C H R I S T O P H E R N E R O
C A P E L L A N E R O P H O T O G R A P H Y
"So what's up with the Chaos images??"
If you went to a drugstore or a bookstore in the 70s/80s you saw "detective magazines": trade publications dedicated to reporting rather shocking crimes across the country. They had full color image covers and cheap b/w newsprint inside. The cover images today would cause quite a few eyebrows to be raised. These were admittedly sleazy publications that usually featured a "damsel in distress" or "damsel expired" accompanied by taglines like "The Tale of the Two Nude Beauties" or 'A Date for Sex: A Night for Blood." These publications were the equivalent of the cheap pulp novel (that also used similar cover images but less frequently). There was a BDSM influence as well, plain and simple. Quite a few current bondage photographers/producers used these magazines as a launching point for their work as well.
To me, there were quite a few interesting things with all this. The pictures themselves were vaguely related to the tacky headline. If there was mention of "nude" it was implied in the shot. There was rarely any blood. In fact, the photographer had a tricky assignment: He (or she) had to create a image that was disturbing but also had some elements of glamour as well. In other words.....they had to sell the magazine and they couldn't do it with realistic bloody, disturbing, disgusting scenes. There had to be a draw: subtle or in your face. A model who worked with me called it "pretty dead." It was a curious mix. As a kid growing up during this time I picked up on that bittersweet dichotomy. This had nothing to do with reality but rather some bizarre non realistic twisted marketing artfuck.
In college I learned about Guy Bourdin. There were others as well, but Bourdin was the one I admired for his quirky editorial-like fashion images that changed the stodgy "posey" boring stuff that had dominated Vogue and other reputable high end fashion magazines previously. That rebellious convention appealed to me. The image had to be appealing AND disturbing. Sexy AND tragic. There had to be a story, even if it was just implied.
Many years later I got a camera and began my photography gig. The early days.....well, they were embarrassing. Crappy camera, bad lighting...uninspired poses. Eventually I got a bit better with practice and that's where we are today. Better, (A LOT better) but still learning.
The Detective Magazines are gone, but then magazines are going the way of the dinosaur in general. They have been replaced by websites and TV shows like CSI and Law and Order. Believe it or not they play by the same rules. Real crime scenes are gruesome affairs. They are cold, sad, needless and there is nothing artistic about them. The media/pop culture/TV stuff usually plays to that aforementioned weird juxtaposition at some point (unless they are going for shock value). Sometimes, the "dead" actresses are posed for maximum non realistic dramatic effect, makeup often in tact.
The point is: what I do and am for the most part known for, is not really new, avant-guard or terribly unique. Lots of photographers create similar images with varying degrees of success. ANTM (America's Next Top Model) dedicated a show to "crime scene imagery" several years ago. It was supposed to be "controversial", but in reality, it just validated an 'edgy' sub-genre that was already out there. The pics from that show were less than spectacular for a bunch of reasons; they concentrated on blood, gore and violence and ironically forgot, if not actually LOST, the model in the images. Some photographers and models key in on that. I lost count the amount of times someone wanted to do a "bathtub of blood" shoot. Crime Scene tape? Ugh. I try to be different channeling that Guy Bordain vibe along with other elements.
Even though I've done and will do other genres, those who know my work, know the Detective Magazine inspired imagery. Ironically some models are really disappointed if we don't shoot this stuff during a photosession. It's acting. It's different. Go figure.
So that's " why."
No, I'm not a sociopath. No, I don't hate women. I DO NOT support or endorse violence against women, "rape culture" or any related heinous silliness. And no, I'm not a dark moody troubled artist. Actually I've been told I'm rather painfully positive and a people person (which, oddly enough, to me is more disturbing). Talk to the models who have worked with me; there are quite a few.
So this is what I do with what I call "Chaos" imagery. It's not conventional, but in a lot of ways it is. It's disturbing to some but in a lot of ways not. I tell stories without giving up too much information about what is going on. Lots of conflicting things here portrayed through images.
It's more interesting that way....