As a photographer, I'm always curious how other photographers work with models, whether they be friends or strangers. The tritely titled documentary People *LOVE* Photos (couldn't they have come up with anything else? The Naked Eye? A Thousand Words? Look At Me? ), directed by Christian Klinger, looks at three very different women photographers, and what struck me most are the very different ways they interact with their human subjects.
Tanyth Berkeley works in the Diane Arbus tradition of street photography. A street photographer has a number of choices to make in her quest for subjects: do you shoot inconspicuously, as Robert Frank and Walker Evans often did? Or do you interact with your subject, as Arbus did? Berkeley is not a gregarious speaker but her unassuming personality helps her interact with strangers, as we see in sequences that follow her on a photowalk in the streets of Manhattan. She dresses in a kind of New York photographer's camo, in dark hues and with only a single camera, but the spare arsenal is a way not to hide but to approach strangers with all her cards out.
Ashley MacLean and Traci Matlock (aka Rose and Olive) were discovered on the photo sharing/social networking site Flickr, of which I am a member. They are extroverts with a capital E, as also suits one of their specialties — erotica. I don't know if it's just coincidence or if it's a result of their personalities, but their interview segments are the best sounding parts of this documentary. No attempt was made to mix down ambient noise in other segments, and in some scenes, particularly those on the streets of Manhattan, this is very distracting.
The sub-heading of this segment is "Sexuality," and at one point I started to get the feeling that the director was exploiting models in a way that the photographers didn't. It's one thing to photograph the female form in the nude; it's another to show the photographers spraying down a model's breasts with a water bottle. But when the artists start feeding each other raw eggs while topless, you realize that letting it all hang out is just part of the their work. Sexuality is not always portrayed in comforting ways — bloody and bruised bodies are not unexpected sights in their work.