Yet another snow-fest in wild-weather Britain this weekend. Confined to barracks and the digital SLR’s put in to moth balls for the unforeseeable future. Oh dear, don’t I sound pessimistic? Me a pessimist? maybe, oh I don’t know… its been a very dry January photography wise. But, that’s only out of choice. I was browsing images on my iPad yesterday and as I flicked through the recent additions to Flickr from my contacts one particular image caught my eye. Now, for sake of clarification purposes only, the reason it caught my eye was not what you think. “How do you know what I am thinking?” I can hear you saying to yourself…. Well if you are a heterosexual male then you were probably thinking the same as me..if you are of any other sexual orientation then you can post your feelings in the comments box with regard to the image I am about to post. And be honest.
Above is a great frame by photographer Simon Asquith. Simons image is on his Flickr page here : Before my eyes even arrived at the title at the foot of the image my brain had already worked out that I had seen this somewhere before. And before anyone says yes you have, on the wall of a shop or in one of those poster racks that you see in stores; that’s exactly where I have seen it. But you and I are quite wrong, what you and I have seen is the original of this image. Simons version is actually a remake. A great attempt at recreating the work of photographer Tanya Chalkin. ( www.tanyachalkin.com )
The Kiss has become one of the iconic images of a generation, one that I’m sure will be long remembered. Its shows two young female models laying face to face embracing and intimately kissing. It was taken by Tanya in 2001 and as I stated previously, saw huge worldwide sales as a poster. It was also used in the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World by Universal Pictures.
Is it the relaxed nature of the picture, the passion behind the closed eyes and the comfort of the embraced hands or is it just two gorgeous girls getting hot and steamy….either way, when I eventually stopped looking at it for long enough it got me asking questions about the image by Tanya; One being how true is the actual image? How much of what we see is factual? I couldn’t question Simons image as it was recreated and I can only assume he just used two models for that purpose. I looked all over the internet for some answers, but after an hours searching I drew a blank. What I was looking for was the real truth behind the image. I know this can be asked of any photographers’ or artists’ image but that’s because what we are seeing is a split second in time and we then use the information we can see to make judgement, that’s how we roll. We very rarely understand the creators thinking, meaning or intention unless it’s explained in text or its slapping us in the face. What I needed to know goes a little deeper in to the ideas of the photographer and the feelings of two subjects.
On to the image, the two girls look very much in love, you can see this by the way their hands are positioned and the body language. But we don’t actually know this, as I stated earlier we only assume this from the information that we interpret. We then make a decision based on that information. There are, in-fact so many permutations possible in the construction of this and any image set.
Were the girls an item and merely acting and/or performing their true feelings for each other for the benefit of the photographer? In which case the image is a true reflection. Or is it? If they knew the photographer wanted to only create this image they could merely pose for this shot until the person behind the camera had them in position and obtained the image they wanted. Game over. But, I ask, would the true heat and passion behind their feelings for each other really come out, both on set and in the final image, knowing that the photographer was firstly in the room, and secondly that once the photographer had captured the image they had to stop and switch off. It must be slightly off-putting knowing in advance that you are going to charge yourselves up and get in the mood only to be forced to stop half way through. Maybe? or maybe not?
Were the girls an item and actually displaying their true feelings for each other, period? It has been said that the only way to obtain an image like this would be to set it up without the subject’s knowledge and to have hidden cameras. What would the difference actually be? Would the photographs look any different? Or would it just be the photographer and the subjects that knew the truth? Failing that, another option would be to find two models willing to go the whole way and be totally camera friendly. Mmmmm .. the mind boggles about the possibility of this one
Were the girls just models and posed in that position by the photographer? In which case there was no feelings whatsoever and the models and photographer alike have done a very good job of portraying the feeling, emotion and heat of a very sensual situation. If that is the case, then all parties should be commended. Firstly the photographer for getting it all right and secondly the girls for a great act.
Moving on, as we will never know unless Tanya replies to my email contact. This then got me thinking about the possibilities of recreating an image like this myself. Not to actually do it, but just to consider the logistics and hurdles involved in setting up a location shoot to recreate a renowned image of this style and magnitude. Certain parts of the checklist are just formalities, you know what I mean, the camera, equipment, studio etc. Its only when you come down to the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that you begin to realise what a tricky task it is. The major hurdle is the models. Not only do you have to find two girls willing to pose in their underwear, but you have to find two girls also willing to carry out the steps I initially questioned of the original photographers work. So, it narrows down the possibilities somewhat considerably when you advertise for two female models criteria as follows etc ….
Having worked as a photographer I’m aware that having contacts and people in the know gives you great resources when it comes to looking for possible subject models. On top of that there is always someone who knows someones aunt who’s got this daughter, I’m sure you know the story. But as “Joe Normal” these resources are just not always available so the search moves closer to home. Its times like these that you realise that it’s never going to happen. My thoughts then turn to leaving it to the big boys and let them earn the mega bucks……I suppose I could always put the picture as my desktop wallpaper, but then I would never get anything done, let alone this blog.
All comments welcome.