Tom Dingley - @portraitprojection - The Art of Being Queer - Artist Feature

Tonight's queer artist feature is Tom Dingley - @portraitprojection

Photographer - Tom Dingley

Portrait series - Portrait+Projection

As a commercial photographer in mainly events & capturing proposals, Tom has always had a creative side and a love for exploring a narrative within photography.

Using projection in his photography he creates a layer of visuals and clues to the model it is projected on. Talking with the model beforehand, Tom works out a theme that is inspired by their interests, background or passion; adding to the portrait. Not only is the model present, something more about them is given away in the shot.

The layer of body and projection is not just a quick shoot however, the lining up of the model within the image is taken into consideration, as is the pose and the light/dark areas. The portrait still needs to be flattering on the model and eye catching for the audience, so therefore Tom takes this into consideration and the photoshoot is still what you would expect from a usual portrait shoot - the projection adds to the experience for the model and audience.

It is interesting when the edit is completed and the photos are shared. We all edit what we share about ourselves and especially on social media, we like to show the best of ourselves and Tom, with his Portrait+Projection series, is no different. The photos need to stand out and get noticed in a world of images and attention seeking. Which is why from shoot to shoot, the versatility of projection is so useful - each shoot is different, from model to model. Depending on the theme of the shoot and the direction Tom and model go in, some are abstract, some colourful, others sleek and simple, or a slap in the face of loud colour combos.

As a photographer - Tom works a lot in events and proposals, so the portraits are a great excuse to explore his queer side. Growing up, Tom was shy with coming out, and took until just before his 24th to actually tell anyone about being gay - being out and no to longer have any hang ups about it, it was a liberating way to be. He was then able to work and photograph male models without the risk of being outed - that issue was already taken care of. So the subject could be something Tom liked to look at too. Being an out queer artist/creative, allows you to do the work you want to do; when there are no rules on what you can photograph you are inspired by the things you like and want to do, or who to work with.

Examples shown here are from a shoot with a model who is into the leather scene and loving that retro vibe; a theme of the gay club culture was put together. With another theme of ‘Tom of Finland’ - one of Tom’s own queer art heroes - the model and themes express alot about gay culture and how a ‘look’ can still represent so much of one’s character. The retro club posters are provocative in their wording, imagery and colour - as are the iconic drawings from Tom of Finland. This helps create a series steeped in gay culture, from the clothing on the model, the projections, posing and attitude conveyed. It is also clear; the artwork projected, is not passed off as Tom’s work, merely an added extra to his portraits - and a celebration of the graphical & artistic work that has come before.  Finland’s drawings are a recognisable part of gay history and still popular today.

Tom has been using the lockdown to edit previous shoots, reimagine some existing work & keep the flow of art slow and steady on Instagram. Sharing a trio of portraits from a shoot, keeping the layout clear and aesthetically pleasing - which also means the audience gets to see 3 shots from the shoot, rather than just the one; allowing for more expression and queerness to come forward. Tom uses this idea of threes when shooting, keeping in mind the idea of sharing 3 at a time. Sometimes the individual shots may differ because of the slide (but still keeping to the same theme) a change in eye direction or pose altogether. You, the audience, will not know what’s coming until it is shared.

To see more of Tom’s work with his projection series:

@portraitprojection on Instagram. #portraitprojection

To see Tom and more of his other work, see @Tomdingleyphoto on Instragram & Twitter.