The androgynous beauty

The photographs that Ganesh Toasty shows me are beautiful. The model looks glamorous, has the perfect pout and a camera presence like very few do. With perfectly done hair, red lips, high heels and an attitude to boot, Lemuel Huffman is quite unlike other fashion models one would find in South India — he is a self-confessed drag queen. With ‘Sui Generis’, city-based photographer Ganesh tried to “capture the beauty of a cross dresser because I wanted to prove to people that there is more than just conventional beauty”.

A series of photos that have Lemuel posing like a diva will soon be released on the photographer’s Facebook account. “The idea for the concept shoot came to me when I realised the kind of preset notions people, including my friends and families, had about the LGBT community. Through my photographs, I want to show the world that there is beauty everywhere. While there are androgynous models in the international fashion circuit, I don’t know of any in Chennai,” explains Ganesh.

It helped that Lemuel was more than happy to oblige. “I don’t know of any other androgynous model in the country. Besides, why would I say no to getting dressed up and looking pretty for the camera,” laughs Lemuel, whose love for fashion began when he first watched America’s Next Top Model back in high school. “I simply loved what Tyra did. I am also a huge fan of RuPaul ever since I watched RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

The shoot itself was completed in an impressive four hours, including three looks, outfit and hairstyle changes.

Incidentally, Ganesh’s tryst with photography began after he watched the Dhanush-starrer Mayakkam Enna. “I was a sales professional and was doing rather well. But the call of photography was too hard to resist. Three days after watching the movie, I bought my first SLR, a Canon 550D. Eventually, I quit my job and began pursuing photography full-time,” says Ganesh, who now has three brands — BlackPearl Photography, through which he does commercial and fashion photography; Wedding Story; and FMantra, a fashion blog to help connect people in the fashion industry.

Apart from these, the photographer also spends considerable time in Mahabalipuram doing what he loves — finding the most unlikely fashion icons on the streets. “There are a lot of foreigners there, and I love the kind of fashion you find on the streets there. I do commercial shoots often, but what I truly love are concept shoots. One of my most memorable shoots was with a sadhu at Mahabs. He wore a saffron dhoti, Ray-Bans and a hat, and had some pretty cool moves for my camera,” smiles Ganesh.

The photographer now plans to do another concept shoot with visually-impaired people. “I’m still working on the finer details, but I’d like to capture how they visualise the world and sounds around them; it’s very different from the way we do,” he says.

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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 2:28:58 AM |

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