On January 12th 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti. An estimated three million people were effected and over 100,000 lost their lives. It was at a workshop set up In the aftermath of the disaster that Haitian-raised Jean Claude Michel was first introduced to photography. Mentored by the workshop’s manager Frederic Dupoux, Jean Claude quickly fell in love with cameras.
Two years ago, when he began shooting marketing campaigns for an agency in Haiti, he noticed that female models were usually more comfortable in front of the camera than men. This, he believed, was because male models in Haiti were often judged and criticized for their decisions to model. To bring attention to the issue, Jean Claude decided to shoot this powerful portrait series.
He explains; "I wanted to show to my community that expressing yourself is human; it’s innate in us to be happy, sad, mad and beautiful. It is a genuine expression of the self. You are who you want to be and society has no say in how you should feel or be. I wanted to lift the stigma surrounding male models and gender specific emotions. I hope to shed light on the ironic fact that 200 years ago, us Haitians stood up for ourselves. We were man enough to fight for our independence and man enough to seek freedom, justice and happiness; yet now we are not man enough to accept our feelings, nor strong enough to forget what others think of us. I hope these images will capture reality and make the audience see the truth for what it really is. Seek not to see color or gender or sexuality, but rather seek yourself."
Check out more of Jean Claude's photography on his Instagram and Tumblr.