What did one do around here?

Nothing. Wait for summer to end.

What did one do in the winter, then?

I smiled at the answer I was about to give.

He got the gist and said, Don’t tell me: wait for summer to come, right?

—– “Call me by your name” by Andre Aciman

Tale of Men Impression, Shot in Berlin, By Frank Bertram

The corona crisis has put a stop on everything. All of a sudden, millions of people went back to the basics, cutting their social connections and starting to cocoon at home. Confinement, they call it, in order to combat against the virus that took us by surprise, then followed with horror. It is a difficult time for all. I look out of the window and see the blue sky. Spring is here. It’s rare to have such nice weather. Sun and blue sky, something I have been longing for, but now a feeling of gloominess lingering here, hard to ignore.

The confinement has become a challenge, especially for those who are not good at dealing with solitude. Suddenly, we have so much time on our hands that we don’t know what to do with it anymore. A luxury turns out to be our haunting nightmare. I don’t get to complain. I can work at home and the government keeps paying my salary. I have my cute dog, Luna, with me, who gives me attention and love. For the longest time of my life, I have got used to being on my own and using social medias to connect with people. So, this introvert side of me makes the confinement easier to bear.

The only thing I miss is making photographs, meeting the boys, listening to their stories and sharing intimate moments. Luckily, I made the trip to Lisbon and Barcelona in February, where I photographed some boys and collected their stories. This helps me to update the project during this crazy time. Despite this, I still feel gutted that many photo shoots have been canceled, so as my trips to Madrid and Berlin in April. It’s mind blowing how things have changed so fast. I was literally amazed among groups of boys in a tiny apartment a few weeks ago, and now everything is on hold. And what about summer, no one is sure about summer. Will this crisis be over by then? The experts on TV are pessimistic about it. So I can only dream.

Don’t know when I started to refer the people I photographed as “my boys”. Different photographers have different ways of approaching their models. I pride in myself that my boys are “real” people. They are not “models”. They are like you and me, maybe more fierce and brave as they put themselves in a dedicate situation where they lay bare themselves and open their hearts to strangers. There is something almost sacred about the things I do. That is to respect them, capture the beauty of each individual, and trust. Those boys have taught me so much. They teach me about life and the world. They also teach me about myself. In the beginning I thought the project was to share the stories and help those who need to be inspired or seek for a sense of belongings. However, now, I realize the project has profoundly influenced me as a person. For that, I am grateful.

Because of them, lots of places and moments have taken a special place in my heart, like Berlin, Barcelona and Lisbon. I love the fact that it has become sort of a thing that every time I arrive in Berlin, we will organize a small gathering with old and new friends, to socialize and to share. In my mind, I could vaguely see eyes of boys with whom special connections were forged, the tenderness in them, their smiles, their sensuality… The next step is to find a way to bring them together and share this connection together. I am dreaming again.

So, hold on, my boys. Now we have to endure, but at the same time we have so many nice things to look forward to. After the crisis is over, the joy will only taste sweeter and there will be even more love to give and to receive.

—- Written in the beginning of the lock down in Brussels (March 2020)