Dear Passing Motorist,
Although cityscapes are not my usual photographic subject (I’m primarily a portrait photographer), I thought I might experiment. Plus, the octopus of interweaving concrete, where 580 meets 980, has long fascinated me.
It was at this moment, while I focused on the pleasing chiaroscuro of the freeways, somewhat like Robert Kincaid photographing the bridges of Alameda County, that you drove past.
Regrettably, I had trimmed the shot to eliminate asphalt, so I could not see your license plate, or even the make of your car. I’m sorry for that. I meant no slight, especially since you had an intriguing suggestion for an artistic project.
“Take a picture of my dick!” you shouted.
And then… you were gone! Too soon for me to respond or learn how to contact you. Such a terrible waste of possibility. I had been looking forward to discussing art and cross-genre collaboration, since I’m sure that you, as I, have grown very bored of the usual Instagram tropes: the picture-show rota of cats, breakfasts, beers, and babies. One cannot thrive on a few modest dishes, but needs the full variety of experience to stimulate and cultivate the palate.
I am sure, as well, that you possess a rare and insightful instinct. Having never seen my portfolio, you were already aware—was it my posture? my camera? some esprit particulier? how did you know??—that my skills are best suited to portraiture, and I should leave these asphaltine landscapes for others more gifted. Alas, an urban Ansel Adams I am not.
So the artistic progression goes—thesis, antithesis, synthesis—back towards where we began, with the purity of the amateur—the lover!—and the experience of the professional. But always the feeling—the feeling!—for to be a photographer is to feel nostalgic for the present. A camera is a tool by which to capture and inspire feeling.
Consider what Sontag meant when she wrote:
“All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”
So let us not discount the emotional impact that comes from taking a photograph and making a photograph. Mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely slicing. Freezing […] melt. A rage both against and towards final dissolution.
All this to say that I’ve thought about it, and decided I would like to photograph your dick.
While nudes are not a usual subject for me, I believe this proposal to be just different enough to be one at which I could excel with particular merit. Let us consider the current cultural treatment of the subject. I for one have seen very few photos of dicks—let alone your dick—though this may be the fault of my sex (ironic, given, shall we say, a certain innate yet cultivated taste!). Perhaps this too has been a bother to you, whom fate has granted both the possession and the social constraint to keep it secret. I sympathize.
Yet we must ask: what would the photograph say? What would be the greater intent? What feeling, what emotion, shall we attempt to capture in the silver shadows? Or shall it be, to paraphrase Winogrand, to take a picture of a dick to see what a picTure of a dick looks like?
It seems you would like more people to view the diverse possibilities of your member, or at least you would like to have the sensitive treatment of a discreet photograph for personal use. I can assure you of my own professionalism, having a private darkroom, and the highest quality of photographic equipment. With the medium format of a Bronica sq-b analog SLR, every contour, shade, texture, and variance in coloration—though I must advise, I work primarily in black and white—achieves such clarity, such beauty, such poignancy. Each framed image a testament to moral, moment, rage.
I’m free Mondays and Tuesdays most weeks, other days by appointment. We needn’t discuss payment at this time. If you are unable, then I would consider the chance to further develop my portfolio as recompense enough.
You’ve inspired me, sir. I wish to be the Margaret Bourke-White of dick pics.