Ever since she began taking portraits of her close friends in 2011, photographer Jess Dugan has been exploring gender and sexuality in her work, especially within the community of trans people designated female at birth. One question that continued to plague her was this: How do each of us define and portray masculinity? "I was thinking a lot about the idea of masculinity on both a personal and cultural level," Dugan told BuzzFeed News. "The more time I spent thinking about it, the more elusive and malleable it seemed."
At the time, Dugan was alone in a brand-new city and found herself figuring out where she fit in and with whom she felt connected. "Using the investigation of masculinity as a starting point, my photographs became about the intersection of a personal identity and a need for intimacy and connection with others." The photographs have now been compiled into a photography book titled Every Breath We Drew. Dugan hopes the images help people question their own assumptions about gender and what it means to be masculine.
"I have always been especially drawn to the combination of strength and vulnerability, which is present in so many of the images. The people I chose to photograph often had qualities that I saw reflected in myself or that I desired to emulate."