An essay on my sexay photo shoot

Background:  This essay is an effort to compile and channel all my rampant thoughts about sex, sexuality, female empowerment, objectification and the male gaze.  Last weekend, I was invited to be a part of a photo shoot with renowned Japanese photographer, YONE.  In a nutshell, YONE likes to translate SEXY in his photos.  He gives lots of creative freedom to his models to wear and pose however they want.  Some girls take it all off.  Some girls leave it all on.  Overall, YONE himself is an amazing artist. A lot of his work look like this.

I took up the photo shoot opportunity as a way to 1) expand my network, 2) experience something different and 3) express my sexual nature. This was my first time in a photo shoot so I had no idea what I was doing.  I told myself that if I was going to do the shoot, I wanted to bring something completely different.  I didn’t want to look all raunchy and shit like the other girls. (Too predictable).  I didn’t want to take my clothes off. (Too easy).  I wanted to send a positive message that firm, strong and fun is also sexy.  I kept my pants up, shirts on and legs closed.

1) Cocktail dress for the CLASS.
2) Fur vest, shorts and tank for the SASS.
3) Black spandex and mom’s 80’s t-shirt for the THROWBACK.

I entered the photo shoot wanting to stand out and challenge these norms.  I left the photo shoot feeling like I looked like every other girl. Damn. I didn’t feel empowered.  The shoot was a good experience and the people are amazing, but that’s just not my style.  Prancing around and trying to look all hot and shit in front of the camera wasn’t all that fun for me.  I’d rather go painting.

Even though I had something to say,  I realized that the photo shoot was not my platform.  I entered with one agenda and YONE had his–this was clear to me from the beginning (I just failed to recognize it).  At the end of the day, this is YONE’s artwork and YONE’s message.  This wasn’t MY photo shoot, it was YONE’s photo shoot.  His narrative takes precedent over mine because he is the one in control of the camera, he frames the shots and he snaps the photos.  It’s like elementary sentence structure: SUBJECT –> ACTION VERB –> OBJECT :: YONE –> CAMERA –> ME. Understanding the sexist, male-dominated context of our society, I feel inclined to reject the overt idealism of female sexiness and dress myself down.  Sometimes I overcompensate by wearing big sweaters and shit.  Then I wonder if I’m being too reactionary by responding this way.  How do I embrace my sexual side without coming off as typical or slutty.  At the shoot, I was trying to filter my feminist message through the male gaze and that just isn’t possible.  It doesn’t matter what I was trying to say or trying to do, this can all get lost when the camera frames me a certain way, photos are rearranged in a certain way and photos are exhibited in a particular context like “GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS”. Haha yuuup.

I asked YONE to credit all my photos with my name and website that offers all my artwork and writings.  I don’t know if he will actually care to do this.  In the case that he doesn’t, I would be just another anonymous GIRL GIRL GIRL amidst the bunch, and I’m not okay with that. I don’t want to be known for just a “pretty face”.  I have so much more to offer than that.  TRUST.  I appreciate the genes mom and pops gave me but I  don’t consider “good looks” as much to be proud of because it’s not something I worked terribly hard for, yadidamean?  I am very thankful for this experience.  I can be quick to judge other girls in photographs like, “HOE.” Now that I know what it feels like to be on the other side, I can better understand the pressures of succumbing to the feeling of sexy and desirability; at the same time, it has helped me affirm my own views in how I want to function in this world.

Thanks for reading.



Filed under Believe Me Ego, Essays on the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

3 responses to “An essay on my sexay photo shoot

  1. OUCH! lol..

    Well said, I respect your perspective. You were hella dope at the shoot, and this may not matter but.. NO you didn’t look like every other girl at his shoot. You translated on film as you do in person, and remained hella classy and hella artistic.
    From the more exhibitionist side.. I enjoyed shooting sans pantalons. I’m more into color and self expression. I enjoy accentuating natural angles and sporting unconventional looks & props.. and looking just as classy and aritstic as well. I’ll admit that Yone did take some suggestive angular shots, but because I openly embrace the concept of tapered, slightly uninhibited sexuality–I chose to make it work for me no matter what angles he decided to shoot. HOWEVER–I still feel where you’re coming from with your essay and I applaud you for expressing our views. I’ll explain:

    I agree with you on the Girls Girls Girls thing, and the only thing I can offer for slight comfort is the history behind why he does it. You’re right, it IS his art and we WERE the subjects, so we’ll need to pay closer attn to what we sign up for.. ANYWHO here’s the explanation:

    It doesn’t matter if you like to take pictures naked or fully clothed, if you wear makeup or not, if you do handstands or stand up straight, if you’re the finest, baddest chick in the word– if you don’t totally stand behind the photographer’s purpose, you just don’t belong there. We might have belonged there if it was strictly for Bodega, or Boston’s finest ethnic chicks, (lmao); but for what Yone was trying to convey that night? Mayyyybe not. I had fun w/ you though. I learn something new each blog. Keep up the good work!

  2. *amendment: *Your views, not “our” views, last line in pgph 1

  3. thesunalwayssets

    Amen! I’m always trying to find a balance between being objectified and embracing sexuality myself… but yeah, what you ended up doing does sound different and admirable! Even if the end result of the experience was different from your expectations.

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