This Photo Series Shows The Beauty In Gender Fluidity
Gabrielle Revere has been a working photographer for over 14 years, primarily in fashion. She is best known for her portraits of supermodels Karlie Kloss and Lindsey Wixson, with whom she traveled all over the world. Or rather, she was best known for her work with Kloss and Wixson. In the past few months, Revere has garnered a great deal of attention for her work with Seth Atwell, a young model from Canada who’s just beginning to break out.
Atwell identifies as gender fluid. “Being compared to a girl is a compliment to me,” they said. “And being compared to or being called a guy is not insulting.” The photographs Revere took of Atwell explore all facets of beauty: the masculine, the feminine, and whatever lies in between. The photos published here haven’t been seen before, and they are raw, open, and above all, beautiful.
When we met Revere, the first thing we noticed was how good she smelled. “It’s my special magic potion,” she said. “It just came to me.” Her best work, like her perfume choices, tends to be born of spontaneity. “I love this kind of reportage work because it’s all open, nothing’s planned,” she said. “I walk into these environments not knowing what’s going to happen, most of the time not knowing what the environment’s going to be like, or if there’s even going to be an environment.” She has to be quick, and just figure it out on the fly.
Revere tends to form intimate relationships with her subjects. She grew up in upstate New York, always photographing her family. “When my father was alive, I was photographing him a lot toward the end of his life. That was huge. My sister, who I grew up photographing all the time, now has two children, and I photograph them all the time. There’s such a lineage to all of it. It’s powerful, it really is.” Her favorite photographers, Nan Goldin and Sally Mann, also stuck close to friends and family.
She likes to work closely with people, preferring to do projects in this reportage style. “With Karlie,” she said. “I was with her for six months. I went to Paris with her, I was photographing her in the back of a taxi, in the bathroom mirror, walking down the street; whatever I saw that was compelling at that moment. It really helps my artistry because it’s quiet, and I can focus on the true connection of what’s happening.”
As a photographer, Revere takes the “artist and muse” relationship seriously, working closely with those that she truly connects with. When she worked with Wixson and Kloss, they were both already fairly famous. But Atwell is a totally fresh face. “Everything is new for Seth,” said Revere. “That in itself is special. You’re experimenting with this person, you’re helping them grow, helping them figure out their identity. And they trust me, which in itself is the best feeling.”
The work with Atwell was extremely private and intimate. Soon after they were introduced by Seth’s modeling agent, they spent days together at in Toronto. “I usually work with a team and you’re in a studio, and you don’t really get to know the photographer,” said Seth. “But once the photographer’s in your house, and you’re with them for three days, you just get pretty intimate.”
The whole shoot was a new experience for Atwell. They started modeling recently, in January of 2014. They’re strikingly beautiful in person, and very tall — even more so when teetering on high heels, as they were when we met. A recent New York transplant, Atwell has a slight Canadian accent that occasionally comes out in an “aboot.” Our favorite thing we learned about them was that they like to rollerblade. We like to rollerblade too! Stop making fun of rollerbladers, world.
Growing up in Novia Scotia, described as green and gorgeous but tiny, Atwell knew that the place wasn’t exactly abounding with opportunities. They had to move. “I always knew I wanted to be a name,” they said, laughing. “But once maybe I was like 15, I started watching America’s Next Top Model. And then I thought, ok, I can do this.”
Atwell has now walked for Telfar and Hood By Air, a personal favorite. Their dream is to do a make-up campaign, and walk for a major house like Givenchy. They also want to be inspiring to others that don’t fit in traditional boxes. “Don’t be scared to be who you are,” said Atwell. “Dress how you want. Don’t limit yourself to any opportunities.” Atwell hasn’t. It seems to working out.