Artist and GayFace founder Ashley Kolodner
Queer artist and photographer Ashley Kolodner is fundraising to produce a portrait book introducing the world to GayFace: 1st Class. Snapping photos of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and every other label under the rainbow, Kolodner's project aims to use photographic portraiture to transform the viewer's perspective of just what a "gayface" really looks like.
Since launching the project in 2011, Kolodner has photographed more than 150 people from six different cities, and her work has been featured here at The Advocate, on BuzzFeed, and Sirius XM Radio. The project's subtitle, 1st Class, is meant to remind the viewer that the LGBT people featured in the photos are seeking a fully inclusive, first-class citizenship experience. While GayFace is the primary project, Kolodner notes that she's also profiling LGBT allies for a complementary project aptly called AllyFace.
For both projects, Kolodner takes a series of photographs of each participant, then juxtaposes two images from the photo shoot in a diptych. One image features the subject with their eyes closed, demonstrating a level of vulnerability and alluding to the historically hidden nature of LGBT people. The other shot features the subject with open eyes, engaging the viewer with direct eye contact, a warm smile, or a sassy, active pose. Each subject is then given an opportunity to self-identify and share their story. Those statements will be included in the forthcoming book as well.
"Through these photographs I'm capturing personalities, and in that split second of the shutter clicking, I feel one with the subjects," Kolodner says on the book's Kickstarter page. "I hope that these photographs bring awareness, a human connection and invoke emotion. This project celebrates the color, vibrance and diversity of a community that for decades as been in the dark."
Kolodner's Kickstarter campaign — which runs until May 7 and seeks to raise $46,720 — aims to fund the ultimate production of a high-quality photo book, after sending the photographer and her team to cities more isolated from LGBT-heavy gay metropolises in an effort to collect a more complete and inclusive representation of LGBT folks around the country. Kolodner plans to travel to 28 states and take 2,000 portraits. She's already mapped out the journey, and has begun booking photo shoots across the country.
Learn more about Kolodner's campaign to take GayFace nationwide here, and see a collection of the images she's already produced on the following pages.