Masculinity Evolved

Spotlight / Shoot Spotlight
Adolescent Content/Hanna Wentz
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Claudia Marks
Feb 6, 2020
There’s been a growing examination of what it means to be ‘masculine’ in our culture, Getty Images identified the start of this trend back in 2014 as Genderblend and then dove into it more specifically as “Masculinity Undone” in 2018.
After the recent launch of our partnership with Adolescent Content, we immediately devised a new project that we had hoped would really engage their talented creators. Inspired by the continuing shift in culture and as a response to their panel at Cannes Lions last summer featuring their creators Myles Loftin, Laurence Philomene and Shea Vaughan‑Gabor along with Adolescent Content’s Creative Director Ramaa Mosely who discussed “How GenZ is Reinventing Masculinity in Media” we chose to seek answers from their community at large and tasked them to create imagery for us that redefines masculinity in a way that’s meaningful.
 
Eighteen incredible creators submitted shoots and our collective teams chose the top three to win a prize of $1000 each.  They are Hanna Wentz, Brandon Stanciell and Brittany Bravo who we’ll meet below:

Brandon Stanciell is a twenty‑five year‑old Portrait/Fashion Photographer based in Los Angeles, California. Often using flowers as his staple, Stanciell’s work focuses on exploring black masculinity through photography. His work has been shown in various galleries throughout Southern California, including the UCSD Art Gallery at the University of California, San Diego. Stanciell has also been featured in several magazine articles, including an online article by The Huffington Post, which coined him to be part of a social movement led by bloggers and artists who are redefining black masculinity.
 
Brandon told us, “I just wanted to portray my truth and my experience with masculinity through imagery. Growing up in a small town and being a black man and constantly struggling between who I wanted to be and who society makes me out to be, what I was stereotyped to be, made me question a lot about what is and what isn’t and what’s supposed to be in this society. I feel that the concept of masculinity is always changing and it’s exciting to have conversations about what it means to be masculine in today’s day and age. I believe that masculinity nowadays doesn’t have a definitive definition; I believe that it’s constantly changing through time.”
Brittany Bravo is a fashion, beauty and still life photographer from Los Angeles. In her free time, she enjoys pursuing passion projects that explore community, body and Latinx experiences, often through film mediums. She loves creating photos filled with color and energy and spends a lot of time thrifting for vintage cameras and making mood boards.
 
“The goal of my project was to deconstruct the traditional facets of masculinity, such as independence and self‑reliance, by showing how beautiful and positive an intimate friendship is. Close interpersonal relationships are important for the mental health and happiness of everyone. However, men can be discouraged from having deep, vulnerable friendships because it is seen as unmanly.  My photo project attempts to redefine masculinity by visualizing a male friendship that is playful, intimate and loving; I really wanted these photos to feel like looking at sunshine and love.”
 
“I feel my generation's questioning of what it means to be masculine is part of a broader conversation that aims to recognize the infinite possibilities for expression that exist beyond the masculine‑feminine spectrum. I believe my generation and future generations will continue to make strives to recognize that every person has a unique way of expressing themselves that cannot be limited to a label, especially a gendered one.”
Hanna Wentz is a 22‑year‑old film photographer who lives in Brooklyn, NY. Her current work intends to transgress gender boundaries through portraiture and fashion flirting with the line between camp and sincerity. She enjoys experimenting with dramatic lighting, extended exposure and nudity to subvert the viewer’s assumption on how gender is expressed through the body. Hanna recently graduated from Barnard College and is enjoying life with her new cat.
 
“The title of my photographic series “Fly Over Country” was derived from my belief that the Midwest is seemingly forgotten in emerging political discourse surrounding the changing attitudes towards masculinity. By capturing three generations of men in my hometown of Minot, North Dakota — my Grandpa standing proudly on his farmland, my brother Eric and his friends hanging lazily about, and the curious young son of my best friend— I intended to show that masculinity is being redefined outside of metropolitan playgrounds like New York City or Los Angeles, off social media, and in the slow‑paced rural communities of America.”
 
As Hanna explains, “A crucial step forward in the redefinition of masculinity is understanding it as a malleable idea rather than a defined construct. Folks in our generation are more comfortable with vulnerability and change, therefore recognizing masculinity isn’t inherently tied to gender. It is undeniable this change is tied to mainstream pop culture and diverse media representation. Looking closely at the icons of present day, they are engaged in self‑expression: experimental forays into fashion and beauty, openness surrounding gender and sexuality, appreciation for aesthetics, design and photography, fostered by the curation of online social media profiles. This has allowed the idea of masculinity in my generation to be defined as confidence, creativity, and a devotion to kindness.”
While writing this piece I read that the recent i‑D Magazine recently declared that at their F/W 2020 shows in Milan “Gucci's First Menswear Show in Three Years Was a Tribute to Masculinity and Youth”, a clue that that the world is indeed evolving and we all should be paying attention.
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