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I was excited to try something new when preparing my contribution to this issue. It made sense to go for high-key treatment to the works bearing in mind that most of my studio work has been against black with oblique lighting. But what of the subject matter? On that count I was inspired by a new model and friend, Gerard. During our first shoot together I discovered a broody concentration in his look that I found very compelling. In truth, he’s quick to smile and laughs easily, but when asked to stand there and stare into the camera, rather than stare, he confronts it. I liked that.

The other inspiration came from some images I had in my mind of the portraits of African tribesmen and women. Very noble and strong. Beautiful. But in other respects, impenetrable. The cultural, language and geographic barriers making communication near on impossible. Looking into those piercing eyes and not understanding a thing. And then there are the body modifications. Their understanding of what is beautiful. The elongated necks, stretched lips and ear lobes, penis sheaths, scars, tattoos and piercings - all lend to an otherworldly beauty and significance that we can only appreciate at an aesthetic level.