Caveman stands behind a rock, rough hewn spear in hand, waiting, watching for the wildebeest to pass, ever scanning to find the leader, then the one with a limp, the one that can be brought down with a single thrust of the spear.
Cavewoman sits, surrounded by cave, by cave-kids and cave-art, waiting for a hunk of wildebeest to be thrown to her.
Caveman does what caveman does, he brings home the goriest hunk of meat for his family. All is well in cave-land.
Caveman survives by watching, scanning the horizon, looking for prey… and pouncing. He learned from the saber toothed tiger – his education is complete.
Cavewoman survives by huddling in the cave, preparing hunks of wildebeest and when signaled that it is OK by Caveman, she may venture out of the cave, gathering fruit from close to where cave-kids are sleeping – if the weather is good, she may even take them out on her forages.
Let’s roll forward a little and introduce wheels, made roads, electricity, and (wouldn’t ya’ know it?) Digital Photography. (I will speak in photographic terms, and use masculine for photographer and feminine for model, because that is my larger experience).
Photographer sits behind a computer screen, looking at the wannabes and newbs that have just hit the latest modeling site. He cannot help but scan for the most likely mate, and the weakest link. It’s in his nature. He scans them all, thousands of them, and shoots off a few tags and emails to those that are most likely to succumb to his spear. After some time enticing the model to play the next part of the ritual out – emails, phone calls and then… the model appears at the photographer’s studio.
Photographer stands behind a tripod, eyeing the background in his studio, waiting, watching for the wannabe model to finish prepping makeup and clothes. She comes out of the dressing room. She is dressed to kill, alluring lips, flowing hair, and just enough clothing to spark the photographer’s imagination. She knows her role, it has been taught to her by society for a thousand years.
The posing starts, the camera clicks, the strobe fires, the first images are carved in rock for eternity to be enthralled. The rhythmic click of the camera, the racing flash of those strobes promotes wildebeest blindness. The speed of the flash picks up as the model dances more and more dervishly to keep pace. Her heart pounds. She sees glimpses of herself in the mirror of the lens, she may even see glimpses of herself on the back of the camera, she strives to do better – the photographer encourages her. The mating ritual has commenced.
The photographer peers through the keyhole of his camera voyeuristically, encouraging the model to play out her role as exhibitionist. The model, blinded by the light and the strobes, enters a world of her own, playing out a private dance. She has been here before, in front of her mirror, posing privately for the world, showing up her girlfriends, creating a mass of followers that will drive her a long a red carpet of adulation toward the covers of magazines that she has never even seen. She is a force to be reckoned with that struts with confidence through the castles of Europe and has paparazzi clicking wherever she goes. She is admired, desired, loved and wanted by all but her closest friends that she has conquered. She brings them along for the ride in the backseat of her fantasy, more so that those old friends can ‘see her now’, now that she has made it. Her mind clicks back to the photographer’s direction…. just a little higher, a little lower. The hem rises, the cleavage blossoms, the clicks continue. Every time they slow down, she just has to swish so that the fabric gapes, or the light splinters through her diaphanous clothing. She has them all under control, exactly where she wants them… which is exactly where they want her.
She spins in bliss, he watches skin, she dips to offer thanks to her subjects, his lens gropes her breast. She is driven by the incessant clicking of camera, but to her it sounds like the cheering crowd. Her ego is being nurtured by her mere presence, but the subtle clicking only occurs when the skin flicks – subliminally she is sexualized more and more – her game was elegance, but his game was pandering, and she never, ever realizes. The drug of adoration seems more powerful if she bends this way, sways that way, shows more leg, breathes a little harder, faster and deeper. She is living the fantasy, but perhaps she is moving inexorably from her fantasy to his. He has done nothing. He was merely the mirror in her private chamber, sometimes the next door neighbour seeing glimpses through the bedroom window, but he didn’t force her to do anything. He simply allowed her the ‘right’ to follow her calling. He enabled the passion to flow, by speeding the metronome, by creating the environment, by needing her to be her impulsive self.
The images are sometimes secondary to the model. She has had her moment of fulfillment by just being able to express, explode, dance for an audience that continues clapping, cheering her on.
The strobe lights used at dances are designed to increase in speed, and the human heart rate tries to match that speed, creating a bio-feedback of movement and energy that is amazingly effective. The lighting gurus learned that from the world of photography.
In a photographic studio, the incessant flashing of strobes, lifts the subjects response for two reasons. The pulse of the subject attempts to match that speed, so we see models flicking from one pose to another, until it becomes a staccato dance. This is self perpetuating because of the second reason – the bio-feedback that occurs. Each time the strobe fires, the model realizes that the pose/look was good and looks for the next ‘stroke’ to say ‘good girl’.
Of course not all photographers use strobe lighting, but the rhythmic click of the camera can provide the same bio-feedback that gradually hypnotizes the subject into this dance.
With the advent of Digital Photography, the ability to view shots as they are produced can reinforce that bio-feedback also. The stage is set for some powerful reactions.
We now have the traditional ‘sexual partners’ preened and looking their best, in a tribal dance of exhibitionist and voyeur, with clicks like beating drums and flashes of strobes, beckoning for more and better, more and better, hypnotically. Sexual tension pervades, naturally.
The wonderful power of sexual tension that often invades a photo shoot with a member of the preferred sex, can drive the artistic experience, heighten the senses and promote powerful art. The concept of sexual tension is well known and well used by all manner of artists to bring out more emotion and create that ‘suspension of disbelief’ that is required for the viewer to be enthralled with the final work. Writers use it, Hollywood is bursting with it and painters have used it for centuries. Now photographers have a wonderful set of tools to drive that sexual tension to the point of…. release. Photographers can manipulate this power to transform the model to potential partner – and for the model, it can seem like a natural progression of a relationship. No-one has ever asked her to perform at her best, been praised for it, and enticed to move more and more to this pinnacle of art. But art some times takes a back seat, as the humanity unfolds. The moment that sexual tension becomes sexual fulfillment, the rules have changed. The art goes out the door to make room for the libido.
In a perfect world, art starts flowing, images abound, all is well. Even in that perfect world, models can create an attachment to their photographer that is similar to the way a patient/client can attach themselves to a therapist. This can occur even when the motives are pure, and more especially when the libido is left unsatisfied. The tease is perfect, the model is coaxed to her most passionate and remains hovering at that point without ever feeling that her guard has been compromised. She is still the person in charge. The images (and more) abound.
- Jake McDorman on Sexual Tension and the Surprising Are You There, Chelsea? Role He First Played (popsugar.com)
- Studio vs. Location Each can invite creativity. (foodservicewarehouse.com)
- Let There Be Light (cbugginsphotoblog.wordpress.com)
- Andrew Kornylak: Reality Show (nikonusa.com)
- Take a Class to Become an Assistant (blogs.photopreneur.com)