There’s a new wave of photographers I keep stumbling across, the “T&A” shooters.” They photograph stunning women, in gorgeous locations, usually with the minimum of clothing. The women are absolutely beautiful, vibrant, a cross-section of ethnicities and body types, which is geat, as I feel a wider representation of “female beauty” is long overdue, especially in mass consumed media.
These images produced by the T&A shooter, are gloriously saturated, with wonderfully contrasting colours and deep blacks. Glamorous high impact photography that is hard not to like and “Like” people do.
T&A shooters on a platform like instagram, routinely rack up over a hundred thousand followers and each image can amass 15 to 20 thousand “likes” each.
Its big business and a thriving market.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan, I follow a number of them myself, some of my favourites being,
Marcus Hyde — https://www.instagram.com/marcushyde/
Gregorio Campos — https://www.instagram.com/gregoriophotography/
and arguably the best and most successful Mike “Ohrangu” Tang — https://www.instagram.com/ohrangutang/
I very much like the work of all three of these photographers.
Each of them brings a distinct eye to their visuals. Their images add strong voices to the debate, of what constitutes a positive or negative depiction of women in society / media at large.
There’s an ambiguity and challenge to their work and as all great art should do, it asks as many questions as it answers.
Is the work objectification or empowerment?
Does it demean or embolden?
What’s the level of “complicity” between model and photographer in the conversation these images create, specifically in terms of the male gaze and the role of the visual arts in the historic objectification of women.
Do these images help break the glass ceiling or reinforce it?
It’s hard not to fall in love with these highly stylised versions of beauty, but here is where the rope starts to unravel for me, after a while, it all starts to feel like the same image, the same moment, the same note in a song.
A note constantly repeated and in the end, barring a few photographers, I can’t tell one photographer from the other.
“Women as Art” is a term I hear bounded about in these circles and it’s a term that makes me cringe a little every time I hear it.
It is this single narrative of women through the lens that I find troubling.
What I love about portrait / fashion photography is the conversation between the photographer and their subject and just like any good conversation, the best of them are sprawling and far-reaching in scope, touching on many factors and themes. The images of the “T&A” photographer do not, they repeat the same conversation over and over again, in-fact a single word, beauty, beauty, beauty, over and over again.
A women’s / persons beauty, like a great deal of beauty in this world, is a multi faceted existence, made up of an infinite number of subtleties and contradictions. Women are sexy, strong, brave, weak, scared, passionate, timid, shy and fierce, the list goes on, but luckily for you, I must not.
In order to capture the full complexity of female beauty, if not all beauty, we must endeavour as photographers to capture the multitude of subtleties and contradictions that combine and contrast, in order to reflect the full spectrum and intelligence of human beauty.
The photographers in question are certainly talented, it’s clear from their imagery they have a great sense of composition, style and understanding of light and able to execute these understandings to a high degree of skill, but I would like to see them push themselves, to stamp their personal thoughts, opinions and voices on these conversations. The most memorable portraits I’ve seen, have always greatly informed me not only about the sitter, but the photographer also. It’s within this two way conversation that layered beauty is found, and a much needed dialogue I feel some of these images lack.
But…perhaps that's the point.
Photography and Text, Buki Koshoni