Five On The BalconyFriday, February 03, 2017
In my photographic life in Vancouver since 1975 I have taken thousands of photographs and experienced situations where I photographed cops, hoods, a posible murderer (he was acquitted), actors, directors, dancers (of the exotic and of the more modern kind), politicians, businessmen (and a few businesswomen), lawyers, gardeners, authors, relatives and myself (but not too often).
I will not confess the fact that my interest if not an obsession has been the female in a mostly undraped environment.
I have told photography students in the past (before I was deemed too old to teach) that we all go through the same stages when we take photographs. The difference lies in that these stages rarely coincide. We do something before someone else or we are too late when we find someone else has been there.
This is natural. We might begin shooting in the street and taking photographs of Mexican native women in markets with beautifully arrange oranges in pyramid piles. Sooner or later we (or at least this guy) realize that a camera in hand might be pointed at an undraped person of the sex of our choice. That might begin with our amazement that the human figure can resemble a sand dune. So we shoot bodyscapes. From there we up the ante and start including the face. This could be as in boudoir (ugh!) or in other ways we think are sexy or erotic. Then we get sophisticated and discover Helmut Newton.
Sooner or later we (not this guy) may diverge into pornography. But this is so difficult to define. I believe that pornography is simply anything done in bad taste. Also depending where you live pornography here might be art elsewhere.
The proliferation of selfies in social media have levelled the playing field to my satisfaction. Why?
Because at my ripe age of 74 eroticism is no longer physical but in my head. I think it is more subtle, more sophisticated, more fun. This is something that I am pursuing while I can press on the shutter of my camera and get willing subjects.
But there is one area where care must be taken. I tell my students that when they are facing an undraped person in a studio that one must be like a doctor. You look straight into your subject’s eyes. Any other looking (details of light might be your excuse) you do when you are behind and looking through your camera. Touching is anathema but I have pointed one single exception. A bit of hair on your subject’s face might be moved aside (ask or warn first) with your pinkie. Anything else I always have a hand mirror handy or a nearby full-length mirror where your subject can check.
In my pursuit of the erotic narrative where I like to place anywhere from three to five little photographs in a row I have had some success. But there was one occasion when I found my principles challenged.
I was taking photographs of Salem in her West Vancouver condo balcony. She told me something like this: “If you want to make the series work you have to use your foot in this way.” And I was shown.