Saturday, December 12, 2009

The sensual side of the line

A fairly well-known fine art photographer and curator recently did me the favor of reviewing my body of work.  He pointed out some good things in my work, but his view of my work as a whole was that it's old fashioned.  His opinion is that anonymous figure and form photography is a thing of the past that is no longer interesting to the art world.  While there's certainly ample evidence to the contrary, he did give me an interesting perspective to consider.  His suggestions for improving my work were to photograph figure and form in a way that also incorporates personality and sensuality.

The following week I shot a model who had incredibly beautiful form and produced some great classical figure and bodyscape work, but with whom I had a very difficult time keeping the personality and sensuality out.  When I finished processing that session I sent my critic some of the shots (the ones you see here) and asked for just a bit more of his time to comment on them.  His only response was "You understood.  Now build on it."  

I've been contemplating that session for a few weeks now.  I'm certain his comments influenced the output of that session, but every model brings a different energy to a session and a different influence to my vision.  There was an undeniable sensual air to this model, and I wonder if the results with her might not have been similar even if I'd never had that critique.

There is a broad, fuzzy line between sensual and erotic. I do shoot some erotica, and when I set out to shoot erotic work, I'm very cognizant of that line because straying too far from it on the erotic side leads to another realm where the artistic value of a piece gets overpowered by other factors.  When I set out to shoot non-erotic work, though, I generally don't think much about it, and if I do it's generally just to ensure that I stay pretty far short of it.  In that respect, my critique was very valid.  I probably miss a lot of the potential sensuality that could be included in an image without getting onto the erotic side of the line. 

Much of the work from this session fills that gap.  There is a sensuality to these images that is short of erotic.  Line, figure, and form are still dominant aspects of the composition, but there is a feeling of personality, emotion, and life as well.  Why?  I'm not sure.  Perhaps I was thinking about my critic's comments as we shot, but it was not deliberate.  My awareness was on her beautiful figure and form.  Also, I can't capture sensuality if it's not there, so I have to give some of the credit to the model.  

One of the things I love about expressive photography is that it transcends the technical.  I can follow a formula and produce image after image with the same technical characteristics, but the feeling and energy can't be scripted.  That comes from a synergy between my mood, the model's mood, how the model's physical traits influence my vision, and how we connect emotionally.  I've decided that the explanation for these images must consider all of those factors - my subconscious thoughts about my critique, the way this particular model influenced my vision, and her innate sensuality that came through in the energy and mood of her poses and expressions.

And ultimately the important question isn't why or how, but whether I can produce images with similar feelings again.  I'm really excited about these images and the prospect of exploring imagery at this volume of sensuality.  I think I understood.  Now I'll try to build on it.


1 comment:

  1. Beautiful as always... I particularly loved images 2, 4, and 7... (if you can follow which ones I mean). I like them particularly because they seem to have an air of innocence. You have captured both, innocence as well as sensuality, truly fascinating!!!


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