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This Photographer Captures Men’s Bodies At Their Vulnerable Best

This photographer captures snatches of male sexuality and intimate portraits to tell raw stories of these men.

4 min read

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Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan
Abhishek Ranjan


The thing with patriarchy is it not only claws its way into the lives of women but men as well. Men are conditioned to ‘act’ in a certain way, exhibit ‘masculinity’, and live up to societal norms.

Artist Raqeeb Raza is now challenging the entrenched patriarchy in the society. His photographs capture masculinity, intimacy, warmth and sexuality.

Raza focuses on the intricacies of male sexuality and intimate portraits which leave a long lasting impression on your mind.

View this post on Instagram

Pushing Boundaries: Intimacy and Censorship- Censhorship on pages which deal with intimacy is not a new thing. But what surprises one is how there are so many pages with pornographic/copyright/fake content being greenlighted. If we, as artists, don't come together and start a fight against it right now then we have already lost the cause. Since, I started this page around a year ago, my pictures have been targetted, removed and my account shadowbanned for days. I have not stopped despite continued impositions on my account, and I ask you not to stop either. Let's protest against the unjust, arbitrary censorship by Instagram. Let's keep posting the pictures removed, in new forms and with new self-censhorship techniques. If they won't let us post our content in the way we would like to post, let's answer them back in their own way. . . In frame: @iamprateekray & @mdakramrazaa

A post shared by Raqeeb (@daintystrangerphotos) on


He started by capturing queer individuals who have been shamed by the society for their bodies and desires. Raza himself had a turbulent childhood and was bullied for his effeminate nature and it was during his college years that he accepted himself and started expressing himself.

@daintystrangersphotos is an Instagram page run by Raqeeb, which turned a year old recently. He uses portraits of male bodies to challenge the notions of sexuality and masochism. From men who struggled with their sexuality and body types, men who were abused in their childhood to cancer survivors, Raza’s photographs tell a striking tale of raw, soft men – a far cry from the ‘mainstream male.’

“We have been conditioned to think that our body represents our personality. And when you are too fat or too thin or just don’t have washboard abs you are not enough. You don’t fit in. You aren’t perfect.”
Raqeeb Raza, @daintystrangersphotos

Raza’s work focuses on the beauty of imperfection. The theme in majority of his pictures is about embracing yourself. He says, it was grueling for him to reach this stage as he hated his body for the longest time and with the kind of body issues he faced, he was even afraid to get intimate with someone thinking that it would repel the person and that he would have to face rejection.

His Instagram gallery shows a variety of portraits of men with all body types as well as same-sex male couples, capturing their intimate moments.

“Society’s perspective of a naked body as ‘vulgar’ or only for sexual pleasures, should be demolished. It might not be the mainstream way to do it but I feel there is a necessity to bring this up and start a conversation.”
Raqeeb Raza, @daintystrangersphotos

Raza’s photography consumes a lot of time, he says. He sits with the person, drinks tea and chats. The person talks and he photographs them while the subject is talking. Raza believes that this way the subject becomes comfortable and the pictures and story behind it also comes out well. Also, he prefers shooting people in their own spaces.

“I have been modelling for about one, one-and-a-half years and before that I used to be a very, very shy person. Like, I wouldn’t even wear shorts in public. So, the idea of going bare-chested was completely unthinkable for me. And I think, mentally it’s made me a more well-rounded person because nowadays I am not so scared of showing my body and am not scared of my body.”
Alexander Lakshman Balakrishnan, Model

The idea of Raza’s erotic art page is inspired by stories of people.

When asked why he doesn’t click women, Raza said that he doesn’t understand women’s bodies so well, to represent it in a way that will effect a change. He feels that he cannot make a change in the kind of photography that always involved women and that’s why he did not approach it.

But All’s Not Fair

Raza faces two major issues with his page, one that people keep blocking his pictures – pictures that are the result of hours of shoot and post-shoot edits. He says he finds it very demotivating when people report his pictures.

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Self-censoring to match the morals of Instagram. Thanks. . . . It is either the faulty algorithm of Instagram or people who just can't handle naked bodies (hence, reporting them). I don't find any other logical reason why a post almost a week old was suddenly removed. If you are someone who gets offended by naked bodies, I urge you, please unfollow. But, please don't report content which is an end result of hours of shoot involving people, post-shoot edits and then the usual procedure. It takes time and effort. And when it gets removed, one feels extremely unmotivated to pursue the same. I have been facing this issue since I started the page and it does get to you once in a while. . . And thank you to all those who have personally messaged me showing their support and talking to me about how they also have been targetted. We are all together in this. Let's not stop. Let's continue this.

A post shared by Raqeeb (@daintystrangerphotos) on

Secondly, people also complain about him working with men whose bodies are considered ‘perfect’ in mainstream media, to which Raza says his page has always been about inclusivity and it isn’t fair to show only one side of the coin.

Snapshot of Raza’s story on Instagram.
(Photo Courtesy: @daintystrangersphotos/Instagram)

I am sure all of us have some kind of insecurity vulnerability regarding our own body and how we appear in the society. In a society where we have been judged throughout because of our appearance. I think, it’s very important to start a conversation regarding your vulnerabilities and insecurities and whatever affects your identity. This conversation will not only help you make peace with the fact that you are perfect the way you are but also start a conversation on how and why we need to accept bodies and identities of different types. Let’s start. Let’s start talking about it and let’s start a conversation about everything which is inclusive in the society and which is needed.

~ Raqeeb Raza

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Topics:  LGBTQ   Instagram   LGBT 

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