cait +tiff


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T / power through the lens

Photo Credit: Lee Miller

Photo Credit: Lee Miller

It’s been a crazy busy non-stop week.  Bu the best thing happened. A client commented that the photos I had taken for them had a feminist quality. My heart stopped, my internal lens panned out and I had a Sally Fields moment.  It felt so incredibly good to have someone feel that way about the pictures I take.  Because it’s something I think hard about too, and there’s been a bit of an internal dialogue going on about it that I wanted to share today.

Cait and I both are big on the empowerment focus when it comes to our work.  Whether it’s clothes that spiritually lift, or a picture that represents power, it’s also feminism, showing strength and celebration.  Our pal Jen, who is basically my photography guru and mentor, once discussed with me how she “poses” women in difficult circumstances.  Instead of lifting their physical attributes, she directs them towards celebrating their strength.  It resonated with me so much that it is now how I shoot all people, and not just women.  And this strength can be channeled in the most subtle nuances of light, or where a chin is pointed.

So do women shoot differently than men?  I really don’t know.  Discuss!  Less male gaze?  An empowered posterior or bosom instead of a sexualized one? Subversive empowerment? Is there a difference in how female photographers direct and compose their shots based on how they themselves were socially constructed?  Does the shared experience of womanhood reflect in photography?  Max Weber and Sociology 101, please tell me something.

I can only really comment on how I shoot.  And we need to promote women in photography more beyond the Annie Lebovitzes of the world.  This makes for a great opportunity to point you to some of my favourites.  Lee Miller was a pioneer in the art form during World War II and on its battlefields and devastated cities. I can’t help but wonder what she took from her previous career as a fashion model during the booming 1920s of Manhattan (think Great Gatsby-esque) that influenced her shots.  Fast forward to our current affairs and Lynsey Addario is capturing conflict from the trenches and the non-combatants.

Photo Credit: Denise Bovee

Photo Credit: Denise Bovee

On the fashion and  lifestyle front, Cait introduced me to Boys by Girls while she was studying in London this past summer.  They explore menswear through the female lens, and I can’t help but notice the complexity, the depth and the…nuances.  I’ve also been enamoured with the work of Denise Bovee.  I can’t even count the ways I want to be able to channel not just the West Coast playfulness, but also intensity and depth, all at the same time.  Prue Stent is only 21 and she pushes the boundaries in such a way that would make Francis Bacon proud.  Of course, there’s also Alice Gao, who is just so good.

prue stent

Photo Credit: Alice Gao

Photo Credit: Alice Gao

And those are just a few of my favourite lady photogs.  The ladies whose qualities I inspire to embody and practice.

So is there a difference?  I want to know.  Please tell me your thoughts.  

 

 


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T / what photogs wear

Photo Credit: Alice Gao

Photo Credit: Alice Gao

I’m making a lot of decisions these days.  What lens to invest in?  Format or Squarespace? (I’m still not sure and they both have given me an extra two weeks to work on that decision).  Should I invest in a portable studio that won’t work with Asian voltages or DIY my own?  But more importantly: what am I wearing?  These days, I’m no longer shooting personal projects. I’m shooting clients, or with them at least. So it’s not the usual me in stinky workout clothes, a pair of very ripped up boyfriend jeans, or my pajamas.

Cait wrote about her designer uniform this year, and I’ve only started to think about one of my own now.  It all started when i found my back flat on the asphalt, in a shirt dress, legs crossed awkwardly so as not to expose myself to the citizens of Phnom Penh while I got the right shot.  Clearly I hadn’t made the right closet choices that morning.

I’ve decided to look to some of my favourite lifestyle and fashion photographers on what they’re wearing.  Namely Alice Gao and Bonnie Tsang (sadly, not related…to my knowledge).  These women are at the top of their game, and while they are often behind the camera, they are also both stylistas in their own right (read up on their personal style here and here) .  So I decided to scour the web (aka look into their closets).

alice-gao-and-bonnie-tsang---white-shirt

Photo Credit: Venise Tsang for GAP (left), and Lean + Meadow (right)

So I can’t pull off this look. On me, white shirts are basically asking for stains.  Coffee, life, Phnom Penh dust, the whole shebang.  My go-to instead has always been a crisper, more polished version of the J. Crew popover…in blue. I’m particularly digging this one.  And the perfect pair of black pants to go with.

Photo Credit: Alice Gao (left) and Bonnie Tsang (right)

Photo Credit: Alice Gao (left) and Bonnie Tsang (right)

Alice-Gao-and-Bonnie-Tsang-Collage

Photo Credit: Alice Gao (left) and Bonnie Tsang (right)

At the end of the day, it’s still jeans and a t-shirt (in my usual case, a strappy tank top). And maybe a leather jacket to add some edge (which doesn’t necessarily work in Southeast Asia).  But the feeling persists: clean, functional.  Nothing too loud as to over power what you are taking photos of, but still sufficient to show off your personality.

So basically I know what I gotta do still: capsule wardrobe. More on that later.