Photographer Laurence Philomene’s bright, pastel photographic self-portraiture challenges notions of gender and trans-representation in popular media.
I first encountered Laurence Philomene’s work around 2012, at the height of Tumblr. Looking back, it was one of the first visuals that felt like a reflection of the life, body, or gender I could someday have. I remember being inspired to make photos of myself and my friends, converting closets into makeshift studios with found fabric and wearing outfits and makeup we were not yet ready to reveal to the public eye.
Since then, Philomene has not slowed down — and has gone on to create an incredible archive of images that continue to challenge our notions of gender with joyful, confident, and pastel photos of their community and visions of the world.
Laurence Philomene’s most recent series ‘Puberty’ is an ongoing documentation of their transition on Hormone replacement therapy. Made in Philomene’s signature style and color, these photos not only serve as a beautiful and vibrant document — but ask that we, as trans & queer & non-binary people — be seen as whole and complicated creatures. They are rooted in the vernacular and mundane and allow for a trans narrative and representation outside of the spotlight and the heightened spectacle of visibility that comes with it.
Philomene’s photos are messy, honest, comforting, and vulnerable: an important visualization of daily life to trans folks who have yet to envision or see it reflected back to them. Dishes. Texting. Lounging. Breakfast. Watching TV in bed, awash in a purple haze. The moments before and after a testosterone shot. Crying, with the camera pointed squarely at our face.
June T. Sanders in conversation with Laurence Philomene