Day & Night
David © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Andriana © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Dea © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Gina © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Suzina & Tim © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Andy & Pat © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Jason © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Mindy & Rory © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Duane & Dawn © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Brent © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Laney © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Gary & Cary © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Insatiable © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Renee © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Dominique © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Don & Kristy © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Kim Lady Hotchkiss © Forest McMullin Atlanta, GA
Forest McMullin has always been interested in documenting the life of people on the fringe of society. In past personal projects, he photographed heavily tattooed men and women, radical racists and Neo-Nazis, and inmates in prison boot camps. In his new series, Day & Night, he dives into the world of swinger clubs, dungeons nights and BDSM lifestyle, bringing to light what most would call “deviant” sexual behaviors. His portraits are paired: on the left side, men, women or couple in their ordinary setting, contrasting that on the right side with portraits of the same people revealed in their intimate sexual fantasy. The parity is what gives sense to the project. Understand: they are everyday people and their sexuality is only part of who they are.
Shortly after moving from liberal upstate New York to Atlanta in 2008, McMullin was bewildered by a newspaper article on swinger clubs. “It was amazing to me that, in what I thought to be the conservative South, there were behaviors that were as risky and as on the fringe as [those exhibited in] swinger clubs.” His interest picked, McMullin pursued some research, paid visits to clubs and eventually met a woman, a dominatrix, who would introduce him to more people and help him make contacts.
Shooting for a mainstream public, McMullin intends clearly to be intimate without being voyeurist or lurid. His subjects look straight into our eyes and every shot is carefully staged. For the day pictures, he photographs his subjects with a very natural light, usually in their home, whereas for the night pictures, he lights the scene much more extensively, stylizing it. “It was my way of visually pushing the story,” McMullin said.
The result is a series that does not leave indifferent. “I had a broad range of reactions, when I was showing my work,” explained McMullin. “Some people were very uncomfortable, and some were fascinated. No one expressed to me outrage or repulsion. Discomfort, definitively; fascination, definitively.” But, he said, in any case, it always started a conversation.
After several exhibits, recently in Atlanta, Georgia, where he teaches photography, McMullin continues working on his project, adding more faces to his collection and eventually expanding the realm of representation to other sexual identities.