In Neiama’s Masculinity Uncensored series you’ll find models beautifully re-imagined as a black swan, an emperor penguin, a chimera butterfly and a peacock. Neiama tells us what all these animals have in common with the people she photographs: “they possess qualities that are against traditional views on masculinity.” Aiming to challenge stereotypes about Asian masculinity, the photographer carefully interviewed her models before pairing them with an alter-ego from the animal world.
Harry, who spoke to Neiama about how he likes to dress flamboyantly, is reinterpreted vividly in the jewel-like tones of the male peacock. After discussing Timmy’s feelings of discomfort about being in public as a non-binary person, Neiama interpretted the model as a chimera butterfly, a non-binary insect with asymmetrical wings. Derek, a full-time dad, guises as an emperor penguin who lovingly tends his egg while the female penguin is out fishing for food. Her model Kenson channels the energy of a male black swan, a quarter of which have homosexual couplings in the wild, says Neiama.
Weaving her research into dream-like visuals with styling and props required the careful creative thinking Neiama learnt at design school. “I usually come up with concepts just like creative solutions to a brief”, she tells us. But while she enjoyed studying design, she couldn’t see herself pursuing it in the long run. At the time a lot of her peers were experimenting with photography, so she bought her first Minolta X-700 and started taking portraits of her friends: “the texture and softness of the film made me believe that I was talented and destined to be a photographer”, she tells us.