In his Half-Drag series, New York photographer Leland Bobbé captures the two sides of the big apple's drag queens. The extravagantly made-up drag divas and the organic men that lie beneath. "Through the power of hair and makeup these men are able to completely transform themselves and find their female side while simultaneously showing their male side."
Bobbé posted the first portrait of the Half-Drag series on his blog in March of 2012. "I got great feedback on the image so I decided to reach out to other drag queens using Facebook as my main means of communication." At the begining he had only started with four people, and his success took him to dozens of them willing to participate in this unique project. He said: "We'll see where this takes me..."
By 2013, the project took the award-winning photographer far: It has been featured in Italian Vogue, fashion site Refinery 29, as well as in other websites and blogs from around the world. Bobbé reflects, "This is what the term 'gone viral' is all about."
Leland Bobbé, a native New Yorker, has been a professional photographer for over 30 years. His work spans both the fine art and commercial worlds and has been shown in galleries and utilized by advertising agencies around the country.
Leland Bobbe Neo-Burlesque -
"Burlesque Dance is the Perfect Marriage of Vaudevillian"
Bobbé’s award winning photographs tell more than they are showing. The photographer’s images delve beneath the visible surface of the world we see and provide a glimpse of a hidden dimension that lies beneath. Like a poker player that blinks, each image has a “tell” ... a crack in the facade that allows us to delve more deeply into the psychology and inner workings of his subjects. Beneath his unflinching portraits of Women of Fifth Avenue, armored with make up, cosmetic surgery, and opulence, we see the frailty of old age and the specter of lost beauty. His beautiful portrait series, Neo-Burlesque perfectly captures the creativity and glitz of these performers in a classic studio setting and was exhibited in the spring of 2011 at The Museum of Sex (NYC). His wind blown and forgotten umbrellas in Stormy Weather remind us that even the shields we devise to protect ourselves from the elements eventually succumb to their force. In his most recent series, New York City Wall Art, he is photographing the ripped, tattered and peeling posters that appear on many walls around New York. This creates an unintended collage affect and forces the viewer to deal with disparate elements that aren’t normally viewed together but do exist in reality.
His series, Half-Drag offers a unique perspective on the drag queens behind the make up, while providing provocative social commentary on gender identity, normative ideas about gender roles, and the traditional male/ female paradigm. Not surprisingly, Half-Drag has gone viral, appearing on over thousands of blogs, websites and online magazines in over 30 countries including Vogue Italia, Huffington Post, ABC News, The Sundance Channel, AOL and MSN (please see Press tab for most recently media). He also appeared on the first guest segment on the newly launched HuffPost Live.
A fan of photographers like Steve Pyke, Garry Winogrand, Richard Avedon, and Harry Callahan and painters like Mark Rothko and Edward Hopper, Bobbé contends that his greatest influences lie elsewhere: “I find my influence comes more from a state of mind fueled by rock and roll, Miles Davis and great films. A boldness and simplicity runs through my work. In all of my portraits, although the subjects vary greatly, I always direct them in a similar way; which I think reflects my personality. I find that the photos that might make me a bit nervous and uncomfortable to shoot are often my best.”
Identities of the Models are Composed in Camera and NOT by Separate Images
Edited in Post Production and/or Photoshop
Visit Lelan Bobbé's Website and Blog to see updates on the ongoing series and to view his other work. His portafolio includes series like: "New York City 1970's," "Women of Fifth Avenue," New York City Wall Art," "Urbascapes," "Portraits," and "Texas Road Trip," among others.