When I first came across Guilherme Brasileiro’s series “Delicadezas” on Instagram, I was pulled in by a seemingly nonsensical, quirky theme: dozens of portraits, cropped close featuring men and women, each holding a hand under their chin. The energy of the series struck me as open and full of warmth; the subject’s reaction to the pose they had been asked to assume was usually very apparent (some looked amused, a good few looked self-conscious, and some had really obviously embraced the idea). One of Brasileiro’s most recent hand-under-chin portraits is of Lorde, the New Zealand singer best known for her hit “Royals”. I reached out to Brasileiro to find out more about the project, and to ask him about the story behind Lorde’s portrait.
Guilherme Brasileiro is a Brazilian graphic designer, based in São Paulo. He started “Delicadezas” in March 2013. A little about his series: “The pose [hand under chin] is the only rule the models must follow on Delicadezas…I wish to collect their expressions and personalities by having them pose this way. I want to find the kindness in every face I see, and let people freely express their true beauty. People never look the same way, even if they try to pretend to. I came up with this idea…because I am addicted to collecting things I love, but as I can’t own the people in whom I see kindness, I chose to collect their images.” Although he started the project with the idea of photographing people who he had a personal relationship with, the project soon grew beyond that. He says, “Nowadays, I ask for photos on subway stations or on the streets. I appreciate their kindness and attention for being part of the project.”
Brasileiro is currently traveling in Europe; when we spoke, he was in Paris on vacation. It was in Paris that he met Lorde, where the two collided at Collette at rue Saint-Honoré, “I was browsing some magazines and accidentally hit Lorde with the shopping bags I was carrying. We started some small talk and then I asked her for the picture.” He says Lorde was surprised at his request, as she had initially assumed he wanted a fan photo, but quickly embraced his idea. “She was very kind to me and smiled when I told her about Delicadezas. I think she found it fun! Oh, and she also thought my coat was beautiful, which felt like a big compliment coming from such a fashionable girl like Lorde.”
Usually, Brasileiro says, people are surprised when he asks them to pose for a portrait. “The girls usually want to know why I’m asking them for the picture, and then get worried and want to make sure they look good. I think they like posing more than the boys, who are usually a little shy about making the gesture with the hand. They’re not comfortable about having to look that feminine. But I try to make them comfortable and let them know they’re free to create their own way to pose using their hands.”
The origin of the Delicadezas pose, for Brasileiro, is deeply personal. He says that although the explanation makes him feel a bit melancholy, it isn’t a secret: “It began in my childhood. I’m an only child and my parents were obsessed with taking pictures of me. They even hired a professional photographer once! I always felt really happy when people took pictures of me, and I had many faces and smiles to show. Actually, I was a really sparkling boy, but my parents kept telling me to stop striking poses and being so feminine. I had no idea why it was wrong, because I was just happy and being myself. They made me change this behavior. Nowadays, I realize that it was the first contact I had with repression for being gay. But I have to admit, the hand under the chin is still my favorite pose to strike.”