Fascinated by nature, American photographer J. Bilhan reinvents the notion of beauty, by highlighting the diversity of the human body.

“My definition of being queer? I am human and every other human around me is just like me, we are conscious and alive, we eat, sleep, explore and communicate – verbally or physically. In my eye, queer is someone who is not boxed into a particular way of being”, Joshua Anderson, aka J. Bilhan explains. This young 23-year-old Texan photographer started photography when he was a child, borrowing his sister’s film camera. Though his first attempts were mere copies of what he observed on Instagram, “[his] eyes opened”, since then.

Man is at the center of J. Bilhan’s creations. The photographer is fond of his models’ diversity. “My approach tends to change, but it typically begins with a meeting, he explains. I must get to know my subjects. It is difficult for me to make photographs when there is no heart or mind connection between the parties.” An intimate link which can be guessed when observing the nude portraits he produces. “I am a nudist, through and through. swimming in cool velvety water and giving myself to the earth… that is ecstasy for me, pure bliss.”  This open-minded relation to the body sublimates his uncommon models.

Letting your desires roam freely

“I am a boy whose attractions often include “old” or “fat” guys – as some have called them. I just see humans. The idea of a boy and a man 3 times his age being in love makes some people uncomfortable so they add labels and try to confine it into boxes, attempting to control it. This is silly”, J. Bilhan says. The photographer only cares about his own vision of beauty. His aim? “To reunite people, build intimacy”. To him, art is a way to create sensations, to represent one’s own “tribe”. “What have we created? Our industries and globalised society. Why should there be a disparity between nature and us? Why do we hide behind clothes and put ourselves in tall concrete buildings?” the author asks. By letting his desires roam freely, he presents a world without prejudice. A return to nature which sometimes gets him into trouble. “Alain and Lin’s picture is one of the favourite photographs I’ve ever made to date. One is 20 and the other 60. The image was deleted from Instagram 4 times”, the photographer says. An atypical couple, and a tender gesture, still perceived as disturbing.

Stigma, classical beauty, desirable bodies… Those notions don’t interest J. Bilhan, since they are subjectives. Only love and tolerance inspire his pictures. “I photograph who we are: human beings. I pay respect to non-typical sexuality and bodies of different sizes. My work is for those who see past these superficial elements and aim for humanness”, he concludes.

© J. Bilhan