Photographer Adam Sutherland’s first solo exhibition in the 2004 Mardi Gras festival was titled Naked Gaze, and featured images of beautiful, buffed, nude men.

In the 2005 festival he held Naked Gaze Back, which contained more of his signature male nudes, this time coupled with the work of photographer Gordon Arney, who shot the naked male form in the 1960s.

Sutherland’s 2006 Mardi Gras exhibition and the third in his series is titled Naked Gaze @ Couples.

This year it’s just couples, the Sydney-based Sutherland said, adding he was partly inspired by a shoot he did for a special issue of photography magazine Blue called Lovers.

I had about six images in that but I’d shot quite a bit, so that sort of formed the starting point for this exhibition.

He was also inspired by the current issue of same-sex marriage being debated across the globe, he said.

I’ve been shooting for this over the last six months and met some pretty amazing couples, he said. Some had been together for a long time, some of them had only just met.

One couple had been together for three months and went to Lismore for [dance party] Tropical Fruits, and the following day one of them proposed. They had a commitment ceremony in front of their friends in cowboy and Indian outfits.

Sutherland took pictures of the pair in cowboy hats but felt it ended up looking like too much of a Brokeback Mountain spoof, so decided not to include them in this exhibition.

While he said all the photos are technically of men, drag queen Portia Turbo does appear in a few with her best friend Dan.

The majority of the images are real couples, but there are some images of people who are just friends, he explained.

As for whether he intends to continue the Naked Gaze series next year, Sutherland isn’t quite sure.

I thought Naked Gaze would be a really good title for my first book, which is what I’m aiming to do in the next few years. But as for next year, who knows? I haven’t thought that far ahead.

Naked Gaze @ Couples is on show from 28 February to 12 March at the TAP Gallery, 278 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst, phone 9361 0440. Free. For more information, visit Adam Sutherland’s website.

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