When you love someone and they leave, where does that love go? It’s a question photographer Laura Beth Reese set out to tackle in her understated Ex-Boyfriends series. Shot in soft, natural light, the series reconnects Reese with past partners from ages 12 through 27—formative, impressionable years that colored her perceptions of love and intimacy.
To begin her series, Reese doggedly trailed her exes in pursuit of a simple ask: she wanted to photograph them. Unsurprisingly, she was often met with hesitation or flat-out rejection. In an interview with Feature Shoot, the photographer says even her “surest bets” shied away from being captured on film. Undeterred, Reese sought compromise with a role reversal: “In some cases, my ex-boyfriends refuse to be photographed, but agree to photograph me instead,” she says.
Feeling that full nudity would add unwelcome strain to the project, Reese settled for a PG-13 rating: ex-partners stripped down to their skivvies, reclining on soft white sheets. Naturally, Reese’s series invites plenty of awkwardness, unnatural posing, and even vicarious cringe. “[Ex-Boyfriends] tells the story of my attempt to force an intimacy we once shared but has since dissipated,” she admits in her artist statement.
At once provocative and oddly soothing, Ex-Boyfriends is a compelling look at vulnerability in the post-breakup space. Reese brings inconvenient or unpleasant moments into the morning light, pausing, one last time, to appreciate the sight of an early sun in her ex-lovers hair.
“[Ex-Boyfriends] tells the story of my attempt to force an intimacy we once shared but has since dissipated.” — Laura Beth Reese
Laura Beth Reese: Website | Instagram
All photos published with permission of the artist.
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