Adam Moco Proves Dating Apps Offer More Than Hook-Ups (NSFW)

Tryst Pic is a personal project by Adam Moco that aims to bring deeper connections within the gay community through the medium of photography.

“My desire was to connect with people through gay dating apps without hooking up,” says photographer Adam Moco. He adds, “I wanted to tell their stories and combat the toxic culture dating apps were creating within our community.” Moco’s project aimed to smash the status quo that’s synonymous with dating apps. While people will have their own thoughts on hook up culture, Moco aimed to show it’s possible to create meaningful relationships with people who use apps like Grindr, Scruff, and Tinder. Tryst Pic provides an intriguing concept while offering some beautifully assembled portraiture.

Tryst Pic by Adam Moco

A photography project isn’t always easy to get going. When you’re potentially asking strangers to leave themselves vulnerable, it can take time before you’re able to get people involved. The same was true for Adam Moco. “At the beginning when I was starting to build the project and didn’t have anything to show for it yet, it was tough to convince people,” he tells The Phoblographer. “Once I had my website, that I would direct people to through my profile, I would start to receive interest before approaching myself.”

Moco describes the people who were willing to take part as “open-minded individuals or people who were just curious.” Some of them want to help spread the message of the project, relating to the ideas and values held by Moco. Others were attracted to the experience, wanting to try something new.

Because the participants were not models it was important to build a strong rapport with them. Moco asked them to pose nude, a style of photography that requires a lot of trust between photographer and subject. We wondered what the journey is like from starting the conversation in the app to the point of doing the shoot. “I would definitely like to get a vibe for someone while chatting via apps,” he explains. “ I would always like to sit and chat in the subject’s space before shooting, especially for the Bare series as it was more vulnerable for them.”

Portraits by Adam Moco

Portrait photography requires a strong level of interpersonal skills. The relationship between the subject and the photographer can be fragile. One wrong move, whether it be through words or body language, can completely disrupt a shoot.

With Moco’s project, it was important he built the right environment in order to get the most out of his subjects. Doing that isn’t easy, more so considering he was shooting in their personal space, rather than his own. Moco shares his creative process at the start and during his shoots:

“My process is to always be vocal during the shoot, directing and making sure the subject feels comfortable. There are moments when we would be shooting and would pause to chat, tell stories – I find keeping the conversation flowing brings out different emotions throughout the shoot.”

He continues…

“Because I was photographing each subject in their space, I would figure out how I would photograph them upon arrival. It was a very go with the flow type of shoot.“

Breaking the Stereotype

Rightly or wrongly, many inside and outside the gay community view the culture as a space for more open-minded, liberal attitudes towards sex. Apps like Grindr tend to be a hub for gay men to connect and have no-strings sexual encounters. We were interested to know if the opinions of the gay community were his initial motive for putting the series together. “It was actually the closed-mindedness of the queer community I was seeing that prompted the new series.”

The closed-mindedness he speaks of relates to body-shaming and racism, something he feels is a common issue amongst dating apps. When browsing profiles, he would often see comments like “no fats,” “no Asians,” “no blacks,” as people set out what they describe as “just my preference.” Through his work, Moco wants to show that no matter the body type, race, and ethnicity, all bodies are beautiful.

We challenged Moco, stating that some people would argue everyone is entitled to their preference when it comes to sex and relationships. He responded, “There is a difference between preference and straight-up body shaming, racism, and all things that attack oneself for something they have no control over or choose to identify.”

A Project of Human Bonding

So, as initially intended, was Moco able to create deep, meaningful connections through Tryst Pic? It wasn’t easy, especially as he traveled from one city to another. “Finding enough subjects in a new city that I would be visiting for a short amount of time was difficult.” Thankfully, he was able to find a solution. “Luckily some apps allowed a function to search people by city, so I would start meeting people in said cities before arriving.”

Tryst Pic is a beautiful portrayal of one person’s desire to connect to his community. It’s an exploration of the human, male form while also offering to portray the beauty of different people in their own intimate environments. Adam Moco was able to execute his work at a high standard, while also delivering a message that should move people and teach them more about human connections.

In closing, we asked him if any of his subjects stuck around in his life? In his words, “From San Francisco to Berlin, I’ve maintained friendships and connections made through the project. I keep in touch with many people I’ve met over the years.”

You can see more of Adam’s work by visiting his website.