12 Honest, Vulnerable (NSFW) Photos Of Naked Men

Photo: Courtesy of Abigail Ekue.
In her series Bare Men, photographer Abigail Ekue is working to deconstruct the male body. She explains that unlike female nudity, "male nudity isn't used to sell. In the mainstream, we're still surprised and thrilled by male nudity." The mind immediately goes to recent calls for more male nudity in film and TV, given the extent to which the female form is put on display in popular culture. As Ekue puts it, "we're not at the point where male nudity isn't a 'thing.'"

In general, men don't need any more visibility in mainstream culture than they already have. But Bare Men strikes a different chord. Rather than exult the naked male form, Ekue normalizes and neutralizes it. These images don't attack or threaten us; rather, they put us in the position of voyeur, even intruder.

What's most arresting about these photos is the way they walk the line. Simultaneously intimate and funny, overt and enigmatic, each image shows men in their homes, naked, and (save for Ekue) alone. They all seem very comfortable, but in a way that we rarely see men being comfortable; there's a palpable air of quiet vulnerability throughout.

Ekue empowers her viewers (her male subjects must remain under our gaze), yet the meaning of the photos remains complex. After all, how often do we catch men in such a state? What changes when we see a man without his guard up, flaccid and imperfect? Stripped of everything from their clothes to their class, these subjects appear simply as men in their bodies. If anything, many of them seem relieved that they're finally showing this side of themselves.

Click ahead to view a selection of Ekue's work.
1 of 12
Photo: Courtesy of Abigail Ekue.
"The first few men I photographed for Bare Men are friends or acquaintances that I thought would be comfortable posing nude for me, or men I thought I could create great photographs with. I also turned to trusty Craigslist and, believe it or not, worked with some legitimate models or men who wanted to pose. Other men approached me to be a part of the Bare Men series."
Advertisement
2 of 12
Photo: Courtesy of Abigail Ekue.
"Many stated they liked my work and wanted nude photos of themselves, some just like the idea of being naked in front of a woman, the models wanted to update their portfolios, other men had desires to break into art modeling, some wanted to step out of their comfort zones, and some had personal reasons for posing."
3 of 12
Photo: Courtesy of Abigail Ekue.
"For men who are clearly lost or nervous, I'm more 'in charge' until they become comfortable. I tend to give cues on posture, and I do give verbal cues to get the men to express a particular emotion."
4 of 12
Photo: Courtesy of Abigail Ekue.
"Sometimes, I don't get the expression I'm after, but what I do capture because of our interaction is gold."
5 of 12
Photo: Courtesy of Abigail Ekue.
"I'm always watching for those flickers of beauty or mischief."
6 of 12
Photo: Courtesy of Abigail Ekue.
"I have worked with some men who act in front of the camera or give me what they think I want. I get them to stop that and just be in front of the camera."
Advertisement
7 of 12
Photo: Courtesy of Abigail Ekue.
"I do want the perception of male nudes to include all shapes and sizes and not merely ultra-smooth, androgynous bodies."
8 of 12
Photo: Courtesy of Abigail Ekue.
"Is sex part of Bare Men? Yes, some men are more outwardly sexual, but even then, there's a level of intimacy and that particular man's personal touch on the photos."
9 of 12
Photo: Courtesy of Abigail Ekue.
"I know the imagery in Bare Men is a statement to the vulnerability of men that they aren't always encouraged to show."
10 of 12
Photo: Courtesy of Abigail Ekue.
When asked if she believes men behave differently when alone, as opposed to in public or in front of others, Ekue responds, "without a doubt they do. They are conditioned to be tough, stoic...and if emotional, they're most comfortable expressing excitement or anger, nothing that may be considered 'soft' or 'feminine.' I'm so grateful to the men who work with me and offer me that side of themselves..."
11 of 12
Photo: Courtesy of Abigail Ekue.
"...whether it's showing angst, fear, sadness or revealing quirks, preferences, or fetishes. That's also why doing the shoots in their homes or a setting they're used to helps tremendously. That's one less element they have to get comfortable with during the shoot."
Advertisement
12 of 12
Photo: Courtesy of Abigail Ekue.
"I want the audience of Bare Men to feel what the men are feeling. I want the audience to relate to the men; they don't have to agree with the men, but empathy is a sought-after part of viewing the series."
Advertisement