How many times have you been scolded — maybe by your boss or a family member — for not thinking “outside the box”? Well, one New York City-based photographer, Ron Amato, gives us reason to think sometimes thinking inside the box has its advantages, too. His latest project, a coffee table photo book titled The Box, features super sexy shots of nude men, photographed inside a literal box.
Who doesn’t love a metaphor, right?
Amato is a respected New York photographer and a professor of photography at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The new book focuses on eight themes, including isolation, desire, conflict and empowerment through 100 color and black-and-white photos. Also notable, all copies of the book — selling for $60 (pick one up here) — are signed.
Back in June we reported on the release of The Box by Ron Amato, but we recently sat down with Amato and asked him point blank: Why the box concept?
“Photography studios are usually populated with wooden boxes of varying sizes, used as supports for models and props,” he tells Hornet. “I started to contemplate these boxes one day, focusing on all the uses and metaphors of boxes. At first I thought them as a symbol of triumph, of surmounting an obstacle. After my first few shoots using boxes as a symbol of empowerment, I longed to go further. I had larger boxes made so I could put men inside a box. Once that happened, the concept just exploded in many different directions.”
The images found in Amato’s new book are most definitely diverse, though with a shared visual through line.
“I guess the thing that intrigues me most about the project is the ability to use such a common object to express such a wide array of emotions,” Amato tells us. “Eventually the eight themes in the book revealed themselves: isolation, longing, adversity, conflict, desire, connection, community and empowerment. Once I identified these themes, the project became a visual autobiography of my life as a gay man. The themes are universal, no matter gay or straight. I think that’s why this book has struck an emotional cord with so many.”
As it turns out, many of Amato’s photo subjects were strangers before shooting with him. He tells us they would come into his studio, undress and have to get into rather tight spaces with each other, which made for an interesting dynamic.
“The awkwardness and titillation were all part of what makes these photographs so rich and intriguing,” he says. “I think many of the men were in pain while also having a heightened sense of the sexual implications of the situation. That is all part of the dynamic that makes these photographs so evocative.”
Check out our gallery of images from The Box by Ron Amato here:
All Photographs © Ron Amato