Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Photo Club

Mr Tabubil is a member of the Whyalla photo club.  They have a dozen members, ranging in ability from two men whose work wins national photography prizes to a woman who has only been taking photographs for a few months and specializes in close-ups of butterflies and stobie poles
            I went with him to last week's meeting.  An elderly woman has been nominated to the new post of club librarian - a club member had passed away a few weeks before and had donated his photography library to the club. 
            "Men's books."  The lady said darkly, shooting an opaque look at the club leader.  "All about technique, I'm sure." And she made swooping motions in the air with her hands that indicated, in general terms, generous amounts of female curvature.  The club leader cleared his throat and glanced at her from under his eyelashes. 
            "I have a book here" he said cautiously "a lovely book, titled The Female Nude.  Some of its images might be considered to fall on the Erotic Side of the spectrum, but I assure you all that they are very Good Photographs, technically, and Beautiful Images, all of them.  Anyone who wishes to borrow ANY of these books until the next meeting is more than welcome."" He placed the book in question on the table and thumped the cover solidly. 
            Mr Tabubil and I, cosmopolitan city slickers down to our Puma trainers, hid grins and nudged each other under the table. 
            Later in the evening, during a blind photo crit session, I was placed in a seat at the front of the room, right next to The Book of Nudes.  Idly, I opened it to a page about half way through - and froze, my face burning.  Casual and sophisticated, I thought desperately.  That's me, and I hastily composed an expression of disinterested appreciation while I calculated how long a cool, casual and sophisticated viewer would keep the book open in polite company without losing all street cred.
            You know the famous definition - that you know it when you see it?
Every photograph in that book was exquisitely lit and delicately composed, but every single one left mere eroticism squirming in the dust.  Tied up in a harness with a spoon gag.  
            Heavy bondage?  Okay, no harm, no foul, but there were... also... anatomical closeups, and... accessories and....intent.
            Buckets of intent.
            There was a lovely study of a woman's legs reaching up into the air - gauzily lit, etched in silver, but between the legs there was a hand, and a mechanical object and - um -
To be quite honest, the photograph was exquisite and I adored it, but I was more than mortified to be looking at it while sitting next to a seventeen year old girl and a sixty seven year old grandma and a forty five year old father of two.
            Rural prudery, my bottom! I can't think of many cosmopolitan libraries that would have that book placed in general circulation.  My eyebrows raise and my hat goes off to the Whyalla Photo Club.

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