words

Fake Photographs

I normally retouch the skin of the people I shoot. I either smooth out or erase wrinkles, bumps, pimples, cellulite and skin texture. I think it’s important you the viewer of my images know that. You’re not seeing the human subject as they are in real life. .

Sometimes I also use the warp tool in photoshop to push areas in on the figure that are not socially acceptable - like areas of fat - I also flatten stomachs, thin out thighs and calves, change facial bone structure and push in the area above the hip to create a more socially acceptable S shape.

Why do I do it then? Because I photograph models and the images I make go into their portfolios which other photographers see. Most photographers want to shoot women who have flawless skin and the socially acceptable body shape. Agencies and companies who may hire the models for advertising also want the socially acceptable body shape, facial shape and smooth skin.

So in effect what I’m saying is that I’m sucked in to this ideal of the socially acceptable facial and body type for women. And this work I do with models is not me. Not only do I comply with it, I reinforce it by presenting my ‘adjustments’ for public view on an International scale. .

These images of Mona Gene had no skin retouching done by the way. I started to do it, to smooth some wrinkles etc and as I worked, I saw the beautiful emotion and expression Mona exhibited, slowly disappear before my eyes.

I’m losing respect for myself by doing this and certainly loosing respect for other photographers who do the same; which is virtually of them in the model photography game.

What do you think?

Model: @mona_gene_ . These were shot with no direction from me at all.

#itsfake #imafake #towardsthetruth#nonudity #nosexualinnuendo #artofportrait

Censored, Packaged, Damaging Beauty

The natural version of the image can be found in the member’s area:
http://mikestacey.com/members-area/censored-packaged-beauty

Censorship of both the male and female body is now more rigid than we’ve seen in the last few decades - largely due to the sheer flood of nude and/or revealing imagery via social media. It’s a complex matter. We’re all aware of the social norm fo beauty and the pressure on women to conform to that - and we’re aware of the fallout - the damaging psychological outcomes. Censorship is one device that contributes to this by essentially “shaming’ various aspects of our bodies; genitals, breasts, nipples, butts and pubic hair.

I’m currently exploring this topic, both visually and otherwise. Here’s an interesting excerpt from an article written by Esther Young in ‘The Owl’; a student edited publication from Santa Clara, California. (https://santaclaraowl.com/). It addresses various concerns from a female point of view, whereas my interest is at a higher level, irrespective of gender.

‘Media’s treatment of the female body is a disappointing reflection of what this culture deems beautiful or ugly. In American culture, body hair is considered ugly and even trespassing social media safety guidelines. Even women’s hair removal product companies, though aimed at selling their razors and shaving creams to women, do not allow the appearance of actual body hair in their ads. This censorship conveys the message that a woman in her unaltered, unshaven state is unacceptable and even offensive. This upholds a double standard of beauty. While photos of bikini-clad women in their unaltered states are censored, naked celebrities photo-shopped to glossy, toned “perfection” are splashed across magazine covers and the same social media sites that censor nipples and female body hair. Women in their natural states are censored while photo-shopped images of the female body are used to sell and make profit, while promoting an unnatural and idealized standard of beauty. Meanwhile, ads showing men with pubic hair peeking out from the top of their Calvin Klein underwear are also freely displayed.’

Concept and Set-up: @staceymikephoto
Photographer: @shotbyminx

Artistic Collaborations


Introduction

This article is written inline with my part time work as a personal mentor. I base all of the below on my own personal experience with numerous project collaborations, many different collaborative partners and numerous project exhibitions. Every artist’s experiences will differ, but I believe the article that follows includes aspects that should be ‘generic’ to any true collaboration.


Collaborations between photographer and model, and the photographs that result, have always been in my opinion a 50/50 credited effort - for the work I’ve done anyway, which has spanned a decade or so now. I’ve always said that, and made a sincere effort to acknowledge my collaborator. Even when exhibiting a complete series of works, where the concept was mine (the model had zero input at concept initiation stage), and I had payed the models for their time; I still added their names, personal information and credits below the prints on the wall and in the project statement.

‘DONE’

Self Portrait

“Retreating into yourself is never a solution on it’s own and I’m done with it anyway. Professional help is another option - but I’m done with that too. The only thing I’m not finished with is drugs.”

Even when a concept originates from one of the two people, that concept is then bounced between both people; and if you have a good cohesive collaboration, the concept then becomes bigger and better with each bounce. So for one of the two to say they own the concept, is plain wrong. That’s just one example.

Often the concept has been derived from a conversation or ‘off the cuff’ thought that the other person expressed. So where did the idea really originate? And where did ‘realisation’ of the idea begin. Is artistic ownership of the outcome (the print) then to be credited to either the model or the photographer? Think about all the things that go into the production of the final art piece (the print).

Concept Development & Presentation

  • IDEA/CONCEPT: It usually begins here. But not always. It can begin during a shoot done for some other purpose, or a purely experimental and spontaneous shoot. Here, there can be equal input from both collaborators. If it began with a thought then the thought may have originated via a simple conversation about some unrelated matter or it may be connected to the personal thoughts, politics or history of one of the people. The latter case requires very careful navigation, as ownership of the concept can become very easily skewed.

  • DEVELOPMENT OF CONCEPT - This can go on for a long time and include:

    • Numerous conversations where the idea bounces and develops between the collaborators. Both have equal input at this stage of development.

    • Many shoots before the final print is made. This will be where both people work at a practical level in getting the concept realisation right. The input here can be weighted one way or another. The model may or may not have the ability or skills to model the concept or the photographer may lack the skill, vision, experience to enable a satisfactory capture of the image. The converse of those situations exists too of course. There’s actually four different combinations of these two aspects (basic combinational maths theory) - and I’m sure there are more base level aspects of concept initiation and development

  • PRINTING OF CONCEPT - Sizes of prints, framing, decisions on ho to possibly lay the prints out on the walls of the gallery in order to get your concept across in the best possible way will be a part of this phase. Still, at this phase, the concept can be refined based on what you see when the prints arrive and how they look in your dummy layouts - which would have been done often on a computer first an then after the prints arrive.

  • PRESENTATION OF CONCEPT - How will you both present what you have made? Again, this will involve conversations and ideas. and again, the goal being for the concept to ‘go across’ in the best possible way. You will make decisions on print sizes, framing, gallery selection, and then finally, curation of the work onto the walls. There can still be some development and refining of concept at this stage.

  • SALES - Do you split the sales 50/50?

Summary

All these aspects, and I suspect many more, require some very careful thought and discussion between collaborators before you begin your ‘collaboration’. Neither party own the project that you’ve both invested time - and usually a lot of money into. Things can get out of hand at any time, either before, during or after the project ends. But, if everything above has been discussed, agreed upon and acknowledged, there can be no reason for post project disagreements. Future collaborations with your collaborator depend on ALL these things, and more, should be part of your project communications.

Bottom line. If you are a photographer or a model, then realise and expect the credit you deserve for your 50% part in the outcome.

#ownership #credit #ownershipissues

Erotica

Coming very soon to my online store, this erotic e-Zine, shot entirely on MF film and featuring @bee_bee_gunn; who was obviously the model but who also wrote the intro words to the mag, based on her experience with Hunter S. Thompson’s ‘Fear & Loathing’. One of my favourite reads. .

She has a tattoo on her right thigh to mark the importance of the book in her life.

The e-Zine is most obviously and unashamedly within the Erotic genre.

My forward reads:

The photographs shown in this e-Zine are clearly erotic in nature. For me, this work is one extension of my portrait photography. I approached it in the exact same way. My portrait work is, by nature, intimate. It usually requires the model to reveal something of themselves that they might not otherwise reveal in most modelling situations. I am always looking to extend myself, and this arm of my work is one of the ways I've challenged myself to come up with something that works for me. And it was indeed challenging for me.

My own opinion on much of model photography is that it is Erotica. It is sensual and sexual in nature by the following definition: . .

”Eroticism refers to all the phenomena that arouse sexual desire, and the various representations, particularly cultural and artistic, which express or excite this affection of the senses. Eroticism from sexuality, as it does not refer to the sexual act itself, but rather to everything that provokes sexual desire, and to all the mental projections that it evokes, especially fantasies.”

The above includes most model photography, and it includes much of so called ‘art nude’ photography. It is sensual in nature, designed to arouse desire, hence fitting within the bounds of the Erotica genre. Obviously, I have no problem at all with Erotica, it draws on our primal instincts as humans. But, if it's Erotica, then call it Erotica, don’t hide it under some genre which it clearly isn’t. I have no problem in calling this work EROTICA, and having my name associated with it. It is #notartnude

#saysomething #ornothing