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Body Alchemy:
Transsexual Portraits

Loren Cameron

1996, Cleis Press

109 Pages

From the Cover

Loren Cameron was born in 1959 in Pasadena, California, and grew up in rural Arkansas.   His early love for photography was inspired by pictures of depression-era America by Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange, which he found among his parents' photo books.   "My father had stories of his own about what it was like to grow up in Iowa near the end of the Great Depression . . . through Lange's photographs, I gained a visual understanding of my father's stories about working-class survival.  Her images touched me deeply and helped me understand his tough attitude about living and his generation's no-nonsense work ethic, as well as the universality of the human condition of pain, strife and the will to persevere."

In 1979, Cameron moved to San Francisco, were he lived in the lesbian community.   By the late '80s, he identified as a female-to-male transsexual, a journey through which Loren has evolved to the man he is today, sporting a beard, abstract cat-striped tattoos on legs, forearms and chest, and a well-muscled body.

Cameron began taking pictures to document his transformation.  "What was initially a crude documentation of my own personal journey gradually evolved into an impassioned mission.  Impulsively, I began to photograph other transsexuals that I knew, feeling compelled to make images of their emotional and physical triumphs.  I was fueled by my need to be validated, and wanted, in turn, to validate them.  I wanted the world to see us, I mean, really see us."

Cameron's photographs have been exhibited in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Minneapolis.  They have been published in numerous books and magazines, including Transgender Warriors by Leslie Feinberg and Constructing Masculinity, Anything That Moves, Artweek, Camerawork, Chrysalis Quarterly, Deneuve, Exposure, Frontiers, On Our Backs, San Francisco Sentinel, San Francisco Bay Times, San Francisco Weekly, Transsexual News Telegraph, and Utne Reader.

Cameron has been interviewed on BBC and in The New Yorker.  He has been a guest speaker at the Society for Photographic Education Conference, the University of California/Berkeley, the Richmond Art Center, California State University/Northridge, the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, and the San Francisco Art Institute.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Self-Portraits
  • God's Will
  • Distortions
  • The New Man Series
  • Our Bodies
  • Fellas
  • Emergence
  • Duo

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