Suffering through a long bout of writer’s block years ago, someone trying to be ‘helpful’ mentioned George Polti’s notion that all literature boils down to Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations.

I considered the assertion bullshit and still do to an extent, though certain objections have softened; for example: I am inclined to accept newness mattering less with regard to dramatic situations than does innovations in their means of conveyance/form.

While I was thinking this well before starting this Tumblr, the stunning lack of variation in content and form of images crossing my dashboard supports Polti’s thesis.

Thus, when an image like this appears, it stands out.

A young couple fucking in a vehicle—the content—is not as compelling as the execution—the inclusion of both their bodies full in frame and in doing so there is the suggestion of a broader context in which the scenario is unfolding (i.e. a truck cab parked somewhere in the woods).

I could toggle the greyed out heart icon to red and be done with it. But a technically accomplished and innovative shot is not enough for me. There has to be something more. Otherwise it is not unlike so many movies where a superb conceit gets squandered by half-assery.

And vertical framing is almost always half-assed. Let me spell it out as clearly as possible: ninety percent of the time identical information can be better conveyed by a horizontal frame. Of the remaining ten percent, eight consist of architectural images.

There is enough space above her head and below his that a horizontal frame would have provided the same information. I understand the existing frame echoes the positioning of the subjects. However, that logic is equivalent to the infamous parental famous because-I-said-so justification for nonsensical orders.

A horizontal frame unquestionably demands more and more difficult compositional choices be made. For example, do you keep the couple centered in frame or do you shift them off-center, letting more of either the windshield & hood or truck bed into the frame?

The implicit logic behind the vertical framing belies the real trouble with the image: it is self-consciously pornography.

That’s not a bad thing. The problem is pornography has a habit of separating sexuality from any interpersonal context: sex is an appetite, after all; all-too-often pornographers present appetites independent of the hunger that serves as their impetus. In other words, sex is presented as its own justification instead of something motivated by desire, passion and naked human need.

Imagine how much more moving this image would be if the boy didn’t appear to be doing a sit up, his head lulling back, biting the corner of his lip; his right hand caressing her left inner thigh.

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