Lost in Gender Translation?

*I should note before that there is photos that might be considered NSFW. They may appear graphical to some.*

I have an uncanny fear of misrepresentation.

I fear that if Art is misread then it being killed. This many of you can argue, is flawed thinking as art is a very relative subject. However I feel this is where my unnerving perfectionism arises. To explore all possible implications before publishing a work, ignoring the superficial and drawing more from the overall artistic inspirations and fulfilling the desire to portray a subject as naturally and as realistically as possible.

This is why I normally shy away from human photography (whenever I focus on photography since my focus is mostly on film) because humans unlike nature are emotive subjects that respond to stimulus and are very easy to misrepresent in a still frame. Humans pose to portray certain emotions. They have a very opulent relationship with the camera, not only seeking the attention of the sensor or film reel, the composition or most importantly the perspective of the photographer, but also the nature of their representation. This is why most of my mentors dissuade me from showing the model their photos before editing, because in the moment they feel exposed to misrepresentation and therefore feel insecure and seek their own assumed perfection which may at times lack a technical beauty.

The idea of photographing people, or my idea, is capturing their inner bestiality and flaw and juxtapose it with a proper frame and an environment that traps this pure inner beauty.

rock climbing colouless

Most models are looking to being understood for what they are and in a time very concerned with body politics and a misogynist “alpha-male” trend that seems to have taken society by storm, to appear flawless has become a dire need for many both male and female. However many models (keeping in mind I normally just work with friends who do not even do this professionally) are soothed by realizing how beautiful these small natural flaws can be, how maybe what really needs a filter is their perspective and not their skin.

The focus of my post however is to compare this “philosophy” I take towards shooting people and mostly women (since most of the models I work with are women) with an argument brought forward by one of the photographers I so dearly respect, Camille Vivier.

Camille Vivier is exceptionally great at capturing the naked female form. She creates an almost theatrical oeuvre that creates dreamlike surrealistic screenshots of reality.

This can be experienced in this great picture (whose title I am yet to find). Her use of a flat blue background which is very reminiscent of the sky almost implying the idea of a dreamlike flight. How innocent her model looks52-20101014_Camille-Vivier with her eyes closed in a relaxed state which does not insinuate REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) which is the state at which humans are dreaming. Suggesting no paradox of dreams within dreams but the peace of sleeping within these dreams. However removing any idealizations of death by stiffening the shoulders of the model pulling her muscles in a way that would be impossible for a corpse. Conclusively assuming one can assume that the model is just alive. Where life is not put under a microscope but just left to be what it is, life.

This beauty that she so beautifully captures mostly arises with the argument that she is woman. Vivier says in an interview “As a woman, my vision is very different, more gentle, and less aggressive. My way of photographing nudes is quite neutral; it talks about femininity but in a more abstract way. ”

This is an empathy I fight very hard to capture in my photography. To be gentle and to in an essence capture the core of the female beauty. However by this argument can I? The psychology is not simple and without over dabbing into it, Sigmund Frued (father of modern psychoanalysis) would deny greatly since I am not only naturally attracted to females but my psycho-sexual attraction is mainly because as a male I want to travel back to my mothers womb (or in this case any woman I am getting into a visual and spiritual relationship with (of which I take my shoots very spiritually)).

The question however is what is femininity? and I searched all over, searching for an answer that would make my psycho-sexual impulses neutral. (It must be noted that psycho-sexual and sexual are two VERY DIFFERENT THINGS!). It took me a while to find that the formula cannot lie within me. But within my subjects. For them to represent themselves openly and honestly, in ways that would portray this peace that Vivier empathizes with so well.

That nature has done an excellent job at weaving these secrets that make photography worth every calculated picture.




Relebohile Manosa who did an amazing Job at Modelling. Amazing and through her I learnt a lot of the above.



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