Striking Photos of a Couple in Gender Transition

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<i>Relationship, #24 (The Shadow Self)</i>, 2011.
Relationship, #24 (The Shadow Self), 2011. Photo: Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst

Between 2008 and 2014, Rhys Ernst and Zackary Drucker were both transitioning genders — Ernst from female to male, and Drucker from male to female. They were also a couple. For six years, the two photographed themselves and each other, documenting both the course of their relationship and the joys and trials of the transitioning process. The 2014 Whitney Biennial featured 46 of their photographs, in addition to a collaborative film called She Gone Rogue and a performance piece by Flawless Sabrina, an iconic drag performer.

The book Relationship, out June 25 from Prestel, features a larger selection of the hundreds of photographs that Ernst and Drucker took during the course of their relationship. They range from the mundane (a blurred torso photographed through the glass door of a shower) to the dramatic (one of them curled up in a fetal position on the couch).

The photographs capture a fluidity between gender and sexuality — identity is never stable, while intimate moments become public art. Click ahead to see their raw, unfiltered portraits: while together, shirtless among the shadows; distorted reflections in the mirror; and Drucker dressed up in drag makeup against a stark, turquoise wall.

Photo: Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst

Relationship, #12, 2008-2013 C-Print, 24 x 24 in.

Photo: Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst

Relationship, #15, 2008-2013 C-Print, 24 x 24 in.

Photo: Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst

Relationship, #23 (The Longest Day of the Year), 2011 C-print face mounted on UV acrylic, 13.3 x 20 in.

Photo: Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst

Relationship, #24 (The Shadow Self), 2011 C-print face mounted on UV acrylic, 20 x 30 in.

Photo: Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst

Relationship, #33, 2008-2013 C-Print, 7 x 10 in.

Photo: Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst

Relationship, #35, 2008-2013 C-Print, 16 x 24 in.

Photo: Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst

Relationship, #44 (Flawless Through the Mirror), 2013 C-print face mounted on UV acrylic, 20 x 30 in.

Photo: Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst

Relationship, #49, 2011 C-Print, 20 x 30 in.

Photo: Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst

Relationship, #50, 2011 C-Print, 14 x 21 in.

Photo: Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst

Relationship, #62, 2014 C-print face mounted on UV acrylic, 26.5 x 40 in.