A gay in the LIFE

Photographer Tim Hailand’s intimate access to gay musician Jake Shears and Rufus Wainwright makes for racy coffee table decor

Out photographer Tim Hailand gets way behind the velvet rope — heck, he crosses through the bedroom door — with his One Day in the Life of… photography books. His first, 2010’s One Day in the Life of Daniel Radcliffe, tracked the extremely gay-friendly actor from morning (waking up in bed!) till nighttime, but he gets even racier with two books that came out this week, both featuring queer musicians: One Day in the Life of Rufus Wainwright and One Day in the Life of Jake Shears (Hailand Books, $35).

These are coffee table books you might not want sitting out when mom’s bridge club comes over. Both tomes feature Hailand’s intimate black-and-white images of his subjects (Shears is especially open to getting naked in front of the camera) as they prepare for evening concerts, which are documented in full color. Each book’s photos are accompanied by text from the subjects, with Elton John providing an intro and Kylie Minogue an afterword to the Shears book.

Hailand has snapped for dozens of international magazines, chronicling a bevy of queer icons, from U.K. pop gods the Pet Shop Boys and cult artists Gilbert & George to transgender actress Candis Cayne and singer/performer Justin Bond. A portion of the books’ proceeds will go to charities determined by Shears (the Elton John AIDS Foundation) and Wainwright (the Kate McGarrigle Fund).

Hailand talked about his unfettered access, the challenges of shooting 2,000 photos over 14 hours and who’s next in his dream-list of subject.

— Lawrence Ferber
Visit OneDayintheLife.org for more information or to place an order.

Dallas Voice: Can you elaborate on the genesis behind this project and your choice in subjects? Hailand: I’m very much inspired by great performers — those who seem to be able to do what I can’t do. After shooting Jake Shears for V Man five years ago, I decided to expand upon this “one-day-long” portrait concept and use it for my own work. Dan Radcliffe is a friend, and the book arose out of our friendship. As a person, Dan is incredibly charismatic and super smart — wise beyond his years. He’s also very curious, as most smart people tend to be. Rufus and Jake have been friends of mine for quite some time, and I’ve been photographing them over the years both onstage and off. I love their work — Scissor Sisters’ Night Work and Rufus’ All Days are Nights: Songs for Lulu were my favorite records of 2010 — and they just seemed the next natural choices as book subjects.

Did either of the guys dictate rules as far as what you could and couldn’t shoot? Clearly Jake was pretty uninhibited — we see a lot of his butt. The books are portraits of each subject, of their personalities. No real rules were set up, but I’m always sensitive to and respectful of any subject’s sense of self and what I perceive to be their boundaries.

Did you always plan to shoot on the day of a concert or did you consider another occasion? We wanted to choose a day that has a creative crescendo, that captures the height of their creativity. That’s why the book moves into color at that “high creative” point of the day. They’re all performers, so we wanted to capture what they do best.

What was the biggest challenge as far as shooting Rufus’ day? Shooting one person for 14 hours is demanding in itself — staying both focused and flexible at the same time, going with the flow, and capturing what I perceive to be the rhythm of that particular person’s day. It’s both an exhilarating and exhausting process, as it requires much psychic energy, but I’m very pleased with the end results.

ALL  ACCESS PASS | Queer photographer Tim Hailand, center, with subjects Jake Shears, left, and Rufus Wainwright.

How many shots did you take of each subject? Did any photos that you loved not make it into the books? Probably somewhere around 2,000. In editing the book, I chose images that best told the story of that subject, of that day. I think my favorite images made it into each book, although there are a few that probably stand on their own.

Does being queer yourself somehow affect your choices in subjects or what you draw out of them? It’s funny you should ask, as I recently met with a heterosexual wrestling coach who’s a big advocate of LGBT acceptance, and in looking at my photos, I asked him if one could detect the “queer gaze” of the photographer. He didn’t think so. I think I photograph those that I’m attracted to, sometimes sexually, sometimes in terms of inspiration. I’m interested in those who occupy the space in between — those who are a bit of an outsider to mainstream culture, but are ultimately the true creators.

Who else is on your wish list for future One Day subjects? The next confirmed subject is theater director Robert Wilson. I’ll be documenting his new opera, The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic, in July, which will also feature Marina Abramovic, Antony Hegarty [of Antony and The Johnsons] and Willem Dafoe. I’m very excited about that project! Kylie Minogue lent her words to Jake Shears’ book, and I’d like to make a book with her, so I’m working on that possibility now. I’d also like to do a book with Lady Gaga, Marc Jacobs, David Bowie and heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko. I already shot a day with Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas [who came out in 2009].

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 25, 2011.

—  John Wright

Fahari Arts presents Queer Film Series today

The weather for shorts

Today, the Fahari Arts Institute screens two short LGBT films. First, If She Grows Up Gay, pictured, is a 1983 short about an African-American mother talking about life with children, her lesbian lover and blue collar job and directed by Karen Goodman. That is followed by Brooklyn’s Bridge to Jordan, directed by Tina Mabry. Brookyn’s tells the story of a woman who loses her partner in an auto accident only to fight to rebuild her relationship with an estranged son as well as her own life. Filmmaker Charles Bennett Brack will be in attendance.

DEETS: South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh Road. 6 p.m. $5.

—  Rich Lopez