Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Posts tagged ‘photography’

NSFW – Mild or Robust Sexuality?

missionaryAYElegs

I am in a slump. I am all written out. My brain is mush.

So I decided to play with Andrew’s photographs for our collaboration “69 Scheimpflug Street.” I am not sure he was amused – he sent me an article on how to crop and present images. Okay dokey. The article is on my desk somewhere. Surely.

I put the cropped images up on Twitter (TrudiYTaylor) and Tumblr (Cranky Writer in adult oriented category) with little captions. No one seems to mind. They get favorited, liked, etc.

The photographs are lovely. Erotic. Playful. My stories are sexy in unexpected ways (at least to my way of thinking and from the comments of our preliminary viewers).

And we are out of money for the series. Models cost. Locations can cost. Printing papers and final prints on aluminum cost. Our time costs. Yep like so many artists we eat that cost. So many costs – so little money.

So we looked into a Kickstarter funding process. They get good results. Participants have vouched for their veracity. But Kickstarter is not too keen on sexuality or nudity. They use the terms “slight” and “mild.” I understand their not wanting to promote pornography. Neither do we.

Here’s the dilemma – the exhibit is about moving sexuality and nudity from a slight and mild fuzziness into a more robust and integrated focus (think Scheimpflug Principle). We are sick of the all-or-nothing thinking this country has around sexuality. We must be hypersexual or asexual. What?

I am going to send in one uncompromised series of stories and photographs about a couple choosing to expand their sexual repertoire. The photographs contain full frontal nudity of a man and a woman. The stories are explicit.

I don’t hold out much hope …

Taking a different tack, Andrew found a site where we can sign up for patrons (yes, really, patrons). Another dilemma – we have to make videos to attract patrons. Now I do not have a problem asking for money for my services – got over that in graduate school for counseling. If you can’t ask for money, you do not value your product (whether it is counseling, widgets, or art). The dilemma is that I look like a mangy, cross-eyed cat in videos and sound like Julia Childs. Not an enticing combo when every one else on the site looks a sleepy 26 and adorable.

So what do you think? Is there a need or want for images and stories exploring, even pushing an integrated sexuality in our lives?

Would you rather support us with a monthly gift or with one monetary gift?

Send me your comments. Below are some preliminary images with my attempts at cropping.

AYElegs

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Nude Ice Dancing and Artistic Revelation

Skaters' Legs

It was another one of those days. I thought, “Don’t look below the neck.” So I kept my eyes raised. Then, as happened at the last photography shoot, my silly attempts at professionalism didn’t matter.

On this second shoot for “69 Scheimpflug Street” we had sinfully beautiful models. Models with bodies marked by the events of their lives. There was some initial embarrassment on my part, some hesitancy on theirs. After their shucking of clothes, everyone got down to the work. The images were strong and vibrant. The models did good.

At one point in the afternoon, we thought we had all the images needed. I looked at Andrew, the artist behind the camera. He said, “Let them go.” I stepped back to look at the totality of the couple. The camera kept clicking. Then the magic happened. The work became seriously luscious and sumptuously difficult eroticism. In these moments when playfulness showed up, the images became the fantasy we were hoping for. They captured a quality that can’t be planned. We were brilliant.

Looking over the images, I had to stop myself from crying – the models revealed themselves. Then we, the planners, got playful.

“It looks like they’re ice skating,” Andrew said.

“Yeah. I think he’s about to throw her in a triple Salchow,” I said.

“We photographed nude ice dancing,” he said.

“On a sofa,” I said with a snort.

We giggled. We Photoshopped ice skating boots onto the male model. We belly-laughed so much we came close to falling off our chairs.

I keep wondering how often do we get in our own way – out of a sense of professionalism, hesitancy, or embarrassment? Do we edit out the playfulness in our lives? Do we over-plan the fantasy out of our lives?

So I didn’t plan this weekend. Lots of things happened – some good, some trying. But the weekend felt organic. I had space to move and breathe. People called up with ideas. I called with ideas. I forgot my phone at times. Events, gatherings fell into place. Responsibilities got met. The weekend was lovely and relaxing. And full but not crazy full.

This Monday morning, I feel ready, peaceful, and a little luscious. This is not to say that we don’t need some planning.

More we need a sticky-note, “Allow for a little spontaneity. Make space for the unexpected. Give yourself enough time to look and live below the neck.”

Passionate Fifties

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Aren’t these beautiful people? Isn’t it lovely to have models that are not in their teens or twenties? Or even thirties or forties? Aren’t they sexy?

Being mid fifties myself, I wanted this image to reflect the passion and tenderness of a couple in their 50s. The fifties. When you like a teenager, not one thing or another, not young or old but in the place where things, bodies, ideas, and values are changing.

The fifties, an age where sexuality and love have different meanings, different entanglements, and different responsibilities. We’ve lost by this point – more than a few ideals, some vitality, some abilities, and some innocence. We’ve lost people we love by choice or by death.

But what we’ve gained. We are learning to really love – our lives, our bodies, and connections to each other. The wrinkles and cellulite can’t overshadow what we gain from a loving life.

A week ago, I was talking on the phone with a friend about his phrase, “right now.” I got a tad cranky and flustered thinking, “right now, what’s this right now shit? Are you crossing out the future?”

With uncharacteristic tact, I gently probed. He was talking about staying in the present as a way he didn’t get ahead of himself; overwhelm the potential of a situation. Well that made sense.

Last weekend, I was talking to a girlfriend and bemoaning our physical changes. We laughed acknowledging our insight. Finally we were learning patience, just as we were moving closer to the endpoint of our lives than to the beginning. Life is full of ironies – they smack you in the face screaming, “Wake up.”

Last year, I thought that I had made peace with the idea that my love life was probably finished. Seeing an image like this one reminds me of everything I have to give to a lover – bound up in my wrinkled, dissembling, and experienced self. Looking at their joyous lust, I see their compassion for each other and themselves. At last.

So I am waking up with an urge to create the tender love, compassion, and lust of this image. A big thanks to the models for reminding me of this value.

(Image is from a collaboration of stories and photographs with Andre Giovina titled “69 Scheimpflug Street”)

Marketing Scheimpflug’s Lust

Whitneyblog

The first part of our first photo shoot along with my first set of stories is finished. That’s a lot of firsts. AG shot images that are beautiful and disturbing. My stories are lush and arousing – I hope. Exactly what we were going for. We are excited. But now we need to market them, stir some excitement, get some buzz going, ____ (add the appropriate phrase here).

So I gathered notes about the usual forms of getting the word OUT THERE – and immediately thought, What’s up with the multiple layers of social media marketing brouhaha? I mean – Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook, and Tumblr.

Does anyone really understand what Google+ accomplishes that is different from anything else out there? Most writers are clueless about how to promote themselves and their work using this site.

“It seems like a cross between FaceBook and LinkedIn,” I said.

AG said, “So you’re on Google+?”

I said, “Yep, not sure what it does but hey, seems easy enough to use … “

So things, images, blog posts, and other doodads will go up there.

LinkedIn doesn’t seem like a good place to examine lust even using the Scheimpflug Principle – our project’s nudity and passion would be fighting other users’ glossy business pictures.

AG said, “So you’re not using LinkedIn?”

I said, “Nah, I’ve been thrown out of two discussion groups already. Seems like a wash for my type of writing.”

(Yes, I have been politely asked to stop responding to discussion groups run by a moron from Australia. She proposes women do not like sex. Maybe women don’t like sex in Australia but the women I know in the US like sex. I digress with crankiness.)

FaceBook is a possibility. I have personal and book pages – is that the correct word?

“We should make a new FB page,” said AG.

“Yep but both of us should have the password so both of us can post,” I said.

“Can you do that on FB?” AG asked.

So another task to add to my burgeoning To-Do list along with checking on FB’s guidelines for nudity, lust, and general issues with sexuality.

Then there is Twitter. I need a remedial course in Twitter. I have an account and followers who I am sure are breathlessly waiting for me to do something, post something, hashtag something. Good bloody grief. WTF?

“Can you tweet?” I asked.

Silence and perplexed looks followed from AG as he looked around for birds. I asked a tech savvy friend. He sent a one-page email. I printed it out, looked at it, and then took myself to lunch, with wine. Couldn’t make any sense out of it.

So tweeting is out.

Tumblr followed. Okay, back to Wiki How. Seems easy enough. Confusingly, I have an account already. Well okay then. What’s my Tumblr name? I don’t remember and can’t find where it’s recorded. What’s my password? Who knows. Two days later, both were residing in my little black book of IDs and passwords. Does anyone else keep a book of passwords? I lose the book and I am so screwed. (In the good old days, little black books were so much more fun.)

I said, “I think we should do a Tumblr page, post, whatever.”

“Sure,” said AG. “How do we do that?”

“I am not sure but I’ll dig into it. Only thing I am sure of is we need to have a whole lot of stuff to go on it. Like two weeks worth of daily doodads before we sign up. Do we have two weeks worth?”

“I’ll start cropping photos,” AG said.

So we are in the social media-marketing conundrum. This is a full time job. Who does this?

I have hired three marketing people who have disappeared. I figure I get two weeks of work out of them, pay them and they flake off. It is disheartening. Expensive.

What happens if we develop a beautiful exhibit around lust with stories in words and pictures and no one comes? Because they don’t know about it —

Live Nude Art

nakedblog

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”     – Andy Warhol

I know you are wondering what I am doing. In my most honest moments, I wonder too.

The photography shoot was an adventure, a challenge, and a chance to see naked people up close. Working with an artist whose medium is photography, we created a series of quite lovely, interesting, and at times, disturbing images. Some of the images are based on very loose ideas or story fragments and some arose organically within the photo shoot. I will write proper, interesting choice of word, stories for the images.

Overall, the models were exquisite. Every one of them perfect in some way, usually unexpected. We attempted to capture or hint at the elusive perfection.

Each day, up would drive a perfectly normal looking and behaving person asking where to park.

“Around back. You don’t want your car towed.”

“Okay,” and with a trusting nod, they would follow me around the back of the building to park behind my car. They would walk into the building. I would make sure doors were locked.

“Wow, thanks it’s not too cold,” models would say. They signed a model’s release and showed us their license, which I photographed and emailed to us. We explained what we were looking to do. Got their input. Then they would say, “Ready?”

I would take a big breath and think, “Here we go. Don’t stare.” And they’d take off their clothes. Trying to look busy elsewhere as this was happening, I forced myself to exhale, practiced a noncommittal smile.

Then we went to work. After the first ten minutes, it was fine. We put in some hours, broke a sweat, strained our eyes, hearts, and brains. There were a couple of dicey moments, more about artistic choices than about nudity.

“Did you see that?”

“Yeah, we can’t have that.”

So I walked over to the model and said, “I’m going to clamp some fabric around your butt. Strange shadow … “

Without blinking an eye she said, “Sure.”

Clamp, clamp, clamp went the fabric. The model smiled. I was the uncomfortable one.

Things were better by the second day. I felt maternally protective – walking them out to their car, asking if they needed water or felt dizzy and needed to come down from the stool.

But the third day was confusing, trying, a major leap of artistic faith. We photographed two models. Together. I kept repeating the mantra,

Thisisart. This is art. THIS … IS … ART.

Periodically, I would check in with my collaborator.

“Can they do that?”

“Sure.”

“Will we go to jail?”

“No.”

“I’m not sure this will fly in Raleigh … “

He’d smile at me and tell me to do something. Pick up a stool. Gather some clothes. I would suggest things – the placement of a hand, drape of a fabric, choice of a prop – and the models were game. It was a wonderful collaboration.

This weekend, we reviewed the images. Plugging the camera into a TV, the images took on life. The images are stupendous. Beautiful, erotic, disturbing. Quite likely, the photographs and stories won’t fly in Raleigh or will have a limited flight.

But mostly, I am proud of us. We were true to our visions.

I kept my promise to see the beauty in each model – not getting bent out of shape over every little imperfection. (Maybe one day I will see my body with the same kindness.)

More ideas are percolating. The exhibit is starting to find a shape, probably not the final shape. We will continue to work within our visions as I gather my courage and sharpen my skills. It helps that I am reading Bayles and Orland’s Art & Fear: Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of ARTMAKING.

But it is imperative, however you evaluate the exhibit, we will keep making art.

20 Pounds or Happiness

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Everybody is exquisite. Truly, stunningly beautiful.

I keep learning one concept over and over again. As a counselor, a yoga teacher, a massage therapist, a writer, and in my own life.

This week, I am collaborating to combine story with photographs. Sunday afternoon at Barnes and Noble, I was sitting with the photographer discussing our model choice for the project.

“Wow she’s lovely.”

“Yes very photogenic.”

“And she’s athletic.”

“Yeah, the long torso implies that she was a gymnast. Bone plates shortened.”

“The other model has longer legs … “

“Let’s use both. Different looks.”

“The differences will spark more ideas.”

We grinned at each other. Two people in their 50s, feeling great about our work and about being able to see the possibilities, sweet possibilities of two very different body types. I went to get some lemonade. Walking back to our table, the beauty of every person in the store stole my breath away. I teared up. We could have used any person in the store. A cascade of memories followed the joyful epiphany.

I thought back to my first husband, initially an art director, now directing TV commercials. He was so very persnickety about how each feature of the model had to line up with his vision. I left the marriage for many reasons but there was a defining moment for me one night.

I never felt good enough, pretty enough with him. He was always checking out other women. I always felt lacking stacked against his model choices. A big issue was my weight.

“You could have made it as a model if you lost 10 pounds,” he said repeatedly.

After seven years of this, I snapped.

“I am a size 8 not a size 4. Get over it. I have other things to do with my life than live up to your celluloid ideal of beauty.”

He had stepped back. I hadn’t yelled but stated the words with a flat and factual voice.

Something changed after that. From then on, I did not let him take my power nor define me. Read that sentence again. The important words were, “I DID NOT.” The power dynamics shifted in our marriage – based upon a realization of my own worth. I wanted to be in relationship with someone who saw the beauty of the entirety of me.

After years of practicing compassion, I came to the conclusion that we had loved each other as best we could at that point in our lives.

I met my second husband when I was working my way through graduate school. Uncharacteristically, I was a size 4. I dated Rod for four years. He did not judge me; he would gently point out when I was judging him. I had unconsciously incorporated the behaviors of my first husband. With much effort, I learned to accept all the parts of him, not to judge him based on one aspect of his being.

A year before our marriage, two things happened. First, I became very ill. Treatment included medications that added twenty pounds to my body.

Second, I had to get a copy of some divorce-related papers from my first husband. The phone call to my ex went something like this.

“I don’t know where the papers are,” he said.

“Well if you remarried, they are probably near your marriage certificate. In a lock box? A file?”

“Oh yes, I remarried. You should see her. She’s young, beautiful and stylish.”

“Aaah. This is why we divorced,” I yelled.

Not my most graceful moment as I took the phone and beat it against the strong metal desk bringing my fiancé rushing into the room. He took the phone from my sweaty palm, said to my ex, “Call back when you have the papers. We’re getting married soon so we need the papers.”

Two years later, on our first anniversary, when I was well and had shed most of the 20 pounds, I felt I could ask my second husband, “Why didn’t you say anything when I gained the weight?”

“What would it have helped? Anyway that’s not all of who you are.”

I didn’t know what to do with his statement of acceptance and love.

Now I know what to do. With every person, I look for his or her one, at least one, beautiful attribute. My heart meets them from that place whether I say something about it or not.

This week, I will thank our models for their courage in showing themselves to us. I will bring them water, sandwiches, pasta, fruit, and brownies – their choice.

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