The news this week that Playboy has gone non-nude has been heralded as a victory for feminism, but I could not disagree more.
Playboy has been struggling ever since the birth of the Internet as millions (and then billions) of people suddenly had access to unlimited pornography for free in the privacy of their own homes. While other pornographic entrepreneurs made their fortune, the traditional incumbent providers such as Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler struggled to retain their relevance.
I had a shoot with Mia for my female equality project last night and we shot a couple of images towards the end for fun. I’m still evolving my black and white style, but really liking how these came out.
Lighting is a single Elinchrom head on a boom with an umbrella angled down toward Mia with a large black board just out of shot. Very little post-production here: monochrome conversion in Silver Efex Pro 2 and a few tweaks in Lightroom CC.
Earlier this year, I decided to kick-off my female equality project and recently started shooting it in earnest, so thought I’d share my experiences so far.
The initial reaction has been phenomenal, I had 120 people apply in little over 48 hours from all parts of the UK (and further afield). The stories and conversations I’ve had were both inspiring and, in some cases, quite upsetting — and it made me all the more adamant this was an important project to pursue.
The number of stories about rape, spousal abuse, cyber-bullying and depression shocked me, but there were others around activism and proactively wanting to take the message around the over-sexualisation of women out the wider world. Continue reading May – Project Launch→
I recently had the opportunity to shoot the fantastic Ifa Brand — a Belgian model over in the UK for a few days. Here are a few shots as a preview, but the entire set was published over at NIF Magazine:
I usually shoot within the studio, but I’d wanted to try shooting in more natural conditions and working with Ifa in her London apartment was the perfect opportunity. The vast majority of the shots were taking using my Fujifilm XT-1 @ f1.4 ISO1600 without any sort of flash.
At the end of the night, we took a few colourful shots within the wetroom using the Canon EOS7D with a strong direct flash from a 580EXII.
I’ve been shooting models for the best part of 7 years now and sharing my work more widely on social media for the last 2, and one of the most frustrating trends I’ve seen has been their attitudes toward the female form — while videos of murder were protected under “freedom of speech”, the female body was classified as “offensive content”. It upset me that what I saw as dysfunctional, conservative and (predominantly) American attitude to nudity was being forced upon billions of people worldwide by companies such as Facebook and Apple.
This bizarre hypocrisy got me thinking further about Western attitudes to nudity and the unhealthy relationship we have with it.
Why do social media platforms actively defend people’s rights to share horrific, violent images and videos of murder, animal cruelty and other violence, yet deem female nudity (including the artistic and the natural) as offensive?
Why are women both idolised and vilified for modelling? Why is there a prevalent attitude that a women’s own “self-worth” is inversely proportional to how many clothes she wears?
Does the glamour industry take advantage of women or is it another way for women to empower themselves? Are feminist movements that look to ban Page 3 and similar “lads mags” a well-intentioned attempt at stopping meaningless objectification of women or is it an idea taken too far? Indeed, do photographers such as myself do more harm than good?
These attitudes and “cultural norms” have a much more serious effect. If Western society can only see female nudity as sexualised, it accounts for the attitude that rape is often the fault of the victim due to what they wore (or don’t wear), how they must have been asking for it, or we leading the perpetrator on. Why are rape victims still being blamed for their misfortune?
What do I want to achieve?
I set about creating this photography project with the idea of photographing a wide-range of participants who are passionate about equality for women. This isn’t about forcing nudity down people’s throats, it is normalising female nudity so that Western society realises that we have a self-imposed view that all female nudity is sexual but men’s is not — and the dangerous and eroding effects this has on our culture more broadly.
We cannot teach young girls to be proud of their bodies and that women come in all shapes and sizes, only to teach them to hide it away to avoid becoming victimised, raped or harassed.
We cannot proselytize equality for the sexes only to vilify women who are confident enough to show their bodies and chose to wear what they want.
We cannot continue to allow large companies to force their myopic moral standpoints on one sex and not the other due to their misguided attitude that all female nudity is sexual.