An Experiment Sexualising Women!

Lois Barnett is a very interesting woman. She lectures at SOAS The University of London, speaks Japanese and is the captain of a huge river boat. Earlier this year she entered a modelling contest for Violet Loves Vintage and won a shoot with me. Her PhD thesis is in Japanese cinema in the 1920s and 30s and its relationship to body image, fashion and the coding of femininity.

Lois asked me to explore an unusual angle for a shoot. Would I shoot her in a different way and sexualise her? Now I normally go to great lengths to avoid adopting the traditional male gaze. As a feminist I wish to find a feminine voice, whether I am exploring female power, vulnerability or feminine issues, I want to shoot from a female perspective. Lois asked if it would be interesting to do the opposite so that she could experience the process of making traditional images of women in cinema ( in Japan as well as Hollywood ) and also see how she felt looking at herself in those roles. 

I thought it was worth a go. It is not everyday that I meet a woman who wants this kind of dialogue with me! I’m going to write part 2 after Lois has reflected on the photos, but I’m wondering; what do YOU think? 

Every Body Has a Story to Tell.

“Every Body Has a Story to Tell“ If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, why are we fed so much imagery about what we are supposed to look like?” A series by R.A. Tinoko that challenges traditional notions of beauty and revels in the supple forms of the human body, (link below). 

I have just written an email to a charity I am working for. I wanted to introduce myself to the models. About 20 women would love to be photographed to raise awareness for Sam’s Diamonds - a charity in the North West who support women surviving cancer. They help them to build a new life and future. It made me think about how I am drawn to stories of transition. When life falls apart, how do we pick ourselves up and build a new one? I have been there. When I was about 27 my life fell apart, it was built on sand anyway. Denying my childhood abuse until it nearly killed me. I decided if I fell apart it was an opportunity to start over. You may have been there too, left one life to form another? Brutal and horrific isn’t it? Cross your fingers it doesn’t destroy you. 

My scars are on the inside. These women have surgical scars. They have been or are very ill.  “Everybody Has a Story to Tell” can you show scars and still show beauty? I believe so. I do it as a photographer often. Jude asked how I had made her look so beautiful and I replied that I hadn’t re- touched at all. That was the real Jude. Through my eyes. It does not have to be conventional beauty. Repeat.

I Need a Story

It would be fair to say that being driven is natural to me, how about you? I like to work and get consumed by a project. I find “down” time unnerving! Can you just hang out and chill? Me neither. I have finished a series of portraits and they took a year. The picture in this blog was the beginning.  Now I am lost for something to say. I know I will have a new project with a new story - but can you imagine how to keep me riveted for a whole year? 

I have a few ideas, people I wish to meet, two new charities, and maybe I will want to tell their story, but it has to be personal too because  portrait photographers tell their own story and their subjects story. We mix it together. You know when I post an image and you think it is terrific, those photos contain more than one person, they get complex. I need a rest and to spend hours looking at photographers work that I admire, but I kind of miss the energy and passion I feel when I am “inside” a piece of work. 

My yoga teacher Amanda told me that how we cope on the mat is connected to how we cope off the mat. So on the mat I am trying to learn. Why push myself through pain (mental or physical) when I could step back and learn to just flow. Or drift a while - even writing that alarms me!

So if you know of a story share it with me. I am all ears!

Here is a link to a beautiful story in an imagined world about the people who faced the Nazis in the 1930s. He shot it recently, because he was connected to the story of the human emotions. He tell it in pictures.

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