ManCrush: Chris ATX

A photographer specialising in nude portraiture of men.

ManCrush: Chris ATX

Chris ATX is a photographer whose work focuses on capturing the intimate beauty of the male form through nude portraiture.

He was recently a guest on the Naked Men Talking podcast.

In the conversation, we talk about the appeal of naked men, exhibitionism, living authentically, and how to take a good nude.

Listen to the episode

Christopher, welcome!

Thank you for having me.

Now let's start at the beginning - how did you discover and start to explore your passion for photography?

I always kind of did photography back when I was little.

I had a little - do you know Pokémon?

Yeah, I'm not that old! I know Pokémon.

I had a little Pokémon camera that was like the only film camera I ever used.

But then I got into it more in high school.

Then I kind of went away from it for a while and then during the pandemic. I got back into photography more seriously and that's when I started doing the type of work I do now.

The male nude focus that you've got is when you sort of re embraced photography during that pandemic period, that's when you thought, you know what, I'm gonna use this to take naked photos?

I was just coming out of a Masters programme, so I kind of put everything to the side.

Then, after that that was done, was right when the pandemic started, and so I was like, well, now I literally have nothing to do. So what is it that I really enjoy doing? Photography.

How did you go about it? Because I guess I'm also interested in what draws you as a photographer to think, you know, what I want to focus on is the male form?

Since I was stuck at the house, I was like well, let's try taking pictures of regular household items or let's just do like some one of my partner getting ready in the morning, or my dog - just a little bit of everything.

Then I found myself also engaging in a lot of self portraiture. I’ve always had a little bit of exhibitionism streak in me, I guess.

From there, it was just kind of a natural progression to photographing others.

Talk a little bit more about your exhibitionism - in terms of what you post on your socials, you do centre yourself in that? When did you start to explore exhibitionism as a kink that you connect with?

It's always been a thing that I've been interested in. I like to be as authentic as possible and show everything.

I'm definitely not trying to run for public office or anything, so what's holding me back from doing this?

What was your relationship like with your body growing up? Have you always been pretty comfortable in terms of getting your clothes off in front of other people?

Actually, no, not at all.

My personality had a really radical shift somewhere in my 20s. I’m a survivor of childhood abuse - sexual abuse - so my relationship with my body was always very contentious.

I was very shy, very reserved, I didn't want to talk to people. I was very nervous around nudity for all these reasons.

Then, at a certain point I was just like, I don't know, like I majored in communication studies for my undergrad because I was like, well, I have this fear of public speaking.

So what if I just went through a programme where I just had to do that all the time and like, I guess I would get used to it.

Did that work?

At a certain point, I just realised - what’s the worst thing that can happen? The worst thing that can happen in a public speaking engagement generally is that you're going to think that I'm an idiot. Well, I also think that I'm an idiot a lot of the time. So, we can just go from there, you know?

Is that the process you talked about, how you had a bit of a personality shift in your mid 20s? Was it throwing yourself in the deep end that helped you unpack a lot of that stuff, or was there something else going on as well?

I think it was a lot of different things. The type of content that I've gotten into posting was kind of like the final stage of that. That was kind of the last thing where I was like, oh, this makes me nervous, but then I'm also interested in doing it.

I became a lot more confident in myself and just like willing to kind of put myself out there because people are either going to like me or they're not. It doesn't really matter to me either way.

Once I started making more friends within the community building some relationships with people who are interested in doing the same type of content, then it got really fun for me.

Talk a little bit more about that - I think that's really interesting when you talk about the community who were interested in the sort of content that you're interested in. Who is that? How did you find those people? How does that work?

I just started reaching out to people.

By that time I had started to do my website and started to post someone serious content - I always call it high effort smut.

Are you mainly photographing people working in that adult entertainment space?

I photograph anybody but one of the reasons that I enjoy working with people who are content creators is because since they're so public facing. They're like, I don't care, you know, post it anywhere.

But I also really enjoy just photographing friends of mine or average-looking “guy next door” types.

I like men who have, you know, a little bit of a tummy and an average build.

The experience of photographing numerous naked men, do you think that's given you any insights in terms of masculinity or body image?

The thing that it's really taught me is just a lot of beliefs that I kind of already had about gender and performativity.

Like you know it's just all kind of like an act and there obviously isn't any internal reality to it. It's all just dress up.

What about your relationship with your own body through this whole process?

I do preach a lot of body-positivity but I actually more subscribe to body-neutrality.

Regardless of how you look, you should just kind of be OK with it and it shouldn't form your whole life.

But that’s something that I struggle with.

Just looping back to your photography, are there any specific photographers who you're drawing inspiration from or whose style sort of influences the work that you're doing?

There's this book called Loving, which features gay couples from the beginning of photography.

I love collecting photography books.

There's also this book that I found called Intimate Strangers, which is this photographer who just documented his one-night stands over the course of several years. It’s this really interesting concept of this person that you're engaging in this very intimate action with, but like, you also like, don't know them.

So I definitely looked to a lot of things like that for inspiration, obviously like Robert Mapplethorpe - he was so transgressive with a lot of the things that he was interested in portraying, especially for the time period.

My final question is, if someone is interested in having some naked photos taken, but was feeling a bit apprehensive about it, what advice or guidance would you give them?

Find someone who you vibe with, whose energy you enjoy.

Go meet somebody for coffee or something first, if that's going to help you.

It should very much be a collaboration. It should be a thing where you're, like, excited to do it.

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