Thursday, May 8, 2014

Back to Photograph--well sorta

A lot of my photographic friends do boudoir photography. It’s what I used to call glamor or pinup but with a lot of twenty-first century sexuality thrown in. I don’t do boudoir, don’t want to. Love to photograph people. Would love to do some nude photography—something that I gave up on many years ago due to marital objections. That was probably just as good because the thought of photographing a nude female scares the pejebers out of me anyway. It is not that I am afraid of a nude female, it is that I am afraid that I really do not have anything of value to add to the work of the thousands of photographers before me. Few photographers do the female nude well and I wouldn’t wish to do it if I could not do it well—the subject matter deserves that. Actually, I think I could do it well—but then again I think I do everything well, even pretending to be somewhat modest about my talents. 

I think some of my friends do not understand my reluctance to join one of the many meet up groups in Houston that specialize in boudoir photography.

Tonight at dinner I was reading Sketching Light by Joe McNally. Joe is a more ‘instructional’ writer than I normally read but he is good enough to be inspirational, so I read what he writes. In the chapter Finding Faces, Joe hits the nail on the head as to why I don’t wish to do boudoir or, as I have just recently learned a new term for our new age—dudeoir. Ain’t that clever. It is much too long to quote but I wish some of my friends would take the opportunity to read all of that chapter.

“The camera plays the role of an ardent, earnest, proper suitor. This process could be termed a seduction, but it’s a delicate, hesitant, and respectful one. Like any relationship worth a damn, the whole thing has to be handled delicately—like a treasured Christmas ornament. Many of the pix out there on the internet are such a no-frills, in your face slam dunk of plastic sexiness that the creator with his camera seems not to be an inquisitive interested gentleman, but more like a drunk at a bar siding up to a hot chick and blurting out, “Wanna boff?” Charming eh?”

Well, to turn a time honored phrase around a bit, pretty or hot or sexy is nice, but it sure isn’t interesting. Or different. Or fun to shoot, necessarily. It might be all steamy and sweaty, and the gyrating photo subject/gymnast out there on the seamless might indeed be working it, but after a few dozen of these you start to realize it’s really more about exercise than thoughtful photography. And trust me, I’m as guilty as anyone in this regard. Photographing an attractive person is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, right? You could do worse than shooting a hot, young, ripped, cut, bouncing full-lipper, sloe-eyed, brassiere-busting package of youthful hormones stuffed into skin that has been a lot of loofah time.” [please do not ask me what loofah is. I do not know.]

“Sometimes, though, when confronted with this type of energetic scenario—and maybe I am just getting old—I actually want the person to stop. Please, just stop and look at me, and consequently, the camera. Do thoughtful. Look away. Remember something important. Look at me like you know something I don’t, and these pictures are a series of questions you answer, a little at a time, giving me dollops of knowledge about you and your life, but not all at once. Like an investigative reporter, the camera seeks, and it is quite content with snippets that can be put together later. Let’s just take this a pixel at a time, shall we?”

Joe goes on, you would think writing out my thoughts exactly. The only thing that he doesn’t mention, which I feel is extremely important—give me a person in front of the camera that has experienced life, someone that has truly experienced a relationship, has truly felt love and made love not just got it on--someone that has something to give to the camera, to the experience—something to share that is worth sharing. Not someone just barely out of diapers. Give me someone that can do more than spinal contortions and pouty lips; that can only pretend to be desirable because it would work in the back seat on some country road with a sixteen year old. Then I might have found a model that I could photograph and enjoy photographing.

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