NATURAL DECEPTIONS: 'In this collection of photographs of my mother she performs certain
tropes used to visualize female beauty and sexuality. This act is
further complicated as her appearance and gestures fluctuate between my
overt stylized ideals and her own physical body. These photographs
expose an awkwardness and tension in being looked at and scrutinized
while also implying a longing to be seen as desirable and beautiful. By
creating images that can be perceived as both garish and seductive, I
question the fantasy of idealized beauty and what culture designates as
flattering and desirable.'
Something that is discussed in this podcast is the way O'Sullivan literally leaves his own mark on his landscape photographs - he is often in the pictures or else has his wagon or darkroom tent or even his footsteps drawing attention to his presence. This is usually seen as valuable for providing scale but none of his contemporaries used this approach.
As the images he made were destined to be turned into hand-drawn lithographs for geological reports he knew that he was simply collecting data that could and would be worked on before being distributed, much as images are Photoshopped prior to publication today. Which in no way begins to explain the Cottonwood Lake, Wasatch Mountains image, where he foregrounds himself in the act of studying a negative possibly of the actual landscape he is in.
Having just seen a review of her current work at Edwynn Houk gallery in NY on DLK I went to look at her website - it is a manic-speed slideshow brimming over with seemingly endless unique and incredibly well realised photographic series. Wow.
A lifetime ago when I was a second year photography student I started taking portraits, mostly with medium format cameras and mostly of people on the same course, as it was relatively (but not entirely) painless to approach people and have them understand the motive(s). The next step for me was to get an 80mm lens for my 35mm OM1n and find the guts to stop people in the street and ask to take a few photographs there and then. I was fairly nervous but even before starting on that project, or even before having a camera, I knew that photography, unlike writing, came with a requirement to directly interact with the world. It wasn't a pursuit where you could hide in your room (although it turns out there have been a few who have managed to do just that).
Once you have got over the initial anxiety of stopping strangers it does get easier, in fact you devleop a kind of control over the situation, as it is sort of becomes just 'something you do' as you walk around and have a c…