Transition, discovery and self-acceptance.
Boyhood came from humble beginnings – A desire to explore the essence of growing up as a male, led to twelve unique interviews. These interactions sparked a conversation about family, sexuality, relationships and the journey of self-discovery. Each person reflected on the past, the present and the future. But more so, this project gave each individual the chance to explore what boyhood meant to them.
PHOTOGRAPHER | DOM GOULD,
HAYDN PIERRE-LOUISE SHAW
& CHRISTOPHER LAI
MUKEH | Age 10
[Boyhood means] playing and having fun with your friends.
I would say [I’m a] man.
Because I’m getting older and starting to become a teenager.
OSKAR | Age 11
[Boyhood means] hanging out, playing PlayStation, playing board games, playing a game of rugby, playing a game of cricket, and that’s it.
[I am a] man.
Because I’m not really scared of anything apart from butterflies.
MONET | Age 12
[Boyhood is] normal, because boyhood is boyhood.
It feels fine, because I’m learning as I keep going.
What kind of questions is that? [Are you a boy or a man?]
I’m a boy; why would I say man? I’m not even 13.
PAVII | Age 13
[Boyhood means] growing up and wanting to do more things, but not been able to do that.
[I am] in between [a boy and a man]; because some people treat me like a baby, and then others treat me like a grown-up.
TITO | Age 16
[Boyhood is] a feeling; you start to understand things in detail and look at things from different perspectives. For example, you’ll know if you like someone, except when you’re younger, you wouldn’t understand what that means. You get these weird feelings and as you become older, these feelings become natural. You start understanding things better and learning from people. That’s one of the main ones; you start seeing what people are doing and then you start adapting and finding your own way of doing things, and as you progress forward, everything starts to make more sense.
You start to understand what you want to do, what you need to get done, how you’re going to get it done – when, why, what’s the reason – a whole lot of stuff. It just all comes to you at first.
To be honest, a bit of both [a boy and a man]. There’re times when you have to step up. Then there’re other times when I’m just like, “aaaahhhh, nah, this is a chilled situation, just have fun, relax yourself. You’re still young, you don’t have to be stressing about big things and stuff like that, just like cruise through it”.
SULIAC | Age 17
[Boyhood means] doing all the fun stuff whilst you’re a kid, and then moving onto all the grown-up things, like getting a job, paying bills and becoming an adult, basically.
I would say I’m a boy still. I feel like your twenties is when you start experiencing manhood and what adults do.
JASON ZARRI | Age 19
There’re so many different takes on boyhood. I can’t really define that.
It’s very personal: understanding why things are the way they are.
I’m boy at heart, but the decisions I make every day are what I think a man would do.
DAN | Age 20
Boyhood to me is just being free to discover things; fall in love with ideas and imagine them and play with them. A lot of my really specific memories are from seeing stuff like movies; seeing Star Wars for the first time and being just enamoured with it and thinking it was amazing. It was this huge thing and taking that and feeling the freedom to put myself in that universe and the playground imaginarily. Like pick up a stick and it’s a light saver, and then just explore that and then have that kind of freedom with your friends.
I would say at this point, man. I think there’s a naivety to being a boy. That’s not a bad thing, but there’s a point – you might not be able to pinpoint it – there’s a point where that naivety disappears and I think when you have enough self-awareness of your actions, then you become a man, I think.
JOASH | Age 21
Everyone asks me what manhood is, but no one has asked me what it means to be a boy. I just immediately think innocence, like to be kind of ignorant, but also kind of innocent, in a sense.
It’s the time, probably, when you’re unknowingly the most truthful about who you are in your entire life. Plus, because of the fact you don’t know so much, you’re able to give what you truly feel on the inside. I feel as we get older, you definitely work in correspondence to how you’ve been raised and how your heart is and who you are as a person. But when you’re a boy, still a child, you are really just true to your emotions and being the most emotionally truthful you are in your whole life.
I’m probably split down the middle [between a boy and a man]. Whilst I’m very mature in a lot of respects, there’s still the half of me that’s very idealistic – my head in the clouds and very true to my emotions. Sometimes, there’s a tug-of-war going between me.
JAMES | Age 22
[Boyhood is] freedom; you’re a little cheeky, calm and not stressing about a lot of stuff.
I’d say I’m a man. I think I’m mature and hold myself to a standard of self-actualisation.
CHARLIE | Age 2S
I feel like [boyhood is] that moment when… you know when you’re a really young boy, and you like a girl, so you go and throw sand in her face. She starts crying and everybody is annoyed at you and then your dad gets down on one knee and puts his hand on your shoulder and says, “I know you like her, but that’s not how things like this work, you have to be empathetic”. I think – for me – it’s about learning where some of my primitive instincts come from. I was really crazy as a young child, and did lots of naughty things – did whatever I wanted – and yeah, it was just because I did what I felt.
I would say I’m a man from a technical point of view. But emotionally, I would say I’m a boy.