not usually studied and centred”, Guarionex says. The project was penned as a celebration of these less acknowledged but just as important masculinities. What really made it tick was Guarionex’s framing of “romance, comedy and severity” that he channelled by just letting subjects be themselves. “We let the subjects be their natural selves and encourage them to explore whatever they’re feeling and to have fun in front of the camera,” he says. For Guarionex, the process began before he even picked up the camera. That playfulness was already in the works through “seeking out the different personalities of the subjects and ranging the clothes to bring out a particular part of that personality”, he says.
Guarionex credits his team with really bringing this project to life – and for good reason. In many images, New York-based hair stylist Junya Nakashima’s work plays a pivotal role in bringing everything together. One image sees Guarionex’s subject gracefully stretched out, seemingly in a full cathartic embrace of themself. But it’s the photograph of model Soouizz that sticks with him. “With the pose, the confidence and the hair having its own dimension, this image stuck out to me the most, encapsulating the whole series,” he tells It's Nice That.
When it comes to inspiration, Guarionex confidently says that it’s no contest. “Random full men with their shirts off, older men with a full body that keep their shirts off no matter what task they take,” he says, while also giving a special mention to Michel Gaubert’s Instagram. And though masculinity anchored the series, Guarionex makes it clear that “masculinity was merely the context of the form” detailing that, “if we were going to be doing a case study with an emphasis on exploring ‘masculinity’, cis men would not be the subjects.” Like all of Guarionex’s work, the series possesses a quality beyond just being visually stunning. It marks the slow but necessary reframing of manhood.
GalleryGuarionex Rodriguez, Jr.: More of Us (Copyright © Guarionex Rodriguez, Jr., 2022)
Guarionex Rodriguez, Jr.: More of Us (Copyright © Guarionex Rodriguez, Jr., 2022)
About the Author
Roz (he/him) joined It’s Nice That as editorial assistant in October 2022 after graduating from Magazine Journalism and Publishing at London College of Communication. He’s particularly interested in publications, archives and multi-media design. Feel free to get in contact with Roz about ideas you may have for stories from the Global South.