What can you say about a Sorority Girl who becaame a Stripper?
( Now that I have your attention - (Thanks for the tip, fernsy))
It's not what you're THINKIN
While you're doin whatcher doin
IT's watcher DOIN while
You're doin whatcher doin
Misheard (?) background music to porn movie "love scene"
in Psychology of Human Sexuality ! Oh !
University of Cincinnati - 1975
I've Been doing some thinking on "Knowing"
But it is plain to me that "Knowing"
and "Doing" are the Yin and Yang of Being
The "Me" of the "Mind" and Nouns
The "my self/Self/SELF" of the Spirit of "Verbs"
And the "I' pushed forward in time as not just
"I Am" but the
"I AM THAT I AM"
Reversing the Minds Abstracted Noun "Wader" (is me)
To the Spirit's analog memory (I AM) "Wading"
To the Beings "I Wade that I might Not Drown"
I change to that which I Am Not in order to remain that which I Am
is the Father of "Identity" with SELF
Knowing in a biblical sense
The "Soul Glue" and
The SELF glue
I'm a photographer. I've done time on cinematography, videography and computer imaging.My basic "self" captures images, creates symbols,and trades them for a living
Recently, I'm trying to convert to trading in linguistic imaging. still pushing symbals
My longest running "gig" as a photographer was to photograph Composites for College Sororities. Pretty young women. A Snapshot reminder of each Class and Year at the Sorority and marketable Images for their parents and Boyfriends.
The contract as a whole was to take an individual portrait from the shoulders (often covered with a "drape" , in "Grecian" style) up, of each young lady, and then mount each individual portrait, grouped in rows, on a large framed display board, artistically labeled with the Organization, the College and the Year.
- A Composite of facial Portraits of smiling, sophisticated, young women.
So how do I come to take that smiling image at the moment of peek image appeal and saleability?
My mind considered that question, off and on, for 15 years, while my spirit and experience did the actual image taking.
Of course the first step was in charming the sorority composite chairman into signing a contract that allowed me access to the subjects, - the young, beautiful ( as are all young people) female almost grown ups.
As an aside, I also did Fraternity composites, but only under either economic or social pressure ( being recommended by one of my sororities, or an available group of "pretty" rich boys ). Most Fraternities remind me too much that I spent the first 18 years of my life as a Gunnery Sergeant to younger brothers, Boy Scouts, Youth Group, etc. Animal Houses are fun to party with but nobody wants pictures of them. "Upper Crust" Fraternities are just an all around pain in the behind, with no sexual tension/ attraction to make it worth playing that particular social game ( I'm particular about whose ass I kiss, and in my day I must admit that some of the Snootier Sororities offered some fine ones, as well as good sales. - Fraternities, not so much)
Back to the Image Making.
A Composite portrait is as close as one can artistically come to a mug shot, outside of the old standard elementary "school portrait" ( Been there, done those). A mug shot is meant to be as Objective as possible. An emotionless record and cataloging of your facial characteristics so that you may be Identified by/with that image, in future reference. The next step up is the passport, Driver's license, Photo ID badge image- again, no emotion.
The step that divides "Mug" shots from "Portraiture" is that old standby "Say Cheese"
("Dit Fromage" gets a laugh among sorority sophisticates, but doesn't form the desired mouth shape- the laugh is often better) Portraiture tries to capture the personality within the skin. Even if it's just the wise ass smirk that is obviously the characteristic ( And surprisingly often "endearing") expression of the 8 year old play ground lunch money extortionist momentarily shuffled past a camera for a "School Picture".
So, how does one capture the essence of the Being "within the skin", ?
Why does the photographer trigger the recording of an instantaneous image, that may be totally at odds with the day to day "expression" of a Being, yet may capture so well her essence, that the image will become more "real" than the day to day face?
I would set up in a Sorority house with an 8 foot tall Backdrop of neutral grey,
a posing stool, a strobe flash behind the stool for back light, and a main and fill strobe for portrait lighting, set about 45 degrees to left and right of the stool, the fill half again as far away.
The strobes had reflective umbrellas so that the flash was not harsh and direct, and they were also equipped with modeling lights, to guage the effect before triggering the "Flash" .My Camera was a very imposing 70mm Beattie with 100 ft roll back, shooting a 21/4 x 31/4 negative. I would request that the composite chairman or such other sisters as were available be present at all times, to arrange the hair and the drapes as necessary.
An aside- The "Drapes" often seen in composites are supposed to mimic Grecian robes, but in fact are simply rectangles of cloth, usually velvet, with a "Cleavage Tuck" ( someone who knows can tell me what that is actually called) in the center, no back, and only velcro tape to hold them together around the shoulders. The young lady wearing one is topless beneath this sometimes inadequately small piece of modesty, since bra straps would spoil the effect.
Depending on the attitude of the subject/house, I've had young ladies appear with a retinue to walk them to the stool, so guarding against any "hint" of improper exposure of back or side of breast, I've also had young ladies walk up, sit down and start adjusting the drape as if they were in a women's locker room, and I was not there at all. In any case, it behooves the photographer to have been looking somewhere else when drapes slip off or are flapped immodestly to the side (Taking a picture would get you at minimum thrown out) - It is always good politics to have a "hairdresser" sister available to fix hair, adjust drapes, and generally chaperon.
The Drape, and the "Adjusting of the hair" do add a certain "intimacy" to the mix, which can be very helpful in drawing out some subjects. Further, almost all of the photographers i hired were women. "I " personally delighted in walking the Artist/Model line of "intimacy", but I've run into very few male contract school photographers who either will or can. Women photographers have a different sort of intimacy with both Male and Female subjects- and the good ones work it extraordinarily well.
So, the set is set. How does a professional Image Maker such as myself, then go about converting a healthy, lively, vivacious, or shy, retiring, awkward living Being into a series of Stilled Images, abstractions, from which she, her sorority sisters, her parents, or her boyfriend, will choose the graven images which will become her Icons among her worshipers, as well as simply her peers. The Icons, I might add, which I create by chemistry and sell at an enormous markup over their material cost, because of the "Spiritual Value" embodied within them. Symbols that truly evoke the Archetype are priceless. Not as a boast, but as a moment of true humility, I've had a letter from parents who lost their daughter, and they thanked me in a frighteningly heartfelt manner, for providing them with the only image they had that captured their daughter. Truly haunting. I sent them all her negatives.
Anyway, back to the philosophical. How does one abstract the "Eidetic" momentary "Flash" of a symbol that will be forever after "traded" in the world of Realty as the "essence" of a moving, growing, feeling, changing "Being", that even a Moving recording cannot capture, but can only be truly recalled by the Spirit/Experience memory of the one who experiences the Being?
The answer is always "inadequately"
So, here I am, ready to create an Icon - an image that will serve as a "symbol" representation of the The Meaning/ Identity/ Property/Value in Realty of the ever fluid BEING that is "within the skin" of my Subject in Reality. In other words, I will do my best to OBJECTIFY ( Latin- make into an Object) her so that her Image/Icon may be traded in the communion and commerce of our M.U.D.
If I hope to sell this objectification to her, her parents, or her boyfriend, I must endeavor to create either an "Idealized" use of her features to make her more attractive or endearing than she may actually be/appear to be in Reality. or I must catch a certain personal mannerism or expression; that fleeting smile that is only known to those who know her well, that hint of mischief that endears her to a doting father.
My standard sitting is 4 shots: knees together 45 degrees left, hands in lap, face to the camera, looking left, face to the camera looking right, Knees 45 degrees right, face to the camera, look left, look right, thank you, next---- Unless.
Unless I see something. Usually in the freshman and sophomores. Upper class Sorority Girls have the "Facial Pose" down so "hard" and Perfect, ( and usually well, - usually quite "attractive) that to try to alter it just confuses them. They look like what they look like. All the time. Not that they don't have personalities. Just that the sculpting of the sharing of those personalities is usually set. It's part of the reason they take Sorority training. Their rooms, and daddy's rooms,and boyfriends rooms, are already festooned with Trademark like Recognizable Icons.
Nervous girls are best. Or those "Country Cousins" and Athletes not yet (or perhaps ever) concerned with looking like "A Proper Young Lady" These are the Subjects who need to have a careful objectification. Both for Money, and for Art. I did it because I en JOY ed the process. The money came or didn't. The JOY was in sharing the Creation of a girl's self-image as a Woman.
Experience and Empathy. Having seen faces in motion and human expressions long and long, I understand the communication, the communion, that is contained in silent and subtle flow of movement. How fleeting, How they rise and flow and change, a heartbeat separating a look of laughter from a look of sorrow from a look of wisdom to a look of idiocy.
As an Artist, I seek to draw that from within my Subject, that I may make an Object, an Icon, A Symbol to trade in the Realty of properties and values. An Image that expresses a thing that perhaps she only expresses to her friends, her family, or herself. A new Icon, that she can use perhaps, as a shield, an introduction, a calling card, that will make strangers think, "I want to know her", or will make those who know and love her think, "This is her true Image, this is her true Self".
The best "Art" is unknowable to any except those who know the "SUBJECT" of the portrait. To those to whom the expressions blow fleetingly across a beloved daughter's face.
The "capture" of a frozen "Sorority Smile" and their daughter served as enticing beautiful "OBJECT" is not worth hanging above the Hearth of their Home.
But, the Art is to see each child/woman as a Daughter of flowing expression, some utterly unique and endearing, some frozen and aloof. The challenge is to KNOW that PERSON in the 5 to ten minutes of a sitting, to Learn and KNOW her well enough to capture her being, HER Self. It doesn't happen that often that one can completely "merge" photographer and SUBJECT to create such a moment of intimacy, but the aftereffect is close to having had sex. ( another reason I don't do fraternities). The reward is immediate with artistic satisfaction, but also "Good for Business", because these are the Portraits Loved ones will buy.
To walk into a Sorority House and see the rows of hanging composites might strike you as banal and boring, but the "Story" is in what is captured of each individual soul in each individual portrait.
I say that to you not as a rebuke or to be disagreeable, but only to point out the common unconsciousness of what is occurring "Beneath the Skin" of a posed "Lovely" in a picture.
I'm going to move horizontally here, rather than continue with the linear explication of the "Knowing" process in the taking of a portrait. I'm going to move to the opposite pole.
To enlarge on the Art of the Objectification of Souls, as Icons in Portraiture, it is useful to explore the Objectification of Bodies, as anonymous, soulless, impersonal platforms for and objects of Pleasure and Lust in Pornography. ( We shall leave Burlesque and The Theater for another time)