When I began to build my Pinterest board and fine-tune my creative concept for the shoot, I found myself being drawn to the over-the-top nature of 1990’s women’s loungewear. From obnoxious pink clothing to tousled hair and retro heels, I was in love with the carefree attitude of the subjects in the inspiration I was gathering. This made me think back to my favorite childhood movie, “Clueless,” where Cher’s confidence and personality is larger-than-life. In conjunction with the glamourous Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City,” I had two muses who allowed me to further explore the idea of women’s outward sexuality and independence expressed throughout the 1990’s.
We were asked to create a narrative in four to six photographs that also used fashion in some way. I decided to focus on the gold heels as the primary fashion element, supported by alternating pink sweaters and bodysuits to further tie into my inspiration. I decided to use flash to make the heels and the pink bedding pop, a skill learned in my ICP course this semester. By using flash, I was able to slightly overexpose the image and draw attention to the heels, which was a trend I saw throughout my inspiration, especially in the work of iconic photographer, Helmut Newton. Known for his provocative fashion shoots, which utilize dramatic lighting, Newton’s ability to expose the sexual and confident nature of his models is truly inspiring. With his work in the back of my mind, I also had Megan cross her legs to make the photo less pornographic, yet still sexual. It wasn’t until my final critique, however, that I realized just how sexual my photos actually came out.
As a gay man, I often don’t think about the over-sexualization of women in my work. I always make sure that the model feels comfortable throughout the shoot, but I very rarely think about the implications of the sexual images I have grown accustom to producing. Sex is a big part of gay culture, and the idea of exposing the sexuality of women through nightlife, photography, and/or verbal and physical communication is something that the majority of gay men don’t think twice about. When observed through this lens, this photo series comes from both an inward and outward process. Through these photos, I am responding to the outward sense of a woman’s sexuality, while also exploring my inward and unfulfilled sexual relationship with women.
As always, the ideas and questions posed in my work require further thought and examination, and I am excited to continue on this journey of inward and outward exploration of the over-sexualization of women.