There are a raft of reasons I ought not be posting this:
I am suspicious–at best–of close-ups (let alone extreme close-ups such as this)
It’s heteronormative in a way which really goddamned irks me
The above image has been cropped from the original (which I would’ve posted if it didn’t feature an intensely intrusive, dumb watermark).
All that BS aside, there is something not if not exactly substantive then I guess ‘considered’ about this. I don’t mean the polished gloss of it–although it certain supersedes that of quotidian porn.
What catches my eye is the extremely shallow depth of field–which allows both out of focus bits in the foreground and background.
Image makers are frequently obsessed with the flattering effects of so-called bokeh to isolate and emphasize the subject of the composition. But bokeh centers on rendering the background out of focus. Out of focus elements in the both the fore- and back- ground is more commonly associated with cinema–where due to the scene playing out of thousands of frames shifting focus can be used to guide who or what within the frame the audience is supposed to attend to. (I’ve written about this before.)
In the above image the point of sharpest focus draws attention to the act of genital penetration. In this crop, the action still manages to be ever-so-slightly off-center. No matter how pretty the soft focus, the image would’ve crumbled given knee-jerk dead center placement.
What’s interesting is in the uncropped version, everything shifts left and down. It’s a better frame by miles but I don’t think I’d have necessarily realized what I have about the image and why it appeals to me without comparing the crop and the original–although not strictly compliant, there are absolutely points of correlation with the composition and the Golden Ratio. (I recommend opening the diagram and the original side by side.)
A not insubstantial number of images indelibly imprinted on my mind have been made by Traci Matlock and Ashley MacLean—or, as they are perhaps better known: Rose and Olive of tetheredtothesun on Flickr and Nerve.com photo blog fame.
One cannot talk about Rose and Olive without addressing process. As I recall, they their work was always intended as a collaborative undertaking: Rose shot Olive and Olive shot Rose. The subject of the resulting image became the final authority on whether or not the image would ever see the light of day. In this way the subject is also a co-author of the work—an especially clever fuck-you to the proprietorial expectation of traditional male spectator.
Their work rings truer than most, resonating with a sense that this moment was something that happened just as you see it here.
The result has always been in my opinion some of the most sexual explicit photographs—if not so much in content, in implication—I have ever seen.
It’s possible to dismiss it as cloyingly exhibitionist, but the trust between the two is too wide-eyed in its unwaveringly dedicated sincerity.
I had no idea who Kennedy Kressler was two days ago; now, I can’t get her out of my head.
Most images of her are garbage, portraying her as receptive, wide eyed and winsome, performing for the pleasure of a stereotypical straight male spectator.
This makes me EXTREMELY uncomfortable. I do not know Ms. Kressler; and while I certainly wouldn’t piss and moan at the prospect of an introduction, chances are she wouldn’t give me the time of day. Yet, there she is in almost every picture staring out at me with feigned intimacy and come hither eyes.
I am not faulting her—she is good at what she does.
I prefer her in the above image. Despite the typical pornographic trappings—her positioning toward the camera to provide an unobstructed view of her bald vulva, the lack of imagistic context (is she curled up, masturbating in a lawn chair for any reason other than to provide a photogenic backdrop?)—her gesture is interesting. By spreading her outer labia with both hands she offers a more intimate view. This is, however, not her primary motivation; instead, she wants to be better able to tease her clitoris with her fingertip.
In so doing, her self-conscious eye contact with the spectator is broken and she focuses on her own sensations instead.