"Images exist; things themselves are images... Images constantly act on and react to one another, produce and consume. There is no difference between images, things and movement..." Gilles Deleuze
As a photographer who deals in seduction and exchange I have been wondering why it is that people allow themselves to be photographed by me in what you could call comprising positions. Although I usually pay travel expenses, give them prints and occasionally a bit of money, if I am being paid, the incentive to 'pose, perform or model' for me isn't financial. I ask them to submit to my fantasies and to confess their own to me. At times they may be in great physical discomfort and occasionally at risk, from the law or the less than law abiding, who wish to censor their display. Is it any more than narcissistic pleasure? Or an overwhelming desire to speak sex and hear it spoken?"
In this piece I want to examine what I call the 'photographic moments' in terms of some of the processes involved. Those seldom seen and rarely talked about moments that exist before the images is created and after the images is 'consumed' by the spectator. Traditionally the relationship between the photographer and the model is gendered, with the male being the photographer and the female being the photographer's object. What might an images look like if both the photographer and the photographed inhabited the subject position, or even if the subject-object dynamics oscillated between them iin a way that caused the spectator to question his or her own positioning? It is the 'play of looks' that I want to explore, within the framework of desire and its visual representations. By unearthing some of psychical, social and sexual processes involved in representations of desire we can begin hopefully to examine the dynamics of desire present in the relationship between the photographer, the photographed and you.
I find the people I want to photograph everywhere. They are the people about whom I find something irresistible. I may be walking down the street, or on a bus, in a club or a café when I see her. She has caught my eye. I look. Giving myself permission to look. I may even find myself staring, lost in the fantasy of her face. She has a presence that captures me completely. I want her. I want to see. I want to know. I want to have, if only for an instant. This is my most vulnerable moment. If my gaze is returned I try to smile and not let the embarrassment of being caught looking, caught with my desire exposed for all to see, jeopardize what could be the start of something wonderful. If I am feeling particularly dashing I will walk over and introduce myself by way of my fascination with her face and form. I will briefly state my purpose and if she is responsive to this, suggest we meet at a later date to discuss my proposition in greater detail. If this initial seduction is successful, (which it usually is when I'm feeling dashing), we move on to the negotiation stage. This can either be a continuation of the seduction or simply a stating of boundaries, hopes and fears that eventually leads to the photographic moment. Not the "decisive moment" so treasure by Cartier-Bresson, but a series of moments, from the instant my eye lands upon her body to the moment yours does.
Della Grace, 1992
Excerpted From Pleasure Principles - Politics, Sexuality and Ethics, Lawrence and Wishhart, London 1993