2/24/2010

lara, lara, lara...

 


I make no small secret of my heterosexual love affair with Lara Stone. If any of you follow my (VERY NSFW) tumblr +/-, you will notice that I post many a photo of Ms. Stone's fantastic boobs. I'm as straight as an arrow, but gee whiz, Lara Stone gets me all hot n' bothered.

That being said, Lara Stone said something recently that my left my girl boner as flaccid as a deflated balloon.

Lara Stone does not like working with female photographers.

From Jezebel:
"They seem to never be able to make up their minds about what they want to do - with the exception of Inez [van Lamsweerde] because she always knows what she's doing," Stone told Marc Jacobs in Interview.

Dutch photographer Inez van Lamsweerde, it is worth adding, works in a team with Vinoodh Matadin.
Stone continued, "But so many times it's like, ‘Oh, let's try this' and ‘Let's try that' and ‘Let's do this' and ‘Let's do that.' It's like, ‘For f—k's sake, woman!'"
 As a female photographer, this breaks my heart a little. And I think it's worth examining from a socialogical and personal perspective. I am going to be approaching this issue from a heteronormative paradigm, so keep in mind that the dynamics I am going to discuss may not necessarily relate to the GLBT population.

Firstly, men are socialized from a very early age to objectify women. This is not a matter up for debate, it's widely accepted as fact. Male photographers make their career out of objectifying women. They are paid to produce work from a gendered gaze in order to sell a product. In fashion photography this product can be a garment, or it in the case of porn, sexualization. Either way, the model's sense of humanity takes a backseat to the profitting subject. Because men are attracted to women, it's virtually impossible for them to be objective about their models' bodies. By nature, they are going to be subjective. It's this subjectivity allows men to direct models in ways that are most flattering for a typical heterosexual male. I've witnessed this dynamic at photoshoots on various occasions. It's easy for men to pose models because they don't view the model as a person - they view her as an object.

I hate to say this, and I won't name any names...but most male photographers I know are somewhat of a self-aggrandizing sexist pig who secretly (or not so secretly) wants to sleep with his models. This certainly isn't true of every single male photographer, of course, but seems to be an emerging theme among them.

Female photographers, perhaps, are more hesitant to objectify another woman, even professionally. We are more inclined to look at our models as professional women deserving of our basic respect. Much of my work involves nudity, but I always make a point to present my models as living, breathing people, regardless of how much clothes they are wearing.  It's hard to express sexuality in my photography without depersonalizing my models, but as a woman, I feel that I cannot create work in any other way.

The female experience teaches us to stay quiet, bow our heads, answer questions indirectly, and keep our feelings to ourselves lest we be labeled "hysterical". As such, many women (myself included) have a difficult time expressing ourselves in professional situations. This difficulty also contributes to the pay gap between men and women. Female photographers simply are not taught how to be assertive in ways that men are. And it all can be traced back to our childhood experiences of "boys are loud, girls are quiet". Men are taught from a younger age to be more direct and forceful, and this translate into "decisiveness" in the workplace.

Personally, I am awful at directing my models. This is probably my biggest hinderance in advancing my work forward. At shoots, I am awkward and confused and I have many ideas, just no way to express them. I know that my models become irritated as I struggle to quanitify my vision. So I certainly understand where Lara Stone is coming from. But the situation is more nuanced than she understands, and stems from a variety of unequalities that exist between men and women.

3 comments:

Le Sprite said...

In my oppinion, it's the job of the model to add creativity and inspiration to a shoot, not just stand there and look pretty.
If female photographers are viewed as having scattered, flaky direction (oh, us fickle females) one thing I've experienced with many male photographers (with exceptions of course) is they give little, to NO direction. They may know exactly what they want, but they expect you to do most of the work - usually just posing sexy and looking pretty.

In any case, I believe it's all about collaboration, not just posing and taking direction. Sometimes, a session operating on loose concepts and a bit of indecision, can end up turning into an AMAZING, memorable photoshoot that yields unique, beautiful results (read; you spontaneously wrapping me up with a curtain and some twine and shooting in our kitchen.)

It's in these moments that a true, artistic relationship is formed between the photographer and model. The model becomes a partner and muse, not just a piece of meat :P

I can understand getting frustrated working with someone who has NO idea what they're doing at all... but I also understand that it often takes a certain amount of experimentation and improvisation, to extract a creative idea. To give it a voice. Trying different approaches should be seen as a fun, productive experience, not annoying.

In this sense, I find the above comment from Ms. Stone to sound not only snobby, but downright lazy.

As a final note, I have worked with you many times, and personally think you are ANYTHING but awful at directing your models. Telling a model to take her shirt off and bend over backwards (literally), roll her eyes back into her head, and/or choke herself, seems like pretty hardcore direction to me....
Or at least if you don't have a concrete vision, it's a pretty direct way of finding it ^_^

love you girl

meagan said...

well some models prefer heavy direction, and maybe lara stone is one of them. but you're right: male photographers tend to expect female models to pose sexy. female photographers tend to view the model as a part in the sum of the whole image.

i didn't think about that, but you're right, it does seem a bit lazy! like perhaps she's unwilling to participate in the creative process. maybe it's different in the high fashion world...but i LOVE collaborating with my models and combining ideas to create something amazing.

well thanks <3 i feel like i suck at directing, but we all know i'm a perfectionist. you and i have done some great photos together.

Sarah said...

OMG YES.

I'm not the best photographer (and I work mainly in post, which is just fine by me), but my best shoots have been really intimate and spontaneous, a definite collaboration between me and the model. And not necessarily a straight female model I want to make look "hot", I'm more interested in a portrait that captures the model and their personality. Even shooting fashion and "pin-up", sexy work, I'm choosing a model I find interesting for other reasons than, like, their tits. This is just, frankly, why we need more awesome non-dude photographers to change the norm.

And can we talk about gear? Because I'm better at the tech aspects than the dealing-with-models part, and the shit I get when talking to male photographers (and salesmen, and repair shop guys, and...) is reprehensible. They sell shit to my partner, I ask questions and they answer to him, then I pull out my credit card to pay and they hand him the bag. Whee.