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Friday, 16 May 2008

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I guess there are some good shots in there, but I can't be sure as the presentation got in the way. I'm using a high speed connection, but it took so long to load I thought it was broken - and when it did load, well, too clever by half. It worked reasonably well, but the presentation was just distracting. I confess I gave up after a few images.

It's a shame that so many photo sites give the impression of being more concerned about the presentation than the content. At their worst (and this site is not the worst I've seen) the photos simply appear to be decoration for some clever programming.

Cheers,

Colin

Colin,
That's funny--I have DSL, and had absolutely no problem with the website. The pictures loaded as fast as I wanted to click.

Is it possible it's bandwidth, as lots of TOP readers go to the site? If so maybe the fix is just to wait a while and try again.

Mike J.

It was exceptionally slow to load, but when it says not safe for work you give it some extra time right? Some really nice ones in there. I don't know what is added by calling them unretouched. Is that better? Were they monochrome models? Were they 2d? Some of the shots are quite charming. Would they be less so if extensively worked? No.

"I don't know what is added by calling them unretouched."

It means they were unretouched. Don't you know what retouching means?

Mike J.

Re: "Don't you know what retouching means?" Yes I know what retouching means. I think what I'm asking is fairly clear in the comment. Would one of the charming nudes in this set be less charming if retouched or worked? I don't think so that's all. Not a particularly controversial or novel obsevation I wouldn't have thought. Maybe translation from Australian not totally working here?

Very nice work,

Loaded fairly quick for me and like the sparse look of the site. (Template I'd guess)

His wife is good too. Her nick name should be Mary Ellen Mann ;-)

That's a compliment not a slight.

Mike J - you may be right, your many readers killed the site! Tried again and response was better, but still find the presentation a distraction.

While I confess I'm not a fan of what I could cruelly call "mug shot photography" I can see the point - "honest" images of women as they really are. If there is a suggestion of glamour, sensuality, coyness etc. in the image it is what the model has brought to the picture, not something enhanced or contrived by the photographer ... which I guess is why he makes the point of 'unretouched' .

Cheers,

Colin

"which I guess is why he makes the point of 'unretouched'."

No, that was me who said that, not him.* Just pointing out the contrast from the Pascal Dangin article from a couple of days ago.

Mike J.

*Although of course I checked it with him first to make sure it was true.

Love this man's work. I thought it was beautiful.

Kirk

I hope this doesn't sound snide, but what, in your opinion, makes these photos exceptional? Is it because they're of nude women, because they're in black and white, because they're shot only on film, because there's a stylistic consistency, because there are so many of them, because the women look so comfortable, or "all of the above?" Personally, I most admire the fact that they're shot on film. It's so much easier these days to go with the flow, merge with the crowd, and shoot digital.

Great work. It's such a relief to see photographs where natural beauty shines through. I really love the 12 shot contact sheet reproduced in the main article.

I was beginning to think that the photography was not outstanding until I realised how well it suits the natural poses.
What a pity some of the women have "retouched" themselves with piercings & tatoos.

Cheers, Robin

"[T]he tension between the concepts of 'portraits' and 'nudes' in flattering but unretouched photographs of real women"?

What tension? The nude portrait is a time-honored (and occasionally abused) modus photographicus. Done it myself many times. Unless you mean you can't be nude and be in a portrait, which I don't think has applied since Stieglitz photographed Georgia O'Keeffe.

As to "real women," since I've photographed some of the women in the series, and recognize others, it should be noted that many he has photographed are serious ("professional?") artistic nude models. Which doesn't diminish their real-ness, certainly, but the implication that these are portraits of gals who just came in off the street is rather misleading.

It's a good series, although I continue to vehemently abhor Flash presentations for serious online photographic presentations.

Whenever a photographer says he still (or only) works with film I think its important to remember that choosing film is not a comment against digital. I do like the pictures. The subjects look relaxed and unselfconscious. Thats hard enough to accomplish with any person, nude or clothed. His site makes me want to dig out my C220.

These photos are really wonderful, thanks for the recommendation. (I've blogged it too.)

BTW, if they were made on digital by somebody who knew how not to blow the highlights, I wonder how many could tell the difference?

Doug Wade is a very prolific photographer mining much the same territory. He posts a lot of sessions with a lot of models, so some are fantastic, and some not so much.

I am posting a link to my favorite set "Anya in Motion", a dancing sprite. You can navigate upward from there to explore the rest of his site. He works mostly in film, and does alternative process prints too!

No, not work safe......
http://www.san-francisco-nudes.com/AnyaM/

Personally, I prefer Doug Wade's opening page given above - more fun whether work safe or not (and who cares these days?).

I'm going to chime in to agree with the commenters who question the "excellence" of these portraits. I'm having a little trouble seeing it, and I think that the Bresson quote at the top of the blurb gets to the heart of my unease.

It's not so much that the portraits are not technically well-executed (they certainly are) or that there is anything inherently wrong with nudes (there certainly isn't). I just don't think that the series really does anything to answer the questions Sanders asks.

To investigate the relationship between portraits, nudity, character, and subjectivity, I'd find it would be necessary to challenge the viewer in some way or another. These portraits are really not challenging at all, as long as you don't consider it hard to look at naked pictures of pretty young women without the benefit of Photoshop.

If he'd gone a different way in his choice of subjects, I'd have seen it as a better investigation. If he'd used a more representative sampling of female body types, for example, there would be more insight into how we, as viewers, react. If he'd used a more representative sample of body types overall, including nude men, we'd get more of a chance to explore his dichotomies.

As the series stands, though, I do feel that the only question we get answered is, "Does a portrait say more about the sitter, or the photographer?" And the conclusion I come to is that the series provided a nice opportunity for a film/camera nerd to get a bunch of (mostly) young, (mostly) slender, (mostly) pretty naked women in his studio.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

And I'm serious about that. The pictures are excellent, and a pleasure to look at. But the theoretical rhetoric surrounding the project is belied by the actual subject matter.

I'm with Gordon Lewis, nothing special about these images.
In my opinion these belong in the porno section of a book store. There are many other ways to photograph a nude, with better lighting for a start. Sorry they don't do it for me.

I'm going to follow up my own comment with an example. Assume that you are a straight male photographer with plenty of technical expertise.

Further assume that you have a studio and a young, pretty model who is willing to pose in the nude for you. Do you think it would be hard for you to get a compelling, evocative photograph in that case?

Now assume that instead of a nude woman, you have a pretty, young, nude man. Under the same circumstances, would the results be the same? Would they be more awkward? Would they be less?

Then compare the two results. What do they say about the social relationships between the photographer and the models?

That'd be an investigation. This is a bunch of pretty girls smiling for the camera.

Nice work overall, but I am NOT a fan of the Flash presentation that so many photographers insist upon when putting their galleries up on the Web! Everyone does it, and even I will admit to buying software for making these Flash slideshows. (I have decided not to use it, or use it only sparingly and when absolutely required).

The Flash galleries take forever to load, add little if anything to the presentation, and most times are difficult and counter-intuitive to navigate, so I don't see the point! It's not like they will prevent the copying of (Web resolution) images, either.

Anyway, nice work ruined (IMO) by the Web presentation. :-(

I am grateful for the attention. You all are very kind.

I felt a few of the posted comments deserved replies.

Stephen Haynes objects to Mike's characterization (not mine) of my subjects as "real women" because some are "serious artistic nude models." An Irishman once asked: “O chestnut tree, great rooted blossomer,/ Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?" I, myself, am variously a father, a lawyer, a husband, and a photographer. Is an accountant from Kansas with a second life as a "model," (a label, like "photographer," that is increasingly blurred by the Internet) any less "real" than any other woman, because she does not come as a stranger to the camera?

John Robison notes that "choosing film is not a comment against digital." I agree!

Tom V. compares my photographs to the work of Doug Wade. I believe Mr. Wade and I are doing very different things with our cameras -- and I believe, also, that Mr. Wade would agree with me.

To all: My apologies if my web site's design gets in the way. You can also see some of my photos at www.flickr.com/photos/sandersnyc if you find my site's interface awkward.

Thank you, all.

John's post arrived after I had submitted my post. I don't intend to try to answer posts, but John's goes to the heart of what I am doing and so deserves a reply.

John says: "I just don't think that the series really does anything to answer the questions Sanders asks," regarding portraiture. That is a fair criticism of the portraits, on their own. I do not intend them as a finished work as they stand. I am writing essays now to accompany them, which, when combined with the photographs, will attempt to address the questions I've raised about portraiture.

Unmoored from that context, the photographs do not, and cannot, on their own carry the meaning I hope they will bear when I am finished with this project.

As for John's other criticisms, they seem aimed at me, more than the photographs, so I will leave them as they lie and hope that he might be kinder if ever we meet in real time.

Dear Sanders,

You shouldn't be using a "slideshow" style presentation unless you are actually presenting a SHOW. If there is an order, an arc, a narrative flow, even just a beginning, middle, and end, then a slideshow may be appropriate. But as far as I could tell there was no rhyme or reason to the order given. Essentially it was just a box of photos (and an excessively large box set that) but I was being forced to step through click by click by click.

The truth is it put me off the work. I didn't find it terribly interesting, and I can't tell if that's because the presentation prejudiced me against the work or the work wasn't presented in a coherent enough way to support the presentation.

But if I find myself asking the question, then there's definitely something wrong.

If this really is essentially a box of prints of a work in progress, an appropriate form of presentation is a set of pages of thumbnails/contact sheets/whatever-you-want-to-call-them, where the viewer can pick and choose which ones they want to look at and they can see the whole body of work at a fairly quick glance.

I don't think it's an issue of bandwidth or style. It's just the wrong way to present the work at this stage. It's the visual equivalent of having to listen to someone talk for an hour when they haven't figured out what they want to say or the order in which they want to say it and they're just rambling.


~ pax \ Ctein
[ please excuse any word salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital restorations http://photo-repair.com
======================================


I enjoyed the set and found them refreshing in their honesty and, as a whole, life-affirming. What more can one ask?

Eolake wrote: "...if they were made on digital by somebody who knew how not to blow the highlights, I wonder how many could tell the difference?"

Most of the time it's easy to tell the difference because the tonal curve and spectral response of B&W films is usually noticeably different than a straight conversion from digital color to B&W. I see this "digital" B&W look all over the internet. I guess it's a matter of taste, but I much prefer it when the photographer goes to the extra effort of adjusting the tonal curve and spectal response to approximate the look of film. Obviously, many are happy with straight digital B&W conversions, but I prefer the look of film. Myself, I just shoot film.


There are a few beautiful images there...To me, some of these girls look like pros. It would have been nice if the guy would have opened the field a bit in terms of photographing, so called, real people. I think it brings the series down a bit.

Also, you can just see that this stuff is shot on film and it makes ALL the difference in the world. I can spot it right away every time and, IMO, it speaks volumes to the difference between film and digital. Film wins every time for me.

Interesting to note the trend of of of of, the complete shaving of the pubic region. I'm an old school boy. Most times that lack of pubic hair just looks sort of strange to me, like something's missing. Also...a couple of disturbingly skinny women in that series.

Tattoos and piercings? Mentioned earlier in these comments, it makes it sound like the person who commented thinks this is a practice that is new, or, somehow, objectionable in the context of our particular culture...It's been going for hundreds of years all over the world in many different forms. Just wondering. I'm not a huge tattoo fan but I've seen a few incredibly beautiful tattoos on women over the year...very rare though. I understand what the commenter is saying but, in the same step, I don't.

As much as I disliked the Flash presentation, I have to defend these images. People saying that they belong in the porn section of a book store are totally missing the point. The only thing that porn and these images have in common is that there is nudity involved. But that is like saying that a computer and a hair dryer are the same, because they both use electricity!

If you don't want to look at nudity, fine, but don't dismiss this type of work just because of any personal hang-ups you might have...

Dear Latent,

Seems to me there's a Door Number Three. One doesn't have to like the "straight" look of either film or digital. I think I'm in that category; I've rarely met a characteristic curve I didn't think I could improve upon. When I scan my film, I almost never reproduce the image with the kind of characteristic curve that silver halide printing materials would have given it. Conversely, I've never left a digital photo curve unaltered.

I think this is part and parcel of the old question of artistic strategy, of whether one embraces and works within the characteristics of the medium or works to turn it into something more appropriate to one's vision. There is no right or wrong choice, it's more a question of overall strategy.

Dear John and David,

You've hit upon the thing that always fascinates me about arguments about nudes. Namely, the amount of projecting that people do. For a substantial fraction of what I would expect to be a sophisticated audience, it seems to be about tattoos versus non-tattoos, piercings versus non-piercings (do folks including earrings in that?), shaved versus unshaved, skinny versus heavy, et cetera. I feel like those questions don't come from photographers considering photographs, but from men who like to ogle 'nekked gurls'.

Now far be it for me to get in the way of anybody's choice of pleasure! But, really, is this a discussion of PHOTOGRAPHY or just what turns the correspondent on? Sounds to me more like the latter than the former. And that makes about as much sense to me as someone saying they do or don't like a landscape photograph because they do or don't like the species of tree that's pictured.

It's also a hell of a boring conversation. Because *I* don't really care what *you* like in the way of a naked body! Sure, if this were the Sexuality Forum... but it's not. To coin a phrase, it's not about you as a personal, sexual being. It's about you as a photographer.

If someone were to try to tell me they can't distinguish between the two, I think I'd argue they're not much of a photographer, they're just an audience member who happens to wield a camera.


~ pax \ Ctein
[ please excuse any word salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital restorations http://photo-repair.com
======================================

Thank you, Ctein for your insightful comments: "But, really, is this a discussion of PHOTOGRAPHY or just what turns the correspondent on?"

same old same old line of discussion.

For me the main thing I took from looking at this series was that a comfortable, relaxed pretty girl in front of a camera photographs well.

I certainly noted the difference with Dangin's work: it goes to show, real beauty doesn't really need enhancing.

I am reminded of a seminar given by Joyce Tennyson at Photo Expo two or three years ago. Ms. Tennyson presented dozens of portraits of women all standing in front of the same simple canvas backdrop. It seemed to me that by "standardizing" the context in which the photographs were taken, I was able to experience the personality of the subject in a much more visceral (and less distracted) way.I was astounded at the intensity of the work.

One audience member stood up and declared the work rubbish. He said that any hack could have stood a bunch of women in front of the camera and produced the same images. He then stormed out of the room.(I might add that this person was "boo'd" by most of the audience).

To each their own.

In reviewing Mr. McNew's work, the nudity quickly became the neutral backdrop for the facial portraits and the choice of similar body types helped to accentuate the differences in the faces. Viewing a single image from this series would not have been as successful as this would have eliminated the point of comparison for the faces.

I believe this series of photographs to be the antithesis of pornography,here the torso is not the object of the photograph but becomes the comparative backdrop for the portraits.

Jim Metzger

Ctein, you get no argument from me about door number three. I agree that most photos are improved by curve manipulation, regardless of whether the original is film or digital. I simply prefer the tonal and spectral characteristics of B&W film as a departure point. No doubt we're becoming used to a different sort of B&W look based on simple conversions of color digital files (I see them everywhere), but I personally don't care for that look...at least yet.

Ctein,

Sorry, content is content and in this case it has much much to do with photography because it is a HUGE part of the content, especially in the modern context...chaniging norms in terms of body image etc. Your response is misdirected and poorly thought out.

Anthropologists, sociologists would be extremely interested in this because that shaved area has much significance from the standpoint of modern sexual awarensess, liberation, body image and body awareness...and the influence of porno on mainstream culture...it is a huge trend and to deny its importance as meaningful subject matter and fair game for discussion is just wrong. Are you aware of how big this trend is??

I put out a thought and it was relevant...yes I love looking at naked women...I love women, thank you. IMO, the presence of hair, there, is part of that beauty for me. I don't think I showed any disrespect at all.

The skinny thing? Another huge issue in this culture...To not comment on it reeks of dishonesty. They are nudes featuring modern women...to not comment on their bodies and body types is just silly...are you suggesting that we discuss film, lighting, lenses, resolution? Nudes, if they are good images, are much more than formalism, always.

I think you're wearing blinders in the way you are viewing these photographs...seems like it limits what can be garnered from images like these. Your judgment of me couldn't be more off base.

Based on your comments re tattoos...it makes me think that you didn't read my comment very carefully.

Ctein. To follow up on this comment you made:

"If someone were to try to tell me they can't distinguish between the two, I think I'd argue they're not much of a photographer, they're just an audience member who happens to wield a camera."

I've raised two kids on my photography career. I've been involved in photography in one form or another for over thirty years. My photography earnings, both fine art and commercial, allowed my wife to be the mother she wanted to be for 15 years. I choose not to display links to my work because I value my privacy and I'm not interested in marketing myself except to those who I want to market myself to.

Please don't make blanket generalizations based on poorly interpreted reading...It strikes me that you are doing some projecting in the way you chose to take my comment. It's insulting to me.

David,

I don't think you read MY post very carefully. It wasn't an attack on you; in fact mostly I agree with what you said, and I was using it as a springboard.

I read your comments on personal taste to be a counterpoint to the earlier posts and a effort to defuse the "ME-ness" of them. If I read correctly, we're on essentially the same side.

If I misread and you meant them to be about ALL ABOUT YOU, that'd be another matter.

pax / Ctein

Dear David,

I think you have confused the generic "you" (hypothetical second person plural) in English with the personal you (specific second person singular). Damned ambiguous pronoun.

I was writing the former, not the latter.

pax / Ctein

Let us not forget that his shirt is a nod to the Zappa saying "Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny".

C, point taken, processed, understood. I'm a good reader but I need to read everything five times. Perhaps some iteration during your paragraph would have helped me along...I got lost after the formal salutation. I blew it though and my comments will stand as evidence of that until the internet burns down and people go back to wondering what, exactly, happened when those ships set sail.

To those who like that natural look. Ask women what they think about the no makeup look. Most will say "you're nuts, give me my makep". I love 'em either way but I do love a woman in her feathers (makeup) properly done.

Aw, women are such gems..Men are better and better for them.

Thanks for the link in the comments and the (mostly) kind words - personally I'm a fan of nude portrait work and in addition to the work with "models" (many of who just do a couple of shoots for the experience and then go onto other things) I do quite a bit of paid portrait work. And there's actually not a lot of difference - if I showed somebody the pictures of the models and the pictures of the portrait clients there's a lot of overlap in terms of how the women look and act and I think most people would be hard pressed to guess which set were which. The main difference is that it's a much faster process with somebody who has done something like this before.

"Let us not forget that his shirt is a nod to the Zappa saying 'Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny.'"

Matt,
Be-Bop Tango. Spoken by a man who went around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the aid of unsuspecting musicians....

Mike J.

Lot of testosterone in the air tonight. Thanks for the link, Mike, I enjoyed the series a great deal. Count me among those who liked the way the work was presented. Yes, it was a bit of a chore to run through it, but in the end I found myself enjoying the differences in expression, composure, confidence, and the like (the differences in body types, indeed the bodies, in a certain way became irrelevant). Had I been looking at a page of thumbs, and looked at only a few images that seemed "view-worthy" based on the thumb's "curbside appeal", I would have missed some of the point I believe that the artist was trying to make. Finally, as a father, lawyer, husband and photographer, I would like to thank the artist for contributing to the discussion and graciously deflecting the ad hominem arguments. I guess I'm a nerd too.

Mike Allen
Vancouver

These are very attractive pictures.

It’s a pleasure to see such carefully produced unaffected photos.

What I find curious is my inability to recall similar pictures of nude men.

What’s with that?

Dave

I just opened up a fresh roll of film, and sure enough, it does have a funny smell.

I'm moderately annoyed by the suggestion that there was any ad hominem in my response. (Except the "film/camera nerd" shot, which was meant as a playful nudge-nudge wink-wink, and I apologize if that was the statement at which Sanders took offense.) Given that one of the stated goals was to explore the question, "Does a portrait say more about the sitter, or the photographer?", it is only fair to include my reactions to what I think the series says about Sanders.

When one undertakes a portraiture series, you have a whole world full of potential subjects. The choice of subjects potentially reveals quite a lot about the photographer, or at least about what the photographer wants you to think about the photographer. A series by Avedon shows quite a different person from a series by Arbus, even before we start looking at technical and stylistic differences.

What I feel is lacking from this series is not context, but variety. Keep in mind, I think each individual portrait is great, and each individual subject is fascinating, but the whole of the series adds up to less than the sum of its parts. The uniformity of style which should unify the series is undermined by the uniformity of subject.

That uniformity is what leads me to the conclusion that the series doesn't really do much to explore the stated questions, and trivializes the motivations of the photographer.

On the prudishness question: look, sex and sexuality is one of the great motivators in art. Leonard Cohen once said that the only reason he writes music is to get laid, and that doesn't make his songs any less poignant.

First off, congratulations to my friend, Sanders, for having your (that's the singular non-generic "you") work featured here on TOP.

Since I've actually been to Sanders' place and flipped through a stack of real prints, I'll vouch for the fact that the prints are much richer in tonality than the scans as presented on the web, and that the highlights are all there. Sanders and I both need to figure out this whole monitor calibration business, I think.

Having flipped through that stack, which I don't think was ordered in any particular way except perhaps chronologically, I think Ctein's observation is right, that it makes more sense to present these images as a group of thumbnails than as a slideshow, so that viewers can make their own narratives out of them. Of course if the work is ordered chronologically, then there is a narrative of the photographer's journey there, but then we need to know that and to have a lot of patience to flip through 250 images on the web. It's much easier just to pick them up out of a box, if you happen to be hanging out at Sanders' place.

Full disclosure: Sanders bought that Voigtländer Superb with the lovely uncoated 75mm Heliar on the monopod from me, and I hope Sanders doesn't mind if I post one more of his photos of three photographers and a baby (fully clothed)--

http://www.echonyc.com/~goldfarb/temp/TheBoysOfAPUG,SandersMcNew,2007.jpg

Left to right that's, me, Melchi, Victor Milin and Guillaume Zuili.

Thanks John...pretty much what I feel too.

Ad Hominem? I didn't see any what I would call ad hominem anywhere in this entire comment section. Except, maybe, the suggestion that there was ad hominem present : )

Testoserone? maybe...look at those pictures and what do you expect? let us be real good fellows, we are human beings.

Arguing and keeping strong opinion is not ad hominem. then again, my ad hominem is not the same thing as your mama's ad hominem..intended, of course, as a general statement not directed at anyone in particular. I misread Ctein's comment and I lie in mud, gracefully as a punk can do. I don't think any of that was ad hom.

As for Frank Zappa...if you ever need a nice Zappa fix, which I do, go to Youtube and search him. Lots of really cool old footage there. I started going through that stuff one night and stayed up until 3 in the morning smiling at FZ and his bands.

Er.... Sanders made it pretty clear that this was a work in progress and than he is writing essays that will place the pictures in context. How about holding off and judging the final work?

As for presentation style: I liked the flash presentation. But whatever our personal preferences are, I don't think it is up to us to say what Sanders "should" do. There aren't any rules about this. It's his website, his call. I'm sure that recommendations on how to be more effective are welcome, but he did provide a link to his pictures at flickr as well.

By the way, for a great way to view pictures on flickr, Google images, etc., try PicLens. It lets you view linear slideshows VERY quickly (almost instantaneously) on a non-distractng black background. At the same time, you can easily see a sort of contact sheet of images and click on the ones that interest you for an enlarged view. I just wish it worked for all websites.

Free download available here: http://www.piclens.com/site/ie/

Best regards,
Adam

"on a non-distractng black background"

Not to stir the pot, but I find black backgrounds *very* distracting. They make my eyes hurt. I especially hate looking at high-contrast B&W JPEGs against black, where the dark areas of the picture all bleed into the background. The best background is middle gray IMO.

Mike J.

every photograph taken by any photographer no matter what the subject matter is is a portrait of the photographer. All the naked women,etc are a portrait of my friend Sanders.
He's naked. He's got a border around him. Plus I know Zak and his big breasted wife with the lip piercing and that is a killer portrait of them by Mr. McNew. And I know his wife, Mrs. McNew, and he's got her smiling and that means a lot (to me). I feel the way I do about Sanders work the way I feel about the recent work of Cindy Sherman. It ain't my style but I completely champion it because neither one stops. Their work is a train and its taking you to their vision. They both produce. Tom waits for one.

I love the images. I loved the journey. I loved the fact that yes, some of these women are "professional nude models" and yes, I have seen their work, but YES Sanders was able to cut through their usual posing routine and actually catch pieces of who they really are. I loved it all.
Steve

Dear Dave,

"It’s a pleasure to see such carefully produced unaffected photos. What I find curious is my inability to recall similar pictures of nude men."

Try here:

http://laurietobyedison.com/FamiliarMen.asp

pax / Ctein

I think I accidentally drank decaf today, because I'm a bit cranky about user interfaces. Sanders' flash interface was a bit annoying, but better than I expected. Frankly I found it way too easy to skim through a bunch of the photos without actually looking at them. I did like the photos, so I kept having to go back.

Then there's piclens. Somebody else on some other blog wrote about it, so I gave it a try. I personally found it to be more annoying than anything else, but maybe I'll change my mind if I give it more of a chance. It seems to enlarge smaller images more than it should. There also seems to sometimes be a lag between the time in which it first displays the image and the time in which it has fully processed it, so that the image initially appears blurry (also one of the most annoying things about Adobe Bridge).

The reason why the photographs work for me is because I looked at the subjects in the same way that I often look at my partner when she is naked. These women are familiar to me for that reason and that's why I feel these portraits are so intimate. They are light years from porn & glamour

Good job

Sean,
Do yourself a favour and go and buy a book by Ruth Bernhard 'The Eternal Body' have a look at those images and then come back here and say that these are 'light years from porn and glamour'.

There is a difference, Ruth's I can hang on the wall for my family to enjoy. These I can not. I don't think I need to comment any further, you will see a big difference.

...sanders mcnew is a genius at portraying unpretentious, genuine & authentic beauty.

The variety of responses here illustrates the extent to which one's experience of a portrait is freighted by the presumptions and prejudices that the viewer brings to the photograph.

Through all these comments, It is Irena's that moves me to write again. Irena suggests that my photographs are akin to "porn and glamour," and holds up the work of Ruth Bernhard as the sort of nude work that she would find fit to "hang on the wall for [her] family to enjoy."

I have not spoken to my own biases, though, as Eric Kroll notes, each of my photographs bears witness to them. I photograph people. I will not photograph people in ways that do not connect, somehow, with them as individuals. Glamour and pornography, to me, are the exact opposite of what I try to do. Both attempt to airbrush out individuality, in an effort to turn a person into an object, a prop in a scene of the photographer's creation. I try always to create a portrait, of an individual -- I try to embrace the humanity that those genres deny their subjects.

I will take that a step further, and this is where Ms. Bernhard's work comes in. Ms. Bernhard works in the realm of the "bodyscape." Torsos beheaded, amputated; necks strained; limbs contorted; naked women posed in boxes; nipples and buttocks put front and center; but rarely a view to the woman's eyes; never a recognition of the woman (it is always a woman) as an individual.

The bodyscape's reduction of a person to an object offends me, no less than the pornographer's. Unlike Irena, I would never put on my wall a picture of a faceless naked woman in a box. But that is my bias, my sensibility. I recognize that we all bring different sensibilities to photographs. I might not share Irena's sensibilities, but I respect hers, she has a right to them. But for me -- for me -- photography serves its highest calling when it vivifies an individual in all of his or her idiosyncrasy and humanity.

Perhaps my work falls short of that mark. But that is my goal.

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