SakurawayUntitled from Basic Instinct II series (201X)

Sakuraway is a Chinese image maker based in Shanghai.

He’s a bit like what you’d get if you put equal parts Shae Detar, Ren Hang, Maxime Imbert and Ryan McGinley and shake them vigorously.

He is–quite frankly–trash at editing his own work (far too much work that emphasizes a quantity over quality approach). But there is definitely some great finds amidst the surfeit of dreck and he has a charmingly idiosyncratic eye for color.

Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

The ubiquity of built in flash systems (point and shoot devices, smart phones, prosumer dSLRs, et al.) has fostered an understanding of the flash as a tool to increase illumination in low-light situations.

A clearer way of putting it might be to say that a flash is increasingly treated as a key light thus relegating ambient light to the function of a fill light.

This is in keeping with magnesium flash lamps of the late 19th century and the flashbulbs of the early-to-mid 20th century. Slowly, studio photography appropriated the flash in service of painstakingly orchestrated lighting design. There are and will continue to be outliers–Diane Arbus, for example, used a flash in a great deal of her exterior shots as a means of separating the subject from the background.

But strictly speaking if the purpose of a photograph is to freeze time, then a flash is meant to freeze motion. (Consider that most flashes have a maximum shutter sync (on the slow end) of 1/250th of a second. For those who aren’t die hard shutter bugs: ignoring film speed and aperture, it’s usually only possible to take a picture hand-held–without camera shake–down to about 1/30th of a second with an SLR type system. Rangefinders give you a bit deeper of a basement; I can operate handheld sans noticeable shake with a rangefinder down to about 1/8th of a second.)

I’m being overly persnickety and pedantic on this point because the flash here is not only the key light in this scene. It’s a motivated key light–it’s easy to think that there’s a lamp overhead and that’s the source of the light (even if an overhead lamp would never give off that much or that sharp of a reflected illumination).

The motion that is being frozen is not a sudden, dynamic motion–stretching the languid, perhaps even somewhat tender moment of this pulling of foreskin into the realm of the timeless and infinite.

It also reminds me of William Eggleston’s The Red Ceiling due to the similarities in the way the use of flash interacts with the composition and the way in which how what is seen (it’s aesthetic) is emphasized over what is seen.

Daido Moriyama – Title unknown from Daido Moriyama in Color: Now, and Never Again (197X)

At first glance, the choice for this photo to be vertically oriented seems clever–the use of space so that the woman’s body is counter balanced in the frame by the negative space of the room around her creates a definite sense of downward movement. In other words, everything works together to imply that she’s taking her knickers off.

Stop and think for a minute tho: if you’re taking your underwear off, how often do you bend all the way down to do so? I don’t–I pull my panties down below my knees and then step out of them, the last leg out hooks the leg hole and then I kick it up to myself so I don’t have to bend over. I feel like that’s fairly common behavior.

You could also say that maybe she doesn’t want to let her undergarments touch the ostensibly funky love hotel duvet–which to me is all the more reason to push them down below your knees and step out of them.

I would wager $5 that she’s actually putting her underwear back on. The photo has just be presented in such a way where there’s an illusion that she’s taking them off.

But it’s a little off-putting to me that if she is–in fact–putting them on, instead of taking them off. There’s a sense that this image has happened post intercourse. The composition and framing tho–misrepresents the truth of the moment and in doing so renders her body permanently in a stage of readying to be sexually available for the (male) viewer.

Also, the scene is alarmingly predictive of Mary Ellen Mark’s Falkland Road project–about sex workers in Mumbai in the late 1970s.

[↑] Lisa YuskavageReclining Nude (2009); [↖] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↗] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [+] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [←] Helias DoulisUntitled from Blossoms of Solitude (2016); [→] Alexandre HaefeliUntitled from The Company of Men series (2016); [-] Source unknown – Title Unknown (2014); [↙] Ismael GuerrierSacred Garden #1 (2018); [↘] Source unknown – Title unknown (201X); [↓] Source unknown – Title unknown (19XX)

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