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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Free the nipple, or whatever the hell else you want…

I drafted this post on Wednesday evening while a little bit hungover and as a result it’s probably a bit wordy for a Sinful Sunday post – sorry! – but I still wanted to post it!

I was reminded this week of a conversation I had with a friend the day before I first posted to this blog. I’d just shared with her my idea of turning my anonymous involvement in Sinful Sunday into more of an adventure for friends; how I was excited by the prospect they could get as much out of this as I had.

“I am a bit worried about the flowers,” I said, referring to the header on my site, “I am not sure if it’s sexy enough.” “No,” she said, “they’re perfect, they stop it being too intimidating.”

I know what she meant. It can feel intimidating posting revealing photos of yourself online. For some of us there’s a vulnerability in exposing ourselves, whether we point the lens towards our insecurities, our fantasies, or our intimate moments. For most of us, I expect, that vulnerability diminishes quickly in the face of the wonderfully supportive Sinful Sunday community who each week take the time and care to respond to each other’s posts with thoughtful words of encouragement, celebration or a simple ‘fuck, that’s hot’!

Which is why it is so sad when an individual is intimidated not by their own insecurities but by spiteful people who have nothing better to do than gossip, judge and be mean. Busy thumbs spewing out a trail of nasty tweets can quickly undo what weeks of participating in this meme have done to build body confidence. That happened to @charlieinthepool last week.

Elsewhere there’s been much international coverage for the #freethenipple campaign after an Icelandic MP posted a picture of her breasts to Twitter. She, along with thousands of other women and men who took the same action, was standing up in support of a 17-year-old who was subject to online bullying as a result of posting a picture of her chest in protest against social media censorship of women’s bodies.

It saddens me that acts of courage, whether at a very personal level or as a bolder statement against corporate censorship, are ‘rewarded’ with hate. Kindness and empathy are the greatest human qualities, offline and online. The words of support for Charlie from the Sinful Sunday community last weekend showed that kindness does thrive online, as have the actions of those who rallied behind the young woman from Iceland.

Bullies, try as hard as you want but we’ll just carry on, getting out our ‘offensive’ tits, cunts, cocks, bellies, bums, thighs and whatever the hell else we want to, whether it’s to make a political statement, as a body positive expression, or for the pure exhibitionist thrill of it.

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No Horn Here

Another week, another work trip. Four nights, three hotels, two countries. Walking into my room on Monday I laughed out loud: a bed big enough for quite some party, leather headboard, sultry lighting…

“Some hotel rooms are wasted on work trips,” I tweeted. Within minutes Maria, Molly and Jade had all revealed a hotel kink.

It got better. I may have started with the leather headboard, but two days later I got the cow. “Nothing like getting the horn in a hotel,” quipped Molly.

I rarely get the horn in a hotel. I average a week a month in them. The combination of jet lag and long shoot days means I either flop down and am out cold, or busy brain keeps me wired and insomniac. I get horny when I check out of a hotel. Giving back a key card, not taking it, signals play time for me.

But here’s a little horniness just for you, ladies…

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