Attraction and Lust: The Ethics of a Shoot

One of my projects is to shoot nudes but capture images that awe rather than inflame, connecting the viewer with the beauty of bodies like the beauty of mountains or water or sky. The line between pornographic and art is thin, even hazy at times. Think Robert Mappelthorpe, a boldly artistic photographer with his brazen images of black men that burst stereotypes of beauty and candor. When I shoot an attractive model I know when lusting is keeping me from viewing the model as a photographic study. Lust is part of our experience of attraction and I do need a certain attraction to the model to get my curiosity up. Without that attraction the work of photography is just that, work, and I’m not interested doing that. Life’s too short to spend on transient fancies. I have to have the initial attraction then shelve it and move into what I call “the zone.” There I am lose being involved with persons, with myself, with the model or models. My attention is on creating the image. I treat the model with respect as one does a fellow human being but the personality they project is just another element to calculate into the total picture. We’re both in a professional mode, what I call artistic integrity.

Maybe this is unrealistic. The genre is full of stories of divas and divos, of temperamental artists, whose work we all adore but the process by which they arrive at the luminous images flares with caprice and emotional dyscontrol. I’ve worked like this many times in other than artistic work. The creator begins to feel like god; everything else, everybody else, must serve the ends of creating. When the image is captured we may forget the travail, happy only for what we’ve created but this feels somehow not enough. The dyscontrol lingers, if not in the work itself when others view it in the soul of the maker. When the chatter dies, in the depth of night or as life ebbs away, all we have is soul. Soul matters.

Posted via email from The Pursuit of Duende

About orlando gustilo

Digital content producer, photographer, writer.
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