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So You Want to Perform in Porn – by Stoya

If you read that and thought, Why yes, I do want to perform in porn, this is for you. If not, please feel free to read along for potential entertainment value. Or, put the computer down, and go do whatever it is that people do on Fridays.

For those of you still interested, the first step to performing is deciding what kind of porn you want to do. See, porn isn’t just people with big boobs and giant schlongs in silly setups involving offices and pizza deliverymen. It also isn’t just people who are accepting of all body types/sexual orientations and strive to be as ethical as possible. Nor is it all high-gloss features, intense BDSM scenes, or content made by supposed amateurs. Before I started working in hardcore porn, I thought it was all like John Stagliano’s The Fashionistas. Stagliano shoots a very different sort of product than Digital Playground does, and while my decision to sign with DP worked out very well for me, I did spend the first few movies confused by the differences. If there is an idea in your head of the kind of porn you want to do, examine it and figure out specifically what excites or inspires you. Use it to get a more clear idea of your motivations and the level of involvement you want to have in the adult industry.

Once you’ve narrowed down what kind of scenes you want to do and what kind of performer you want to be, I recommend taking a minute to rethink the decision of actually doing it. Especially if you’re just looking to live out one specific fantasy, make quick cash, or have a few months of adventure, consider whether the porn industry is the right choice for you. Unless the whole of civilization as we know it is destroyed, any nude or sexually explicit images will remain available on the internet in some way forever. Decide whether the chance to have sex with that one particular performer or have that professionally videotaped gang bang is worth the potential that every single person you know now or ever will know in the future will see it. Your parents will find out. Your employers will find out. Your friends, acquaintances, and the people you have romantic relationships with will find out. I call this Murphy’s Law of Scandalous Behavior. If you are unable to come to terms with this, you should probably refrain from engaging in sexual activities in public or on camera… including sending racy cell phone pictures (even via Snapchat.)

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Love makes people do strange things. The history of mankind is rife with love producing illogical and oddball behavior. When it comes to photography, falling in love with the medium is hardly an exception. For example, someone painfully shy might find themselves impulsively photographing strangers without asking for permission. Or, they instinctively photograph something without any ability to later explain why. Alec Soth’s newest book Looking for Love, 1996 is, in its way, about both—the search for love guided by the heart and the search of love guided by the eye.

Soth, a Minnesota native, came to national attention in 2004 after his project Sleeping by the Mississippi was featured at the Whitney museum during its Biennial exhibition and consequently released in book form by the prestigious German publisher Steidl to critical acclaim. Rapidly thrust into the worlds of art and commerce he followed up his debut with equally strong and provocative bookworks: Niagara (2006), Dog Days Bogota (2007) and Broken Manual (2010). Looking for Love, 1996 (Kominek Books, 2012) is a look to the past at his early beginnings as a photographer working with black and white film and a medium format camera.

In his brief introduction to the work Soth describes that time as one of working a miserable job (printing photos at a large commercial lab) and retreating to a bar to be comforted by “the solitude I found among strangers.” He began to concentrate on his own pictures, slyly using the lab to make prints which he smuggled, concealed under his jeans, out to his car. He writes of imagining one day “a stranger would fall in love with me.”

The first photographs of couples we encounter in Looking for Love cling possessively to their partners and leer at Soth’s camera as if to ask, “this is mine, where is yours?” While his journey takes us through the outside landscape and various social gatherings—the aforementioned bar; a convention hall that seems to bridge religion, spirituality and dating under one roof; poker games; singles parties; high school proms—we can sense a young photographer eager to hone his photographic instincts for metaphor and craving the fruits of collaboration between artist, medium and world. A photo of a flirtatious blonde cheerleader sits on the opposite page of a lone, slightly gothic teen outside a music club. The prom king and queen stand proudly before an auditorium empty but for a few hidden background observers and a basketball court scoreboard. An older man sits phone to ear at a ‘Psychic Friends Network’ booth while a quaffed blonde with a #1 ribbon pinned to her lapel passes by paying no mind. Alongside the underlying melancholy of some of these pictures is also the excitement of a photographer discovering their talent and seeing an affirmation of life stilled in photographs.

That affirmation makes the parting photograph all the more important. In it we see Soth himself sitting sprawl-legged in a rental tuxedo as if his own prom has just ended. Perhaps it had. I hope the love he may have found, lasts.

Looking for Love, 1996 is available from Kominek Books.

Jeffrey Ladd is a photographer, writer, editor and founder of Errata Editions.

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Love and time

Love is complicated. It twists, it turns, and sometimes it smacks you in the face so hard you lose track of where and when you are. Artist Louise Ma diagrams these many facets of love and relationships in her ongoing project What Love Looks Like.

[Thanks, Rich]

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Three people—Jeanie, 82, Will, 84, and Adina, 90—are bound together in a relationship, a love triangle of sorts, a three-way connection that they rely on to shield them from the pains of loneliness and the fear of aging. Every day the trio meets near their senior-care facilities (each lives at a different location) to spend their remaining days together. Will picks up Jeanie at her care center, greeting her with a long kiss, and the two head hand-in-hand to collect Adina for whatever the day may bring.

Recently, that includes Isadora Kosofsky, who, after the death of the maternal grandmother who raised her, began to search for catharsis through photography. “Grief following my grandmother’s death unconsciously led me to photograph the lives and relationships of the elderly,” Kosofsky says.

The trio’s relationship clearly challenges cultural norms. Will, describing the trio’s bond to Kosofsky, said, “We live above the law. Not outside the law, but above the law. We are not outlaws.” Will, Jeanie and Adina are connected by more than time and space. “There are many different kinds of love,” Adina told Kosofsky. Their relationship, like all relationships, can be frustrating for all three. Jeanie once confided in Kosofsky that “to share Will is a thorn in your side…A relationship between a man and a woman is private. It’s a couple, not a trio.” But despite Jeanie’s misgivings, she must share Will with Adina and Adina must share Will with her.

Kosofsky met Jeanie, Will and Adina three short years after picking up a camera. “I befriended the group because I recognize a part of me in both Jeanie and Adina. Will, too, is familiar to me… a reflection of men I have known,” she says. “When I share in their lives, I am reminded of my adolescence.”

Kosofsky herself is not that far removed from adolescence. She is 18 years old and is now a documentary photographer based in Los Angeles—finding inspiration from photographers like Jane Evelyn Atwood, who spent years documenting one subject. Kosofsky believes long-term projects offer the opportunity of deeper and more poignant storytelling. In her own projects, it is her goal to “devote myself to living amongst my subjects as an occupant, rather than a visitor.”

“The aged are becoming increasingly hidden and disenfranchised. I noticed that even towards the end of my grandmother’s life, she appeared distant from society,” Kosofsky says. The photographer is currently engaged in photographing a three-part series on aging—a subject about which she is passionate. “I feel that age is a perceived barrier and that we too have once, either literally or figuratively, shared their fear of isolation and their wish for acknowledgement,” she explains. “Even when Jeanie and Adina are not present, Will walks with his right hand straight and open at his side, as if he were waiting for someone to hold on.”

Isadora Kosofsky is a Los Angeles-based documentary photographer. More of her work can be seen here.

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