Self Portrait in Black Lingerie with Camera and Mirror, 1955
Bettie Page Reclining on Sofa at Coral Gables, FL, 1954
Self Portrait in Polka Dot Bikini with Rolleicord Camera, 1963
Original personal and behind the scenes photographs of infamous pin-up models Bettie Page and Bunny Yeager are now on view at the art gallery Gavlak, in Los Angeles as part of the exhibit How I Photograph Myself. You may think this is a strange title, but it actually refers to a book that Bunny Yeager herself wrote during her lifetime. Born in 1929, Yeager was not only a wildly successful pin-up model, but also a photographer herself who very often took her own photographs. She came into modeling after meeting actress Bettie Page shortly after studying photography at Lindsay-Hopkins Technical College. Bettie Page asked Bunny Yeager to photograph her, and Yeager eventually began modeling herself. She was not only an accomplished photographer and model, but also a scriptwriter and author, publishing How to Photograph Nudes and How I Photograph Myself, hence the exhibition title. These books went on to influence such well-known photographers as Cindy Sherman and Diane Arbus.
What is so interesting about these photographs, besides the obvious appeal and seductiveness of the pin-up style clothing and curvy women, is that Bunny Yeager was able to become so successful both as the photographer and model; the artist and the muse. Her femininity and beauty was laid out on a silver platter as a model, yet she could be taken seriously in a time when men dominated almost any scene. To portray yourself in such a sexual way and also sought after as a woman in your craft would still be an accomplishment today, let alone in the 1940s and 50s. Bunny Yeager was able to work against the traditional male gaze, and create her own photographic style that is both delicate and alluring. How I Photograph Myself will be on view at Gavlak from July 25th to August 29th.
Women have had the opportunity to rise against the perfection of the ad model. For instance, Jes from The Militant Baker goes against the grain by reinventing the black and white, over-perfected couple shots seen in Abercrombie and Fitch’s stores by posing, as a plus size model, with the regular Abercrombie male model. Many ad campaigns [Dove, Hanes, etc] have also done the same thing countless of times by producing content that celebrates the fact that beauty comes in every shape and size. These ads, however, almost never feature men, but only women.
So what happens with men? Do they not go through the same? Are they not as affected by the distorted ideals of beauty as much as women are?
In this photo series, Jenny Francis and The Daily tabloid newspaper, The Sun [England] teamed up to show how real men compare to the popular underwear ads that showcase the chiseled abs and faked tanned male models.
Four average looking men, stood alongside David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Freddie Ljungberg, and David Gandy to show off what a real life man would look like wearing the same exact underwear and standing in the same exact poses. The photos are quite funny, but they are also quite empowering as the provocative poses and the polarity of bodies shown in the comparisons further examine the different male body types out there, from short and thin, to tall and bulky. Just like women, many men are confronted with the issue of body ideals that are often impossible to achieve. (Via My Modern Met)
Enrico Nagel‘s Secret Garden is a series of collage portraits. High fashion models are contrasted against a plain paperboard background. Each model’s face is replaced with a garish arrangement of flowers, jewels, and other ephemera. Nagel juxtaposes what he terms as the “artificial imagery” of the fashion world with the natural imagery of flowers. Each bloom seems like a nearly violent coup of the subject’s identity, the clothing being the only remnant of the former glossy fashion mag photo.