Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Will An Anthology Of Photographs, A Miscellany Of Literary Quotes, Poetry And Facts Attract Surfers?

By: Felix Nicholson - © 2007

The Little Red Jacket is a photographic website created in January 2007, and provides access to over 300 photographs of a beautiful little red leather jacket.

The jacket bought from a Worcester designer dress agency is adored like a priceless treasure. It allegedly is chic, has style, and the soft red leather is warm and luxurious, but I'm no fashion expert.

Importantly it became the seed of an idea, a photographic project to capture, and display the wonderful private and public moments of its use - a photo-diary for want of a better description.

For visitors to the website it provides an opportunity for viewing photographs in seven online galleries, and each is amusing or sensual. No apology is given if some of the pictures are seductive and provocative that’s taken as read. All are shots within a moment in time, taken with care, thought and consideration. But of course that's how any half decent photograph should be taken.

Like all new websites it's run the gauntlet in being searchable and is now accessible via Google and Yahoo. But let's cut to the quick and see if it's going to attract surfers?

The company behind the project is Gimme a Hug and Martin Billings is the photographer. A quotation allegedly from Michelangelo is used to express the site's belief on nakedness. "What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed"?

This however does little to justify the use of glamour photography that catches the eye, not entirely what could be called fine art photography, but there again it’s not saying it really wants to be. Its use becomes obvious considering the aim of the photographic project; a photo-journalistic depiction; for how often is a woman naked and ready to be photographed unless a full studio session is planned?

The Little Red Jacket images feature many incarnations of the beautiful nude - confident, vulnerable, playful, dangerous, sexy and seductive, the fantasy figure and the real-life blonde, and this clearly is revealed in the model Erica's display of nudity. Rarely displayed as gratuitous or offensive she is however notably not coy, for although some images of her clothed attending a variety of public events are mere average in their content, ones where she exposes her breasts for example, are altogether more exciting. Just reading some of the guestbook messages gave me a real appreciation of what visitors had enjoyed from the portfolio. Their text gifts provide an excellent route of enlightenment for any web spider as well as any old disconsolate hack.

And another thing visitors have contributed since discovering the site’s merits is increased foot traffic. Since August 2007 site hits have been just over 300 a month, increasing recently (week 40 – week 45) to over 500 per week (sic). This growth is purely from sound SE optimization and is a credit to the webmaster.

There can be little doubt that the Little Red Jacket's photographic collection aims to provoke, but of course many similar websites do that and a lot more. It is in its charm, naivety, and its blatant honesty where little red jacket scores highly.

Scattered amongst the images are literary quotes and poetry many from the 18th century. Interlaced through these and the photos are curious snippets of authentic written facts and fiction, from William Henry Fox Talbot's photographic genius to comic book style Friagaba the devilkin Gaesatae ram horned headed woman warrior of the 1st century BC. Little red jacket is a miscellany and something quite captivating. Visiting the site is part participation, and part event, a joyful meander through delightful scenery.

A conspicuous element of the Little Red Jacket is the 'Friends' page, additional galleries of other photographer’s work. And where friends come into this is that each participant has expressed an affinity for the project and the selected images compliment Little Red Jacket, friends indeed.

Photographers such as, Ghislain Lindeboon, John Tisbury, Henri Dubuc, Dominique Massant, and John Bucknall are already included. Their contributions give a pleasant meaningful contrast to portrait photography and there are very few photography websites that would have the guts to do this. Herein lies a confidence Little Red Jacket has about photographic reverence.

It's a persuasive argument to exalt the beautiful female nude as being confident, vulnerable, playful, dangerous, sexy and seductive, the very fantasy figure that exists for most men and indeed for many women.

Little Red Jacket is not unique. It is fundamentally different from the average online photographic site and to my mind that is refreshing. Its entire content is free and no registration is needed, it’s totally accessible and it has a candid sincerity. It creates interesting, thought-provoking, and certainly erotic photography whilst adhering to the rigidity of a focus on just one garment.

I dare say many seasoned professional photographers would never entertain commencing such a project, the constraints being a serious liability to image-making carte blanche. The one thing that it certainly is - is fun and in the hands of Gimme a Hug it should be sustainable. Most visitors landing on the home page can be seduced to wander into other arenas, turn every corner and make new discoveries – I was.