Julia Riddiough

All images © Julia Riddiough
Website by Sam Nightingale

Photographing Girls

Photographing Girls is a project by Julia Riddiough using archive imagery from pro-am photography manuals that utilise the male gaze and viewpoint to photograph women in order to sell products or just to look and consume women. This male gaze presents women through the lens of male objectification.

To gaze implies more than to look at – it signifies a psychological relationship of power, in which the gazer is superior to the object of the gaze’ Jonathan Schroeder (1998)

As we are told sex sells! But exactly what kind of sex sells? These images sell more than just the product they sell us concepts of sex and the positioning of sex using the women in these images. The viewpoint is nearly always from the heterosexual male and this can be seen as limiting as the women are seen as passive, available to the viewer and are not always respectful. The female is being projected as the male fantasy rather than showing a realistic portrayal of women.

By viewing these images again we travel back to a time when these images would not be challenged. Would we question them now or in fact question their contemporary versions? At a time when prominent men in the public eye are now being prosecuted for unacceptable behaviour that was deemed acceptable when these images were taken we see that these images are still prevalent in our everyday lives and in plain sight pervading media available to us. The media as commercial organisations use stereotypes to sell us things that we don’t really need and these stereotypes create a false sense of ourselves; how we see, how are able and allowed or made to see. Ultimately defining who we are and how we should live.

The proxy of looking is the authority to represent someone else in the act of looking. We are being sold a story that has been premised on pipe dreams and illusion. As Laura Mulvey states ‘the male viewpoint controls the viewing within the image and sets the spectator’s looking position’. In a world in which sexual attractiveness is built on subjective preferences, instead we see a flow of carefully constructed repetitive tropes, when a wider range of images could potentially free us to construct our own desires.

The hope that we might draw from history is that clear-eyed individuals can see beyond what is socially acceptable to what is morally right. If we get used to questioning even what is universally accepted, we might be able to avoid getting used to social norms that are well past their use by date’ Julian Baggini (2015)

Photographing Girls - Model Version

Photographing Girls (2015)
Colour / Sound
QuickTime Movie