Letters to DOMAI
When South Africa is mentioned, the rest of the world is conditioned by the mass media to see a couple of things: Apartheid, Nelson Mandela, AIDS and lions. Who the average South African is and under what circumstances we grew up, never enters the equation. Most Europeans are even surprised to find out that white South Africans exist. Well, we do exist and our Country has of the prettiest women on the planet!! This is however not about our existence but about one of the handicaps a lover of Pretty Young Women must face in South Africa.
Apartheid was brought into the South African system and supported by the population because our religious leaders indoctrinated us into believing that it was right. The same bastards were also responsible to drill certain other "values" such as their own interpretation of morality and sin into the minds of the populace. Nudity was seen as one of the worst sins of all and until recently, the only soft porn magazine allowed under our censorship rules, could only show nippleless women and non-explicit sex. Nude models are unheard of and public nudity still carries severe penalties. It is therefore not supposed to be easy to find models, even for artistic nude photography, in my society.
The moralists however made one huge mistake. They told everybody that nudity was ugly. On the other hand, we grew up with all these beautiful women surrounding us and only our imaginations to tell us what indescribable beauty lies hidden under their clothing. We therefore instinctively knew what was right and what was wrong: Nudity is beautiful and Pornography is wrong.
Finding models in South Africa, considering our religious system, became much easier when I found DOMAI on the Internet. I started a collection of DOMAI photographs and a comparative collection of normal Internet images of nudity. I now freely approach any woman, with the potential to become a model, and offer to do a portfolio for her. I never hide the fact that I do nude as well as "clothed" photography.
The most amazing thing happens as soon as a new model starts relaxing. Initially, no local model will relax if alone in front of a camera with a strange man. They bring their boyfriends, grand mothers, little brothers or hordes of friends with to any first shoot. At first shoots I avoid nudity and simply try to capture skin tones and general talent. The questions soon start coming from the models themselves and usually centers on my personal attitude to beauty and nudity.
I then unfold my strategy and show them the two comparative collections of photographs on my computer. The change in atmosphere thereafter is simply unbelievable Ð from stiff, scared, unprofessional models, they first change to hesitant, wanting-to-experiment, eager amateurs and then gradually to beautiful women reveling in their own beauty and nudity. The transformation is not only physical but psychological too. All those who manage to break down the banners instilled into us by our Calvinistic forefathers and preachers, walk away taller and with a proud, self-assured sway in their step.
Managing this process of "unfolding" is the one thing that really gives me the best kick of all. Convincing a beautiful woman that her beauty is a God given talent and that it was never meant to be hidden, takes knowledge of our society and of the methods utilized to imprint the opposite into our minds.
I hope to soon share some of my favourite captured instances of the exposure of true South African beauty with you. I am training a few models which I will take into the rough and wild beauty of Africa to prove how much softer I can make any image look if it has the right curves somewhere in the frame.