To a Stranger

Passing stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me as of a dream,)
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall’d as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me or a girl with me,
I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become not yours only nor left my body mine only,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass, you take of my beard, breast, hands, in return,
I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone or wake at night alone,
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.

Walt Whitman, 1819 -1892

In this poem, I find the sense of my photography, or at least the emotion that moves me in my work.

In every shooting I try to create a strong connection with the model. For two hours we are in a relationship, they are the object of love and my only desire is to show their uniqueness and beauty to the rest of the world. For two hours they are friends, family, lovers. Together, we are creating a kind of strange love affair.

I’m truly in love with the men on the other side of the camera, but it is a kind of love that can live only in my photos.

I don’t really know them, I don’t know if I’ll ever see them again or if they feel something comparable with my feeling. The only thing I do know is that, with some of them, I am still in contact and I can define them as friends.

This work is part of a photographic project from the title: “Berlines”.  Research involving foreign men living in Berlin. They are straight, gay or non binary, but they have one thing in common: they are brave and strong enough to offer their body to the camera and to my look.

—- By Francesco Berti (Instagram @akinoit)