Lissa Rivera, Motel, Virginia
Motel, Virginia
Lissa Rivera, Poolside, Family Home
Poolside, Family Home
Lissa Rivera, Study in Red and Yellow
Study in Red and Yellow
Lissa Rivera, My Swimsuit, Beautiful Boy
My Swimsuit
Lissa Rivera, Experiment with Gels
Experiment with Gels
Lissa Rivera, Boudoir
Lissa Rivera, Male Impersonator
Male Impersonator
Lissa Rivera, Prospect Park
Prospect Park
Lissa Rivera, Bath
Lissa Rivera, Fur
Lissa Rivera, Courtesan IV
Courtesan IV
Lissa Rivera, Lolita
Lissa Rivera, Mirror with Jewels
Mirror with Jewels
Lissa Rivera, Metamorphosis
Lissa Rivera, Venus
Lissa Rivera, All the Vogue
All the Vogue
Lissa Rivera, Eggleston Hair
Eggleston Hair
Lissa Rivera, Back at University
Back at University
Lissa Rivera, Portrait of Symbols II
Portrait with Symbols II
Lissa Rivera, Object of Desire
Object of Desire
Lissa Rivera, Kitchen
Lissa Rivera, Black Corset
Black Corset
Lissa Rivera, White Carpet Odalisque, Family Home
White Carpet Odalisque, Family Home
Lissa Rivera, Braided Hair
Braided Hair
Lissa Rivera, Transition
Lissa Rivera, Spirit of the Rose
Spirit of the Rose
Lissa Rivera, Bathroom, Family Home
Bathroom, Family Home

Lissa Rivera writes: “‘Beautiful Boy’ is an ongoing project that began as a confession between two friends. On the subway one evening, my friend shared that he had worn women’s clothing almost exclusively in college, but after graduation struggled to navigate a world that seemed both newly accepting and yet inherently reviling of male displays of femininity. I thought that photography could provide a space for him to experiment with his identity outside of isolation.

“Taking the first pictures was an emotional experience. I connected with my friend’s vulnerability. I wanted to make sure that the images were not a compromise for either of us, and we engaged in many discussions. Both of us have long, fraught relationships with femininity that have fundamentally shaped who we are. Our desires were matched. They had the desire to see themselves and I felt driven to capture their exploration. A part of my own identity that had defied expression also began to emerge. As time went on, we realized that we had unexpectedly fallen in love. He became my romantic partner and collaborator.

“I wanted to make images without shame, to show his femininity as strength. I wanted to feel empowered as well, to have an intimate muse. When taking the photos I felt the same as when viewing a film where a director and an actress share a deep connection to the fantasy captured. Although our emotional relationship is private and real, we perform a romanticism that is obsessive and decadent. We connect to image, films, and records of women that we idolize and consume together.

“Collaging the visual language of the past, I tap into deep-seated narratives about gender, desire, freedom, and cultural taboo. The fantasy of dressing up transforms the act of being photographed into one that fuses identity creation with image creation. The camera transposes our private experiences into public expression.”

Work by Lissa Rivera

Press Coverage

Blog Posts