Author unknown – Michele ist gut für zwei (1980)

I stumbled onto @musorka‘s retro pornography motherlode for the first time roughly a month ago.

As best as I can tell he mines scans from another site and posts them to Tumblr. The volume is astounding, the quality frequently dubious. But there are some real gems if you’re willing to put in some time.

For example: if you can ignore the obnoxiously coded depiction of cunnilingus, the above is actually compellingly staged. The action is cheated towards the camera but in a fashion that sans the aforementioned awkward protruding tongue, would be something that would be easy to overlook. (In fact, I would freaking LOVE to recreate this as a fine art image.)

However, there’s actually an even more overriding reason I’m posting this on the first day of the New Year. I’m the sort of sap who makes scads of resolutions each and every year. For the last 5 years, I’ve made goals with the form of shoot X number rolls of film each month; add Y number of new photos to my portfolio by EOY.

2016 was a garbage year but excluding my goal of reading 45 books (on which I failed miserably), I did better than I ever have in any previous year–successfully completing a little more than half my resolutions.

Yet, I think my focus on completing my resolutions actually ended up causing me to post work that I don’t–in hindsight–believe to be as good as it should’ve been.

This year, I’m trying to leaven my urge to hold myself accountable for doing instead of sitting around and thinking about doing or worse trying to do. I keep thinking about Helen Levitt’s statement that photographers can talk about what they want to do or equivocating about the conceptual or whatever but unless you’re running film through the camera, you are not doing fuck all.

There’s also this story of a reporter interviewing Levitt in her apartment:

When I was in her apartment, I saw boxes of prints
stacked up. One was labeled simply nothing good. Another one was
marked here and there.

“That’s the beginning of another book,” she said about the box.

“Can I take a peek?” I asked.

“Nope,” she said. “‘Cause I’m unsure about it. If I was sure that they were worth anything, I’d show it to you. But I can’t.”

Well, she must have decided they were worth something. That book, Here and There, came out a few years later.

One of my biggest gripes about digital imaging–despite everything about the way it looks–is that it allows you to proceed uncritically. You aren’t limited by how many exposures you have. You’re limited by battery life and the size of your memory card, nothing more. What tends to follow–almost as a matter of course–is this spray and pray approach or worse a we’ll just fix it in post mentality.

Looking through musorka’s Tumblr, it strikes me that there is an argument for volume. Not in the making of good images, necessarily but in learning to use the work that went into failed images to channel into making images that succeed.

There are so many awkward expression in European porn from the late 70s and early 80s. And I’m not for a second suggesting any of these images reach the heights of lower case a art, but given that it’s porn and so much of it is godawful, the good stands out even more obviously. Let me show you.

This works for many of the same reasons this does but mostly due to simplicity.

There’s something meditated and in the moment about this one.

I have a paraphilia for braids but I also like the lower image here because of the way it’s explicit without being at all graphic. ❤

The expression in the top panel and the lighting in the lower panel on this one are both unfeigned and luminous.

This is entirely awkward except for the way his expression in the context of the way she’s guiding him creates what could perhaps be termed a ‘feminist’ porn image.

The expression of the woman with the bangs at the right is effing priceless.

No qualifications needed–these three images are all excellent.

And lastly–another example of cheating towards the camera without being obvious about it.

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