Pictures worth a thousand genders: This photographer's work is a primer on non-binary identities

The people in Laurence Philomene's portraits are beautiful in the same way you'd typically expect models in photographs to be — but there's one crucial difference.

'When you don't see yourself represented, then you start to doubt yourself'

These whimsical photographs let us know there's still work to be done in representing gender non-binary people

7 years ago
Duration 3:16
Photographer Laurence Philomene will take you through what exactly "non-binary" means and why they chose to focus on it in their non-binary portraits.

The people in photographer Laurence Philomene's colour-soaked portraits often seem like they're caught in a candid moment. They're beautiful in the same way you'd typically expect models in photographs to be — but there's one crucial difference.

Philomene's work features their friends who, in terms of their gender, identify as non-binary, as does the artist. The photographer noticed a distinct lack of representation of non-binary people in visual imagery, and they decided to build a series of work that would exclusively feature their own non-binary friends.

"Showing that these identities are valid and exist — just that in itself is very powerful because when you don't see yourself represented, then you start to doubt yourself," the Montreal artist explains.

In the video above, directed by Ashley Duong, Philomene will give you a crash course on what exactly non-binary means, and you'll follow them into the studio for one of their friends' photo shoots. The second instalment of the series launched today; take a look over on their website.

Follow Laurence Philomene on Instagram.

Watch Exhibitionists Sundays at 4:30pm (5 NT) on CBC.


Lise Hosein is a producer at CBC Arts. Before that, she was an arts reporter at JazzFM 91, an interview producer at George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. When she's not at her CBC Arts desk she's sometimes an art history instructor and is always quite terrified of bees.