Igor MukhinKsenia, Moscow (2011)

I’m sure there are more technical photographers out there–but for my money, Mukhin is unrivaled.

Take this photo, for instance; it works because he seems to have obvious thought forget about shadow detail in her hair, I need something to anchor the composition. (This decision has the added benefit of emphasizing the way the light on her hair to the left look exceedingly sultry.)

He realize that the rest of the room is going to blow out and opts for an aperture that will give him just enough of a slice of in-focus depth of field that the sharpest focus begins just in front of her right knee and grows ever so slightly shallow just ahead of her face–which is tilted forward slightly. (Again, every so flattering but it also serves to separate her from the table she’s leaning against.)

And Oh My! but look at the same the entire frame demonstrates what Leica optics with do in correlation with film grain w/r/t over and under exposure and shallow depth of field.

Christoph Boecken – Claudia (2015)

Maybe I look at too much porn but initially I thought this gesture was something more along the lines of this than hey, show me your tattoo.

Either way, it’s nice to see bokeh used as something more than just a means of highlighting a subject in a frame.

Also, check out that creamy medium format film super fine grain tonality–always shiver inducing.


True Red

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. – ubiquitous paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 1:2

There’s no way around it: no matter how lovely, this is a dick pic.

Seeing it as such it’s easy to focus on the impetus for such leering color: friction? lipstick? Photoshop? I’m not really interested in that.

I am almost tempted to interrogate the close-up frame and bokeh, attribute them to a so-ascetic-as-to-be-decontextual minimalist aesthetic bent.

But my thoughts drift further afield; circle and finally alight on the concept of vanity.

Carly Simon would have us believe vanity is seeing oneself as the bright center of the universe around which smaller, less bright things swirl.

And any art history student worth their salt will couch things in terms of mirrors.

There is, however, a danger in conflating symbol with meaning–narcissism is decidedly self-sustaining; vanity must feed off others.

In a way, vanity requires empathy.

I want to double back to that matter of this being a dick pic but I feels necessary to suggest a corollary with the so-called selfie.

I am not sure it’s wrong to think of them as vain as long as it is borne in mind that the selfie can also be an ontological document–look here I am in this place-time.

I feel like what makes a shitty dick pic is narcissism combined with ontology–this is me-now, this is my desire which is your desire.

To me that is what this image does so exquisitely well: it displaces any vestige of ontology to elicit an unselfconscious perspective. There is no identity, merely a view one or any lover might glimpse of another.

Source: Unknown (Initial posting here, maybe?)

With depictions of desire, why is it at best & always a little of the good and a little of the bad?

I want to like this. That’s not fair–dismemberment of her right forearm and both legs by frame edge & #skinnyframebullshit aside, I like it: I swoon over freckles like it’s my job and I prefer giving over receiving. Credit should also be given to the bokehed emphasis of her expression/face as opposed to her body and her lover’s hand shielding her is a delightful gesturing.

Still I am hesitant to embrace; I think because it strikes me as a clumsy half-measure.

Yes, shifting depictions of sexual pleasure away from the usual male-bodied locus and onto female-bodied individuals is out-fucking-standing; but this well-intentioned effort only serves to reinforce the traditional one-dimensional view of female bodies as the singular site of all that is sexual.

The unfathomably talented Sarah Polley–who, duh, I LOVE–implicitly calls bullshit on the double standard with regard to depictions of nudity in her film Take this Waltz. It’s depressing how shocking it is to audience to have female nudity presented in the way male nudity is: i.e. as incidental and unconnected to sexual behaviors. This reprehensibly simple-minded conflation of female bodies with sexuality is fucking everywhere.

And it’s not not that female bodies are not or shouldn’t be sites of sexuality; they are and will be forever and ever amen. The fucked-up thing is they shouldn’t be the only such site.

Again credit to those out in front of this issue. I’m thinking of Beautiful Agony, Clayton Cubitt’s Hysterical Literature and clever work like this; or, any effort really to present sexuality as an extension of an interpersonal totality and not the requirement of a body.