I’m a sucker for a cute circular story and I find it very hard to resist telling them when they occur.
Last Sunday I wrote about influence. Later in the day Maria Opens Up posted Glimpse. Now, I don’t mind admitting I’ve had a crush on Maria’s work since Pencil Skirt when she not only quoted the mighty Pulp but also managed to channel a great Boudin image.
In Glimpse, Maria referenced her own influence – a poster she had seen in Amsterdam many years ago. She spoke of an image “filled with pink and violet flowers except for a woman’s breast and part of her face.” One of her own photographs revealed a tantalising glimpse of leg from beneath her covers.
Well there’s no face, but two images came to mind: one from a shoot a while back that also gave me my profile images, and another, taken on the same morning as my own Boudin-influenced image, used last week.
So here they are: influence and inspiration at play again, right here in our own community.
I have regressed 20 years. In the best possible way.
1995: Photography students, assessed on our production logs as well as our final images. A tutor presses us to think and write about how the work of others is influencing our own. We try to resist of course, believing it to be a waste of time, distracting us from the importance of our own burgeoning portfolios. The arrogance of youth. I pulled that production log out of a cupboard recently and smiled at crispy ticket stubs, quotes scribbled from commentary on gallery walls, clippings from magazines.
2015: In the middle of life and no real attention has been paid to my own photography in twenty years. Travel photography I am proud of and better-than-average snaps of life events, but no real thought about influence or a bigger narrative. Until now. Suddenly I find myself scouring Pinterest for ideas, popping into the Photographer’s Gallery between work meetings, handwriting ideas as neatly as possible in a beautiful notebook.
And through the lenses of others I start to rethink myself. Those beautiful Brandt nudes? Wonky boobs and flat nipples abound. Breathtakingly beautiful? Hell yes! So many photographers around the world today mounting their own inspiring projects celebrating myriad shapes and sizes. A wealth of ideas informing how I will photograph friends who’ve asked to participate in this project once summer comes and I am working less.
This week’s photo was meant to be a take on the Guy Bourdin shot at the bottom of this shot, but the hands and I were 40 minutes late checking out of a hotel and I couldn’t find the image online quickly enough! It’s not exactly what I had in mind because the idea was to frame and focus on an aspect of myself I care less about, but actually they ended up being covered up anyway. My body-negative evil twin says I win there! But I think I might prefer it this way anyway: I love the photo and ‘influenced by…’ is so much more thoughtful than ‘a copy of…’