Influence

I have regressed 20 years. In the best possible way.

Guy Bourdin1995: Photography students, assessed on our production logs as well as our final images. A tutor presses us to think and write about how the work of others is influencing our own. We try to resist of course, believing it to be a waste of time, distracting us from the importance of our own burgeoning portfolios. The arrogance of youth. I pulled that production log out of a cupboard recently and smiled at crispy ticket stubs, quotes scribbled from commentary on gallery walls, clippings from magazines.

2015: In the middle of life and no real attention has been paid to my own photography in twenty years. Travel photography I am proud of and better-than-average snaps of life events, but no real thought about influence or a bigger narrative. Until now. Suddenly I find myself scouring Pinterest for ideas, popping into the Photographer’s Gallery between work meetings, handwriting ideas as neatly as possible in a beautiful notebook.

And through the lenses of others I start to rethink myself. Those beautiful Brandt nudes? Wonky boobs and flat nipples abound. Breathtakingly beautiful? Hell yes! So many photographers around the world today mounting their own inspiring projects celebrating myriad shapes and sizes. A wealth of ideas informing how I will photograph friends who’ve asked to participate in this project once summer comes and I am working less.

This week’s photo was meant to be a take on the Guy Bourdin shot above, but the hands and I were 40 minutes late checking out of a hotel and I couldn’t find the image online quickly enough! It’s not exactly what I had in mind because the idea was to frame and focus on an aspect of myself I care less about, but actually they ended up being covered up anyway. My body-negative evil twin says I win there! But I think I might prefer it this way anyway: I love the photo and ‘influenced by…’ is so much more thoughtful than ‘a copy of…’

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32 thoughts on “Influence

  1. I can not wait to see where all this planning and inspiration takes you with this project. I am excited for you. I have seen keeping an eye on your Pinterest (I am not stalking you I promise) and your collection of inspiring images has also been triggering my photography mind. I am looking forward to finally being well again and using this current sunny weather to have a play.

    I love this image, the way he is cupping your breasts looks so tender but that is also very different to the image that inspired it. The hands there look harsher, less, loving I think and the result is two similar and very different images

    Mollyxxx

    ps… I think we need to get together and play cameras together

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    • I’m so excited too. I was at a party last night two friends shared ideas with me for photos they’d had or have taken, and it’s opened up really interesting conversations about so many things. Last night with someone who is naturally very slight and who experienced taunts at school and school-gate ignorance from other Mums who don’t include her in conversations about ‘getting back into shape’ or don’t complement her because they think she’s fine about herself just because she’s slim. I’d love to meet up and play cameras soon too – composition and location ideas I am feeling good about but I definitely have much to learn re digital/lighting/editing. Will email about dates! Xx

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    • Thank you! The exhibition was great wasn’t it, and in a really beautiful location too. He’s the favourite photographer of one of my closest and oldest friends and we went together. She was also on my photography degree and is the friend referenced in my 18 Again post…it was her 40th birthday yesterday so this post was a little nod to her. She’s got an *amazing* idea for her photo for here, which I can’t wait until we have time to take! Xx

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  2. I love this image, very tender and intimate, and the glimpse we get of your nipples between his fingers is tantalizing.

    I am planning to do some professional erotic photo shoots soon and looking for inspiration. This image is going in my file.

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  3. Much like you, I’m constantly stashing away photographs – with the help of my lover – to help inspire and allow me to explore my own sexuality and body.

    With this one, I, too, adore your delicate and sensually intimate take on the Bourdin. The light is gorgeous, as is the softer palate of the room. But more than this, I love the way you fit so perfectly in his hands.

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  4. I think the depth of thought, reflection and beauty that goes into your pictures is amazing. You are very inspirational. You make me want to be more meaningful in my own pictures. This one has such an intimacy that is highlighted by your words about your feelings towards your breasts.

    Xxx

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  5. As someone who had never really had an interest in photography, since starting the blog that has completely changed. I’m not the best photographer in the world, he is so much better and has the fantastic ideas. I like being the focus and I now spend hours trawling through photos online, I have no idea why I don’t have a Pinterest account to be honest…hmmm may need to rectify that!

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    • Pinterest is a marvellous way to waste HOURS but full of some great shots. Although the number of schmaltzy engagement and baby pictures that come into the feed is quite remarkable but I have just about got it set to avoid them now. I’d fall off my chair in hysterics if any of my friends ever announced their engagement in some of the ways that appear there!! 🙂

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  6. This image punched me right in the gut. I mean that in the most positive way. I think it was your words, how you’re so excited about this project and how so many people have ideas and want to join you and it’s all just so exciting and exhilarating. I’m thinking “I wonder if I *could* share this with my real life friends?” And also the photo itself. It’s achingly tender and sweet and seeing it after the more clinical Bourdon image was a jolt. A beautiful jolt.

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  7. It’s not my place to say, perhaps, but I think your photography is excellent, but you write superbly as well. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d enjoy reading more of your writing as well as enjoying the Sinful Sunday posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just as much your place to say as anyone else and thank you. The comment is appreciated – have wanted to comment on some of your amazing pictures recently but wasn’t sure whether you’d want me to, but maybe I will now! Xxx

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  8. Pingback: Glimpse: Part two | exposing40

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