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Photographing Lust

Updated on September 3, 2015
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

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"Lust is an emotion or feeling of intense desire in the body. The lust can take any form such as the lust for knowledge, the lust for sex or the lust for power. It can take such mundane forms as the lust for food as distinct from the need for food. Lust is a powerful psychological force producing intense wanting for an object, or circumstance fulfilling the emotion....

In English-speaking countries, the term "lust" is often associated with sexual desire, probably because of this verse. But just as the English word was originally a general term for desire, the Greek word ἐπιθυμέω was also a general term for desire. The LSJ lexicon suggests "set one's heart upon a thing, long for, covet, desire" as glosses for ἐπιθυμέω, which is used in verses that clearly have nothing to do with sexual desire. In the Septuagint, ἐπιθυμέω is the word used in the commandment to not covet:

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; you shall not covet your neighbor’s house or his field or his male slave or his female slave or his ox or his draft animal or any animal of his or whatever belongs to your neighbor. (Exodus 20:27, New English Translation of the Septuagint)" Wikipedia

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After doing a recent post featuring the Seven Deadly Sins, I decided to do a project for each of the sins,one at a time.

This is the same when you do a photography project featuring several themes and afterwards do a similar project featuring individual themes from the original one.

As you may know the Seven Deadly Sins are composed by Lust, Greed, Gluttony, Pride, Wrath, Envy and Sloth.

Each has an associated color with Lust and Wrath in red shades, Sloth in blue, Gluttony in orange or pink, Greed and envy in shades of green, and Pride in purple.

To cover Lust from a photographic perspective one has to tread lightly because the images can be misinterpreted as being or rather falling into another realm, possibly close to porn.

Choose scenes that depict an individual who appears in essence to be lusting after something or someone.

Traditionally lusting for something is presented with sexual undertones.

While this is effective at representing lust, remember that people can lust after almost anything.

So using creativity and perhaps thinking out of the box may be a good way to approach the theme.

However to truly show the sins in the photos you have to assemble a scene that makes it appear as if the model is looking and lusting for someone or for something that is not generally visible in the photographs.

This adds an air of interest and suspense for the audience who may be intrigued and wonder as to what or who the model is lusting for.

This is perhaps the most difficult of the sins to show in photographs but it can be done. The key is to get the right looks, the right set up and the right props/models.

As opposed to other sins like gluttony, this is mostly dependent on the audience's interpretations when they look at the images.

For example my 12th graders are currently doing this same project for a photo shoot. They have chosen to approach it from the traditionalist meme of sexual undertones.

Although it is proving difficult for them not to cross the line into something else, they believe that they have gotten it right.

Their concept involves three models looking sexy with makeup and clothing and offering very alluring and seductive looks at objects of their interest from their imaginations.

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Would this or any other similar theme prove difficult to do?

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So far as how to set up the shoot, make sure to have at least two photo lamps with one placed at opposite angles to the models and a flash mounted on the camera and set with a diffusing element on the flash lens.

A simple flexible semi opaque plastic square held up with a rubber band will do. Another alternative is to use a cigarette box whose bottom has been cut out .

Place it on the flash unit as if it were a cover. The lid will serve to bounce the light thus making the light diffused. Another tip is to get a top of a white spray paint can, make a square cut on one of the sides and place it on top of the flash.

Set yourself about 8 to 10 feet away from the models and make sure that they look away from the lens or at the top of your head but never directly at the flash because this may catch or produce "red eye".

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For creating a lustful look, have the models work on several poses while they pose with a sultry facial look.

Having the model hold one hand to their mouth and pretending to bite her nails works really well in creating the sensual sultry look.

Playing with the hair also works well. There is no need to show much skin but if it can be done then that much better.

Remind the models that they should look at something imaginary and pretend to show desire for that imaginary subject.

Other items that create the look since they are though to be sensual and desirable are chocolate, fresh and juicy fruits like strawberries, or even pieces of jewelry.

Use your imagination; if the image can be construed as showing something that is desirable then the theme applies.

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Another set of poses that also work in creating a sultry lustful look are half body ones.

A sultry or sensual looking lady with a sultry looking make up (and make up is very important) posed in semi darkness with only half her facial features lit does well for the theme and they are simple poses to achieve.

It is worthwhile to look at several modeling pose samples in which similar images are shown in order to get a better idea of what works and what does not.

Keep in mind and remind the models that the eyes are the most important features and they should work on achieving a sensual lustful look with them.

If they can work the mouth and offer semi open lips, perhaps pretending to bite them, they help the cause quite well too.

Even if everything else is in order, if the eyes are found to be wondering or not in style, then the pose does not work and the scene will fall short in achieving its objective.

You can have a model clothed from head to toe, posed against a rather dull backdrop. If the eyes are "in-sync" with the theme then that should be enough to create the theme of lust well enough.

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© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida crack me up. Thanks

      You may want to visit this site........

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Another 'coveting' no-no: 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's camera equipment' (models included).

      It's always difficult portraying 'emotion'. One way to do it is with close-ups of skin on skin, mouths on skin or on mouths, part-open mouths - usually female, preferably dark-skinned (sallow to coffee-coloured), dark-haired and brown-eyed - Central American, Latina, Greeks, Italians, some near-Eastern and some Oriental.