One of the things that make conceptual photography an engaging craft is how it encourages us to translate even our wildest, most hilarious ideas into playful images. They also allow us to take our craft further and explore different approaches to topics and themes familiar to us.

A perfect example is a collection of witty conceptual portraits by Los Angeles-based Mindo Cikanavicius, wherein he elevated straightforward headshots of his male subjects into a comic yet clever body of work.

As its title hints, “Bubbleissimo” plays on using soap bubbles and foam as the main driver for Cikanavicius’ witty concept: Depicting modern men and their obsession with grooming facial hair. The idea itself is definitely something we don’t see everyday, but the delivery is especially noteworthy.

Crafting an effective visual metaphor

Cikanavicius chose a fitting element to play with as a visual metaphor for masculinity. In place of facial hair, he plopped carefully shaped bubble mustaches and beards on his dapper subjects. They are styled and posed as male subjects typically would, so this simple change made such a disarming difference.

“This project examines modern men and their grooming obsession to facial hair, and how it personifies masculinity. The bubble soap beards and mustaches were applied to show how fragile manliness can be in today’s society.”

The result is a striking and amusing collection of conceptual portraits that make viewers both chuckle and contemplate the message. I’ve seen only a handful projects do both at the same time, and I’m sure many of you also find “Bubbleissimo” impressive because of it.

A unique and playful depiction of masculinity

Usually, we see male subjects portrayed as dominant and strong figures or characters, especially in fashion portraits and professional headshots. Authority, power and energy are some of the keywords and ideas that are typically used to guide the look and feel of male portraits.

In his conceptual portraits, however, Cikanavicius used his flair for creating “story-based, unexpected moments with touch of cinematic drama, humor and mystery” to present a unique approach for portraying masculinity.

For a project like “Bubbleissimo” to challenge these gender norms through a witty social commentary says a lot about how great ideas can come from the most unexpected sources of inspiration. I think it’s great that we now have photographers like Cikanavicius who set an example for clever and creative ways for us to explore portraiture.

Don’t forget to check out Mindo Cikanavicius’ website and Behance portfolio to see more of his fun conceptual portraits and other projects.

All photos by Mindo Cikanavicius. Used with Creative Commons permission.