Ambiguities, ambivalences abound in 'Robert: A Queer and Crooked Memoir for the Not So Straight and Narrow'

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Robert Hamblin in his studio in Muizenberg, Cape Town. (Photo: Robert Hamblin)
Robert Hamblin in his studio in Muizenberg, Cape Town. (Photo: Robert Hamblin)

About 20 years ago, Robert Hamblin made a portrait photograph of me. It was expertly done, with the lighting carefully manipulated; the process produced a photo that was distinctly flattering. I used it as a byline picture for years. 

But what followed the photo session was more interesting. Looking through the pictures Hamblin had taken, and noting which ones I thought looked the best, or presented me in the best light, versus those that didn’t – or that showed things I didn’t want displayed – led to a fascinating discussion. Besides playing with my vanity, as it were, Hamblin was probing my sense of self-representation, the way my inner image of myself matched or didn’t match what was shown externally.  

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