Digital manipulation has long been a pet peeve of mine and yet another reason I like FRONT so much. Maybe I’m being naive here, but my impression has always been that they keep the use of airbrushing to a minimum and allow the natural beauty and character of their models to shine through.
More so than their competitors anyway. Certain publications re-touch their images to the point that all the girls look the same. Dimples, creases, folds, bone structure, even, whisper it, cellulite are natural, and erotic on a healthy young woman and a huge part of what distinguishes one girl from the next. As soon as you start “tidying up” these things you lose a lot of the personality too. Blandness and homogeneity are curses of modern society but at least some people are fighting back against the graphic vandals, those photoshop philistines.
Giovanni Lipani’s Death of Youth series is a great example of what I’m talking about. It’s an archive of photographs featuring 100 women “who do not fit into the typical characterization of ‘fashion model’ that dominates much of today’s photography, providing the viewer with a refreshing look at beauty – without the use of photoshopping.”
The Italian lensman has written a mission statement about the motivations and ideas behind his Death of Youth series. This is just an excerpt; you can read the full piece here.
The images are not refined and many resemble snapshots. The hyper-sexualized nature of the images evokes the feeling that the photographer is involved in numerous casual sexual encounters. I became the “jet-setting playboy” that I admired from my youth, like James Bond, Hugh Hefner, Terry Richardson and Helmut Newton. Moreover, I embodied the life of today’s version of these playboys: the blog-centric photographer, the archetype of a sexual icon.
I photographed 100 women to further demonstrate the fantasy of this lifestyle. The majority of these women do not fit into the typical characterization of “fashion model” that dominates much of today’s photography. This provided a more raw and realistic vision of this fantasy. I shot each model one-on-one without lights, make-up artists, stylists or assistants. This provided a much more intimate environment in which I was able to connect with my subjects on a very personal level.
By shooting all of the photos on film—a dying form—I was able to encapsulate the sense of memory that is so important to these photos. I was extremely strict about not using digital re-touching software to keep the images unembellished and true to life. These techniques provide the viewer with a refreshing look at beauty. Put differently, as more and more photos are manufactured through Photoshop, these images release viewers from this paradigm and allow them to live in this testimonial of a young man’s youthful fantasies.
At least one of the models used in the series will be familiar to Frontbottie followers. I’ve chosen three shots of Hattie Watson interacting with a rather magnificent bed to illustrate this post.
Death of Youth Galleries