While I am a huge fan of Photoshop, I am not overly fond of using it to alter women’s bodies.
Ok. I will remove a blemish. Bless my heart. I do it with angst.
To those of us who are tuned in to it, the damaging messages coming from popular media are as blatant as a Kardashian. I am not playing by those messed up rules.
I think you are honest-to-goodness the best looking thing I have ever seen; with your history and your story all over your body.
Our latest Living Room Session was the first really conceptual collaboration we have done. Our first session was mostly iconography already in pop culture. Our second did the same, we just narrowed our focus to the B-movie genre.
Our latest session was inspired by Rococo themes of sexuality, using the birdcage to represent sexual awareness. We went nude (with our model), we moved our location and we used a brand new lady.
There was a good bit of flesh and Patron in the room. We talked about Photoshop, women’s bodies, runway angels, and Courtney Love.
The kids are hip. NPR recently reported that awareness of media culture and it’s effect on body image just might be increasing. Young girls are becoming more critical of what they see in popular media. Does it matter that Lena Dunham was Photoshopped by Vogue? What do you think?
A good thing to keep in mind: Does the audience know it isn’t real?
Here is a simple example of the harmless (?) changes one can make to an image.
The Spring 2014 Aerie ads feature women who have escaped the touch of the digital brush. It is a step in the right direction. They are already impossibly beautiful. Touching up their bodies would be a bit ridiculous (but it is done.)
I, for one, think the world would be a really boring place without bad tattoos, panty lines and scabs. I also want to interpret the woman as a whole person and not just a collection of lovely parts.
Doing what is true to my aesthetic doesn’t embolden me to flaunt my stretch marks, if that’s what you are thinking. I am quite comfortable on this side of the lens. I know it isn’t easy to ask someone to expose their bodies and their fears to the lens. That takes a lot of trust and confidence on the part of the sitter. It is a trust that is sacred to me. I couldn’t do my best work without it.
It also doesn’t stop me from admiring the amazing work by artists who choose to smooth and straighten all day long or to experiment with the tools they use. Heavens to Betsy, it is great stuff!
At the end of the day, the choices we make are what set us apart and define our style. The best thing we can do is embrace what makes us different. Good to remember in work and in life, eh?
The line between editorial and art can get muddy. Styling, posing, lighting, digital editing; they are all part of the wizardry that creates a flattering image.
Here is our inspiration pinboard.
I wanted to see how we could use the symbolism of the cage to explain the complex, shifting relationship between a woman and her own sexual power.
I used a strobe (Speedlite 430ex II) flash and cable. I hope to have a lighting kit with a softbox soon. Same with the backdrop. It’s a flat sheet.
Art is expensive.
A little history on the Living Room Sessions project:
This is a collaboration between two creative Columbia, SC women. We like to test new ideas, create cool, funky portraits and give other women a forum to express themselves. It is all done in our homes with minimal equipment and a lot of wine. We really hope you will follow us as we build up our gear and our body of work.