The dirty story.
Our interview with the mastermind behind “thedirtystory” is one of our favorites. Once again I was able to catch up with him and have a round of Q & A.
Joseph Story is, in his own words, “a bloke from Manchester UK with a camera and some sense of creativity.”
So…what’s the dirty story about?
‘thedirtystory’ (all lower case and no spaces!) is simply an alter ego, a way to distance my real name, and thus family and work, from sexualised and potentially controversial images. I want to create interesting, raw and real images that I love, if other people do it too, then cool.
Do you consider yourself a fashion or erotic photographer?
I am asked this question all the time. I think by definition, my work owes more to erotica than fashion. By that I mean that it is erotic … I hope, fashion is of no interest to me or little interest. I take pictures of people. This used to be called ‘portrait’, but as most of my subjects are beautiful people call it fashion, and because sometimes they are naked it’s called erotica. I’d prefer to not have to call it anything, but people seem to need a label. When I think of one I will share it with you, I promise.
You make that point pretty damn clear. Is our western view of dualism and our misconception of sexuality what’s gotten us all in a permanent state of confusion? Do you take advantage of this?
I try to take advantage of anything I possibly can at every possible opportunity.
Sex is a weakness of many people.
A lovely weakness that it is quite easy to play with.
Your work is almost cinematic. Are you influenced by film noir and the visuals of Godard, or by any other directors?
That’s an awesome compliment. Thank you.
I am a huge fan of film but cinema tends to be too perfect for me. Though I would be lying if I said it was not an influence. But think Larry Clarke, Spike Jonze and you’re closer … and of course porn.
But not any kind of porn. Do you mean porn like Digital Playground and the like?
Amateur porn. No production value just natural intimacy, two lovers filming their most physical moments and then splitting up and the bloke posting it on line.
Hell yeah! Kind of like what Vice published on SMUT? Sorry to insist, but in my country, Mexico, we are a little bit narrow minded. All of those types of imagery are still very far away from our daily lives.
You’ve ruined my Perception of the real Americas!
I do apologize, but it’s true. That’s why someone like Richard Kern was so enthusiastic to come to Mexico. He made a huge statement by photographing our teen girls. That was a Vice Magazine project.
You’re right, I do take for granted the fact that the UK has a relatively open mind about what I do. What is great is that women seem to have the most open mind about it. I love that most of my fans are women. I do like what Richard Kern does, and I like how he plays with the viewers perception of what is consentual in his work.
Exactly! In Latin America there has been a recent discovery: women are liking porn, more and more. Imagine that.
We are now entering into another topic: in Europe and the USA women brazenly like showing off their sexuality with photoshoots. Yet, Latin American women are barely getting the hang of this type of thing. How would you deal with beginners like this? How would you direct them?
Most of the direction in my photography is done beforehand. I work with the models loads before the shoot, by phone or by email. We discuss the shoot, what we want to achieve, the feel of the shoot, the sexuality and how to move and act. By the time the day of shooting comes it is like pressing play on a DVD, we both know our roles and we start creating. It makes it more natural, more real, raw and less like a girl pretending to be sexy.
Then I’m sure we can assume that there is a sense of attachment, friendship and confidence between you and your models. This takes me to another question: why are there some models in your portofolio that show up more predominantly than others?
I like to shoot with people I know well, when I find a model that I get on with well, I shoot her again and again and again. The results get better and better. It shouldn’t be hard work!
Your answer might be obvious, but I have to ask: what do you look for in a model, and how do you find them?
Beyond a certain level of attractiveness … then personality and how easy they are to work with are really crucial. It sounds very trashy to say personality is so important but to be honest, being attractive is assumed, after that it is all personal choice and for me if I have a laugh with them, if I like them then its much easier. Most of the models I work with regularly are friends, they know my girlfriend, they come around for food!
Wow…you may be the envy of every man. Now, my next question may be a little obnoxious, and I may be wrong, but why aren’t there any black woman in your photoshoots?
That is something I am quite conscious of. When I started shooting, I had a black girlfriend and I used to shoot her and her friends all the time. I moved cities shortly after that and my circle of friends and photographic subjects changed. There are a number of mixed race models that I shoot with, but you are right to notice that my recent work has no black models … I think if I went out of my way to find a black model to shoot, then I would be guilty of tokenism. When Vogue did their ‘black issue’ in response to being called racist, I think that was more offensive than what they were doing before.
We have noticed, in your pictures, a strong tendency to focus on women’s breasts and faces. Would you consider this to be an obsession of yours? Do you think that maybe the male frame of mind about woman is too predominant in our society? And since your photos are erotic but not too pornographic, how do you measure the thin line between one and another?
Whooooaaaaa. These are some big questions. Perhaps not questions I can easily answer here. I am not trying to portray all that there is about women in my photography. I am portraying sexuality. I am a straight man therefore it is my obvious focus to shoot the female form in a manner that I find sexual and interesting. In terms of the thin line between eroticism and pornography then I think I stay on the side of erotic by making my work a collaboration with my subjects. It is not all my desires and influence but the models too. That way at least 50% of the influence is feminine, perhaps it’s the reason so many women like what I do? Who knows. I have never claimed to be politically correct or to have perfect gender politics but I do attempt to balance my work.
How does that all sound? I need to go I am afraid. My partner is VERY pregnant and I need to look after her.