Photography: Marc Haers
Being raised and surrounded by women throughout my younger years, I never saw the so-called “weakness” in them. Seeing men and fathers around me taking the easy way out, not really facing reality was something I also noticed. Both views have had its effect on how I view men and women, how men and women categorize themselves, and how men and women categorize each other.
Being “manly” is mostly defined by the way you look, carry yourself, and how “dominant”’ one behaves. I never understood how men took ownership of the definition. Women in my eyes are always strong, if not stronger than most men I’ve encountered. So, I have always photographed women with a powerful masculine energy. Intimidating, strong, statuesque, and larger than life. Me being a man, I know this “male energy” all too well, and I always aimed to use it when it came to documenting women.
Breaking through the system of cultural class division....
Fat vs Skinny. Rich vs poor. Highbrow vs Lowbrow. Young vs Old. Popular vs Unpopular. I never cared. I am mostly attracted to people that are undervalued. Creating art with a body that isn’t perfect, or capturing beauty in a face that in most cases would be called ‘deformed’, there is no difference in my eyes. To be honest, I think there’s more beauty to find in the things we don’t tend to see in magazines or advertisements. It’s reality!
Whenever I get the chance to document someone that is deemed “unnatural” or “not beautiful”, I’ll grab it! The response is always wonderful. People change their stance after seeing it through my eyes when they see the results. They see what’s undeniably beautiful in something that is considered less than perfect.
Color in today’s society.....
Working abroad really changed my perspective on culture especially in the western societies. I was raised as a brown kid in a white country, and I knew that very well. The thing that changed it all was due to photography, shooting in Africa to be precise. The biggest problem (in my eyes) is that race is even a thing. Racial classification per definition separates humans. When I was taking a photo of a young kid in the middle of nowhere in Kenya, he examined me from head to toe. I am Asian with black long hair, a beard, and lots of tattoos. He touched my beard, hair, hands, and skin. The most beautiful thing of it all was that it was done out of curiosity.
Raising a child in these times really puts everything into perspective. I don’t call my daughter out for being interested in someone that has darker or lighter skin. I actually make her believe that it’s a beautiful thing. Being different doesn’t mean anything other than being beautiful. I want my daughter to be curious, not judgemental. If I punish her for looking at someone with red hair or a beautiful afro, I’d be doing everything wrong. It’s all beautiful! We are all the same. I will always try to push that mindset when it comes to my art.