Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Privacy & Public Intimacy

I have some pretty uncommon beliefs about privacy (imagine that!). When I was a teenager, there was a period during which I exchanged some pretty personal messages with a particular person across the internet. Those messages included some very explicit conversations. Later, when I was on the outs with that person, it came to my attention that she had allegedly (I never received confirmation, so it could have all been a ploy) passed those messages on to someone I knew in person, a mutual contact. My natural response was, aside from a feeling of betrayal, extreme embarrassment. But guess what. It didn't ruin my life. And once I got over the embarrassment, I realized that it didn't make a difference.

Imagine you've just brought someone over to meet your parents. Much to your chagrin, they start talking about your childhood, and threaten to bring out embarrassing photos of you as a child - the 'baby on a bearskin'. No matter how much you protest, the photos come out. You spend a few moments being embarrassed, and then you get over it and realize it's no big deal. Nobody is going to disown you, or fire you from your job, or stop talking to you, because they saw an embarrassing photo of you. So even though I agree that these types of situations are a breach of trust, the repercussions are really not as bad as we make them out to be. And all it would take is a slight (ok, maybe not slight) attitude adjustment (on a cultural scale) to make those repercussions effectively nonexistent.

In this day and age, technology is changing the way we view privacy drastically. I still think privacy is important for personal reasons, but we ought to get over the fear that our lives will end if somebody finds out we have an embarrassing habit. Of course, a lack of privacy can be abused by people (especially those in power), to destroy opponents. Privacy is the stone age method of preventing somebody from using information against you. It just might be the case that in the emerging digital world, we need to invent a new solution. Maybe if there was enough transparency, it would no longer be possible to use secrets to hurt people. After all, nobody can blackmail you over public knowledge, and I think a person would be much less likely to name and shame when they've got just as many skeletons hanging out of their own closet for all the world to see.

But of course, in the meantime, anyone who chooses to be a pioneer and embrace transparency is just setting themselves up as a target for a majority which is still clinging to privacy. Perhaps this is all idealism, but the point I made above still stands. And is particularly applicable to the subject of nude and other photos of a sexually compromising nature. Now, if you've made an agreement (whether explicit or understood) that certain photos aren't to be distributed among strangers, then the person(s) you're intimately sharing them with ought to honor that agreement. I'm not going to argue otherwise. But if, perchance, those photos do happen to get out, whether by a breach of trust, or a legitimate accident, you should know that it's really not a big deal. And perhaps that knowledge might make you just a little more open to the possibility of agreeing beforehand to share the wealth.

After all, chances are, the only people likely to see those photos are people looking for photos of that sort - people who like seeing those photos. They're not about to track you down and make fun of you or something ridiculous like that. They'd just as soon thank you! And if anyone does try bullying you over it, that's a perfect opportunity for you to stand up for yourself and be the bigger man (as it were). You know the bully does things that are just as embarrassing - but between the two of you, he's the one who's afraid to admit it, and take responsibility for it. Make a stand for honesty and personal responsibility, don't let someone make you feel bad for doing something you believe in. And maybe you didn't intend on sharing your escapades with the world wide web, but how does anyone knowing what you did change your resolve in doing it? You shouldn't base your actions on who you expect is going to find out - you should engage only in activities that you're prepared to defend, and then you should engage in them with confidence! The only thing that sneaking around accomplishes is giving you a reason to feel bad when you get found out. Living in fear and shame is not a good way to live.

Reacting to Sally Mann

You don't so much appreciate or interpret Sally Mann's photographs as you react to them. And the feelings, concepts, and emotions that Sally Mann evokes in her photographs are often uncomfortable ones. I believe this (apart from the whole 'naked children' hullabaloo, which is not entirely unrelated) is the reason many people are unnerved by her work. Yes, Sally Mann's work is undoubtedly disturbing. But it's also good. And the fact that it's so disturbing contributes to its level of 'goodness'.

Some people think art should only be beautiful, in a superficial sense. And while I'm partial to artistic explorations of the aesthetics of beauty, that's not the only thing art exists for. It exists to touch us in any number of ways - and not just positive, feel-good ways. Some people don't like 'dark' art. You might expect that I, as a horror fan and all that, am not unfriendly towards 'dark' art, and you would be right. I know that life is not all happiness, and I revel in the shadows. When I see the abyss reflected in art, I find myself relating to it, on some level. Artistic beauty is the heaven I strive towards - it's the fantasy I imagine in my head, the world I'd like to abide in. But the 'dark arts' are a reflection of the world that really exists, that I seem to be trapped in. And I find comfort in the fact that others recognize it as such, because there's nothing more irritating than somebody saying "don't worry, be happy" when so much sorrow surrounds you.

But the most fascinating aspect of Sally Mann's work is how much it reveals within the viewer: the interplay between the image - the real life moment in time it depicts - and the psychological concepts and emotions that we as viewers conjure up in the process of viewing it. Fans and critics alike testify that Sally Mann's photographs reveal uncomfortable truths, especially about childhood - truths that we are largely afraid to confront. But where we see images of death and violence and sexuality, I think a larger portion of that exists in the viewer's mind than it does in the moment depicted in the photograph. So that allegations about the ethics of Sally Mann's photography are largely misplaced. (There is also the argument about putting private moments out in public - but I am of the school of thought that believes that, provided those involved give their consent, there are no moments too intimate for exploration, even publicly, through art).

Take this image, "Jessie and the Deer":

I could probably do the same thing with any number of Sally Mann's images, but I think an examination of this image reveals what's going on in Mann's work. The first thing you notice about this image is how it makes you feel. And it probably makes you feel uncomfortable. A child's apparent happiness is contrasted with the stark reality of death. Mann's composition sells the image. Notice how the child's head, cocked to the side in a playful grin, mirrors the deer's head, hanging limply off the edge of the truck. This detail marries the two figures together, and the child becomes inextricably linked to the deer's corpse, and, by extension, death itself. Which forces us to acknowledge our own mortality, and - only slightly less morbid - the loss of our childhood innocence.

But most remarkable is the magic trick that Sally Mann has played on us. She has presented us with an image of a child and coated it in the symbolism of death. We fear for the child, and we reel at the tastelessness of the image. But strip it of all that symbolism and psychological weight and all we've got is a child living in the country, where activities like hunting (and wandering around naked) are probably just a mundane part of life for the child. She appears to be happy, after all. So why should we cry out against Sally for capturing these images, while thinking the child has somehow been abused or exploited in the process? It's not the individual child that has been put at risk (of death, and loss of innocence) - it is all of us, all the children in the world, and all the inner children hidden within us adults. It is the symbol of childhood, as well as life itself, that is being threatened in this image. And those are just concepts.

A very similar analysis could be made for The Alligator's Approach, or Hayhook, or The Terrible Picture, or any number of Sally's images. In fact, the entire concept is summed up nicely in the symbolism of the Candy Cigarette, one of Sally's more popular images. In it, we see a child apparently smoking a cigarette, and it scares us, but it's only candy. The abuse and neglect, the fear and death, the violence and sexuality, in these images - they are all candy cigarettes. In looking at them, we are reminded of the real terrors they represent, and we fear for the seemingly innocent children who are facing them. But those children are just living, like the rest of us. And even insofar as some of the terrors depicted might be real, or realistic, the subjects in the photos are in no more danger than we all are - and that, I think, is what truly scares us.

And I think it's rather short-sighted to say that Sally Mann shouldn't be taking images like these. These terrors won't go away if we don't think about them. But you do have the option of closing your eyes if you'd like not to be reminded. However, for the rest of us, who refuse to shut our eyes on the darker aspects of life, they serve as a study and a reminder - but not just that, as they are also beautiful images of [true] innocence standing up to overwhelming adversity, and great compositions from a purely artistic perspective to boot.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Nudism, Normality, and Sexuality

One possible motto for the nudist lifestyle is "normal, just naked" - the idea being that there is nothing "special" about nudism beyond the mundane fact of being without clothing. Which means, that when nudists get together, they are not so much "doing nudism" as they are doing what any normal clothed person does, except that they happen to be doing it naked - and that's what makes it nudism. The fact that they're naked doesn't mean that it's some kind of perverted sex orgy or something.

Now, there is some value in this view, but it is ultimately flawed because if naked was truly normal, then there would be little reason to prefer nudity over being clothed in any given situation, essentially marking the nudists - those who insist on being naked - as having some kind of odd, and perhaps unhealthy, fixation.

The truth is, there are great benefits to being naked - both the physical benefits of not being restricted by clothing, and also the psychological benefits that come largely through the sensation of being unclothed in space, free and unhindered, and released from the bondage of mainstream society. There are practical reasons for preferring either nudity or clothing for specific tasks - clothing keeps one warm while walking in freezing temperatures, yet is effectively useless when going swimming. However, all things being equal - and sometimes even when the deck is stacked - nudists by and large prefer to go nude whenever they can get away with it. And this is mainly because of the physical and psychological benefits nudity has, that are sometimes (to some people) worth sacrificing the practicality of wearing clothing for (e.g., you might have a little bit more protection wearing a layer of clothing while playing volleyball, but the risk of minor injury is not so great as to outweigh the simple pleasure of playing the game nude and unencumbered).

The one area where nudism is frequently stated to be not normal is in the realm of sexuality. And this is largely a forced designation. Nudism is no more sexually pure than anything you might do clothed. However, nudism is often misconstrued as being a sexual lifestyle. This is inaccurate, and this unfortunate designation hurts nudism, because sexual lifestyles are unfortunately shamed and regulated in ways that no other type of lifestyles are. Nudists can't afford to let themselves be seen as a sexual lifestyle. It would destroy nudism. The most obvious example of this is that kids would no longer be allowed to be part of the nudist lifestyle, and nudism would not then be family friendly, which is one of its primary virtues. Viewed as a sexual lifestyle, nudism would be little more than any of the other marginalized sexual lifestyles, and not only that, it would be forcibly changed to fit the guidelines of a sexual lifestyle to the point where it would no longer resemble nudism anymore.

So to avoid this, nudists go far out of their way to disassociate themselves with the sexual lifestyles. Which is a defensible reaction. But I don't speak from the public mindset, I speak from a more evolved position. I understand nudism intimately, and I'm sophisticated enough to understand the difference between nudism and sexuality without having to keep them in opposite hands at all times. I'm looking forward into the future, the way the nudist lifestyle should be lived in an ideal sex-positive world, not in today's twisted sex-negative society.

And in this ideal world, nudism's approach towards sex would be the same as its approach toward everything else - normal. And this is the approach that I personally hold, though I may choose to modify the way I represent my views based on practical concerns about how this (broken) world currently runs. But in my head, in my ideal world, I don't see a problem with engaging in sexual lifestyles concurrently with my nudism. Because I'm smart enough to understand that the presence of sex during nudism doesn't make all nudism about sex. This is how I can consider myself to be both a nudist and an exhibitionist. It's because, though I enjoy exhibitionism, not every time I get nude is for reasons of getting an exhibitionist thrill. It's just like how, a nudist might get nude, but not always for nudism. If a nudist takes off his clothes to have sex with his girlfriend, he's not engaging in nudism, even though he's nude. The fact that I have an interest in exhibitionism doesn't mean that every time I'm naked in front of people it's because I'm trying to get a sexual thrill out of it.

Why do nudists get naked? Because it's relaxing. Because it's more comfortable than wearing clothes. Because it's cooler when the temperature's warm. Why do exhibitionists or sex freaks in general get naked? Because it's arousing. Because when they're naked they feel exposed, and they think about sex. Why do I get naked? For the first reasons or the second? The answer is, both, at different times (and sometimes, yes, even at the same time). Let me give you a live example:

I've been sitting here at my computer for the past few hours. I'm not wearing a stitch of clothing, and I haven't since I sat down hours ago. I took my clothes off before I sat down after coming from dinner. I was only wearing clothes during dinner because that's what is socially acceptable - I would have preferred to have been nude. But why did I take my clothes off? Was it for sexual reasons, or nudist reasons? It was for nudist reasons. I just wanted to be comfortable, and I took them off because I spend most of my time in my room naked. Because it's comfortable, and because I am a nudist.

Now, during the course of the few hours I've been sitting at my computer, let's say that at one point I get distracted and start looking at some porn (unintentionally, I swear :p). Naturally, I am aroused. Suddenly, I become conscious of my naked condition not simply as being free from the restriction of clothes, but also as being exposed, and this turns me on. At this point, I am not acting as a nudist, I am acting in a sexual manner. Eventually, I finish looking at porn, and I go back to doing whatever other nonsexual things I was doing at the computer. My arousal subsides, and my thoughts of sex vanish. I am once again a nudist, sitting at my computer naked because it's more comfortable that way.

Does my session of looking at porn change the whole period of sitting at my computer from being a nudist activity to a sexual activity? No. I was engaged in sexual activity while I was looking at porn, yet I was engaged in nudist activity during the other periods when I was not doing anything sexual in nature. The mere presence of that sexual activity does not change the nature of the rest of my nudist activity, nor does it change my justification for being naked during my nudist activity. The reason I was nude during my nudist activity is not because I intended to engage in sexual activity and was getting prepared for it. I was naked for purely nudist reasons.

In fact, in a similar case, my state of undress may be unrelated to my sexual activity. Were I clothed during the whole period of sitting at my computer, then during the period where I looked at porn, I might not have the urge to take off my clothes for sexual reasons. I might enjoy myself sexually without taking my clothes off. In yet another case, closer in detail to the first, I might have been naked during the sexual activity, but I might not have been conscious of my nudity as a sexual thing during that period. In that case, I may be engaged in sexual activity, yet the reason for my nudity would be the same nonsexual, nudist reasons that I had for being nude during the period when I was engaged in nonsexual activities. Indeed, in that case, I would be simultaneously engaged in a nudist activity and a sexual activity.

Nudists don't want you to know this, but it's possible to have sex while engaging in nudism. The point that too many people pass up, though, is the fact that even if one does have sex while engaging in nudism, this does not indicate that nudism itself is a sexual activity, anymore than being clothed is a sexual activity because you happened to watch porn once while you were fully dressed.

Unfortunately, the way the world is, nudists have to be extra careful to unnaturally extricate their sexual urges and activities from nudism, for the sake of their image. For a person like me, who believes that life is by and large a sensual - and in some sense, sexual - experience, it can be frustrating to have to pay lip service to this asexual model. Know that I am willing to do so, because I understand the reasons for it - and more importantly, the repercussions for not doing it - but understand that my enlightened views are what allow me to be a highly sexual creature otherwise while not, in my mind, compromising my own personal dedication to nudism.

P.S. You might think the fact that I (and others) bring the topics of sex and nudism together frequently reveals that there is some kind of connection between them. The reason I bring them up often is because I am both a nudist, and I am interested in sex. So I enjoy talking about them. But the reason the two often get talked about together is precisely because they are frequently mistaken to be connected. People love to talk about sex, and to many people, groups of naked people make them think about sex. So there you have the "connection". Tons of people speculating that nudism is sexual, and tons of nudists proclaiming just the opposite. As soon as we all grow up and stop making such a big fuss about whether or not nudism has anything to do with sexuality, then I'll no longer have a reason to talk about them in the same breath, either. I'm telling you right now, it shouldn't be that important. (But until we get a grip on our collective social sexual dysfunction, I fear that it will be).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The two main pitfalls of amateur pornography

As an exhibitionist myself, I have a hard time saying this, but from what I see, the two main pitfalls of amateur pornography (including solo exhibitionists) appear to result from the desire to exhibit oneself overcoming any and all considerations for taste or aesthetics.

The first of the two pitfalls on my mind is the belief that people want to see lots of closeups of genitals. I'm willing to believe this is a matter of taste, but if you ask me, the genitals aren't usually the prettiest parts of a person's body. Yes, they carry a strong sexual charge, and in the right context, with appropriate consideration, they can be a potent and even central element of an erotic portrait. But, though it might be exciting to put your private parts out there on display for all the world to see (believe me, I understand - though I think in a saner world, less censorship of those parts in general would reduce the arbitrary thrill of exposing them), it's usually not something a lot of people enjoy looking at.

Again, I'm not saying genitals have no place in an erotic portrait. I'm just saying that an erotic portrait is far more interesting to look at than an anatomical closeup of some stranger's private parts.

The second of the two pitfalls is not unrelated to the first, and it deals with the single-minded exhibitionist's complete disregard for the principle of scaled beauty. That is to say, the fact that not everyone is equally attractive. Some people are prettier than others. A hot girl might be able to get away with posting a bunch of pictures of her snatch, but how many people are interested in seeing a fat man's cock from dozens of angles? Again, maybe it's a matter of taste, but if you're not especially attractive, the chance that people are going to want to look at you drops significantly.

I know, it sounds kinda harsh. But that's the truth about beauty. If you don't have it, it doesn't mean you're a bad person, just that you should try to find something else you're good at, and leave it to the pretty people to cover the modeling gigs. And I know, as an exhibitionist myself, I understand that it's not entirely fair to say that you can't enjoy the thrills of exhibitionism if you're not lucky enough to be attractive. I don't exactly know what to tell ya. I'm not gonna say "give it up", because if I hadn't gone out on a limb years ago, I wouldn't be where I am today. But then, exhibitionist though I am, my goal was never simply to get my jollies from flashing my naughty bits in front of (expecting) strangers, I actually had a passion for erotic pictures. And A desire to make good ones. Getting an exhibitionist thrill out of practicing my craft was merely a job perk that provided some extra motivation to continue.

I'm tempted to say that, even the ugliest subject can make a few adjustments to improve a portrait. In that case it comes down to how much effort you're putting into it. If you're snapping a shot just to get it up there to reap the illicit thrill of shocking (and possibly disgusting) others, well, that tends to show. On the other hand, you might take the time to take a shot that looks better, or even weaves some interesting elements in, perhaps even approaching the realm of art. Of course, it takes some creativity and experience, but you might as well give it a shot. After all, if you can make a good portrait that people will actually like (and not only because it's dirty), that you can still get an exhibitionist thrill off of, not only is it likely to be an even bigger hit, but then you can be a lot more proud (instead of ashamed) of it later on down the line!

Just so we're clear, I have no interest in censoring whatever it is you'd like to express yourself with. I'm merely encouraging you to reach down and pull out your greater potential. I encourage everyone to experiment, and trial and error inevitably leads to a number of misses - by all means, not everything you produce will be a gem. But if you push yourself for better results, the average quality of work available overall will improve. And who knows what you might be able to achieve! :-)

The Loss of Sexual Innocence

I am a fan of David Hamilton's photography. His artistic focus encompasses the sensual feminine beauty of young girls on (or more likely trailing) the cusp of puberty. Sexual tastes vary, but there is a long and rich history of men - sometimes even rather old men - experiencing (or maintaining) an instinctual desire for young girls who are only just barely biologically equipped for parenthood. And yet, our modern politically correct consciousness tends to regard this attraction as something to be feared and repressed. I have observed, on multiple occasions, ignorant individuals describing David Hamilton's beautiful photography as trash that ought not to have been created - because it encourages that ages-old attraction between men and girls (who are no more children than they are women).

But what is the reason for this reaction? In truth, it is a highly complex sociological issue, worthy of much research, for those whom the subject interests. As I see it, it is the disastrous result of a lethal mixture of two incompatible chemical compounds. One being our approach towards sex, and the other, our conception of childhood. In my mind, children are often not as innocent as we credit them for, and neither is sex as destructive. But where the issue becomes complicated is not the artificial combination of these two factors, but their natural convergence - i.e., at puberty, where the child transforms into a sexual being. What I see the problem being, is that our legitimate fears of child rape are drifting to cover (and stain) legitimate acts of healthy sexuality - for the sake of being better safe than sorry.

Now if it were a simple case of choosing between safe and sorry, safe would be preferable to sorry. But is safe really safe? Or are we still sorry? What do we lose in adopting an overprotective stance? Whose growth are we stunting, and whose mental health are we tampering with? Think about our approach towards sex. Is it healthy? Does teaching guilt and shame for the sake of repressing sexual urges that might be dangerous accomplish anything worthwhile? Or does it sabotage the sexuality of healthy individuals, while exacerbating the antisocial impulses of the few who are dangerous?

No amount of sexual repression will eliminate sex crime, and I'm not even convinced that it reduces them. If somebody wants to play with fire badly enough, they're going to find some matches. Wouldn't it be better to teach that person how to wield fire safely, than to leave them fumbling in the dark? And after all, fire can be immensely beneficial to us. That it can be used toward destructive ends is no reason to discourage its responsible usage.

This is what I mean when I say that we've lost our sexual innocence: we've lost our ability to see sex for its positive aspects, and we've retrained ourselves to assume everything that can go wrong with sex. We view attraction as insult, fantasy as deviance, desire as unavoidable impulse, imagery as objectification, beauty as discrimination, and sex as obscene. And we're teaching our young these same twisted principles. We're essentially raping their sexual innocence by imposing our morbid, cynical views of sexuality on them.

That a person can look at a beautiful image of a pretty girl - like many of David Hamilton's photographs - and feel disgust is alarming. That such a person is incapable of avoiding the impulse to impose his/her views of deviant sexuality and predatory attraction onto the image, and thereby judging harshly anyone involved in creating the image, as well as anyone who willingly views the image, is to me evidence of a great social evil that has sunk into the hearts of individual citizens. Hamilton himself addressed this issue, but in doing so he condemned pornography, when it is the diseased attitude we have towards pornography (and everything sexual) that the evil originates from. That people call his photography pornography in order to denounce it demonstrates that it is not pornography that is the problem, but the way that sex (no matter where or how it is viewed - or even imagined) makes these people feel - in a word, sick, when they should be feeling elated.

How far has this evil spread? Can you even look at a picture of a naked child - something decidedly nonsexual in nature - and not get an ill feeling in the pit of your stomach? Does your mind then run toward thoughts of evil, faceless predators exploiting, raping, even murdering innocence? Is that healthy? Forget about what could happen in an extremely unlikely scenario. The damage has already been done - and it's inside your own head.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Planning A Slumber Party (Massacre) - Part 7: The Morning After

Start with Part 1: Invitation

Finally, we come to the conclusion of Slumber Party Massacre. This shot wraps up the story - the killer is in custody, but it's too late for the poor girls. I shot this last of the entire series, in March, and it was actually a last minute idea. After shooting the slumber party itself, and coming to the end of the project, I felt it needed a conclusion. And so this shot was born. I had to fish out the police cap from some boxes of old Halloween costumes way back in the crawl space of the attic. It came with a uniform, but it was a costume for a 6 year old, so there was no way I'd be able to fit into it. So I doubled up my cheerleader spankies, since they were a nice 'police blue' color, and did a bit of a 'sexy cop' thing - which was appropriate, given the nature of my photography.

Here you see an alternate version of the shot. I moved a couple of the bodies around between some of the shots, but the significant difference here is that the killer is still hard. Looking back, you'll notice that the killer is hard in every single shot. After all, he's a sex-crazed maniac. I took that to be one of his trademarks - that he'd be interminably hard even in the most unexpected situations. But then, I thought that it would make much more sense if the killer was finally soft, after not only finishing his job, but having come to an unfortunate end. The drooping softy seems to mirror the killer's bowed head, reflecting his defeat at having been caught in the end.

And here he succumbs to the cop's personal brand of 'justice':

When I started the original Slumber Party, I was excited because it was the most elaborate shot I'd done, requiring hours of preparation time to change hair and wardrobe, and set up the clones - and it was the first time I'd ever done four clones! This final shot of the Slumber Party Massacre ups the ante with five clones, but the whole project itself, spanning seven themed shots (not including alternates and outtakes), and months of planning and execution, is by far the most elaborate photography project I've helmed so far. It's been fun, and lots of work, and I'm excited to finally be able to share the results with the world.

Fun trivia: Here's your last unexpected outtake! I took this shot at the same time as the shots for The Morning After.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Planning A Slumber Party (Massacre) - Part 6: Slumber Party Massacre

Start with Part 1: Invitation

The Slumber Party Massacre project originally grew from the simple idea of doing a sequel to my Slumber Party clone shot, which I had a lot of fun with, and was received well. A number of weeks or months after I had taken that shot, I started thinking about all the outfits I had used, and the different sorts of pajamas I could feature in a second slumber party shot. So I pitched the idea to my Idea Consultant, and we brainstormed. First we decided on moving the slumber party into the living room, for variety, and then the subject of watching a horror movie came up - a great activity for a sleepover! It just so happens that I had recently watched The Slumber Party Massacre (classic slasher canon, highly recommended, and to which this entire project is dedicated), and so we came upon the inspired idea of adding a previous character from my photography to the slumber party to liven up the shot.

Alternate shot

The easiest outfit was the airhead's, who is nothing but a stripped and molested corpse. After that, there's the killer, wearing nothing but a ski mask and a hard-on. Then we have the athlete, who is decked out in a totally cute pink nightshirt. That nightshirt was one of the original outfits that inspired this project. I also wanted to have one girl in a fluffy pink robe and slippers - this turned out to be the perfect outfit for the beauty queen, who wore a lighter robe for the first slumber party. Finding just the right robe and slippers combo turned out to be a massive challenge, but with help from my Wardrobe Assistant, we found just what I had been looking for at the last minute. Though the slippers turned out to actually be fluffy flip flops, they were too cute to pass up.

Alternate shot - the killer is spotted!

The one other outfit I was determined to use was a bath towel. What's sexier than a girl straight from the shower, wearing only a towel, and presumably nothing underneath? It certainly fits the style of the sex pot, who likes to wear as little as possible. After all, she lounged around in just her underwear at the last slumber party. One other idea I had for her was to put her in some sexy lingerie. The other girls may be a tad too innocent for that, but I wouldn't put it past the sex pot. But this time, the towel won out. Maybe I'll save that idea for the next shot (which is going to have to be a prequel!).

Just for fun - smile for the camera!

Now let's go behind the scenes of the shoot. Credit goes to my assistant, Willow, for recording the following videos. Watch as I transform into each of the characters for the shoot.

First, we have the sex pot, straight from the shower:

Then the beauty queen, comfy in her pink robe:

Followed by the airhead, whose role in the shot is simply to lie on the floor naked, playing dead, with her feet sticking out of the shadows:

Now I change into the athlete's cute nightshirt, and then strike some poses:

All that's left now is the killer. Watch as my fluffer enthusiastically does her job while I get into character:

And now, properly prepared, he gets into position:

And our final footage, as the killer awkwardly tries to control the camera from just outside its range...

Fun(?) trivia: The first time I planned this shoot, it fell depressingly through, and I had to reschedule for a couple weeks later. Nevertheless, I did get one [out-of-character] setup shot from that trumped up shoot - you've seen it on my photostream here! I love its candid quality.

And now here's one last treat for you: a setup shot from the second night, when I actually got the shots I needed. Usually, when I do a clone shot, I'll do a preliminary run, where I take a shot with me in each of the spots one of my clones will occupy - real quick, and out of costume - just to make sure the positioning will work out. I put those shots together for this neat out-of-character clone shot!

Continue to Part 7: The Morning After

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Planning A Slumber Party (Massacre) - Part 5: Smoking In The Boys' Room

Start with Part 1: Invitation

This was the very first shot I attempted (and completed) in the SPM series, all the way back in January. During the first Slumber Party, the sex pot's erotic proclivities were introduced, but here we get to see them in action. Presumably, she has snuck out of class to engage in some more stimulating lessons in a stall of the nearest boys' room. While I ideally would have loved to have shot this in an actual public restroom (pretty much impossible for me), this toilet turned out to be about as good a substitute as I could want. The important thing is that I was able to put the killer just on the other side of the stall wall, listening in on the action intently.

As for the other two clones, the naughty schoolgirl and her boy toy, getting them into position was a real challenge. Firstly, it's difficult to figure out where and how to stand in relation to the other clone, when the other clone isn't standing there at the same time; and secondly, my photoshopping skills are not so great, so I wanted to minimize the amount of overlap or direct contact between the clones, while trying to make it not look obvious. And after all, the closer the two clones could get, the hotter the resulting image would be. In the end, I think I managed to do a pretty decent job despite my concerns. Take a look at these other shots I got:

I like the feeling of anticipation in this first shot.

In these two shots (above and below), you see some really convincing contact between the girl's hand and the boy's cock. I was really excited at how these came out.

Now you've got the girl on her knees, ready for action. I think these two shots are not quite as good as the one I chose for the main shot, shown up at the top of this post.

Fun trivia: In that top shot, if you look at the boy, you can see that he's not looking at the girl (like he should be), but straight ahead, presumably at the wall of the stall. Instead of thinking about the clone when I took that shot, I made the mistake of staring at my reflection in a mirror that's actually hanging right there on that wall, out of sight of the camera. Oops!

More fun trivia: This photo, which I like a lot, and turned out to be rather popular, was an outtake from the same shoot that produced the above shots. I went back a few days later and recorded a short video of me fooling around with a similar theme, but swapping the innocent flip flops for a pair of sultry heels (at the suggestion of my Wardrobe Assistant):

Continue to Part 6: Slumber Party Massacre.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Planning A Slumber Party (Massacre) - Part 4: Dressing For Dinner

Start with Part 1: Invitation

The beauty queen's shot has the most alternates in this series, due to the difficulties I had to face which changed my vision for it. Initially, I was planning to take this shot in the room I ended up using for the airhead, but when I decided to bring the cheerleader indoors, I had to find a new location for the beauty queen. I had to improvise, because I already had the shot planned in my head, and I was counting on the mirror in that room, and the proper angles. Ultimately, I think the room I used was a better match, as it has more of a traditional 'bedroom' feeling, which suits the beauty queen changing her clothes - and I was happy for the opportunity to stick the killer in the closet (hiding in the closet, how iconic!). But the room was much more cramped, and it didn't have a large mirror. The original plan for the shot was to have the beauty queen holding up a dress in front of her body, while looking at herself in the mirror. The camera would be positioned behind her so that you could see her both from the front (through the mirror) with the dress, and also from the back, where you could see her underwear.

Basically, like this:

There were two problems. First, the mirror is pretty small, so it doesn't make much of an impression. But more importantly, it just didn't seem right to put the killer directly in the beauty queen's line of sight. So I ultimately decided against the series of shots I took with this setup. Here are the rest:

I shot these with the camera actually pointing into a smaller on-the-wall mirror, in order to get just a little bit more distance from the action, to improve the framing (a trick I like to sometimes use in really cramped spaces) - and that's what the odd foreground object on the left frame of the images is.

That's also why, in these behind-the-scenes videos, the room looks reversed (that's the way it actually is, the photos are all mirror-images). In the first one, I'm testing out the positions and some of the poses before going ahead and starting the shoot.

In the next video, you can actually see me controlling the camera by remote to take some of the shots from the second series. For that series, I decided to throw out the idea of using the mirror in the shot, and just put the beauty queen next to her wardrobe, facing away from where the killer would be hiding (and towards the camera). Since I already had the dress on, I decided to shoot while taking it off, with the expectation of just putting the shots in reverse to make it look like I was putting on the dress (although, in hindsight, it doesn't really matter whether the beauty queen was getting dressed or undressed).

Here are the rest of the shots from that series, omitting the second one which I chose for the main shot, featured above (can you recognize the poses from the video? ^^):

In this last video, you can see me playing the part of the killer, getting a little bit too familiar with the beauty queen's wardrobe. If you look closely, you can see my camera set up on the dresser, reflected in the edge of the mirror.

I also took some shots of the killer, just for fun, snooping around the beauty queen's bedroom before finally picking out his hiding spot behind the clothes and in the closet.

Fun trivia: By now, you might have guessed that the 'project' I mentioned in this outtake was none other than the Slumber Party Massacre!

Continue to Part 5: Smoking In The Boys' Room.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Planning A Slumber Party (Massacre) - Part 3: Swim Meet

Start with Part 1: Invitation

In this shot, you can see the athlete peeling off her swimsuit, presumably after a swim meet, in what is supposed to be a locker room, as the killer-to-be peers around the corner. Of course, it's actually a garage, because that's the closest I could get, since I couldn't imagine being able to get permission to shoot the kind of thing I was going to shoot in a real locker room! You'll notice that this is a theme of this series (as well as my photography in general) - making do with what I have, in lieu of what I really want. After all, if I could have my way, I'd have cast real girls in the roles of the slumber party attendants.

It was more or less decided that I would use the garage for this shot, since I was looking for a nice variety in the locations (as well as the wardrobe) for the different shots in the series, so they didn't all look the same. Earlier ideas for the athlete's shot was to have her working on a bike, presumably wearing some sort of exercise or workout clothes. Though at the time, I wasn't sure I'd be able to get my hands on a cheerleader uniform, which meant the airhead would have to be wearing something similar - workout clothes. So when I came across the idea of having one girl in a swimsuit, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. It would both be sexy, and provide a nice departure from the other girls' outfits. Finding the suit was tricky, but my Wardrobe Assistant pulled through (swimmingly ;-) at the last minute.

One thing I can say for this shot is that it was very cold. I took this back in January, and while not as cold as the outdoors, it was very chilly in that garage. What's worse, I was soaking wet! Of course, I had to be wet, for the shot. I had squeezed into the swimsuit and then hopped in the shower real quick, before rushing down to the garage (dripping water everywhere), to get the shots I needed (I had already set the camera up). But, in the end, it turned out to be a lot of fun peeling out of that wet swimsuit. Sexy fun, that is. Here's a video I recorded separately from the same day:

The alternate shots I have are pretty straightforward, as they depict a linear series in which the athlete successively gets closer and closer to being naked, with the chosen shot above being the middle shot in the series. I probably like the last one the best, but it doesn't really show off the swimsuit I was so determined to get!

Fun trivia: You might remember this shot, uploaded in January. It's an outtake from this shoot.

Continue to Part 4: Dressing For Dinner.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Planning A Slumber Party (Massacre) - Part 2: Cheer Practice

Start with Part 1: Invitation

After I had settled on the idea of shooting a Slumber Party Massacre (more on that later in the week), I was discussing with my Idea Consultant the possibility of doing some supporting shots in addition to the slumber party itself. The first, and most obvious, idea was to do a different shot depicting each of the girls' gruesome deaths. But, as fun as that would have been, I am not a horror photographer, but an erotic photographer, and I thought it would be a better match to my style to do a series of shots leading up to the slumber party in which the killer-to-be is seen spying on each of the girls in their natural habitats. After all, as a big fan of horror movies, I frequently see the equation balanced in favor of violence over sex, when I would rather see more sex and less violence. So if I was going to make my own Slumber Party Massacre, I figured I'd make it as sexy as possible!

So in this shot you see the airhead in her cheerleader uniform, practicing her moves in front of the mirror, while the killer surreptitiously peeks in through the open door. My original idea for this shot was to take it outside, since I imagine cheerleaders probably do a lot of practicing outdoors, on the field. I was going to put the killer peeking out from behind a thick tree. But it was still pretty cold at that time of year (though I shot this in March), and more importantly, I didn't think I could get away with walking around outdoors while naked, erect, and wearing a ski mask, in broad daylight. x_x But this alternate location worked out pretty well - the mirror is certainly a useful detail. After all, dancers of various kinds practice in front of mirrors all the time, right?

Getting the cheerleader uniform wasn't all that difficult in the end, but it involved a lot of deliberation, since I didn't want to spend a lot of money on it. I (unfortunately) am not real close with the local cheerleading squad, and my Wardrobe Assistant informed me that she couldn't find any old, used uniforms anywhere. So I ended up breaking down and ordering a brand new uniform online, as cheap as I could find it, with just the basic parts I needed. Nevertheless, I was very excited about getting that uniform - it's so cute! It makes me want to try out for a cheer squad. I may have gone a little overboard in taking pictures of me in it, so I kind of feel like, by now, the whole 'cheerleader in front of a mirror' thing has been done to death, considering all the outtakes from this shoot I uploaded in the middle of March. But there are a few more alternate shots I'd like to show you.

I initially wanted to use a shot where my spankies were showing, for obvious reasons - like this one:

Or this one, where the view is implied rather than explicit:

But ultimately I decided that I couldn't pass up my 'sexy' modification of the uniform, which I achieved by rolling up my skirt till it hung above mid-thigh, rolling up my shell to expose a generous portion of my midriff, and removing my spankies. =3

Fun trivia: If you look closely in some of these shots, you can see that one of my lower hair ties has disappeared. It fell off while I was jumping around and I didn't even notice it until I saw it lying on the ground!

And speaking of fun, here are two silly videos I recorded of me jumping about in my cheerleader uniform:

Continue to Part 3: Swim Meet

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Planning A Slumber Party (Massacre) - Part 1: Invitation

Day 1 of the Slumber Party Massacre series starts late at night on Sunday - possibly even after midnight, into the early hours of Monday. The purpose of Invitation is to set up the story that is about to unfold. You see a suspiciously masked figure - identified as a sexual predator by his otherwise lack of clothing, and the fact that he is pleasuring himself while digging through somebody's trash. He seems to have happened upon a discarded invitation, which is described to the audience as an invitation to the girls' slumber party - the same girls that you saw having a slumber party months ago in this photograph. So you have the slumber party to look forward to at the end of the week, but you're also curious (and concerned) at how the masked man is going to become involved.

The idea for this shot came late in the series, when I decided that it would be nice to have an introduction before getting into the meat of the story. This shot is interesting in that the only character present is the masked man (who is to become the killer) - who turns out to be the only character who is present in every shot in the series. The basic idea for the shot came out of looking at the invitation you see here. It was actually a discarded Valentine's Day card that I bought specifically for the heart-shaped lollipops that came with it - which I used in my Lolita series. Rather than immediately throw out the card, I knew I'd be able to find a use for it. Then I thought, if these girls are having a slumber party, they might send out invitations. And the idea of having the killer find it in one of the girls' trash followed from that.

It was still February when I took this shot - and it's an outdoors shot - so it was pretty cold. The night I took it, I thought it was the perfect opportunity, because the temperature was mild during the day, and I just happened to have a buildup of trash which I knew would make the shot look better. So I went for it, but it was really windy that night, and the wind ended up making it bitter cold. So much so, that when I had got the camera set up and was ready to throw off the warm robe I was wearing and take the shot, I found it impossible to get myself hard - which is a trademark of the character, and an integral detail of the shot. I was dismayed, but I had everything set up, and I knew I had to pull through. So my makeshift solution was to run inside and pull up some porn on my computer (naked girls kissing). As soon as I was ready, I rushed outside and took a few quick shots before the cold defeated my enthusiasm.

I didn't have a lot of time to get the shot perfect, but under my constraints, I think the result is effective. I have only one other decent alternate shot, which you can see here:

Fun trivia: If you look closely at this picture, you can tell that my toes are still painted red in celebration of Valentine's Day.

Continue to Part 2: Cheer Practice.