Ally Gonzalos’ editorial work is like a breath of fresh air. He’s committed to portraying real diversity in his work. Recently, Ally’s project on what is unfortunately considered to be unconventional masculinity has been gaining a lot of attention, and for all the right reasons. Tired of waiting for other artists to portray people that looked like him in their works, Ally started photographing male-identifying people from various intersections. The result is a fascinating catalog that looks nothing like what we’re used to seeing in mainstream advertisements.
To label Ally solely as a portrait photographer would be doing him an injustice, however, with his work spanning across several genres. Ally’s portfolio includes photography for events, nature, and product shots.
Read on to find out more about Ally, his work, and where he’s headed on to next.
You have developed a very distinct style of photography. Can you tell us about the process of finding that style and perfecting it? I was able to develop my personal style by looking at the work of various artists whom I admire and cherry-picking certain aspects from these people to create my own eclectic look.
I don’t think it’ll ever be perfect, but I’m alright with that. There’s always room for growth.
Your portfolio includes portraits, events, nature and product shots. What’s your favourite and least favourite subject? Why so? Portraiture is probably my favourite kind of photography because I get to build a connection with the subjects. Photos with no people in them are what I photograph the least. However, I always try to look for that human element in the photos I take.
What is one project or set of images that you’re really proud of right now? While I like to work on multiple projects all at once, I’m particularly proud of my project conveying non-conventional masculinity. I am especially proud of how far it’s come since I first started it. Right now, I’ve managed to photograph marginalized people from various intersections, allowing me to provide true representation. It’s still a work in progress as there are always more people to photograph. To me, that’s part of why I love it so much.
That project has attracted a lot of attention, for all the right reasons. Why did you start working on this, and how has the initial idea evolved as you shoot more and more diverse men?
I started this project because I grew tired of waiting for other artists to portray masculinity that represented my colour, sexuality, and queerness.
The more men I was able to photograph, the more diverse the project became. I also was able to learn more about my identity, and ultimately, became less shy and apologetic of who I am as a man. I’m reassured and more confident now, and I think the people I’ve photographed would say the same thing about themselves.
What does a perfect shoot day look like for you? A perfect shoot day consists of a warm, breezy afternoon, a cup of coffee in hand from one of my favourite coffee shops, and a model who’s easy to to get along with. Most of my favourite photos come from shoots like this!
What’s one dream project that you would love to do or be involved with? I’d love to photograph a campaign for a major fashion brand that shows a multitude of body types and promotes body positivity. While huge strides have been made for women in this particular aspect, there’s still a discrepancy when it comes to mainstream media’s portrayal of men’s bodies and that’s where I’d like to come in.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Who are some of your favourite artists? I’m inspired by so many things around me. I’m motivated by those who explore the intersections of queer identities, race, and the politics intertwined with them. Off the top of my head, I really adore the works of Ren Hang, Kanya Iwana, Fan Ho, Shaira Luna, Carlota Guerrero, Teri Hofford, and Paul Freeman
What is the worst advice you have ever received?
The worst advice I’ve probably received was to not say something when I knew I had to speak up. Nowadays, I try to always speak up when I know I’m in a safe space because I’m aware of the privileges I still have despite being a minority and I’m gonna use that privilege as a platform to speak up for the oppressed.
What are some of your future goals, personally and professionally?
Professionally, my goal is to eventually be a full-time photographer because I want to make a living out of something I really enjoy. On a personal level, my goal is to live a happy life. As a person who suffers from depression and anxiety, it’s easier said than done but I try to be patient and kind with myself.