And now, for something completely different: from the book, I Am My Lover, a documentary series of masturbation photos I did on assignment - gritty, grainy, graphic - completely unposed, and rather exciting. --- You'll notice right away that these are not your normal porn-star, fake-orgasm, nobody-believes-it-for-a-second masturbation shots. This is gritty, grainy, graphic, and a real woman (and a really interesting woman, as well). I had the opportunity to do a once-in-a-lifetime assignment for a book called "I Am My Lover" . The project involved having several photographers work in their own styles to photograph several women masturbating - really masturbating, by themselves, at home, in the way they would really do it. I was given the names of my subjects, both of whom I had met casually before the photo shoots, and we worked out the arrangements for doing these very intimate sessions. I realized that there was no way I could shoot this in a studio, in my normal way, without having the photos turn out much too staged and posed. I knew I'd be in small rooms, in close quarters, and there would be no room for studio lights. Instead, I mounted a powerful flash on the Hasselblad, loaded it with high speed film and hoped for the best. Carol Queen is a local (San Francisco) celebrity amongst the "sex-positive" community. She's sharp, articulate, bold, outspoken, and obviously not very shy. It was great fun to do this shoot with her - I was probably more nervous than she was, since I was holding about 10lbs of camera equipment hovering over her bed for an hour. In addition to the normal considerations about camera angles and exposures, I had to reconcile myself to the situation - being an observer and documentarian of an intense sexual event, which under other circumstances would be considerably more arousing than my usual posed model sessions. But Carol made it easy on both of us. She was an expert masturbator, as it turned out, and had several orgasms - allowing me to shoot from different angles, with different lenses, and still capture the "the moment." The resulting photos do not have the polished look of my other work. The combination of fast film and on-camera flash makes for a very raw and almost rough appearance. These are not icons of perfection - rather these images are slices of an intimate reality that few people ever get to witness. I must say it was much harder work than my studio nudes, but I do like the images I got, particularly since they're so different from my other stuff. I'll be posting the other session in the near future.
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