Loren Cameron

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Loren Rex Cameron
Born (1959-08-28) August 28, 1959 (age 60)
OccupationPhotographer, author, visual artist

Loren Rex Cameron (born August 28, 1959) is an American photographer, author and transgender activist. His work includes portraiture and self-portraiture which consist of transsexual bodies in both clothed and nude form.[1]


Loren Rex Cameron was born in Pasadena, California on August 28, 1959. He moved to rural Arkansas in 1969 after his mother's death, where he lived as a self-described tomboy on his father's farm.[citation needed] By the age of 16, Cameron identified as a lesbian and encountered homophobic hostility in the small town where he lived.[2] At this time, Cameron quit school and left his home to travel the country seeking work as a construction laborer and other blue collar employment.[citation needed] In 1979, he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where he identified socially with the lesbian community until the age of 26, when he confronted his dissatisfaction his body and was excluded from the lesbian community.[3][4] Cameron's interest in photography coincided with the beginning of his physical changes as he documented his own physiological transition from female to male at this time. Despite his lack of formal training, beginning in 1993 Cameron studied the rudiments of photography and began to photograph the transsexual community.[2] Since 1994, he has given lectures on his work at universities, educational conferences and art institutes. By 1995, Cameron's photographs had been shown in solo exhibitions in San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles.[2]


Cameron's photography and writing was first published by Cleis Press in 1996. His first published works (Body Alchemy: Transsexual Portraits and Man Tool: The Nuts and Bolts of Female-to-Male Surgery) consist largely of self-portraits, and portraits of other female to male transsexuals.[1] Body Alchemy documented Cameron's personal experience of transition from female to male, his life as a man, and the everyday lives of trans men he knew.[2] The nude figures' poses in the artist's photography often portray moments of action and performance.[5] In many of his self portraits, he includes the shutter-release bulb that he used to take the photograph. The choice to work alone and feature the bulb serves as a commentary on the self-made aspect of being transsexual.[6] His photography shows how the issues of queer bioethics come up not only in clinical sites but also in public art and museum spaces. His work was intended to remove the clinical view of transsexual bodies and redefine them as not in need of a cure.[5] Body Alchemy became a double 1996 Lambda Literary Award winner.[7] It remains his most well-known work to date, though he has since published other photographic works. More recently published work includes representation of both female and male transsexuals, portraits and classical nudes (Body Photographs by Loren Cameron Volume 1 and 2.[1]

Cameron's work was first shown as part of a 1994 exhibit in San Francisco.[5] His images have also been exhibited in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, in Santiago, Chile, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and in Mexico City, Mexico.[citation needed] They have been published in numerous books such as Transgender Warriors (Leslie Feinberg, 1996) and Constructing Masculinity: Discussions in Contemporary Culture (Routledge, 1995).[citation needed] He has also posed for photographers such as Daniel Nicoletta, Amy Arbus, and Howard Shatz.[citation needed] The LGBTQ+ community has been the most supportive of the artist's photography.[5] Highlighting the work in their community centers and print media.[5] Cameron lectures throughout the United States at universities and other venues, including Smith College, Harvard, Cornell, Brown, the University of California at Berkeley, Penn State, and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.[citation needed] In May 2008, Cameron presented his work at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. On television, he has been profiled on the Discovery Health Channel's LGBT-themed one-hour special Sex Change: Him to Her, on the National Geographic Channel's "Taboo" Sexual Identity" series.[8] He has also been interviewed in the magazine, The New Yorker.[4]


Cameron's work is controversial among critics. Many praise his photographs as compelling and informative [3][9], while others criticize it for being sexually explicit.[10]

In 2012, The University of Minnesota-Duluth invited Loren Cameron to campus to present his photography.[10][11][12] The University paid Cameron $4,000 from student services [12]to cover his speaker’s fee and travel expenses.[10][11] This decision was met with backlash, due to him and his subjects' identity as transsexual individuals, as well as the nudity in Cameron’s work.[10][11] Despite the objections, Cameron delivered his presentation on September 26, 2012.[12]

Body Alchemy is considered by some to be influential for bringing attention to the social and medical issues that transsexual people face.



  • Body Alchemy: Transsexual Portraits. 1996, Cleis Press. ISBN 978-1-57344-062-2.
  • Cuerpos fotografiados por Cameron: fotografías. Volume 1. 2009, Taller Experimental Cuerpos Pintados. ISBN 978-9-56295-058-9.
  • Cuerpos fotografiados por Cameron: fotografías. Volume 2. 2009, Taller Experimental Cuerpos Pintados. ISBN 978-9-56295-063-3.

Selected films[edit]

Film and television (a partial list):

  • The BBC Channel 4 - Television documentary segment about photographer with photos 1995.
  • SBTV Brazil - Television news segment profiling artist, with photo usages 1997.
  • Globo TV Brazil - Television news segment about artist with photo usages 1997.
  • TV Japan - Television news segment profiling artist and photographs 1997.
  • You Don’t Know Dick: Courageous Hearts of Transsexual Men - Northern Light Productions (documentary for film and television profiling artist, contracting photographic usages, 1997).
  • 60 Minutes - Television news segment about artist’s exhibition/artist in residency at UC Santa Cruz, CA. 1998.
  • Boys Don’t Cry - Kimberly Peirce (the feature film lists acknowledgment to Body Alchemy in film credits as Loren Cameron, 1999).
  • Sex Files III (Sexual Secrets) - Exploration Production Inc. for Discovery Channel (television documentary profiling Body Alchemy, Man Tool, and image usages, 2002).
  • Sex Change: Him to Her - Beyond Productions Inc. for Discovery Health Channel (television documentary profiling artist in segment, photograph usages, 2005).
  • Boy I Am - Sam Feder Productions (documentary profiling Body Alchemy, and photo usages, 2006).
  • Taboo - "Sexual Identity", Beyond Productions Inc. for National Geographic Channel (documentary profiling artist in segment, including image usages, 2006).

Awards, honors, and recognitions[edit]

  • Lambda Literary Award, Inaugural Transgender Category, 1997[7]
  • Lambda Literary Award, Small Press Category, 1997[7]
  • Lambda Literary Award Nominee, Best Photography Category, 1997[7]
  • 1997 FTM International Pride Award[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Cameron, Loren (1961–2008). "Loren Cameron papers, 1961-2008, bulk 1993-2003". Digital Transgender Archive. Archived from the original on April 2002.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Body Alchemy: Transsexual Portraits. Cleis Press. 1996. ISBN 9781573440622.
  3. ^ a b Corinne, Tee (March 1997). "Body Alchemy: Transsexual Portraits". Lambda Book Report. 5 – via Gale.
  4. ^ a b Bloom, Amy (1994-07-11). "The Body Lies". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  5. ^ a b c d e Hannabach, Cathy (2015-12-07). "Bodies on Display: Queer Biopolitics in Popular Culture". Journal of Homosexuality. 63 (3): 349–368. doi:10.1080/00918369.2016.1124691. PMID 26642823.
  6. ^ Hannabach, Cathy (2016-03-03). "Bodies on Display: Queer Biopolitics in Popular Culture". Journal of Homosexuality. 63 (3): 349–368. doi:10.1080/00918369.2016.1124691. ISSN 0091-8369. PMID 26642823.
  7. ^ a b c d Cerna, Antonio Gonzalez (1997-07-15). "9th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  8. ^ "Gender Change". National Geographic - Videos, TV Shows & Photos - Asia. Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  9. ^ Publishing, Here (1996-11-12). The Advocate. Here Publishing.
  10. ^ a b c d Chiaramonte, Perry (2015-03-25). "Minnesota university books photo exhibit of trangender [sic] man's metamorphosis". Fox News. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  11. ^ a b c Barry, Doug. "Minnesota University Drawing Scrutiny for Inviting Transgender Photographer Loren Cameron to Campus". Jezebel. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  12. ^ a b c Kinley, Shannon (September 26, 2012). "Artist Undresses Transgender Stereotypes". The Statesman.


All biographical information is taken from Body Alchemy: Transsexual Portraits and the biography section of Online Alchemy as of November 11, 2008.

Further reading[edit]

Articles about Cameron and reviews of work:

  • Birmingham Institute of Art and Design - Dept. of Arts - Article Press, Birmingham, UK, 2007
  • The Transgender Reader - by Susan Stryker, Ben Singer, et al., Temple University Press, 2007
  • Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs - Edited by Jonathan Ames, Vintage Press, 2005
  • Athanor XXIII - Florida State University, Dept. of Art History, The Museum of Fine Arts Press, 2005 - Essay by Stefanie Snider.
  • Queer Theory - Edited by Iain Morland and Annabelle Willox, Palgrave, 2004
  • Light in the Darkroom: Photography and the Realization of Loss - by Jay Prosser, University of Minnesota Press, 2004
  • Camera Obscura 56 : Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies - Vol. 19, Number 2, Duke University Press 2004 Article by Melanie Taylor P.h. D. (critical analysis of Romaine Brooks and Loren Cameron’s work, artist’s photographs illustrate)
  • The Transiting Self: The Nude Self-Portraits of Transman Loren Cameron and Hermaphrodyke Del La Grace Volcano - by Tee A. Corinne - College Art Association Conference paper, 2002
  • Gender Issues In Art Therapy - by Susan Hogan, PhD., JKP Press, 2002
  • Exploring the Dimensions of Human Sexuality - by Jerrold Greenberg, Clint Bruess, and Debra Haffner, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2001 and second edition, 2002
  • Bisexual Spaces - by Claire Hemmings, Routledge Publishing, 2002
  • Extremities - Edited by Jason Tougaw and Nancy K. Miller, The University of Illinois Press, 2002
  • The Woman I Was Not Born To Be - by Aleshia Brevard, Temple University Press, 2001
  • Advocate, 2001
  • Frontiers, 1999
  • Second Skins: The Body Narratives of Transsexuality - by Jay Prosser, The Columbia University Press, New York, 1998
  • Bang, 1998
  • Gay Times UK, 1998
  • Circles, 1998
  • Marie Claire (Italy), 1998
  • Domain Matrix: Performing Lesbian at the End of Print Culture - by Sue Ellen Case, Indiana Press, 1997
  • Psychology - First and Second editions, college text by Don/Sandra Hockenbury, Worth Publishers, 1997
  • Hx for Her, 1997
  • Citizen K International, 1997
  • Diva, 1997
  • B-Glad, 1997
  • Next Magazine, 1997
  • Utne Reader, 1996
  • Out, 1996
  • Puckered Up, 1996
  • Out Magazine, 1996
  • Fabula, 1996
  • Gay By The Bay - by Susan Stryker/Jim Van Buskirk, Chronicle Books, 1996
  • Blending Genders: Social Aspects of Cross Dressing and Sex Changing, 1996
  • Transgender Warriors - by Leslie Feinberg, Beacon Press, 1996
  • Constructing Masculinity - Academic Essays, Routledge Publishing, 1995
  • Deneuve, 1994
  • Camerawork: A Journal of Photographic Arts, 1994
  • Girlfriends, 1994/1997
  • The New Yorker, 1991
  • On Our Backs, 1991 and 1995