We are delighted to see a new portrait series featuring men with alopecia universalis. Inspired by his own experience with alopecia, photographer Orlando Gili has expanded on his earlier work in 2023 with his latest photography project with the Wellcome Collection. 
Discover all the portraits, and read the stories of the participants, on the Wellcome Collection's website here

Orlando says: 

"Being a portrait photographer I am fascinated by human faces, and the stories they tell. I had little interest with my own appearance, but this dramatically changed when all the hair on my body fell out within six months in 2021. It felt like my face was being rubbed out, my identity erased. My hair has since grown back, and I wanted to draw on this unusual experience to photograph men who have alopecia universalis in the context of masculinity and vulnerability.

The portrait series with accompanying interviews aims to raise awareness about what this unsettling experience is like for men. The psychological challenges can be huge, compounded by men often avoiding communication about their feelings to even their closest friends and family, as well a comparatively lacklustre male alopecia community. Photography is an effective way to bring his very visual condition to a broader audience, and addressing the destructive male thought processes which exasperate it." 

Ivan is one of the men who agreed to take part in the project, and share his experience of alopecia universalis:

"Every single hair fell out in about two weeks when I was 26. Bunches of it all over the pillow, all over the bed, everywhere. I worked in Italy at the time, and people just looked at me as if I had done something wrong. 

My British family wanted me to come home and see a proper doctor, but I wanted to hide; I couldn't face them because I felt that I had changed. It was a total loss of identity. Everything had gone, as it someone had robbed me of something, stolen my identity from a bin. I' not sure I've ever adjusted. I never looked in the mirror before I married my wife; there were no mirrors in the house."

Alopecia UK was pleased to help Orlando find some of the men to take part in this wonderful photography project. Thank you to Ivan, Kadeer, Tom, Matt, Raymond, Sam, Tom, Philip, Bhavin, Michael and Jamie for taking part. 

More about Orlando:

Orlando Gili is an award-winning portrait and documentary photographer with a focus on individual eccentricities and the things that bring us together. His career combines personal photographs with assignments for publications such as The Economist, Guardian Weekend Magazine and Telegraph Luxury. Bold colours and a playful intimate feel are the thread that tie together all his pictures. Explore more of Orlando's work on his website or find him on Instagram. Find his earlier alopecia photography work from 2023 here