Wednesday, 12 August 2015
I Love Liz La Point - 5 Years Of Art & Love
Love And Depth
I Love Liz La Point - 5 Years Of Art And Love
by Terry Osterhout
Limited Private Pressing
David Bailey once took some photos of me.
I also worked with Richard Harris, apparently... maybe even sat on his knee. Not many people would know this about me, nor would they want to I’m guessing, but I used to be a child model between the ages of “too few to mention months” up until the age of nine when a truly bizarre car accident short circuited my career (but that’s a whole other story).
Why I mention all this is because I know that modelling for a photographer can be hard work sometimes and it’s something that certainly requires a lot of patience. So I always have a lot of empathy for them when I see models striking various poses, in addition to the look the artist is trying to capture, because I know it’s not always an easy job. One such model is Liz La Point.
I first became aware of Liz through Twitter, presumably following her off of someone retweeting some shots of her. She has a certain charm and appeal above and beyond her obvious fantastic body. As with most models, and I never realise why people take this for granted so much, it’s almost always the face that draws you into a work first... and Liz has this kinda pixie look about her which really made me take notice. After a while I discovered that the photography was taken by her husband, Terry Osterhout and so I looked into that too.
Fairly recently, Terry produced a beautiful hardback collection of photo sessions of his wife called I Love Liz La Point - 5 Years Of Art & Love in two editions, one regular and the one I’m reviewing here, the expanded edition. I was thrilled when Terry ran a competition to win one of these books and, though I rarely enter competitions these days (maybe once a decade), I was pleasantly surprised to find I’d actually won. Didn’t see that one coming. And it’s such a brilliant collection, that kept me up for hours looking through it when I should have been asleep, that I wanted to share a review of this work here.
Which is where I have my problem because... well... this is the first time I’ve tried to review any photography. I’m not quite sure how to do it, what to look out for or what to say. But, hopefully, I’ve muddled through that here without making myself look too much of an idiot and I think it’s a book that people interested in such things should certainly contemplate owning and enjoying for themselves... which is why I’m writing this now.
The tome is split into various themed sections... well chapters, I guess... and right from the outset we are presented with shots which define the cheeky and playful nature of Terry and Liz' approach to eroticism and female beauty in the first batch called Vintage Vixen. Here the hippy-like but revealing clothing and seductive poses the model is presenting are nicely undercut by the knee high socks she is wearing as she frolics on a bed. This immediately brought a smile to my face and made me ponder just how many couples have gone through the whole "socks in bed" debate.
Now, I hate to go on about capturing textural contrast because it’s something that somebody looking at photographs is probably supposed to bang on about… which is a good reason not to do it… but Osterhout does find some interesting moments capturing the juxtaposition of different surfaces throughout the book. For instance, a shot from the Vintage Vixen shoot is a close up of Liz' pubic hair with her thumb just brushing the lips that mark the entrance of her sex. The hair is in direct contrast with the smooth skin of part of her leg and the creased orange top coming down to her waste... the three different textures colliding with each other and highlighting the others all in one hit.
Next up is the first of two mostly black & white series' in homage to the famous Valentina comic strip character created by Guido Crepax (see my review of Valentina movie Baba Yaga here). There is an almost thrown together quality about this series but it's a deceptive attribute when you start to really look at what's involved here. Some of these show experimentation with the depth of field, with large parts of a composition blurry while Liz's head or hand is in sharp focus to grab the attention… which makes for an interesting shot. Osterhout does a similar thing in a photo from a lovely little session entitled The Writer, where a studious looking Liz is lounging naked, other than her glasses, writing in an exercise book. In one of these shots he again uses a smaller depth of field to bring her feet to the attention of the onlooker while everything else in the shot is softened down. An overhead shot of Liz looking up into camera while sucking on her pen, her head in such a way that it looks almost artificially attached to the beautiful trunk of her body, is equally captivating.
One of the things which caught my attention is the range of styles that the artist manages to capture with his camera eye throughout the book. The Wet series, for example, reminded me of the kinds of beach scenes that would adorn various calendar's in the late 1970s/early 1980s and took me straight back to my teenage years. Another series entitled Wild In The Forest gave me a similar 1980s hit as almost a tribute, and I have no idea if this was deliberate or not, to the movie version of Sheena, Queen Of The Jungle... except you never saw Sheena as seductively displayed as Liz is here. Especially the “almost about to get feral” feel of the last shot in that series, with the model looking straight into the camera as if to say... “things are about to get real”. Other shoots in the book have distinct atmospheres which capture different periods, genres and moods, such as the aforementioned Valentina shots which pitch things back to a late sixties/early seventies feel. The photographer here is nothing, if not diverse, in his approach to his subject.
Another way Osterhout expresses his diversity, whether consciously or not, is by the way he lights certain scenes in either a soft or hard light, and uses this, and a range of colours, to reflect a certain mood. For instance, after a load of really amazing shots, we get to a section entitled Random Favourites and the first six shots in this section are absolutely stunning in their sense of intimacy with the subject. You can almost feel Osterhout and La Point’s love for each other coming through the lens of the camera and capturing something almost as elusive as lightning in a bottle. If the reader (viewer?) went into this book blind, without knowing that the photographer and artist are married, then surely they would 'get it' by this point that the two are lovers. It really comes through here and I can see why these shots in particular were selected for their 'favourites' section.
Also, the way Liz is made up helps contribute considerably to the mood of the artist’s creation, it seems to me. The heavy eye shadow on a series called The Gamer (playfully reminding me of all those mis-spent evenings shouting angry insults at Lara Croft as she met her untimely death over and over again) gives us a much sterner looking version of La Point which, given my own sexual preferences, was a bit of a turn on, it has to be said. The metaphor of the console joystick Liz grasps in her hands in this sequence was certainly not lost on me, for sure. There’s one shot in this sequence which is probably my favourite in the book and it makes up a double page spread. It’s not so much the skill of the photographer, or the pose as Liz is naked and resting bent over a chair, with her behind prominent, which makes this shot stand out for me. It’s the expression on her face, looking back over her left shoulder and directly in to the camera, which is truly startling. It’s one of those looks that makes you project yourself into the photograph, making you wonder what the hell the “character”... as opposed to the actress that is the model... is thinking and just how that expression came into being.
A playful series of Liz reclining against a collection of sprawled out comic books is striking in many ways, not least of all because Osterhout obviously has the same run of 1970s John Carter Warlord Of Mars comics which I have stowed away in a box somewhere. The clarity and humour of the shots in this are lovely, with a wonderfully attention grabbing set of Superman symbol panties which are absolutely brilliant when showing the contours of the model’s sex lips against the colourful design. This series of shots, entitled Comic Book Geek, makes a mini sequence... almost a seduction... with the model stripping down slowly until we are left with just the sense of her sex through the panties before finishing with a close up of her lower legs and the super-heroic knickers dangling around them. A brilliant tease where the pay off in this one is the denial of the reveal.
There are a few other sections in here, too, which are telling a sequence of events in a narrative order. One long sequence called The Haunting Of Red Riding Hood has Liz starting off in the traditional Riding Hood costume and then running through the forest, shedding clothes as she goes, trying to escape the unseen creature that is presumably giving chase. It actually has a similar vibe about it to the Walerian Borowczyk movie The Beast, also featured as a section in the original extended cut of that director’s Immoral Tales (and reviewed here). Like that movie, the subject of the camera gaze starts off in fear and ends up in consensuality. This and a few other sections in the book certainly gel with the artists description of himself as a storyteller rather than a photographer and, although he (like us all, I guess) hates being labelled by other people, I have to say he’s a really great photographer too... someone who really knows what he’s doing and who seems to embrace the spontaneity of the creative process, as evidenced by some of the great work throughout this particular volume.
So, yeah, that’s about all I’ve got to say on this one. If you’re into sexy shots (far more revealing than the ones I’m allowed to show on this blog under Google’s guidelines) with a large degree of technical skill combined with the soul of an artist then I Love Liz La Point - 5 Years Of Art & Love is certainly worth picking up for your personal library. A truly gorgeous gal, a gifted photographer and the fruits of their passion published and bound for your perusal and, hopefully, fascination. Also, the last section, where Osterhout and Liz declare the full fire of their love, should melt even the sternest of hearts and have you saying “Awww” to yourself. This is a really great book and I’m proud to own one of the copies... for which I very much thank both the artist and his muse with equal appreciation.
You can visit Terry’s site and buy a copy of this wonderful volume here http://terryosterhout.com/
To find out more about Liz La Point at her website here http://www.lizlapoint.com/ and check out her YouTube channel The Naked Advice here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNaW2ftS_rC_vdKFqiRo6mA
Liz’s blog column for The Naked Advice is here https://thenakedadvice.wordpress.com/
You can follow Terry on Twitter here https://twitter.com/terry2070 and Liz here https://twitter.com/liz_lapoint