Elvis Velvets & Tacky BoudoirTuesday, November 14, 2017
Many years ago when I had a habit of buying photography magazines I always cringed when I read on the covers The Pros’ Secrets For Portraits or What Cameras Pros Choose. And especially abhorrent was 10 Secrets the Pros Use For Taking Unforgettable Pictures.
I often wondered if these Pros where a modern incarnation of Greek gods in Olympus. Who were they as there were never named?
From my computer in my Kitsilano oficina surrounded by cabinets with photographs, negatives and slides of a fading past I feel like that fish out of water suddenly being able to identify that colourless wet liquid called water in which I was immersed for so much of my life.
Looking in from the outside gives me a take that I believe while being highly subjective it still has a big dose of objectivity.
Perhaps the two tackiest endeavours of the 20th century were the Elvis Presley-on-velvet paintings and boudoir photography.
Not too long ago a prospective subject of my photographs looked at my efforts and told me, “I don’t do boudoir.”
I believe I felt more insulted than when people would look at my nudes and say, “Tasteful.”
I was unaware of what boudoir photography until the late 70s when I read about illustrator turned photographer J. Frederick Smith. I have written about him here.
The picture that inspired me was the photograph of a woman nude in bed bending to a breakfast tray that contained among things two cups of coffee.
Through the years I have attempted to get a Frederick Smith take and I believe that I have not failed entirely.
The two best subjects that I ever had for this were Lisa and Bronwen.
I will first post here some of Lisa’s that before the advent of scanners were impossible failures as they were dark Ektachromes (800 ISO pushed to 1600). Many of them were successful but the ones here were a bit of a problem. And yet they convey some sort of boudoir that is not all that tacky. I sometimes long for those days of innocence when my subjects were always ready to pose. These I shot with a Nikon FM-2 and only used the light available in Lisa’s bedroom.
Lisa was and is beautiful. She had that Last Picture Show look of a woman stepping down from a Greyhound bus in a small Texas town with a cheap carboard suitcase in hand.
The other subject of mine, Bronwen was more of the sophisticated champagne-in-an-expensive-Paris-hotel look.
I tip my hat two both (and to use the lingo of a woman stepping down from that Grayhound bus) for having learned me how to do this.