Genies and Djinn: releasing the girl inside the body.

I collect images.

I have a sort of random rolling clipart gallery assembled over the last 6 years that means often when I need an image of an object I've already got a couple.

Bears? Got 'em. Microsoft logo? Got it. Juvenile Porcupine? Yup. Guy in a disco shirt on a skateboard? uhuh. Robot playing the piano? Got that too.

In the spring of 2004, I took a class in chemical photography. My abilities as a photographer surged forward into new areas and I became dramatically more aware both of how a camera works and of what I am capable of capturing on film.

I also became aware of what aspects of my photography I want to focus on and improve (posed shots with willing models, architecture, machines), and what I'm willing to let fall by the wayside (I suck at candids, and so I've pretty much left off trying).

During my trip to Europe I expanded somewhat my interest in photography and for the first time I put some work into playing with a cheap, ancient digital of my father's. The renewed interest opened up some new opportunities for me as a photographer and renewed my interest in the photography of the human body.

As I realized that my photography of the body was lacking in part due to ignorance, I decided that one method of discovery was to search out photographs of the body that played on the strengths of angles, poses and lighting to create better photographs. Thus, a half a year ago I began assembling a collection of photographs of the human body, male and female. The collection currently stands at 1,430 images, with the vast majority (1,191) being of women, because I am far more interested in perfecting my ability to capture the female form to film than the male one.

And since I have no interest in becoming adept at taking pictures of plastic people or airbrushing extensively to improve my photographs, I do not seek primarily the 'hot chicks!" that seem to inhabit at least one thread in every forum in which there are males present. These images are off my radar for two reasons. The first is that I have no desire to build the skillset needed (such as the post-processing to dull the humanity of the image), and the second is that the combination of fake breasts, ridiculous settings, and often exploitative posing creates content in which I have no interest.

I take pictures because I feel that the female form is something like a genie in a bottle. Each girl is trapped inside herself, waiting for a way out. Looking for that one moment, that one perfect instant where everything comes together and people see them as they are, rather than as society expects them to be. Every woman has those moments. The band Counting Crows says it this way in A Long December.

All at once you look across a crowded room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl

My effort in the photography of people is to find those moments when everything lines up. Like a photographic zodiac, the pose, the lighting, and the environment all coincide, and it's up to me to find the angle and the settings that will open the bottle and let the genie out. And when I find it, I find a window into a different world. I hope that in that moment I find a way to release the girl inside the body.

My work has a long way to go, and I've got a lot to learn. But so far, I like what I'm learning. It's a challenge and an adventure. A photographic quest, and at the end of the search is something beautiful and unique.

Continued Tomorrow.

All images copyright of the author of All-is-Well, 1997-2005.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


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