• Hf
  • Hf2
  • Hf3
  • Hf4
  • Hf5
  • Hf6
  • Hf7
  • Hf8
Photography

Helen Flanagan

Posted by Liv Siddall,

After a good decade of being on the internet every day we’re pretty used to pop-ups telling us where the nearest single/semi-naked person is and exactly how to meet them. Helen Flanagan took this one step further than most of us and went to photograph the people she came across on sex sites and adult pop-ups. We caught up with her to ask her a few questions about this secret and incredibly fascinating project.

How did this project begin?

I wanted to meet new people to photograph and thought the internet was the best resource. I was fascinated by these advertisements that would pop up on the side of my browser and researched more into it.

What exactly were you looking for?

I was looking for anyone willing to be photographed. A lot of the people I encountered wanted more and I had to make clear that it was strictly only photographs I wanted for my university project. It did lead to potential risky situations, but that is necessary and part of the thrill.

How difficult was it to find willing subjects?

Most people weren’t interested and didn’t understand why I was on there if I didn’t want to, ahem, ‘get it on.’ Others were intrigued, wanted photos for their profile or generally just wanted to meet up and chat with someone.

What was the protocol upon meeting the subjects in person? How much time did you spend with each one?

We would arrange a meeting time and I would always go to them, either shooting in their home or chosen location. Sometimes the encounters were brief but there were others who wanted to chat longer, so it would vary from anywhere between 20 minutes to a couple of hours.

What do you think portrait photography can bring to such an anonymous topic?

I find it interesting how the onlooker may view and assume so much about these individuals. Despite these people being strangers there is an obvious openness and willingness to be photographed which is fascinating in its own right. I wanted to deal with them sensitively by photographing them in their homes. By offering the sitter a space they felt comfortable in, it allowed for barriers to be slowly drawn and for the images to be revealing of their own character.

Many of these strangers had their own deep stories to share so I decided to write about them. Beneath the sexual facade lies the simple human desire to be wanted and heard.

Ls-300

Posted by Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She is also a regular guest and sometime host on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Photography View Archive

  1. List

    When Rapha launched their brand ten years ago they did it with an exhibition on cycling history and a book that documented some of the greatest stars and stories of competitive road racing. The book showed candid shots of legendary riders like Fausto Coppi hanging out in his pyjamas and Bernard Hinault in a grump on the train, exposing these famous gents out of the saddle, carrying on like normal human beings. To celbrate their tenth anniversary Rapha have re-printed and re-released the book (no long out of print) upping the print and finish quality in the process. The results, we think you’ll agree, look pretty spectacular!

  2. Main8

    Whether catching a glimpse of a funeral ceremony over a black-clad shoulder or seeing young boys play football in dappled sunlight, Noah Rabinowitz’s beautiful images truly make you feel like you’re observing something intimate, something special.

  3. Pino

    Dino Ignani spent the early 1980s in many a “discoteche o video-bar" capturing the “dark” wave. From hanging out in cafés and bars with artists in Rome, he began to follow these newcomers with big barnets and kohl a-plenty to music events and club nights. He would create an ad-hoc set, and invite everyone there to have their portrait taken. The result is an enormous gallery of 400 images, mostly black and white, wonderfully random and totally intriguing. Who are these people?

  4. List

    For an image maker whose craft relies on capturing light to take all of his photographs by moonlight might seem a little impertinent, but Alejandro Chaskielberg doesn’t seem to care about following any preconceived ideas. The Buenos Aires-born photographer has fully replaced lighting equipment with the natural environment by taking images by the light of the full moon. His technique comes as a breath of fresh air to those familiar with photographic projects which aim to muster sympathy for subjects living in underprivileged areas; this is something else else entirely.

  5. List

    Belgian photographer Wouter Van de Voorde started out as a painter in his homeland before discovering that photography offered him more of the creative freedom and opportunity for introspection than his original medium. Since taking up photography he’s exiled himself to Autralia where he uses his outsider status as a driver for creative expression, exploring the quirks and nuances of Australian culture and landscape in the hope of creating a sense of belonging through his work.

  6. List-2

    I’m sure there are plenty of documentary photographers for whom going to Brazil to capture the World Cup would be something of a dream, but as far as I’m concerned none of them even come close to the exceptional Jane Stockdale. After having her application to photograph the crowds watching the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow turned down three times, she decided to take matters into her own hands, and jumped on a plane to Brazil to shoot audiences there instead.

  7. List

    Colombian-born, Spanish-based photographer Manuel Vazquez was an economics student before he decided to make his living from image-making. A quick transfer to Spain, some courses at New York’s School of Visual Arts and a Masters in Photography and Urban Cultures at Golsmiths later and he’s quite the photographic talent. The economy’s loss is photography’s gain. Now he shoots regularly for the likes of The Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times and The British Journal of Photography predominantly taking slick portraits.

  8. Main

    You don’t get much better than an award-winning National Geographic photographer, unless of course it’s one that spends most of his time underwater snapping away at enormous whales. Parts of this series make me want to cry, others make me want to jump for joy at the wonders of nature, but mostly they make me want to shit my pants with terror. Imagine being underwater, where man is not supposed to dwell, and being in the company of a prehistoric beast with a mouth as big as a 4×4, imagine how scared you’d be. One flip of its tail could probably shatter your legs. Anyway, the point here really is that one-time Photographer of the Year Brian Skerry is not only excellent at being brave in the presence of beasts, he’s also a superb photographer with composition skills and a knack of capturing wildlife with a flair that evokes raw emotion in you. Don’’t forget to check out his sharks series. If you dare.

  9. Main9

    Thomas Rousset and Raphaël Verona’s Waska Tatay is fairly ambiguous at first glance. The cover is a simple yellow-to-blue fade with the title placed inconspicuously on the spine; but the content is altogether more arresting. Using a mixture of reportage and staged portraiture the photo book documents the pair’s trip to the Altiplano region of Bolivia and their encounters with witch doctors, spiritual healers and medicine men; uncovering the rites and rituals of these ancient orders and illuminating some of their extraordinary mythologies.

  10. List

    Every year thousands of gloomy-looking characters descend on Whitby, a British seaside town that’s steeped in folklore and literary heritage. Bram Stoker set parts of Dracula there, Robin Jarvis created a mysterious series of children’s books on its streets and a ruined abbey stands at the top of one of its cliffs, maintaining a physical, eerie presence on moonlit nights – and those goths just can’t get enough.They host an annual goth weekend which this year photographer Annie Collinge decided to document, stopping the black-clad revellers on the streets and in graveyards to pose for her potraits. The resulting images offer a fantastic snapshot of one of the most longstanding genres of alternative culture, though I say that with bias, as I used to be one. “Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!”

  11. Main9

    I hope everyone got involved in a mosh pit at some stage during their adolescence, it’s a rite of passage as important as – if not moreso than – your first kiss. Fun and life-changing as it is, cool it is not, and so this strange, sweaty, somewhat folkloric activity tends not to be photographed in favour of adult versions of something similar at grown-up festivals and the like. Good on Emily Stein, then, for having the balls to just dive in with those sweating teenagers and take photos of them at their wildest and most passionate. Some photos are close-up enough that you can even see their faint beginnings of wispy facial hair. Wonderful stuff.

  12. List-3

    There are fashion photographers, and then there are fashion photographers who have pioneered the very definition of the genre, branching out and experimenting where others wouldn’t even dare to tread and doing so 20 odd years before their time. Hans Feurer is such a one. Born in Switzerland in 1939, he worked as a graphic designer, illustrator and art director before deciding to take up photography during a trip to Africa.

  13. Main

    Harley Weir’s strikingly organic compositions seem to be made out of the same colour and textures as an Egon Schiele painting. Her photographs are mysterious and unguarded, and there is something very personal and pure about the way that she captures her subjects.