Joe Schmelzer's background is in commercial and editorial photography, but for a new series he is documenting his travels and experiences with his boyfriend, Nick Berry, partially as a method to understand their relationship.
By showcasing their life together, Schmelzer says he is seeking to redefine what family means in the modern age. Schmelzer also told The Huffington Post that he finds beauty in the "everyday," "banal" moments.
In order to better understand Schmelzer's photography, we chatted with the artist (and briefly with Berry) about what sets this series apart from the rest of his photography and his boyfriend's influence on his work.
The Huffington Post: The series is different from your other work. What inspired you to do the series and to release these publicly? My background is definitely in commercial and editorial photography, which of course I do to bring home the "bacon" and live on, and it's a career I greatly enjoy. But, my passion is photography in general. I am not a writer, so my best outlet to show how I feel, and discuss those things around me, is through imagery. I think the public nature of the work is what makes it even more important to me. I feel there is so much "gay" work that thrives on the sexual nature, or the "shocking" (i.e. we must do work about drag queens, or s/m or whatever). There is nothing wrong with that type of work, but I am extremely interested in breaking down those stereotypes and basically just show the "normal." While there has been some criticism that the work is not "banal" or "everyday" because of how Nick looks or whatever they may say... I cannot apologize for the good looks of my boyfriend, but that is not what the work is about. We are partners and boyfriends, and therefore those are the moments that I choose to document. They teach me about myself and about our relationship. We are just people, a couple, boyfriends, who are living our life together, and that is basically what I am trying to achieve.
Did it take any convincing to get your partner, Nick, to agree to be a part of the series? Nick Berry: It's a nice change of scenery. As a producer, I'm used to being behind the camera. It's a different type of creative outlet that I enjoy. I don't mind [making private moments public] -- it's not intrusive to me. It's an art that a lot of people appreciate and enjoy. I think it's also just part of the territory that comes with dating a photographer.
Are there images that you decided were too intimate or private to include in the series? Well, yes, there are other moments. And, maybe there will be a time and place for those images. I am trying to find an avenue to publish a book, as well as further gallery showings and representation and maybe some of those images will be involved then. I mean there are intimate moments, but I didn't want the thrust of work to be in the vain of nudity or sex, although clearly that is an aspect that is represented.
What do you want the viewer to take away from this series? Some key points are: 1. The redefinition of the "traditional" family. 2. Seeing beauty in the everyday. 3. Gay or straight, the bottom line is about love and commitment in the greatest sense.
Check out more images from Schmelzer's below. For more info on the photographer, visit his official website here.