Richard Cameron Continues to Celebrate Body Positivity and Diversity with the Bear Hotel

Bear Hotel is one of our favorite bear photography projects here at BWM. Richard Cameron has created something magical with his ongoing photo series of everyday bears in a mythical hotel where the inhabitants are gorgeous and naked all the time! WOOF!

We have previously featured Richard and the Bear Hotel before but that was over four years ago and needless to say a lot has changed since then; but happily, not the ethos of the Bear Hotel project. To this day Richard remains committed to showcasing and celebrating body positivity and diversity by uplifting folks of all shapes and sizes who are racially, ethnically and gender diverse. It’s a mission statement we share here at Bear World Magazine.

It is our privilege and honor to reintroduce you to Richard Cameron as we check back into the Bear Hotel. Check out our conversation with him below in addition to a selection of his gorgeous photography.

Richard Cameron, creator of the Bear Hotel

BWM: Hey Rich! So, at this point, how long has Bear Hotel been going on? 

Rich: Hey there! Unbelievably it’s just had its sixth birthday – I celebrated it by reposting six of the public’s most popular guys from the site.  When I started all the way back in 2017 on Tumblr if you’d told me I’d still be doing this six years later as the webmaster of my own website, l don’t think that I would’ve believed you.  I really thought at the beginning that I’d struggle to find guys who’d be interested in doing it, yet here I am working on the photos for my 340th model, with a waiting list of dozens of guys who are interested in posing (but we’ve not quite made the timing or location work for photos). 

BWM: Can you remind us about the inspiration behind Bear Hotel? Where did you get the idea from, or what inspired it? 

Rich: I took up SLR (single-lens reflex) photography as a hobby about a decade and a half ago, and one of the things me and my friends really enjoyed was taking nude photos of each other.  Some were arty, some were sexy. We did shoots with ultraviolet lights & glow-in-the-dark body paint and some just using light-up LED balloons as light sources…we had such a laugh.  The fun was just in the taking of them and none of them really wanted the images out in the public realm, which was fair enough.   

As a photographer though, this was becoming increasingly frustrating as I realized I had a hard-drive full of great photos of handsome men no-one could see.  At the time I was a big fan of the UK ‘Meat’ and Spanish ‘Kink’ photography zines, and one of my friends used to do this lovely photo project blog of guys at home in their bedrooms called ‘Above The Sheets’  –  I began to  realize if I wanted to get my portrait photography out into the world I needed to recruit some more confident guys who actively wanted to have photos online. 

I took a look at my secret collection of my friends’ photos – my sexual tastes are quite eclectic so there were muscle guys and skinny otters and big ole bears…. but the one thing they had in common was that the photos were mostly taken in hotels.  That got me thinking…  imagining a big hotel with a different handsome man in every room waiting for you.  The idea pretty much came to me as a whole complete concept … the idea about doing hotel-based questions, the names on the keys, every guy being issued a room number, having each set include a towel shot, a bed shot, a bathroom shot, and if the hotel has been obliging a shot in a bath robe. It just seemed to gel quite quickly as a concept, and it felt like a strong idea right from the outset. 

Also, I guess partly the success of the project goes hand in hand with the increasing ubiquity of the cruise apps and subscription sites over the past few years – I’m sure lots of guys do the project because they want some nice new pics for their profiles or for their OnlyFans!

BWM: In the years that you’ve been doing this project, what are you most proud of about it? 

Rich: I’m really proud of the diversity I’ve managed to achieve. There are lots of other ‘beary’ photo projects who talk the talk about body positivity and diversity – but actually all the guys in them are fit, predominantly white muscle-bears and otters.  I was really determined right from the start that I wanted to include a whole range of different guys in the project, the type of guys who are never celebrated as being sexy pin-ups.  I’m really pleased that I’ve had ages from 19 all the way to a guy in his 70s, a whole range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, trans guys and non-binary folks, disabled men; there’s even been a handful of unfortunate guys without beards!  I don’t judge! (Laughs) I’d love to have more even more diversity in the project, it’s something I’m really conscious of and am struggling to address all the time. For instance, I’d love more super-chubs in the project, but it seems the bigger guys I approach don’t feel confident enough to do it, which I think is such a shame.

BWM: How does it feel to see how your project is resonating in the Bear community and Body Positivity movement? 

Rich: Oh, it really feels amazing! I did my first physical stall at a bear event a few months ago and it was great to actually go out and meet the community.  It was so nice to hear that so many folks had heard of the project, or if they hadn’t that they really approved of the ethos behind it.  A couple of, I’m presuming non-binary, visitors to my stall said, after reading my mission statement poster, it was the first time that they’d seen trans and non-binary people be actively welcomed into a photo project like this. Hearing that really felt good I’ve got to admit.  I really do want it be inclusive. If you (the reader) feel the vibe of the project matches your own you’re very welcome to take part!

BWM: Have you gotten any feedback from any of the artists or people in the community about what the project has done for them or for their body image

Rich: Guys often say they find doing the project to be very empowering and a boost to their confidence!!  When I’m trying to persuade folks to do the project they often say they’re not photogenic or good looking enough to do it, and I just think let me have an hour with my camera and I’ll change their minds!

I knew you were going to ask this question, so I reached out to the models to see if any of them wanted to explain how it feels to be a model in their own words…

Jake from Room 337 says” It’s so important to be able to take part of such projects, for the models themselves & the community as a whole, because it’s a massive confidence boost for those who work up the courage to pose for the camera.  It shows the wider audience that beautiful & sexy DOES come in many diverse forms.  It’s important because even today in 2023 society is still struggling to break free from the ingrained, media pushed view that men, just like women, have to look a certain way, or have a specific body type to be considered attractive – or worse, ‘to be a real man’. It’s a narrow view that excludes most body types and tells people they aren’t good enough, which is just not true!  Projects like Bear Hotel are so important and it’s amazing to be able to be a part of it!  Rich shows the audience the beauty of men in all its many diversities and shows the models just how stunning they really, are and the value of such a confidence boost is priceless!” 

Jordan from Room 279 says: “Body positivity has always meant so much to me. I’ve been confident about my body for as long as I can remember. If I could live nude for the rest of my life, I absolutely would. The human body is the best work of art.  Being on Bear Hotel is absolutely amazing – being able to be put myself out there and show everyone my beautiful body is such an incredible feeling. I no longer believe I am unattractive; I simply have a goal of what I want for my body and am working to get there! But I know I’m attractive as I am and I owe that to men like Rich who have given me the chance to be part of something wonderful!  I love BearHotel so much. I cannot wait to keep returning back there!”

BWM: We asked you to pick a few of your favorite shots? Are there any great stories attached to any of these photos? 

Rich: This is such a difficult thing to answer!!  It’s like trying to choose your favorite child, it’s just too hard.  Instead, I’ve just picked some great shots from the last few months’ shoots… always moving onwards and upwards!  Actually, it’s funny, guys often don’t choose the shots I think are the best or the most interesting.  The way the project works is that I let the models have the final say on which images are used on the site.  This can sometimes be super frustrating when they don’t pick the ones I think are the best – or even the most flattering – but I think the collaborative nature of the project really sets it apart from other photographers’ work.  I do really want guys to love their sets of images so sometimes that means losing out on the artistry!

BWM: What do you think is next for Bear Hotel? Do you have any further plans, or have you done anything extra with the project that you would like to share? 

Rich: My problem is I have too many ideas… I’d love to maybe do a monthly newsletter, have an online store, put extra material online somewhere – but I don’t have the time or energy to do them!   I guess I’ll just keep doing photo shoots until I’ve shot everyone in the bear community who wants to take part!  Life is getting harder with the cost-of-living squeeze, so it would be great to find a way for the project to become more financially viable.  At the moment it’s surviving on the occasional really generous donations from models and myself paying for the costs…. maybe in the future I could look at sponsorship or having an additional subscription site. I’d love to be able to afford to do shoots every month, for instance.  I’m determined that the project remains free for the models and the viewers, but hotels and websites cost money!  

I mentioned the stall I did at the Manchester BearBash event a couple of months ago, it was it’s really exciting to see my images actually printed out on nice quality paper by proper photographic printers – it’s made me think how amazing it would be to have an exhibition or a book one day.  It’s something to work towards!

BWM: I think a photography book is a fantastic idea! Well, Rich thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us but most of all thank you for everything you do to uplift and support body positivity and diversity in the bear community.

For more photos and information on the Bear Hotel head on over to the official website.

Also, be sure to follow Bear Hotel on Instagram and Twitter.

BWM Staff

Our Staff Writing Team works hard to bring you great content and share news & events from the bear community and beyond.