These Photos Show The Beautifully Unique Ways These People Express Their Gender
“We wanted to explore the diversity of identity and human experience, not theoretically and not academically, but intimately.”
The world is certainly changing for queer people.
From more and more people being able to live as their authentic selves to ensuring rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community via legislation, the last few years have seen especially overwhelming progress in terms of the growing cultural awareness surrounding this community.
A new photography book from Bernd Ott and Emily Besa aims to capture this reality through photos and stories of over 36 individuals who identify at different points along the spectrum of gender identity. Called All The People, the book features individuals from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and the United States who all uniquely transcend traditional notions of gender.
“We hope that some will see that your identity is not defined by socially introduced categorizations,” Ott told The Huffington Post. “Once we can see categories as being arbitrary and meaningless, some may realize that we all share very similar fears and emotions and the same worries and feelings determine our existence. We actually share the same human experience despite what we look like, who we love, or how we love.”
Check out photos from All The People below, as well as an interview with Ott and Besa. All The People is also engaged in a Kickstarter campaign in order to fund its publication — head here for more information.
What is your overarching vision for this project? Emily: This project came together very organically and we chose that deliberately. We wanted it to be as open and collaborative as possible. The overall concept was to give individuals who define or express their gender in a beautifully unique way (and sometimes in a non-heteronormative and non-binary way) the space to share themselves as they wished. Bernd’s photography, his eye and his technique, and my writing were the mediums and together we created this book project as a platform for all the people. Bernd: I didn’t open with any sort of agenda other than getting to know fascinating individuals and transmitting the individuals via the images — the photos. If there is something we ultimately hoped for, it was that people realize how much we all share once we look past the labels we create.
What are you trying to communicate about identity and human experience through this project? Bernd: If there is anything, we hope that some will see that your identity is not defined by socially introduced categorizations. Once we can see categories as being arbitrary and meaningless, some may realize that we all share very similar fears and emotions and the same worries and feelings determine our existence. We actually share the same human experience despite what we look like, who we love, or how we love. Emily: My aim in the writing is for each person’s story and voice to come through. I hope by reading each person’s story, the reader will connect with the individual. We wanted to explore the diversity of identity and human experience, not theoretically and not academically, but intimately. Differences in identity and human experience are beautiful, they are enriching, challenging, instructive. People live in different ways all over the world — and next door. Let’s consider this, and let’s learn from it and respect it.
Who are the individuals featured in this project? Bernd: We started with friends — some of them we had known individually for years. People would then introduce us to others. After awhile we approached organizations that introduced us to their members. The people are students, artists, nurses, performers, workers and more. We were hoping to cover a broad range of human beings. Many people became friends through our collaborations and I’m certain we will stay in touch for a long time.
What do you want the everyday consumer to take away from this project?Bernd: To realize we all share much more than things that separate us. Emily: To form a connection with each person; to recognize the other as a fellow human being. To be drawn in and to let their guard down; to consider the possibility that someone’s differences should not obscure the majority of what we have in common. We are all here trying to live and love as best we can and its good when we acknowledge and respect that people have their own ways of living. We do not have to agree or understand every aspect of it, and we can recognize our limitations of comprehension, but that does not need to limit our respect for each other.