More Vintage Style Hand Colored Photos/ The Art of Really Looking/Seeing

There was an interesting film review in the NYTimes this morning that I read over lunch. In the review, of a new film called ”Sister”, Manohla Dargis, speaking of the interaction of two of the characters in the film says, “Here the act of one person noticing another-of looking at another human being instead of through him- is a simple kindness and a heart-breaking expression of our dependence on others.”

It seemed to go to the heart of what I do and why so many people respond so strongly to it. And what is that you ask? Well, about 10 years ago I made a sudden switch from being a sculptor and performance artist to a photographer creating ”erotic portraits”.  I had seen a book called “Early Erotic Photography” , a book of nude photos taken during the 1800s. I’ve always loved and collected old photographs but these were particularly striking. I loved the elaborate studio sets but I especially loved the models. They were real women, ordinary women, some not particularly pretty or with perfect bodies, but they exuded so much personality, individuality, so much confidence in their allure and sexual appeal. I wanted to show real women in the same way, as beautiful and special, no matter what they looked like. I decided right off the bat to put up a website to get some feedback. People found me rather quickly and soon women were contacting me from all over the world wanting to be photographed.

Originally, I had simply wanted to make a beautiful picture, and I succeeded at that. However, as more women applied to be photographed I started focusing on the interaction between me, my camera and my subjects. I became fascinated by their desire and need to expose themselves, to be seen, as themselves. And one woman after another said it was the way that I saw them that made them come to me. I saw them as they really were but also showed them as being beautiful, special.

At the heart of the process, of the interaction, is the simple act of really looking at someone, seeing them as they are, focusing intently on them for a few hours, It affects people powerfully and is something most people never experience anywhere else. For the most part they feel invisible.  I put them up on a stage ad adorn them like royalty.

Here are some new images:

This one is not yet hand colored.

Back in the 1920s and 1930s, it was very popular, especially with postcard images, to tint the whole picture in an unnatural color. It can really set a mood and I decided to try this one out in blue. It really seemed to suit the image.

Again, not yet hand colored
Every time I put together one of these double images, it’s a reminder of and a homage to the very powerful experience of seeing a woman naked for the first time. It also a reminder that no matter how much seems to be revealed, the essential mystery remains.

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